Last November 5-6, I was invited by Obie from Ganernderlust to travel with a purpose and help distribute donations to the Aetas in Yangil Village.
This was all thanks to MAD Travel, Circle Hostel, and the various companies who gave us resources to help out!
We arrived in Circle Hostel at around 7AM, starting with our dental and medical mission. We had a quick meeting about what to expect during the trek and when we were in the village itself.
It was a 10-minute drive going to Sitio Sagpat, where we started the trek. The sun was shining, there were no shades, but the view was amazing (and I luckily brought my umbrella with me!).
It was a very long walk, about an hour or so before we got to the rivers and cooled down for a bit. We then had another discussion about the area. From what I learned, resources were scarce. While local government and companies like MAD Travel do help, it isn't enough to help sustain their daily needs. There are times where they have no livelihood from weather conditions and the like. That's the reason why MAD Travel hosts weekly Tribes and Treks on weekends, where people are able to not only open their eyes to what's happening but to also do their best to help in any way they can (through tree planting and donations!).
Once we got to Yangil village, we were welcomed by the friendly villagers who made us some morning snacks (lemon grass tea, sweet potatoes and fresh papayas = Y U M)!
We then had a bunch of activities, including archery and a tour around the village. Archery was fun, though I had NO idea what I was doing, LOL. It was harder than it looked!
The tour around the village was nice, as we were taught the different medicinal plants, as well as how they (the Aetas) created their livelihood. The lands are vast and there was an opportunity to plant, it's just that the resources (financial and other materials needed for farming) were, like mentioned, scarce.
We then got back for lunch, which was fresh tomatoes and onions with native chicken adobo, tinola, and fried tilapia! And of course, rice (WHICH WAS AMAZING? I can live without rice, but I loved the taste and quality). Super delicious.
After lunch, we started with the dental and medical mission, where Obie and our friends (Paulo, Ayie and Ynah) taught the children on proper nutrition and cleanliness. We also packed and distributed the donations from sponsors!
We had the tree planting activity after, where we helped dig up and plant banana trees and plants around the area. We also had a bit of fun time with the Aetas, as we watched and participated in their courtship dance!
After that, we then packed up and said our goodbyes (but I WILL be back soon!) and trekked back to the barangay. Well, we took a GrabCarabao for the first half, haha!
We headed back to the chieftain's home, where we had dinner. More fresh vegetables, chicken, and tilapia. We also had ginataang bayabas, which was delicious! (Then again, all sweets are delicious to me!)
That was when we headed back to Circle Hostel and checked in. I took a nice bath and went to the common area to charge. Sadly, no bonfire as it was raining.
And that was the end of Day 1, the whole program from MAD Travel's Tribes & Treks.
It was an awesome experience, and I got to learn so much from the villagers and from the people behind MAD Travel themselves. I had a great time and met a lot of new people, from the village to the hostel. If you want to learn more about how you can participate and experience the outreach yourself, then visit MAD Travel here! Packages start at 1,500 PHP, already including the whole tour and meals.
I'll be including Day 2 in a separate post, along with an itinerary and budget breakdown for those solo travelers who want to surf! ;)
* P.S. Thank you so much to the talented Obie & Ynah Mercado and Mary Gonzales for some of the photos! Love them.