Wednesday, June 17, 2009

ART FOR EARTH'S SAKE (May 04. 2009)

Joseph Paul Dato Alipio recently set up an Adventure Outfitter for the Cordillera Region called Cordillera Expeditions.
More popularly known as J.P., he has contacts in most villages throughout the mountains so he qualifies as a Cordillera Specialist – with anthropology professor Reuben Muni and mountaineer-doctor Cherry Malonzo.
So far, it all began last year and already they have organized trips to Batad in Ifugao, the lakes and mummy caves of Kabayan, Mayoyao in Ifugao, and Mt. Pulag, the second highest mountain in the country.
Earlier this year, the trio were featured in the January issue of Travel Life magazine and in the August 31 travel sections of the Philippine Star and Manila Bulletin.
They have a partnership with Hi-Tec outdoor Gear and Deuter Equipment and their clients can avail of discounts from both equipment suppliers for which they do orientations in outdoor shop in Bonifacio Global City ROX.
Their trips are also unique since they involve the locals who benefit economically from the trips, as local guides, transporters, and caterers.
The trips also have the added benefit of creating a new kind of tourists, from those who go for luxury to those who love to ride on the top load of jeepneys and take in the amazing view with the wind blowing in their faces, sleep under the stars or inside a hut in the middle of the terraces, trek to waterfalls, eat with their bare hands from banana leaves, dance and feast with the locals.
Such treat into the mountains gives the locals an idea that there is no need to build all the smooth roads and big hotels for tourists.
Most of their clients come back for more of their brand of “Cordillera Luxury.”
Unlike others, they are based in the very mountains.
An M.A. in Environmental Management degree holder from Ateneo de Manila and University of San Francisco joint program (2006) and B.S.Biology undergrad from University of the Philippines Baguio (2003) -- J.P. grew up in their ancestral home in Benguet owned by his Ibaloi father, Alex, whose parents were educators known for teaching the so-called “mountain men and women” basic education.
His Kapampangan mother, Georgina, has been successful in continuing such tradition by putting up almost two decades ago a school named Little Flower Children's Home Foundation at Km. 4 in La Trinidad.
For her efforts, “Mom Gigi” was recognized by the Gintong Ilawan Top Private School Principals in the Philippines and Ten Outstanding Citizens of Benguet Province organizers.
In this atmosphere, the eldest J.P. and his brothers – Francis who used to be the nurse of his tokayo, the late rap king, Francis M. in Manila and the youngest Jolo who is taking up a pre-med course in Baguio – were exposed at an early age up to this day.
“We are one with the mountains, hills, and rivers here,” J.P. stressed,” in fact, my dad, who is a veterinarian, has three non-poisonous snakes roaming around Little Flower to the delight of our school children and to the disadvantage of some pests.”
As a kid, he found pleasure in playing and roaming around these mountainsides.
So it is not surprising for him to end up as a nature lover who takes nothing from his surrounding but pictures!
Being a professional camera bug, he made it a point to design trips for his kind via expeditions which will give photographers more time to get to know the villages and the area that they are shooting, usually beaten path places, or places in the sun most tourists do not go to.
During the recent Earth Day celebration, he, together with friends, Yasuhiko Naoi from Japan and Ruel Bimuyag from Kalinga, put up a 33-photo exhibit entitled Kalinga: Land of Earth Beat at SM Baguio.
Organized by Baguio Mountain Provinces Museum Foundation Inc. and produced by Cordillera Green Network Inc., it is part of the Baguio as a melting pot project.
A land navigator and an openwater diver too, J.P. has photographs on the Cordillera that have been exhibited in UP Baguio and in ISS in the Netherlands and published in Metro Active Magazine and Filipinas magazine in the United States, Skyland News, Manila Standard, and Manila Bulletin. Aside from being the team leader of the Philippine Central Cordillera Traverse, he was also the team’s photographer for the traverse and the National Geographic Society.
At 28, he already had solo exhibits called Living Mountains, Living Images of the Cordillera Mountains, Big Green Sunrise, and Green Shadows in 2006 and 2007 respectively.
Mentored by no less than Gordon Wiltsie, the world-famous National Geographic expedition photographer, J.P. himself even digged deeper into tribal wars and pesticide use. His grants come from the National Geographic Society as a Young Explorer to do research in the Cordillera region. Being the 2004-2005 National Geographic Expeditions Council Grantee – as Expedition and Project Leader – his project was the Central Cordillera Traverse, a 38-day expedition on the trail that connects Benguet to the Mountain Province and ends at Tirad Pass.
“I led a team composed of specialists from different fields (Anthropology, Sociology, Health, Environment) in conducting an assessment of the people and environment of the central Cordillera Region.” he confessed, “and the results of the study are embodied in the Report on the People and Environment of the Central Cordillera Region which contains an analysis of geographic, ecological/environmental, cultural, and socio-economic data as related to the sustainability of development currently occurring in the region. Another objective was to map out the ancient footpaths that connected the region using GPS data and topographic map plotting.”
In 2008, he was the Project Head of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts Cordillera Cultural Mapping Project and Environmental Education facilitator Cordillera during the Eco Caravan of the Cordillera Green Network.
“We recognize our responsibility to the planet and would like to make our trips as Carbon Neutral as possible.” he added,” and your fee for us guides also includes the planting of tree seedlings to offset the amount of CO2 that will be produced during the Cordillera Expedition.”
Someday, J.P. will follow the footsteps of these 13 individuals who were honored with the Fr. Neri Satur Award for Environmental Heroism last April 19, as part of the observance of the World Earth Day. Led by Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales for his unwavering support for the protection of our environment, the awardees include Arts Association of the Philippines (Environmental Arts Education for visual arts), Joey Ayala (for music), and Kidlat Tahimik (for film documentation of indigenous peoples). Special citations for Media and Culture were also be given to the late master rapper Francis Magalona (posthumous) and Timmy Cruz (eco-friendly artists); television personalities and eco-friendly hosts Richard Gutierrez for the now-defunct Full Force Nature and Kim Atienza for Matanglawin; and finally, radio hosts Angelo Palmones for the DZMM Takbo sa Kalikasan and Clement Bautista for DZRH Environmental Reporting.
There are three kinds of historians: those who know how to count and those who don't.
What we have for ourselves dies with us, but what we have done for others remains. We make a living not by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.

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