Archive for the ‘Travel Journal’ Category


Hikers rely on maps, compasses and instinct that enable them to get to where they want to go. In a real mountain, there are no signage and arrows and welcome markers. Maps may not really be helpful when everything else in the mountain is just the trees. Compasses could only tell directional orientation. Hence, climbing mountains is best taken with someone else to guide you, lest you are a real adventurer on your own.

To succeed in climbing the mountain, you need to follow the trail as you need to know where you are going. The trail is the path you need to take to get where you want to go. This is the path which others have taken before, but there is not just a single way. Sometimes the path diverges somewhere, and sometimes it is not just there. There are times you would need to make your own path as you need to decide on which path to take when the trail diverges.

On the mountain, the trail varies from being flat, to going up and going down. Some are wide, others are just narrow. Those narrow pathways are the usually difficult ones which make you climb up and glide down. There are wooden bridges you need to cross to skip mud and water. On the trail you would walk on dirt, rocks and mud while you clear off the shrubs as you go through. When you are novice to the place, all you have to do is to be guided and to follow.

Aside from keeping yourself on the trail, you need to listen to what your guide is telling you. Remember that you are new to this thing and you are walking with someone who really knows the place to lead you to where you are really going. As thinking individual, you need to use your instinct, apply some common sense to everything that you will be told. I remember my guide telling me that I should jump, no not off the cliff, but jump to reduce my tiresome feeling. That doesn’t make sense to me, since my legs, body and lungs are all tired. I just stood and regulated my breathing instead.

He didn’t do the jumps, I never saw him did, although he would yodel or shout to release some stress. That I’d follow because it’s fun, relaxing and not so tiresome. Even though I was following someone who is expert in the terrain, somehow, I noticed that he would stop when the trails diverge, or when the trail seems to end somewhere. Instinct would guide him the directions, by looking at some landmarks, like the peak of the mountain, and the place below.

In the workplace, facing new challenges or working in a new area or environment, would require us to follow and be led. Yet, that does not mean you lose your senses of who you are and your environment. You can continue with the hike only with a trusted navigator to guide you, whom you should depend only as much. Only when you have really learned the course, then you can take the lead. You have to be responsible yourself, and remain aware of the track you are taking with someone else, and be sensitive too with him, as he would to your favour.

In our lives we grow up following the adults who have come to this world before us. They too have learned the many things in life from following others. Learning is a social activity where we tend to adapt to the situation by doing the things others are doing. It was my first time hiking. I keenly look at my guide’s steps as I admire his agility. I would try to mimic his moves, as much as I could. When I could not, I’ll do it on my own but still keeping in the track and getting to where we wanted to go.

We follow the one we trust for some reasons. It’s not because of age. It’s because of others’ wisdom and experience, and also of how they would look after us. My guide was more agile than I am, younger than my age, an expert on the trail we were taking. I was an explorer, an adventurer and a first timer. Yet, I trusted him, my life on that mountain, since my field is different. He could move faster than I am, but when I could not follow, he would stop and wait for me to be at paced with him.

Going down, when we were on the ground already, my guide asked me if I could locate the lodge I was staying. I did. Then he asked me to find the pathway amidst the rice fields. After some rest in village, he asked me to lead the way. I wondered, perhaps next time, I could take the lead in climbing that mountain with some friends, that’s if they would trust me out of my experience.

We are led for us to learn how to follow. We follow so we can lead next time. Leading and following are so intricately connected, and one does not become leader without a follower, the latter never becomes a leader without really learning how to follow well.


A vision is an image embedded in one’s mindset. This may come in forms of expectations, goals, purpose and meaningful desires. In life and in business, the success of an individual is determined and measured by that vision.

I went back to the Mountain Province not really to go mountain hiking and trekking. In my mind, I have set those five days to work on my dissertation revision. It would be a plus for me, if I could finish early to have some time to relax and enjoy the place. I had visualized myself working on my paper and completing it up there in that town on a mountain. Avoiding distractions, familiar people, Internet and work, it took me only a day and a half to revise my paper. That’s how vision work.

Since I have time for leisure, I planned for some adventure. My guide’s advice was to go on mountain hiking. I understood that we are going mountain hiking. In my mind were many images of a mountain top and the sceneries that could surprise me. I didn’t even know where we were actually going. But his shared vision, his suggestion, got me believing and going up the mountain. I was in for the surprises that I could not even visualize. With that, I just wanted to go there. I was not told though of how the trails were, how hard it could be and how long it would take. I just knew that we are going mountain hiking, that’s a clear goal that guided me through half the day of going up Mt. Ampacao.

A vision is a picture of where one is going. In life, this vision is really ideal. Knowing where you want to go, helps you keep moving on. To some other people when the journey time is taking long, they repeatedly ask the same question, “are we there, yet?” to the doubtful, the question is “where are we really going?”, to the cynical the question is “do you really know where we are going? or gasp “are we lost?”. I trusted the person I went with to Mt. Ampacao, for that is his job, and I am just sharing the vision, and I know we are going somewhere though I’ve never been there.

Similar in the workplace, you can be assigned some real new and big tasks, some even unchartered. Like climbing a mountain there are risks with it which could hold you back. But, with a clear goal in mind and vision of where you want to go, you take heart and move up, and head on to your destination. Knowing where you want to go gives you time to prepare for it, pack your backpacks with the basic things you would need. Although you know where you are going, the process of getting there requires some guidance.

Actually, I’ve seen Mt. Ampacao from the ground, but I never knew how beautiful it could be on top of it. If I had not shared the idea to climb it, I would not have experienced its trails and surprises and the sense of fulfillment being on top of it. Because visions are ideal, they become abstract to someone in the long run, and that others just give up getting there. In mountaineering, every goal of the mountaineer is to reach the summit if not be nearer it. From time to time, as we climb up, my guide would point to where we are going and even share stories of how it is fun there. That’s motivation.

If you have a picture in mind of where you want to be, such image and all other things that you might desire could motivate you  to achieve great things in life. The greater your desire, the better it will do for you. A vision is a goal in which you set your mind and heart to pursue. Greater goals yield better results, no matter how difficult they may be. Just like climbing a mountain, hikers want to reach the summit, the higher the peak the greater the challenge. Yet, getting there gives the great sense of self-fulfilment and life-achivement.

The power of vision enables one to pursue and turn into reality a great dream. Going for it makes the vision real. The trails may difficult and the terrain unwelcoming, but getting there makes for one a successful individual. Being able to go where you want to go, drives to go further.


My first time to really hike in the mountain happened on my 37th birthday, atop Mt. Ampacao in Sagada, Mountain Province. While going up its terrain, I realized how climbing a mountain is so similar to effective workplace attitude and behaviour in many aspects, which also apply in how we go about with life.

I went back to Sagada for a purpose; that was to revise my dissertation proposal. So, I scheduled a 5-day off from work and away from home. I thought I needed some space and time alone to focus on what I want to finish. Since I just had an earlier vista of how conducive Sagada could be for my academic work, I decided to go back. I shared that with my family, and though they irked to question my goal, they just had to respect my desire to accomplish something.

I was able to finish the revisions for my academic paper on the second day. I had to deprive myself that day from enjoying the place. Except for the lunch, snack, dinner and smoking breaks, all I had to do was to go over the comments on paper and do what I have to do. Fighting the temptation of going out and pleasing myself with the beautiful place, I was able to do it. I succeeded simply because I had a vision in my mind – I want to defend my proposal by June, I want to get my PhD degree by the next school year, and I want to get promoted after graduation to a full-professor status.

And, all that is related to the vision statement I wrote some years ago. I want to inspire others as an excellent teacher, and getting there means I have to move up (literally and figuratively), in both my education and professional performance.

Odd it may be, but I needed to go over mountains from Manila to the Northern Philippines to complete the revision of my paper, and I am sure I will have to do it again sometime soon. But, it is not a waste: it was actually a fruitful time for me. It gave me the needed time to do what I have to do and spend some time to rest and recreate myself. My climb back to Sagada taught me some lessons which are vital to keep me up at work and in life in general.

Ten insightful lessons came to my mind, with the mountain breeze as I climbed Mt. Ampacao. I wish to share these in a ten-post series: 1) Sharing a Vision and Going for it; 2) Following and leading; 3) Trying out new things; 4) Keeping on track and finding ways; 5) Seizing the moment and loving the environment; 6) Appreciating various perspectives; 7) Pacing and taking time to rest; 8) Not cramping on some shit; 9) Remaining in balance; and 10) Knowing where you came from. Meaningful as they came to me, and I desire to share these insights in my succeeding posts.