Monday, January 7, 2019

My 2018’s List of Obsolete or Nuisance Items

My 2018’s List of Obsolete or Nuisance or Useless Items or Inventions 

Our needs and things that support them changes overtime, based on new technologies and inventions, on new and better ways of doing things or new requirement for the greater good.

With pressing needs on sustainability side – for one, a lot of what we use or buy today should be shelved and forgotten, replaced by more eco-friendly, safe or value-adding things in life.

Here are my picks of obsolete or nuisance everyday items:
1.       Paper staples, staple wire and staple wire remover.  I’m sure you’ve been "nuisanced" by the little evil thing one way or the other – and the fact is, we moved on and invented other ‘attacher’ techs.  Binder clips, old-school paper clips, clothes line clip, tapes – you name it.  Staples are not just nuisance or safety issue – it’s a waste of metal (non-reusable) – yes small and trivial but imagine a trillion little angled wire pieces used by 2-3 billion people! Loose or misfired staple wires lying on the floor is an obvious safety risk for kids and barefooted adults. So the next time the cashier attempts to staple your receipt with the card validation print-out, or staple the top-open end of the paper bag - shout “Nooooh”.

Monday, December 17, 2018

2018 Gear and Things – Review

Certina Titanium Dive Watch paired with Silver bracelet.

1.       ON the CLOUD running shoes.  There’s only 1 word to describe this shoe – LIGHT.   If you’ve been used to heavy shoes with rigid outer sole - like me (think boots, hiking shoes and trail shoes) you’ll have a sort of ‘shock’ on how light the shoes are!  I have used it for cycling, running and short hikes and it was obviously well-fitted for road running.  I will not recommend it for hiking or running on terrain with lots of pebbles or sharp rocks (although there's a trail running version which could perform better).  The segmented outer sole provides a unique comfort and lightness-feeling but stones and what-nots tend to cling to the gaps.  Its soft and light-weight construction also seem ‘doubtful’ on more serious hikes.   Similar to other shoes, it tends to ‘smell’ especially when being used sockless as the breathability only relies on the mid-front top-outer side made of light-weight, thin fabric.  My version has a built-in stretchable cord (with back-up tie-your-own cord as well) – which I find very useful for lazy man’s quick on-and-off wear (but not tight-trustable if you’re using it for quick and fast lateral action).  The price?  6-8k PHP is med-high for me and if you don’t mind a bit of weight – there are cheaper high-performance brands.  If you love running at top speed and a bit of weight bothers you – this could be your shoes.

My Year-2018 Highlights

at Bryggen, Bergen (Norway).  Using a small 2x2ft rain puddle to create this reflection effect.

Once again, the whole year zoomed by so fast that I barely had enough time to plan for everything in my to-do list!

But I can’t complain – it was but another good year with a good mix of planned and unplanned surprises.  So time to do my short version of introspection by revisiting some highlights of my 2018.
Wacky shots with fellow supporters and the marathoner - Louie.

Friday, November 16, 2018

An Autumn in Tromso

Disappearing Aurora captured by 15 secs of exposure.   It later re-appeared in different shapes.

There are but a few reasons why a traveler would want to visit the cold northern parts of Norway -  in late autumn or even winter…
And to see the Northern Lights would be on the top of the list!

Tromso – at 69-degree latitude, is above the arctic circle (66.5 degrees) and naturally cold, gloomy and dark in winter times and have short day light during late autumn and early spring.  For usual travelers visiting the warmer parts of the world,  a short day span or cold winter nights is not a very welcoming proposition to ‘have fun’!  But if one wishes to see the enchanting Aurora – that’s the only best chance. 
Of course, winter time will also offer other interesting activities such as dog sledding, visit to the wilderness to see the reindeers, snow mobile rides – albeit in a cold, gloomy or dark night.   If you don’t mind the cold or not seeing sunlight, and love partying at night – then it would be a good, unique travel destination.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Thai Cave Rescue - a Feel and Glimpse

A leisure caving that quickly turned into survival scenario.  Java Indonesia

Disclaimer:  I am not a cave-diving specialist.  The fiction narrative below is based on my experience as a Scuba Dive Master, limited wreck and cave-diving experience, and a few spelunking (caving) trips – including 1 major trip in Java where my team got lost for 6 hours with no map, guide and extra provisions.  And although part of mountain and water - Search & Rescue team, hands-on experience are mostly reef-diving related.

Invite me to participate in the Thai cave rescue and there will be no second thoughts to say NO!  Or I’ll think 100 times, 99% saying No.  That 1%? – It’ll be ”If there’s no other choice” and/or a loved one was trap in there.  It will be a big life risk – equally, if not more dangerous than climbing a high-altitude mountain ridge with a sudden squall.  Caving alone is dangerous, but mixed with diving will be something else.  Further mix it with a complex task to rescue teenagers – that’ll be a perfect recipe for disaster.  There’s very little margin for error, if at all.

Now, inspired by Discovery Channel’s feature -  here’s to provide a (fake) story to give some audience a ‘feel and glimpse’ of what it could be like for the rescue divers…. The fear, the daunting tasks, the thankless job.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Picture Poetry Series 2

See Picture Poetry Series 1

As a past time and constant mental sharpening :) I write - or try to, :) pieces of poetry posted in my Instagram account.

Here are some of them...

Mt Ama Dablam, Nepal

Big goals- lofty and high,
Getting there can make you cry;
Goals require a sacrifice,
Success - always has a price.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Picture Poetry Series 1

See Picture Poetry Series 2

As a past time and constant mental sharpening :) I write - or try to, :) pieces of poetry posted in my Instagram account.

Here are some of them...
Mt Vinson Massif, Antarctica (to high camp)

Just like a ghost, quietly it follows,
In the high mountains, or in the shallows,
It mimics you, in triumph or in pain,
Shooing it away will just be in vain.


Sunday, April 1, 2018

Freezer Training

Inside a freezer sharing layering principles and techniques; temp at around -25C with Louie (FWD North Pole marathoner), pic c/o FWD Insurance
I must admit that this recent 'freezer session' supporting FWD North Pole Marathon candidate’s training was my first.
At first, I thought that it was a joke, and that if ever - the freezer would be some sort of active cold storage facility complete with dead pigs and huge tunas!  Not that it was very surprising as I also heard of the same idea from GMA 7 - when they were still on their planning stage on how to go about training their crew in a winterish environment (to document part of my Everest expedition).
Hearing that the FWD representative has no previous snow/ ice/ winter experience – I thought that it was the logical (if not the only available) approach.

But just to share my own thoughts and opinion for those who are planning to short cut the process and really consider doing a ‘freezer training’, here are some things to consider:

Monday, March 12, 2018

Winter Survival - Quit or Not Quit?

Session with Louie - the North Pole Marathon participant, along with coaches Ige and Ani.

I know that we should seldom entertain the word ‘Quit’; but reality dictates that we should be practical and smart in our approach, whether that’s attempting a summit in a very cold place, or – as these questions are designed for, attempting a marathon in the North Pole!

I used these questions to preempt my one-on-one sharing with the marathon candidate, to see his risk perspective and detect what should I highlight in our discussion – and sharing this to you in case you plan to climb or do any winter endurance sport. 

How many ‘Quit -yes’ will you answer?

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Year-end Review - 2017 Highlights

“Reflect on the past – to design your future…”  J
A review of past year’s events, activities, as well as top picks on gears and stuff.

That was fast!  2017 seems to have went by too fast too soon! Perhaps a guilty feeling that there were unfinished work.  But focusing on the good side and big highlights – I can say that it was another wonderful year!  Yey!

So, here’s my top picks for 2017…

1.        (event) History Maker Awards! (Read past post here).   It was an honor and a privilege to be part of History Con 2017 as one of the awardees!  Recognizing mountaineering feat is always a good help in promoting life-nurturing adventure activities.  And to be lined up with big names is both humbling and inspiring!  Thank you, History Channel and all event stakeholders!

Artists, musicians, physicist, celebrity stars, adventure riders, athlete, among others

2.        (advocacy) Mt Apo 25,000 trees!   This is a UP Mountaineer project (partnered with EDC and various volunteer groups) that I started Sep of 2016 - and I’m glad to report that we’ve finished planting 25,000 trees since Nov 2017!  There’s another 3 years of maintenance effort to ensure the trees grow nicely – uprooting invasive grass and replacing dead saplings!    My team is promoting Adopt-a-hectare to outdoor organizations that are willing to help. Visit  and send us a message if interested.

Volunteer group from UP Mountaineers with DENR monitoring team - Sep2017

3.       (product) Uniqlo outwear campaign! (see related post – What to invest on – for mountain climbing beginners).  The campaign allowed me to check and field-test some garments and it was a good surprise that those that I’ve used were truly functional, and equally important - affordable for thrifty buyers.  Some variants even have better specs (i.e. material blending) compared to more expensive brands. In the early days – it was a struggle to find a good brand that are highly useful for outdoor activities – especially alpine mountaineering.  Uniqlo’s various options for winter (and general outdoor) wear were good in its class,  but differing favorably in prices.

Instagram Post (How to fight cold) wearing a seamless down parka

4.       (travel) Hawaii trip!  It may be a “been-there-done-that” for many, but this recent trip was my first in this island!  Or rather, group of islands!  The hike around Kilauea volcano and visit to Pearl harbor were good highlights!  Of course, I have to add the ‘good scenery’ in Waikiki and Kona beaches!  Read trip post.  
Hiking at Diamond Head crater near Waikiki.

5.       (travel) Transformer - Universal Studio Singapore!   Ha ha!  I have to add this.  I’ve been to Universal Studio Japan (where unfortunately I heard more Nippongo than English) and I’ve concluded that Water World and Terminator were the best.  In Singapore (where there’s no Terminator and have an exact the same Water World show) – I’ve concluded that riding Evac (the unknown Autobot) while escaping the clasps of Megatron and other decepticons was a thrilling experience - even for a grown-up man like me!  I did wish that we were given a big weapon to help fight at least.
Joking around.  Universal Studio Singapore - Near Transformer area (behind me/ covered, is Bumblebee). But yes - Star Wars has nothing to do with Universal ha! ha!

6.       (product, top picks) Uniqlo down jackets.  Seamless down parka - this product has a lot of potential for alpine and high-altitude mountaineering use.  Or just any winter country use!   Being affordable (less than 100$ in local store) can make it an easy choice! Mountaineering brands will cost 200$ and up, and perhaps 150$ for cheaper or on-sale brands.  The Ultra-light down is also a good entry, being light weight but highly useful as additional layer or stand-alone for less-than-cold scenario.  And a lot cheaper!

7.       New product experiment – Inabel Neck Warmer.  Still part of my Inabel hand-woven campaign project – I’ve created a new line of brand that is small, functional and very cheap!   The 200+ pieces of gift order I got last Christmas was a good enough reason to pursue this product line.  Hopefully distributed to partner store – Lagalag, this quarter.  Wearing one is advocating the use of local and hand-made / artisanal product.  Or just being fashionable.   The cowl is long and is typically worn in double loop to cover the neck.  With 1ft width, it can also be used to cover either the face or hair typical of shorter neck warmers.  It comes in various colors usually using the popular ‘Trambia’ weave pattern.
UPM team at Mt Apo's Maag camp.  Field-testing the neckwarmer.

8.       (product/gear top picks) Bags by Rubber Tree – “corporate backpack”.  Wanting a laptop bag that is artisanal but corporate has been a challenge.  I even designed (custom-order) a Tinalak-plus-leather version a while back.  Full leather will be more professional-looking however, but being a “backpack-person”, I wanted something different from the usual messenger type.  Fortunately, Bags by Rubber Tree owner (a friend from the outdoor community) gave in to my request J  i.e. re-using their brown leather backpack design to come up with something special.  It’s proving to be a good buy so far, with its smooth leather – it is easy to clean and shine.   It doesn’t have a built-in laptop compartment nor cushioning – so I just put a paper board divider inside, and now more careful to avoid banging it against a hard surface.  It’s big enough to hold my laptop and various accessories, but small enough to be carried easily through crowded areas.  In a nasty scenario, running with a backpack is better than running with a messenger bag!  

No big climbs or long expeditions for me this year – but that’s by design.  One has to respect the ‘season of recovery’ (if not the season of saving cash or attending to family needs).  =)

Let’s see what 2018 will bring… 

Happy New Year!