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!

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