Tuesday, October 21, 2003

What has the popularity of mountaineering done? and Dear Alfie

What has the popularity of mountaineering done?

From: tochs@excite.com
Subject: What has the popularity of mountaineering done?
Newsgroups: soc.culture.filipino
Date: 1999/11/26

What has the popularity of mountaineering done?
1. Raised the consciousness of the climbers for the environment, acting on it though is different from just knowing.
2. Gave pleasure to the climbers either through their appreciation of nature, the camaraderie, use of equipment, purchase of equipment, physical exertion, feeling of completion, seeing new places, meeting new people, eating, drinking or mere escaping. or a combination of all.
3. Sharpened special skills: photography, cooking, organizing, leading, relating, writing, website developing, handling socials, technical climbing etc
4. Not to mention improved the economy: equipment trading and local commerce thrived from guides, food that you eat, transpo that you avail, places that you stay in
5. Above all, it ignited the passion in individuals, to enjoy their lives to the edge.
6. Close to saying it has opened us to our spirituality, to our role in life, our relationships with others and our place in this universe.

So what are we complaining about? We are concerned that our playing ground is not kept and in fact desecrated. We see it and know we can do something about it. Does this animal we are looking for really exist? Perhaps the environmentalist is a state of perfection and the purist is just our projection. The best that most can do is keep the campsite clean and stay alive. But it is good to be reminded at times that we can fill in to that obligation. Just like what Alfie and Celine did. Until we push so hard, it will be difficult. Because that is our nature.

Happy Thanksgiving Day!



From: Celina Carmel C. Villavieja
Sent: Thursday, November 25, 1999 4:42 PM
To: palmc@egroups.com
Subject: [palmc] Re: New Meaning

Dear Alfie,

There have already been efforts in the past to promote a new consciousness for the Fed climbs. In 1995, UPM sponsored the Banahaw traverse via Dolores-Tayabas. In response to the guidelines of the Tayabas municipality, the number of participants per organization is limited. As an option for the other participants, UPM conducted concurrent activities in Tayabas basecamp like sport climbing competition and discussions on MFPI issues. Even the eminent Chang Guzman joined in exchanging views on environmental protection. At the end of the Congress, UPM presented a manifesto, which summarizes the delegates' views on environmental issues. This manifesto would have been the first step towards a concrete set of guidelines that would be adhered to by the members of the Federation.

However, instead of staying at the basecamp, most of the club presidents preferred to join the climb and rekindle the mountaineering camaraderie the traditional way. The manifesto that was presented and published at the end of the Congress was of little significance to them, because they were not part of its undertaking. The manifesto was not sustained. It, well, died.

That was more than four years ago. Nothing much has changed since. There is a rising consciousness among us about the real damage that we inflict on nature. But only few of us freely admit it because it would only make us self-contradictory.

Other countries have instituted measures to protect the environment, while allowing nature lovers to still enjoy the outdoors. We do not have such legislation in our country. In the absence of it, we can possibly do one thing. Stop climbing.

But are we ready for it?


Celine Villavieja was active with PAL MC in the early 90's. She was a prime mover of Bantay Banahaw, a maintenance program staged every Holy Week during her active days.


From: alfie halibas [SMTP:pingot@mailcity.com]
Sent: Wednesday, November 24, 1999 10:19 PM
To: mfpi@egroups.com
Subject: [mfpi] New Meaning

I don't know about you guys but I think its high time we give new meaning to mountaineering. I have known that being mountaineers, we do not really uphold the real value of environmentalism. Climbing on mountains in such a great number can do so much damage to the mountain. We enjoy scaling them and we bask in their grandeur not knowing that we too are not protecting them and we in turn are not helping them either but instead are killing them softly. Since we've enjoyed mountaineering for over a long long time and never really felt the impact we do not understand so many things about them. I talked to this friend who's an ecotourism adviser from England and he's been to different mountains in the country. I mentioned the upcoming forum and the expected no. of participants. It drove him mad how we as so-called mountaineers can know so little and care so less. It bleeds my heart how anyone not from this place can care so much for our mountains and how we can not redefine our meaning of mountaineering. I do not know how to make of this anymore but I just hope we all will come up with a better solution than merely climbing mountains and pretending to care about the environment when in fact we too are helping them lose their beauty with every step we trudge upon her body as she lie there helpless and wailing but no one hears her voice.


Alfie Halibas is with CARE-Iligan (Climbers Association in Response to


Subject: Re: What has the popularity of mountaineering done?
Newsgroups: soc.culture.filipino
Date: 1999/11/30

I absolutely agree with Alfie that, as mountaineers, we should be environmentalists. I also agree that climbing in "great numbers" can damage the mountains. Finally, I also agree that we "do not understand so many things about the mountains".

Insofar as MFPI is concerned, environmental protection has always been one of its original goals. Regretfully, climbers, both members and non-members of MFPI, are presently unable to agree on what climbers need to do to protect the mountains. Personally, I feel that any proposed course of action should be well thought out and must have solid scientific basis. And since we "do not understand so many things about the mountains", the first thing we have to do is undertake some verifiable studies of Philippine mountain ecosystems before we come to such conclusions like "stop climbing" or "stop 'mass' climbs".

For instance, if we take Alfie's concern about climbing in great numbers, we first have to agree on what that "great number" is. To do this, we have to find out the impact of specific numbers of climbers on specific mountains under specific conditions. There are no shortcuts. While some member clubs of the MFPI have espoused limiting climbers on certain mountains to a specific number, I have yet to see anybody come up with some honest to goodness study on which these numbers can be based. Most have merely parroted what studies conducted in foreign countries on totally different ecosystems have concluded. Regretfully again, these so called studies have also proven to be inconclusive. This is the root of the problem.

We can not continue taking the word of foreign friends and foreign publications, no matter how well meaning, as ex cathedra gospel truth without pausing for a moment to think if they are applicable locally. We can not keep on mouthing environmental buzzwords. We have to understand that, in order to launch an honest to goodness environmental crusade, we have to be able to defend our proposals in Plaza Miranda or in any other forum our detractors may choose. More importantly, we have to be able to convince our fellow mountaineers and environmentalists of the legitimacy of their cause in order to propel them to action. To do otherwise would be to court divisiveness within the mountaineering and environmental community. The members of the community would be unable to agree on something which lacks basis and can not be rationalized or explained.

This is precisely why, when we sought permission to climb Mt. Kanla-on for the last president's climb. We offered to undertake a study on the effects of climbing on Mt. Kanla-on in cooperation with the Makiling Center for Mountain Ecosystems at the U.P. Los Banos. This study would have taken at least one year of data gathering and we were supposed to gather the initial data during that climb. Sadly, some local public official, who claims to be an environmentalist, insisted on an absolute ban on climbing Mt. Kanla-on on the basis of a two page position paper (authored by himself) which failed to even relate climbing and mountain ecosystems. This despite the fact that he has no qualms about allowing gamecock farms on the slopes of Mt. Kanla-on.

To end on a personal note, I am perfectly willing to abide by any course of action or regulation which would protect the environment that we all love. However, I do not intend to be stampeded into action by some environtalists who think that, by mouthing some environmental jargon and appealing to my love for the environment, he can convert me to his cause. I demand that anybody who suggests that the federation do something grant me and the federation a modicum of respect (the same respect I offer to every other mountaineer and environmentalist) by presenting defensible and concrete propositions.

In the meantime, pending the results of the proposed studies, the federation can reach some consensus on any urgently needed preventive measures to minimize the damage climbers may be causing to the mountains. This can be done at the Vision Mission Goal seminar to be conducted this month in Tagaytay. and if any climbers are really concerned about the future of climbing, then I urge them to attend.

Butch Sebastian, MFPI President

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