Saturday, October 11, 2003

Filipino Mountaineer's Artifacts in the Management of Change

FM's Artifacts in the Management of Change
Chito Razon written 30 September 2002 in support of the MFPI Vision Mission setting

Foto courtesy of Jun De Vera of MESAU
It is noble that MCME (Makiling Center for Mountain Ecosystems) and MFPI (Mountaineering Federation of the Philippines, Inc.) have come up with a collaborative effort aimed at general education on the mountaineering credo: transitioning from "Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time" to "Leave no trace" and aligning the Responsible Mountaineering theme with other NGOs, local government units and the general public.

The Filipino Mountaineer (FM) is part of a community, which is in itself a unique sub-culture with its own clearly established artifacts. Artifacts are defined as phenomena that one sees, hears and feels and visible products of the group. These products are seen in their behavior and organizational processes. Artifacts are man-made objects with cultural significance to the group.

When mountaineers talk of clubs, iti or itinerary, AMCI, PALMC, UPM, Norms, MESAU, trails, peaks, G2, Halcon, Pulag, Kanlaon, Apo, MFPI, federation, TNF, LNT, Habagat, Montanara, Bombproof, Sandugo, mojos, tagay, shot glass, club banner, socials, “Why do you climb” or “Freedom of the Hills” or George Mallory’s “because it is there” quotation usapan, Ginebra San Miguel, pomelo, Wilkins, EL, TL, 2 days, 3 days, water source, jump-off, patag, ratrat, bivouac, cardiac, rest stop, 4-wheel drive, pre-climb, post climb, beachneering, astig, hard core, BMC, virtual, etc, you know they have a language of their own.

Likewise they have certain behaviors peculiar to them. Some of them are: treatment of neophyte climbers, respect for seniority, men as cooks, female as self sufficient climbers, concern for the environment, pre climbs, club defections, respect for the locals, drinking at jump offs and campsites, courtesy to fellow climbers, climbing in groups, in clusters, climbing as a recreation more than a profession.

They have developed a common feeling like thrill in discovering new places, accomplishments in reaching the top, anger when the campsite is dirty, resentment to fellow climbers who do not follow environmental ethics, loyalty to the recreation more than to personalities, thrill in getting away from the city and work, resentment to tutong.

Most evident is the presence of objects, which have established as icons any mountaineer can identify with. How can you not miss the FM when you see: mojos, bandana, backpack, cookset, kalan, trekking shoes, beans and bracelets, dry fit, zip lock, carinderia, Jams, Tritran, BLTB, Bachelors, jeepney, top load, bottled water, walang kamatayang adobo, branded equipment, shirts, tights.  Persons have been elevated to icons as: Buboy Francisco, Fred Jamili, Manny, Chang De Guzman, Butch Sebastian. Apologies to those I failed to list.

The list keeps on growing as we see more and more lowlanders enlisting themselves to the recreation.

With the richness of the Filipino Mountaineers' artifacts and the evident practice of shared assumptions that the group learned as it solved its problems, this community is undoubtedly a force to reckon with.

In initiating change, as the "Limiting of Acceptable Change" abstract elaborates, it is key to look at the FM values and what is important to them and tapping them to effect these changes.

These shared language, behavior, feeling and objects give us a clue on what values are deemed important. To rattle off: camaraderie, care for the environment, recognition, maintenance of self esteem and good relations, helpfulness, resourcefulness, respect for the local community, humility not arrogance, reliability, walang gulangan, thrill, excitement, fun, safety.

Thus the challenge of "developing a highly visible, high-impact, quick-recall, extensive advocacy campaign" is achievable if we tap the driving forces that the mountaineer sees as important. The effort should also address though the restraining forces which may retrain or effect the positive forces. To my mind these are: apathy, indifference, pride, lack of skills, equipment and awareness, competitiveness, faction, differences, new behaviors and attitudes.

Limits of Acceptable Change is an exciting development for the community. Let is snowball to provide the momentum to the grand MFPI vision. It is important that this effort succeeds. Because the mountaineering community is in itself a culture. And when it is integrated in our artifacts and considered as valid, like culture unconsciously it is taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think and feel in relation to the eco system problem exposed.


P. S.:Initial list lang po ang mga shared artifacts na na ilista. Feel free to add or to subtract. Congrats to Atty. Butch S., Regie of MFPI and MCME.

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