A visit at any mountaineering store anywhere in the Philippines manned by fellow mountaineer never fails to spark a conversation.
Looking for a 35 liter backpack, I dropped by the Habagat outlet in CM Recto in the University Belt in Manila beside University of the East. Without establishing credentials, owner Bong Ortiz informed me the available stocks in his store and explained their basic features. Picking up from my interest in the brand Habagat, he narrated why the brand is in short supply in Luzon but not in the Visayas and relayed his sourcing of the TNF brand from Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam.
He later gave leads on other shops in Metro Manila where I may be able to see the model I am interested in. He gave anecdotes on why Sandugo is doing an aggressive move out stocks which is a result of a failed China deal and how Conquer the brand is faring.
For someone who has not visited a store before, this interesting conversation is much appreciated.
I recall in Sept 2009 when I was wandering aimlessly at the Gen San side streets, I spotted an outdoor store Southern Peak Outdoor Depot along Champaca st., just across Manny Pacquiao’s commercial building. The staff entertained me well leading to an invitation to a Mt. Matutum climb via an unpopular route-via Datal Lanao.
It is great to experience that “Travel forces us to rely more on others, and the truth we learn is that our planet is a friendly place. People want to be good to one another - regardless of their background, religion, or culture.”