April 11, 2015

reason for deleting the open letter

i'm sure you've noticed that i have re-verted the open letter to draft not because i am apologising for what i have done but to simply declare that i am agreeing to disagree with most of you. i can debate for long. you hurl your opinions, i respond with my stand -- this issue for me is more than just an opinion. it is a belief that i will defend to the death. a belief that has developed in my being for over the years of traveling in and out of country, communing with different kinds of environments, and interacting with people and learning from them. 

another reason is this issue is merely a distraction. i have another little project to execute to help mother nature (i'll be leaving for a few days) as well as other personal stuff that i choose to move away from all this nonsensical entertainment.

the divine architect of the universe, your god/goddesses, your deities, know my heart's content that they manifested their support through the very few people, who sent me a message via the blog comments and via email, telling me that they believe in my cause and they understand the contents of the letter wholly. i don't need a battalion to agree with me. 

for the artists/bloggers/writers who take accountability of the things they create and its impact to others, i commend you. i know a few who are currently dealing with their own endeavours as resulted by their work. i sent you messages. may the supreme beings of your heart and understanding repay you a thousandfold for your transformative artworks and may you inspire more people to be responsible. the cosmic is kind. karma will put things in order.

to all my fellow environmentalists who are fighting the hard fight against unscrupulous institutions, don't give up. no matter how much everyone hates us with our (most of the time) eccentric and rabid ways, let's still continue fighting to save our home. they don't know what we are facing.

ps: it's barking UP the wrong tree not "AT".

April 09, 2015

me, myself, and my selfishness

"To love is to value. Only a rational selfish man, a man of self-esteem, is capable of love - because he is the only man capable of holding firm, consistent, uncompromising, unbetrayed value. The man who does not value himself, cannot value anything or anyone." - Ayn Rand, The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism

fact: i don't have adsense that's why i am free to post here.

my previous article received tons of tirades against me being solely selfish and proud. i just laugh at them. the few non-sagadians who have read it in its entirety were the only ones who got the heart of the post. thank you. the wave of posters made me realize one thing -- those who dropped negative comments only read the title of the blog entry and were only swayed by he-said she-said.

however, if selfishness means echoing the voice of the sagadians in their desperate effort to save their homeland, then let me say, with conviction, that i am taking the words SELFISH and PROUD as compliments. it is through my selfishness that i have the courage to protect other people and help them through my little ways. it is through my achievements from helping that i become proud as a steward of this earth. a job well done in service to humanity and nature is only called "braggery" or yabang by the little minds who do nothing but rant and expose openly their inferiority via the internet and facebook. 

it is a fact that you can't be generous if you have nothing left to give. as the case of sagada, she is robbed, harrassed, and raped by irresponsible tourists. i, among many others, together with the sagadians, help sagada bring her back to herself -- away from harmful minds and hearts and that is why i, and many others, am SELFISH and PROUD. 

SELFISHNESS is a virtue. call me selfish, call me egoist, call me proud. i love it. because that's who I AM. my selfishness lights my fire.

PS. the wave of flamers did not even care to read the next post about lnt despite linking it to my infamous post. the photos will scare them and that means only one thing: they don't have the heart to care.

April 07, 2015

that thing called "wasak ang kiltepan": an open letter to director antoinette jadaone

the devastation of kiltepan. photo taken by dayanne crisologo. visit the link to the post here. as of today, i was told via private message that sagada has already been experiencing shortage in water supply. with these number of people, i am afraid the locals will suffer. now there's your true devastation. sige, hugot pa.

Leave No Trace - outdoor ethics principles for tourists and travellers
Dagsaang mga turista nakakasira sa kapaligiran ng Sagada - an interview of ivan henares about visitors going to sagada
Save Sagada - a facebook page created by locals and sagada supporters to raise awareness about their town's devastation by unruly tourists
"Often, filmmaking in a place like Sagada, whether documentary or drama, is about trying to "capture" a place and sell the product for a target market. So "That thing" the film product, is sold to be consumed by the target market- youngish metropole consumers with the disposable income to go "Conquer Sagada" and have a weekend tryst with nature. However, "That thing" is also that product called Kiltepan, to be consumed by the target market whose yearnings for whatever they yearn has been tapped into by the film but who have no real relationship to Sagada except for the celluloid image. Typically, directors and producers do not make films for altruistic reasons but as "my art", for commercial consumption."  - a quote from a Sagadian from the Save Sagada Page

"As far back as i can remember, water has been a perrenial problem of Sagada so i would not be surprised if it becomes worse with the influx of tourists….water system is long gone and most of the houses have to find their own water source, by hosing water all the way from the rivers to their houses. Like the lack of long term plans for waste management, the problem of sustaining water supply in a systematic way, is a concern that the local government, year in and out, refuse to address." - a quote from the Safe Sagada Page

"here's the thing, what lit the surge for package tours to sagada? it's the demand from people but what lit the people's fire in going to sagada? and they just all went there unprepared blocking your streets, desecrating your churches, and invading your homes (as i've seen that some people opened their homes as homestay for people who can't be accommodated by the lodges).

sometimes, artists think their work only has a certain impact, as for this case, jadaone only meant to show the path to moving on and in that pathway, there was sagada and baguio. people have this natural tendency to covet in a sense that they want to experience what they see.

people in the comments blame the irresponsible tourists but we addressed them, "what lit their fire". irresponsible people have always been in existence. in the places i have traveled, especially in mindanao whose people are highly over-protective, they would often say, "when you visit again, only bring responsible people". it is selfish, yes. but when you see a beautiful place and you want to keep it hidden from the irresponsible people, then you will be. how many of you here stated you won't show your favorite sunrise place in sagada?

i have hidden so many places away from the blogsophere out of respect for the place and the locals that are living there but me ajnd a few friends still visit because they trust us. we have proven them that we can be trusted. i know i have that power and i have that reach because of the internet but i choose not to but if the locals tel that they need help, then i'll publish.

people say selfish because they want everything but after using, visiting, whatever, they won't take care of it. would you be generous enough to give information to these people? it has something that most explorers like us take into consideration. the movie may not be the sole reason for the influx of people but it has a large impact during last holy week's clusterfuckery."
- a quote from a supporter, Save Sagada.
note: i am enjoying reading the comments, good and bad. i am called SELFISH and PROUD but i take it as a compliment (sorry not sorry). as respect and as requested, i will filter them all. i will only publish comments that are leaning towards the sentiments of the sagada people. if you are going to post comments that are negative and disrespectful for the sagada locals, don't do it. i'll automatically delete them moving forward.

some sort of TL/DR/note for all the replies i have received: 

please read That place called Sagada: Residents and travel advocates ask tourists not to visit this Holy Week

"“For the past two weeks, I had to personally fetch water from the spring every night. This spring source is shared by 15 households for our village which is covered by Poblacion – the municipality that is covered by the area of hotels and inns,” she said.

Sagada was a “special destination,” and not for mass tourism, said Tourism Assistant Secretary Art Boncato in a phone interview with InterAksyon.com.

In areas such as this, “carrying capacity” must be respected. In fact, the DOT (Department of TOURISM) was not increasing its efforts to promote it to travelers. Tourism would have to take the backseat as environmental protection was the community and the DOT’s main concern."

another good read is Save Sagada, a facebook group dedicated to promoting responsible tourism in sagada. upon reading the threads in the page, i was disturbed by the remnants of the massive diaspora last holy week. to consolidate all their feedback in one post i have created LNT for tadhananers post which inclues LNT principles as well as photos and threads by locals sharing their heartaches.

"Since yesterday, the Sagada Tourism Information Center has recorded 3,000 tourists going inside Sumaguing Cave. The cave is now temporarily closed until the 300+ tourists currently inside (as of April 2 4 p.m.) have gone out the cave"

thanks to the Anonymous people for the links. these give me more grounding because it is a clear and distinct fact that sagada does not speak for itself. there's a reason why people flock there.

i've read the comments of most telling me to stop "blaming" the director because i am barking up the wrong tree. there are a few people who get the point. thank you. those who don't just makes my point stronger. click bait? yes, to get the message across. earning? no, i don't have adsense (a blessing). blame it on tourism? yes, we have been doing so for the longest time. other comments? i just laughed at them but i published them anyway.

here's a thought experiment for you all and this is pretty much a familiar one:

a bad president was voted and people blame the masses for the wrong choice. who are the masses? what kind of education have they all attained? if they are out of school, where are they getting their knowledge? who feeds them to vote the "wrong" person?

the problem is a lot of artists/creators think we're all passive voyeurs when in fact we're not. humans are reactive and perceptive and i know people will definitely react to this post. artists/creators' war cry have always been "i can do stuff i want, i don't give a damn" and sometimes with "art" as an excuse. they don't know the power of their creation unless they see how people move and, sometimes, that's a dangerous thing. case in point, the photo below. irresponsible people/"masa" will always be there. they, like you, are also mesmerised by the things they see and hear. it's not always their fault.

who/what sparked them? who/what lights their fire? no one gave me a definite answer.

dear director jadaone, 

i unapologise (if there is such a term) for the strong message in the following paragraphs. i have a moral responsibility to deliver it as sincerely as i can upon seeing the devastation that was caused by your film's hype. i haven't seen the movie thinking that it's going to be a typical filipino film; however, the moment i saw your trailer, me and my other environmentalist friends only have one thing in mind: "magagahasa to gaya ng anawangin." (this [place] will be raped like anawangin). the photo above just manifested our worst nightmare.

anawangin sunset
but what happened to anawangin? my first visit to anawangin was last 2005. it was a haven for those who seek solitude. turquoise blue waters that barely made any waves, pine trees, white ash on sand, no-fee-pitch-anywhere policy, bangkeros charging just gas fee. at night, fireflies swarm the place as if the stars are just within reach. you can sleep anywhere, even outside your tent. when you wake up, your personal belongings are still inside your tent while the sun bakes you to crisp because you woke up late from being too drunk last night. if you have problems with your family, with your work, and you want the cheapest place to hide to rejuvenate your energy, anawangin was part of the secret sanctuaries list with just a very low budget, a few cans of beer, and a tent. people who visited there were responsible. we made sure to keep the place pristine for other people to have their own moments.

the only footprints in the sand there were only ours
... until jessica soho and her band of media people came. 

the last time (definitely my last time for sure) i visited anawangin was 2009. bangkeros charged 1200 for a roundtrip, tent pitching fee was 150 per tent per day, there was a sari-sari store that sells soft drinks for high rates, there were police officers, there was noise polution, overcrowding, no more fireflies only flies, and my friend's phone was stolen inside his tent. it was an appalling experience.  there was a makeshift restroom which stench seethes for a huge amount of radius. we were even shocked to see that a sign was put up to inform people about discipline because the mass of visitors that went to anawangin no nothing about the principles of LNT (Leave No Trace) or any type of outdoor ethics.

no more liquor allowed because of the swarm of barbaric guests that invaded the once-called sanctuary
i have nothing against media people promoting tourism but the means they are promoting it is as if the place is just like SM where they can litter, loiter, and be the city people that they are. nothing about taking care of nature was incorporated in their segments. i doubt they talked to the barangays on how to properly regulate the amount of visitors (but people who are in charge of tourism in a specific area only count profit and we can only do so much to lecture them). 

humans are stewards of nature as appointed by the deities they worship (unless you worship the lords of destruction and you become their agents). we have a moral responsibility to take care of our environment for future generations to come. since i haven't seen the movie, i doubt you have shown LNT principles nor have talked to the tourism office on how they should manage the influx of visitors as a result of showing your film. instead, we have this devastation -- overcrowding. just look again at the photo below. 

how many people went outside trail just to stand on their spots? how many species of animals were displaced? how much trash do you think would be left after they're done with their "moments"? please read LNT principles. i was told that the story of the movie had the girl deciding to go to sagada at the spur of the moment. that is already the most dangerous suggestion to people -- anyone can always visit the place by bypassing the LGU/locals/DOT and that's their worst nightmare. sagada is a very peaceful place with a very low population. as ivan henares stated in this video, sagada only has 12000 residents. 4500 people per in sumaguing cave alone is way too much to handle. just imagine all the stress the locals' have been through when tourists blocked their roads to park their vehicles illegally but were shunned out of sheer disrespect. if movie directors can cleverly place product placements in their movies, even if the situation doesn't call for it (i.e. an unrealistic supply of corned beef a character's kitchen stash in a horror movie), i am pretty sure you can incorporate responsible travelling as well. you are a brilliant director, your awards prove it. you have a great influence over your fans but i hope you steer things in the right path.

i hate being the holier-than-thou white knight but i need to in stating my stand. when i visited mt. guiting guiting for the first time, i was told by the denr about a traverse trail. out of curiosity, i visited the place of sir remy robiso, whose backyard is the jump off of the traverse trail. i haven't taken photos of what his backyard was before but if you've only seen it, it had barb-wires and a sign which said, "bawal ang mga minero dito" (no miners allowed). judging from what i've seen, robiso is a hardcore environmentalist fighting against mining. the traverse trail was infested by illegal miners and something has to be done.

remy robiso
"that moment" at the summit of mt. guiting guiting

last 2009 (yes, 2009), me and a few friends collaborated with denr and sir robiso to re-open the trail. our goal was to get more tourist to visit the area to scare miners away. after our climb, we spread the itinerary to all mountaineering groups we know. when i visited mt. guiting guiting again for a solo climb in 2010, the barb-wires and the signage were gone. he built a house for resting mountaineers instead. the visitors have scared the illegal miners away. however, my job didn't end there. i visited the place every year for 6 years constantly reminding sir robiso and the first wave of guides about LNT. i have suggested a limit of 12-15 people per group, a mountaineer to guide ratio of 3:1, and a relaxed itinerary of 3-4 days. i have also encouraged mountaineers to give the guide's association their extra gear. 

this is just a small thing a small person can do. it's been a while since i last visited sibuyan so i'm only hoping for the hopeful that they've sustained what we have started. you, ms. jadaone, with a very high influence in philippine media and perhaps a high profit from your movie can surpass what i have done. as what f.sionil jose wrote, "... artists in our time have a duty to make this nation and people ethical." since the damage has been done, i am requesting you to go back to sagada tourism and initiate a continuous improvement project to prevent the same devastation of nature again. it is not enough that you have shown the world how beautiful our country is. mother nature is not a slut you just simply pimp to get profit from. she is your mother, your mother's mother, and the mothers' before them. since you have worked with star cinema/cinema one/abs-cbn, you may collaborate with ms. gina lopez as she did a stellar job in promoting tourism in sibuyan. 

truth be told that i haven't visited sagada yet. our vehicle only passed by. i hope that when the time comes that i get to visit the place, i could also call it paradise and have my own introverted moments.

please help us take care of her.

a small person who loves nature