When I started traveling, all I cared about was nothing but good photos of me and the scenic spots of the spectacular places that this world hold. I got nothing but a romantic and ‘touristy‘ outlook into going to places. However, my perspective shifted when the ugly truth hit me hard. If not seen on the news, I’d see for myself the alarming amount of trash particularly plastic in the ocean carried by the waves and current from the community nearby or from the tourists who intentionally left it at the shore, dead endangered sea creatures being washed ashore or found floating in the waters in the morning, closed trails due to rehabilitation, trees being cut down to pave way to the building of the concrete jungles and more.
Realizing how could it largely impact the nature and the world, I searched and thought of ways on how could I at least contribute in saving it. That’s when I learned about sustainabilty. Initially, I thought it was on the ecological aspect alone. Further reading and traveling with eco-warriors introduced me to its other pillars such as economic and social. Eventually, my purpose in traveling has become more profound. Other than discovering the natural wonders and awe striking attractions, it has become rather a journey to self-discovery and a chance to meet people with unique and diverse culture and traditions. Since, then, I promised to myself that I would do something like joining programs and organizations aiming for sustainability and invite others to join me, too. I see to it that every fun dive is also a clean up dive; every beach day is a beach clean up drive.
Among the many ‘adventures that matters‘ that I’ve had this year, the Tribes and Treks of Mad Travel was among the ones where I learned the most.
About Mad Travel’s Tribes and Treks
Mad Travel is an organization advocating sustainability
. What I admire about it is their drive, determination, consistency and efforts in promoting it through attending to all its pillars. I have witnessed it first hand when I joined the Tribes and Treks Zambales and learned about the activities that contribute in helping and supporting the livelihood of the Yangil tribe in many ways. Apart from the Yangil Tribe in Zambales, they also Tribes and Treks benefiting the Indigenous people in Rizal and Subic.
The first seven activities are part of the the Tribe and Trek Zambales itinerary and are therefore included in the tour fee (Php 2,200 or Php 3,000 depending on the chosen package).
1. Volcanic Ash Trek
2. Sowing of seeds and tree planting at the Nursery
3. Archery lessons with the Aetas
4. Lunch at the Village
5. Story telling
6. Witnessing the Traditional Dance and Music of the Yangil Tribe
7. Dinner at the Chieftain’s abode
8. Surfing (optional; Php 200.00 per hour with instructor)
9. Sunset Watching
My Tribes and Treks Zambales Experience
One of the experiences that I looked forward to is meeting the locals in a place where I travel to. I love to hear their stories, talk about their traditions and witness how rich and unique their cultures are. With the Tribes and Treks organized by Mad Travel, I got to experience one of the many indigenous people’s way of life for a day.
After our first meal of the day in Liwliwa, we gathered in the common area of Circle Hostel for a briefing about what are we going to expect and do for the day. We were told about the itinerary, what to bring and the do’s and don’ts. Right after, we hopped into the jeep and drove for 20 minutes to the jump off where we met the Chieftain of the Yangil Tribe.
|The briefing at the Circle Hostel
|Sir Raf introducing the Chieftain of the Yangil Tribe to us at the jump off point
We endured two hours of the trek under the heat of the sun. We crossed rivers, streams and walked through the vast land covered with volcanic ash which made the trek a little challenging. We arrived at the nursery which provided us the shade we were craving for since we started the long walk. We refreshed from the pump with its cold waters coming from a deep well. We loved how there are at least trees which made the area cooler. Once settled and relaxed, Sir Raf gathered us in circle and told us about the rationale in putting up the nursery.
|They would also let us experience riding on the wooden cart pulled by their mighty carabaos
First Stop, the Nursery
Mad Travel is aiming at developing a 3,000-hectare rainforest from this nursery. They have carefully studied, tested its soil and found that it lacks Nitrogen – an element that is deemed important in growing a fauna in the area. Thus, to pave way to the growth of the other trees, they initially planted the ones that are known to give off Nitrogen to the soil. Once grown, they have started to plant other trees most especially the fruit bearing ones.
During our visit in the Nursery, Sir Raf told us about the law stating that each Filipino shall plant a tree every year – well, that we didn’t know. So to make up for all the years that we were not able to plant one, we spent the next two hours sowing a lot of seeds.
|The seeds that we’ve sown!
|Apart from giving the Yangil tribe the nursery, Mad Travel also had some locals employed to tend and take care of it
We replenished ourselves with a mean cup of lemongrass tea and some crispy sugar-coated sweet potato chips. After the snack, we left the Nursery before noon time so we could arrive exactly at lunch in the community.
At 11:30 AM, we arrived at the community whose people welcomed us with their widest and warmest smiles. They offered the long table to us where we settled. The food in front of us were pretty inviting. We said our graces and started with our lunch.
|Our sumptuous lunch prepared by the Yangil Tribe
Half of our day was spent in connecting with the Aetas of the Yangil Village and witnessing their traditional dances and music. First that we did was to try archery. They lend us their bows and arrows made of woods and thin ropes and even taught us how it’s done. We were called after a while as the Aetas prepared a short program for us. There were ones playing musical instruments like their hand crafted bamboo flute, kids giving a dance number imitating the movements of the animals in their community, the courtship dance and the Chieftain discussing the herbal medicines that they often use. All throughout, we saw nothing but genuine smiles and heard merry laughters. We also found ourselves smiling and watching silently, fascinated with how they are so happy in the simple life they are living.
|They would get us off out seats as an invitation to join the things that they do
|The Aeta kids offering us a song
|Kuya played his bamboo flute imitating the sound of the birds
|The Chieftain telling us about the herbal medicine that they commonly use in the community to treat mild to serious illness
|A couple showed us their courtship dance and even invited some of us to join them
|Trying out archery!
|Their local products on display! They made these bamboo items themselves and sell them at a very reasonable price
2 – Day Itinerary with Surfing and Swimming at Liwliwa Beach
02:30 AM – Meet up
03:0 AM – Depart for Liwliwa, Zambales
06:30 AM – Arrival at Circle Hostel
07:00 AM – Briefing and pick up
07:50 AM – Arrival at jump off point for Volcanic Ash Trek
09:00 AM – Arrival at the Nursery (sowing of seeds and planting)
11:00 AM – Trek to Yangil Tribe Village
Introductions and Village Tour
11:30 AM – Lunch with the Tribe
01:00 PM – Archery
02:00 PM – Traditional Dance and music with the tribe
03:00 PM – Trek back to jump off
05:00 PM – ETA in Jump off
05:30 PM – Watch the sunset at Liwliwa Beach
06:00 PM – Dinner
07:00 PM – Wash Up
08:00 PM onward – Socials
06:00 AM – Rise and Shine
07:00 AM – Breakfast
08:00 AM – Beach (Surf and Swim)
10:00 AM – Wash Up
11:00 AM – Pack Up
12:00 NN – Check out/ Lunch in restaurants nearby
1:00 PM – Departure for Manila
5:00 PM – Expected time of arrival in Manila
Mad Travel has a prearranged or an organized tour already which includes pick up and drop off at Manila by Victory Liner and transfers within San Felipe, meals, simple hostel accommodation. The following are their rates:
Tribe and Treks Tour
Round Trip Bus Ticket
2 Nights at The Circle Hostel (Bunk Bed Accommodation)
Tribe and Treks Tour
Round Trip Bus Ticket
Additional activities such as surfing and ATV are not part of the tour rate and are optional. Surfing activity starts at Php 200.00 for an hour with board and instructor. Use ATV, on the other hand, is at Php 800.00 for an hour. This is among the best things to do (i.e. sunset watching, beach bumming, swimming and food crawling) in Liwliwa shall the waves be flat.
Where We Stayed
The Circle Hostel
The Circle is an eco-hostel chain with cool hippie vibe. It is quite perfect for backpackers as it offers budget-friendly accommodation. Guests can stay and sleep at the hammocks, rent tents or comfortably bunk together in a room with other backpackers. There are Circle Hostels in Urbiztondo, La Union, Liwliwan Zambales (where we stayed), Real, Quezon and Baler, Aurora. If you are a backpacker and an advocate of sustainable traveling as well, then this hostel is for you.
The following are their accommodation types with their corresponding rates:
1. Hammock – Php 450.00 per person
2. Bunk Bed – Php 550.00 per person
3. Tent Pitching – Php 350.00 per person
4. Day trip – Php 150.00
How To Get There (DIY way)
1. From Caloocan, Cubao or Pasay, take a Victory Liner bus to Iba or Sta. Cruz, Zambales.
2. Get off at San Felipe Town Proper.
3. Take a tricycle and ask the driver to take you to Liwliwa.
|Our breakfast the next day after a fulfilling cultural discovery with the Yangil Tribe
Be Part of the Adventure that Matters!
Interested in joining Mad Travel with their Tribes and Treks and other adventure that matters? Check their scheduled organized trips here
I, the one who sleeps less, was able to get through the day and all the adventures without life and energy escaping from me. Thanks to Ultima vitamins, I was able to enjoy it. I have been taking Ultima Vitamins for quite some time already and little did I know that a portion of their sales is saved for buying a carabao to be given to the Yangil Tribe.