“Ate, tapos na ang team meeting namin.”
Got this message at around 7pm today. These kids have been up since 4am, to prepare for all the visitors coming up to Ambaguio. We have been welcoming hundreds of guests every weekend and it takes so much time, effort, and finances to maintain the operations of the areas we are managing. No, we don’t own any of these, but the kids have been giving their all, like it’s their own. And I hope our visitors see that.
We want to build a different culture of tourism in Ambaguio – where visitors are welcomed with the tribal-vibe of hospitality. Where the local staff who welcome you are not stoic-unsmiling people. Where conversations with the local guides are warm and genuine. Where simple things are appreciated, and the raw-rustic ambiance is accepted. If the road is muddy, that’s part of the bundok feels. If the gates are old and grasses are not cut straight, that’s part of the nature feels. If the dining is outdoor fog or rain, that’s part of the experience.
We truly appreciate guests who do not question the ₱40 entrance fee they have to pay. Do you know how much stress you cause our local volunteers when you say things like, “magpipicture lang naman kami, bakit kelangan magbayad?” Or if you cheat and try to enter without paying. It makes us happy when we do not have to deal with selfish feeling-entitled guests. But most of all, we appreciate those who keep coming back. You are the reason we are still alive.
Please know that Nueva Vizcaya Paragliding is 100% a community development passion project. Whatever income it generates go to our operational expenses. The bulk of it all, goes to the education of our Indigenous Peoples paragliding pilots. Did you know that 1 set of solo paragliding equipment costs around ₱150,000-₱250,000. A tandem paragliding equipment is even more expensive than this. For beginners, wings can easily be damaged. So imagine how much thousands is needed to keep these kids flying. And that’s just equipment. We still have to pay for training fees, instructors’ fees, license fees, flysite fees, food, medicine, insurance, and personal allowances.
Since we started, I feel like I gave birth to ducklings. They are all living under my nest. The challenges I had to go through the past years is immeasurable. My life revolved around putting out fires here and there. I have sacrificed all my savings by investing in people. Yet many have come and gone. God giveth and God taketh away. There is wisdom in cutting ties with the wrong people. But looking back, I had to go through all those drama so I can appreciate the team I have now. When I see them fly happily, everything is worth the unending tears.
I look forward to one day seeing them all up in their own skies. I am excited for the day when we could finally hone international athletes, skilled tandem pilots, professional instructors and seeing them all touch lives with their stories.
To people who keep saying, “Ang yaman mo na! Ikaw pa, kayang-kaya mong bayaran yan.” Stop it. You don’t know the pains we have to go through each week to survive, the many unpaid bills hanging on our board, the debts we still have to pay, and the crucial paragliding training needs we could not afford.
You’ll know when I’m rich, I will be the one to tell you, when we get there. For now, pray with me for all these kids, that they may be rooted in good values, and not chase money like so many that has gone before them. May they not lose hope, amidst the many individual attacks they receive from people around them, especially those saying paragliding has brainwashed them, and that they have no future in this arena. May their love for the skies, bring them closer to God and may their passion for adventure, create ripples effect.
May the winds be ever in their favor. ❤