Tuesday, December 20, 2016

2016 Year-Ender – my Top Picks

1.       (Sports) Padyak Palawan.   I was glad this pushed through even with little support and sponsorship.  Here, I clocked my fastest mountain bike ride (58kph – that’s fast for me), my longest tour (~700km), and longest travel by bike (11 ride days).  More importantly, it was good that we decided to make it a conservation ride, and was able to raise a modest fund for our partner NGO – CCI.  If there’s one problem with this, it is that – it could be addicting and we might do another trip! :)
First day of our 12-day ride.  Here pedaling from Buliluyan (Southern most pt of Bataraza), an escort of policemen and marines tailing the team (only in this section). 

2.       (Conservation) 25,000 Trees -  Reforestation program.    25,000 trees seems easy but I realize that inviting or bringing self-funded people to a remote mountain to ask them to plant in a steep and rough terrain is not particularly easy. But I’m glad my team from UP Mountaineers pursued this project (3 trips this year and more next year). We always say ‘give something back’, and there’s no better way for mountaineers to give back (to the mountains and community) than to rehabilitate a denuded mountain.
A selfie - showing off my first planted sapling (wilding).  I only planted 58 saplings that day, the terrain was really challenging. 

3.       (Health/ Green Living) Sodium bicarbonate. Yes – baking soda!  It’s one of the oldest trick in the book but which I only recently experimented on.  I saw a green living episode in CNN and copied this home-made toothpaste made of this substance (my version - I mixed with virgin coco oil for its anti-bacterial/viral property). Salty, but I feel it’s better than buying expensive, toxic (i.e. fluoride), and trash-y (container/packaging) counterparts.  Best – I stopped buying expensive deodorants (7-8$ each) and avoided trash-making (container and packaging), and save money (only 1$ for a box of soda good for months) – AND that it actually worked against underarm odour. (1 small pinch is enough). I also use it for shoes and ref or under-sink (deodorizer).  Can also be used for home-cleaning, sink de-clogging (mixed with vinegar), among many other things!  One doesn’t need to be a survivalist or a (disaster) prepper to learn about baking soda -  switch now and live green and healthy.
DIY toothpaste, cheap and safer (no fluoride).  My first mix included sea salt and stevia (for flavor) but succeeding mixture only included baking soda + virgin coconut oil and little water.  

4.       (Gear) Garmin Fenix 3 watch.  I’m not really a gadget guy, but being in the field mostly require some useful techy gadgets to make one’s life easier. This Fenix proved very useful in my Palawan bike expedition – to track my progress (distance, speed) among other things.  The battery technology needs a lot of improvement though (I don’t like re-charging every 2 or 3 days) – so I feel it’s still a ‘GPS device that mimics a wrist watch’.  (For comparison, my 5yr-old G-shock/ altimeter hasn’t experience battery change to-date, thanks to its solar-lens)- but it has no GPS.
Wearing my Fenix (right hand) during the multi-day Palawan ride.  At a sari-sari store, one of the hundred rest-stops; here befriending little porky, handing out a snack-bite.

5.       (Travel) Dumaguete-Siquijor-Apo-Oslob.  Philippines is truly blessed with beautiful islands, and perfect sunsets!  Now on Oslob - Yes I know it’s controversial, it’s NOT NICE to lure and feed those sharks for tourism.  I didn’t initially plan to go in (and I can’t really say I’m promoting it), but partly acting as safety-swimmer for the kids in our family group – I can see the positive impact on them.  Of seeing beauty.  Of knowing what needs to be conserved.  On the socio-economic side - I guess we need that kind of livelihood source (the fish ‘viewing’, not the feeding scene) for the time-being as this ‘Oslob phenomenon’ provides a very substantial community income.  Oslob is now in the tourists’ map and also made Dumaguete a go-in tourist point helping in its revival. More study is needed to improve both tourism and ‘feeding issue’.   My hope is better awareness for all tourists – that sharks, ALL sharks are special and need to be protected and conserved.  Including the ‘dangerous ones’. We don’t want big squids or rays or other secondary predators invading our oceans and killing all the fishes!  Here’s a suggestion - for those who will or have visited Oslob – as a return of favour, for our oceans – PLEDGE not to harm, eat, poach or kill sharks; promise not to buy/use any shark products or derivatives such as shark’s fin (soup, siomai), dried skin, liver oils or related supplements, even bone or tooth jewelry; PLUS educate people on the importance of protecting our ocean protectors. Without them, the ocean will either be dead, or plagued by menace predators, or littered with decaying dead whales or fishes.

6.       (Community/ Conservation) CSR.  I’ve volunteered to lead my Manila office’s corporate social responsibility program for a year or two – and it concluded with a nice team award.  More than that visual aspect (of getting an award), it echoed what the team (and volunteers) had accomplished over the last fiscal year – be it building homes (with Habitat for Humanity), or donation drive for schools, NGOs and charitable organization, or teaching kids know-how on health and hygiene; but the biggest for me is seeing eager volunteers who went extra miles to help, support and take actions.  To make this world a little better somehow.

One of the Habitat for Humanity painting trips, this one in Pasig.

7.       (Product) Black Label.  Johnnie Walker’s campaign (Joy will take you further) concluded early in the year, but my whisky journey continued.  Including the use of black label for my cooking!  I tried it with squid, shrimps, lamb, goat and chicken! Others may prefer the more expensive Labels (ex. Blue), but I like the normal smokey-taste of raw, undiluted Black for random night sipping while watching news or TLC or NatGeo or Discovery. Or in private parties where you simply want to relax and drink quality liquor.  
Double Black squid, with black label and black pepper!

Triple Black 'nilasing na hipon' (drunken shrimps), with black label, black pepper and black olives!

Whisky-infused chevon dish (goat)

8.       (Book) 100 Deadly Skills!  Disaster and anti-crime preparation in a whole new, advanced level.  I used to think that I know a lot already.  But reading this book made me experiment on new skills and know-how (including left-foot breaking when driving, and don't ask why), and more importantly – recognizing that one, can never be truly equipped and materially prepared (even with your EDC or BOB).  Wits can win the day.  While this may not fit in majority-readers’ taste, living in a scary, dangerous, blooded-street nation – I find it as a very good source of know-how, plus it's an entertaining read!

(image from an internet Ad)

9.       (Creations / Innovations) Inabel products.  I gave myself a couple of years for this project, but it showed no sign of stopping.  After I introduced the hand-woven Malong and then Cowl (which was somehow continually liked by my circle of friends and friends-of-friends), I introduced new things such as Wasig picnic blanket (which looks promising), lovely-colourful Tote Bags and neck-head warmer.  I still have a few items in my idea bag – and who knows, maybe if I reach 10 SKUs out of this experiment, I might as well formally create a brand!
The recent addition to my experimental products - Wasig Picnic Blanket with water-resistant layer.

It's not just about creating something - it's supporting local community and preserving centuries-old hand-weaving tradition!

10.   (Events) Kids Survival Camp.  It was a fun private affair – but I realize that I like this kind of stuff.  More fulfilling than organizing an adult-oriented event.   But more tiring - trying to manage small kids who have their ‘own plan of action’ different from your instructions or rules.  Still, I have to repeat this with a better timeframe and program - and hopefully make a positive difference in our kids’ (skills) growth.
Briefing before the obstacle course event.  After this - CHAOS!  but fun :)

This year was a ‘relaxed’ year for me and that's by design.
Next year should be more colorful as I plan for yet another travel, and another project.  
Any planned adventure? Let’s see what item in my bucket list is ripe for the taking!

Have a blessed Holiday and an eventful 2017!  Mabuhay!

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