I just came home with mixed emotions from the 14th Mindanao Forum and Climb in San Isidro, Davao Oriental. Sanctioned by the Mountaineering Federation of the Philippines (MFPI), the Mountaineering Federation of Southern Mindanao(MFSM), the Department of Tourism and hosted by two local clubs in partnership with the DOT-XI (San Isidro), this forum was supposed to be aimed at “Kalikasan Alagaan para sa Kaunlaran at Kinabukasan ng Kabataan”, so as its theme says. Sad to say, but I think, this edition of the Mindanao forum, is wanting in some aspects.
It was my first time to climb Mt. Hamiguitan and incidentally, attend a mountaineering federation forum. I have high expectations for both. But sadly, apart form the grand bonsai forest I saw, and the warm party people I met there, future organizers need some serious thinking on the conduct on these events. And there were already early questions into the forum’s fees as you can read from the comments in this blog.
Be forewarned though, I’m neither a purist, nor a pugilistic ecowanderer nitpicking on minor inadequacies or discomforts. However, if the dissatisfaction become widespread and reaching epidemic proportions (say 99% of my buddies said so), I have to speak out so that the future organizers and host will learn from these insights and prepare for a better mountaineering forum in the future.
Here are my observations and recommendations:
- Change the itinerary and venues only if extremely necessary. If you do change ITs and venues make sure you adequately inform the participants. While it is a common knowledge that participants should be responsible for knowing changes in IT, it is still and ultimately the responsibility of the hosts to inform everyone.Most mountaineers prepare a strict budget for the IT they know. Thus changes on this bring disaster for their pockets especially for those who come from far away places.
- If you are the host, act like the host and put the participants on top of all your activities (House guest rule). Apart from mother nature, participants should never be second to any sponsors, politicians or any other things.
- Treat all participants equally and without any special biases to anyone. The rules apply to everyone. So if you bend some rules for one group, you cannot blame others for breaking the same.
- Safety first and safety second. If you think the participants deviated from the rules and put themselves at risks, that is their prerogative. But never leave them continuously at risks and let them feel they are neglected. They paid their registration fees remember.
- Comfort may be the last priority among us mountaineers, nevertheless, when there is an opportunity for us to habitate on better conditions (and fun), we will do so gladly. Packing several hundred raucous mountaineers inside a covered court, with one CR and rest room, is totally unnerving. The handful of beaches along coastline is sure darn better to rest and wait for the jump off day dont you think?
- Always ask for a feedback on your events, not just from the heads of delegations but from random participants also. Introduce yourself as a staff and lend some ears.Its the best way to learn from experiences.
The bottom line of this all is that the participating mountaineers should be on the top of your priority list. Act as a host to them like how you act as a host to a visitor in your house. Mountaineers are far from idiots waiting to be nudged and coerced. These are mostly free thinking people exerting effort for some good fun with nature. We may act differently and uniquely from everyone around us, but we also have our sense for freedom, decency, unbiased judgment and camaraderie for everyone.
So for the next host, the MFPI and the other mountaineering clubs and federations, we will expect more from you guys. Make those registration fees run deeper for fun, for love of nature and camaraderie.
My sincere thanks to the DOT-XI, the host clubs and the federation for giving me an eye opener for this event. To the very accommodating (and warm) Rescue Team of Davao Oriental (DOSMART) and their chief. They made me feel “welcomed” in the very short time I partied with them. To the people I’m with, Team DaGenDigMlaRong who never failed to amaze me with their resilience and resourcefulness, To Marimax of Marimax Outdoor Adventure for the enviable HG patched polo he gave me, to the sponsors, to the band who jammed that night, to Dodot and to many others I met who made us all feel we are their brothers. Salamat!