The open cliffs just aren't as expansive. The mountains have denser vegetation. Access to the crags are a bit trickier, perhaps related to the country’s tropical climate, letting plants overrun trails in a matter of weeks. Or they're just plain muddy and slippery.
There's seldom a straightforward way to the destination. One has to take at least 3 modes of transportation – airplane, ferry, taxi, train, bus, jeepney, boat, tricycle, motorcycle – you take your pick.
For sure it will be strewn with hiking and street-smart navigating. Through crowded urban streets, bustling ports and terminals, and worn out roads. Or across shallow streams, hanging bridges, and rocky tracks.
But therein lies the pleasure.
It’s not just about making the grade; it’s about the distinct moments that lead up to the red point story. It's not about ticking off routes, but about cultivating relationships as the routes get ticked.
Found yourself in Mindanao? Explore the rocks of Iligan, ride to Cagayan de Oro, dip in the natural hot springs, and cap the trip off in Bukidnon. If you’re in Cebu, thread your way from Mansorella, to Cantabaco, to Poog, and take a breather in any of Cebu’s fantastic beaches if your fingers are calling for rest. If you’re flying in at the capital city, work your way up from Manila to Bulacan’s riverside boulders, then up north to chilly Baguio, and further up in the quiet town of Sagada.
All in between, as you make your way from one crag to the next, mingle with the friendly folks, eat local delicacies, drink San Miguel beer, and take in the native culture.
At least, that’s how we picture climbing in the Philippines to be. Just like that – but with at least 50 more crags and a hundred more side trips that climbers can map out to plan their own unique adventure.
“SPOT” stands for Share, Progress, Open, Teach. It is a movement to “spot” or assist the growth of sport climbing in developing countries, of which the Philippines was selected to become the first beneficiary.
To help draw support for the Philippine project, Miel Pahati, active mover of the sport in the country, will be sharing Climb Philippines’ dream at the coming climbing festival. He will be joined by James Pearson, Caroline Ciavaldini, and Francisco Taranto, Jr. of FotoVertical, all of whom were part of the recent deep-water soloing exploration at El Nido, and initiators of the SPOT Project.
Hopefully, through the festival kick-off, a bigger part of the international climbing community will become aware of the SPOT Project, and facilitate the bigger Philippine event that's in the pipeline for 2015. Stay tuned for it!
Climb Philippines would like to thank Sea to Summit, TNF Philippines, ROX and Boon for supporting this cause.