I’m a hopeless case when it comes to raffles. Never had I won any major price in my entire life. This is the reason why I don’t usually join social media contests nor drop those coupons for entries on groceries – the thought of eagerly waiting for results which never did been of much luck on my side is frustrating. And so, I avoid them. But when there people who believe in you, such convection could change. Just like what happened last month.
I was lazily scrolling feeds on instagram when Carlo messaged me about a contest held by GoPro for the celebration of Earth Day. It would have been easier to dismiss such message if not for the theme and instructions provided: 30 – 60 seconds Quik video on conservation and protection of the environment and the latest GoPro Hero7 Black Limited Edition Dusk White Camera for the winner! I’d be lying if I’d say I didn’t want the camera for myself. HAHA. Come to think of it, after breaking two action cameras, I have long succumb to my mobile phone for videos and photos. But we all know the quality of GoPro in comparison to my three-year old phone – the sharpness, video stability, saturation of colors, and wide angle perspective would bring more life to my adventures.
And so I began dreaming on. My poor heart began hoping again. HAHA.
Ever since last year, I have been working on a project which my office head assigned to me – a Segregation Facility made from ecobricks. You know, that plastic bottle filled with plastics, which will be used as replacement for hollow blocks. Instead of documenting what I have been doing at home and in the office, I took chances of promoting such advocacy on trails. Instead of joining the annual mountain cleanup, why not do it every single hike? Pick an empty bottle and fill it with plastics found on trails? This way, hikers (or trailrunners) will no longer take the burden of bringing large garbage bags upon going uphill. I have fondly done this during major hikes when I place all the plastics I have accumulated on a plastic bottle instead of putting them all in a garbage bag and asking porters (or sweeper) to bring them.
As it was a Palm Sunday, I asked Shiela to hike Tulo ka Krus. The initial plan was just to have a short hike to sweat out then backtrail and go home. But it was just 8am when we reached the summit. Too early than the usual whole day hike. We were debating where to go next when a lomboy tree on the adjacent range caught our attention. Half of it was dried up while the other side was springing with life! And so, after doing a short cleanup, off we went down and uphill to that tree. We were panting upon reaching the tree when we met a local carrying loads of firewood. He commented how early we were for the Holy Week penance. HAHA. We took a break and began exchanging stories with the local we met and it was because of him that we learn how renowned Tulo ka Krus was as a pilgrim site before; hence, the term Stairway to Heaven on the stairs found on the trail. However, as many elderlies want to visit the site but no longer have the strength to climb up the stairs, a different trail was created which is already passable by habal-habal.
When we have regained enough strength, Shiela and I decided to continue the hike, this time she led me to a cave which I have been long asking her for location. I was totally surprised when we reached the area because I have been there thrice but never had I known that there were caves found there! Not one, not two but so many. According to the people living on that part of the barangay, some caves served as worship area for cults while the others became tourist site for guests.
After getting around some caves, I suddenly felt the raging monster on my stomach. Just when I thought I could still muster the willpower to keep it until we reach our next destination, it has made its presence more overpowering. It was then I realize how human needs can transform us into someone we’ll never thought we could be. Shiela and I went house to house, asking where I could use a bathroom. And as if fate has been playing a humorous charades, we were turned down a number of times. As the number of houses decreased, so was my self-control. But before this GoPro story could turn into something gruesome, we somehow managed to find a house that allowed me release the Kraken. HAHA. I came out refreshed and more than ready for the rest of the adventure. Or so I thought.
As it was about noontime, Shiela and I decided to end our hike at Barangay Toong. We were overly confident to have reached the barangay by an hour until we realized that the trails were all assaults. Aside from the raging summer heat, we also had to endure and run free from the grassfires done by some locals. Believe me, it felt like a warzone to have been surrounded by fire. But the rest of the locals in the community have become attuned to this sight. Kaingin has become a part of their cycle of agriculture. We met some locals whom we have shared sentiments on this when we reached Toong but most of them were busy on the elections rather than tracing the culprit of the grassfire.
We could have already went home by the time we reached Toong but my clips for the contests were not that enough for a minute video yet. And so I asked Shiela for other suggestions. The answer? AO Farm. I have been hiking Spartan Trail for quite some time but my usual comrades were never interested of such tourist destination. They’d prefer the dirt road rather than the cemented pavement. The place was actually great. The plants were of no match for those cultured flower farms like Buwakan ni Alejandra and Sirao Flower Farm but sustainability is highly observed in AO Farm. They have grown local fruit-bearing trees and tropical flowers that can grow all year round. So even without guests, the Farm was still earning on its own! There is much that needs to be developed on such hectares of land, but it was already great for photoshoots! I even forced Shiela to pose for some. Sorry besh! HAHA.
We took some time off after enjoying the facilities of the farm (obstacle course, tree house, hammock) when I realized that there is one element absent in my clips – water. It would be strenuous to go the Spartan Trail at that time of the day just to shoot in the river so Shiela suggested to go to Kawa Falls. Just like AO Farm, this is one destinations that I have been itching to visit. But the locals were not with us on this plan. Most of those whom we have asked said that the waterfalls would take one to two hours to reach. That would be three to four hours back and forth! But Shiela suggested otherwise. She had been there and was so solid that it would only take thirty minutes to an hour. We continued asking opinions from locals to which we earned the same response. Others even warned us to not proceed with the hike. It was easier to back out. Much more when Shiela admitted that the trails were no longer familiar to her. I, too, was tempted to go back. But we have already reached the rivers and the thought of turning back sound so regretting. So we continued walking. It took forty-five minutes before a woman doing her laundry told us that we were already so near – the very first positive instruction that we received ever!
As it was the peak of El Niño, Kawa Falls was not on its best when we reached there. But for two individuals who were discouraged a number of times… it was like the most beautiful thing that could ever happen to that day. In fact, we almost forgot documenting the river area for that “water element”. And believe me, the people in Toong were astonished upon seeing us again in less than two hours. Ninja!
Thanks to Shiela and Carlo, I was able to submit my entry for the GoPro contest. But after seeing the creatively and beautifully-crafted snippets of other contestants, I knew I won’t stand a chance. But I pushed my luck… and guess what…
My prize didn’t come in the announcement of winner but on the messages sent from followers and other friends. They, too, were doing simple things that could somehow help in the conservation and preservation of our environment. My entry became an affirmation to them that they have done the right thing and that together, we can do something. Let’s admit it: the easiest solution (as if possible) to plastic pollution is to stop its reproduction. But as of the moment, it’s a hopeless battle – it would create a domino effect to the entire population, unless the government would do something in advance to prevent it. So, as of the moment, we go to option B: reduce consumption and properly dispose plastic waste.
I may not have won the contest, but I was able to discover new places in the locale, experience the kindness of other people, learn new things, shared to quite a number of people about this advocacy, and find friends who continue to be supportive through thick and thin. And I guess, that’s more than what a GoPro could offer. Right? Right. For now, let’s be grateful for the blessings we have.
See you on trails!