Never underestimate the value of learning and doing things differently in fun ways, alongside other purpose-driven individuals, for the benefit of all. That’s my key takeaway from one of the highlights of my 2018, MakeSense PH’s recent #SustainableTourismCamp at beautiful Mount Purro Nature Reserve in #Antipolo, #Philippines.

I’m extra grateful because it came at just about the right time. After traveling solo and more deeply early in the year, I’d re-oriented my professional focus to #tourism. I reconnected with my favorite cultural heritage travel guide whom I met through the Museum Foundation of the Philippines more than a decade ago, Kulinarya Tagala tour pioneer Ms. Tina Decal, then asked for and took on learning opportunities with her. I participated in awesome conferences and seminars organized by the UP Asian Institute of Tourism. I took on a fun freelance writing assignment for SkyJet Airlinesinflight magazine Dash Philippines that helped put a spotlight on wonderful workers & destinations in tourism that were contributing positively to ecological sustainability…and then I was stumped about what to do next.

MakeSense’s Sustainable Tourism Camp was special because it took me out of my home and my comfort zone. When you’re a bit older and playing very loud, very physical games with very energetic, very extroverted people almost half your age, things CAN get a bit uncomfortable! The great thing about this community predominantly populated by millenials is that they have a #biasforaction. They don’t let lack of experience, knowledge and other resources prevent them from making their contribution. They #ask questions, #listen, #learn,#share, #encourage, #support, #network,#collaborate and #repeat these over and over again not just for their own goals or ends but especially for the greater good. And yes, there are areas of improvement in walking the talk (e.g. we forgot to unplug our electric fans after using them, to help the resort save on electricity) but I can safely say that these young people’s hearts are in the right place.

“In the end, what I really want to say is that I hope YOU too take chances, especially the ones that make you feel uncomfortable. I also hope you’ll continue to be open to learning from other people (regardless of age, disposition, education, status, etc.) and let yourself be pleasantly surprised by them.”

To private chef Peachy Alberto who sat beside me on our tour bus and shared life stories & green living tips with me; impact investor Jennifer Viloria of IISLA Ventures who taught us the hard currency of impact tourism & investment and the soft power of meditation & well-being; creative advocates, activists & educators Marvin Almonte HL of I Am HampasLupa, Inc. & Ryan Bestre HL of Greenpeace Philippines; open-hearted green living and traveling individuals & couple Geneva Marcelino & Alex Ward; deep thinker, listener & sleeper University of Santo Tomas medical student Carmela Aportadera; MakeSense Regional Community Developer Pepper Limpoco Makesense who connected and collaborated with Shine de Castro to bring us Christmas Sensemarket: a sustainable pop up via the Old Manila Eco Market on December the 16th;Steph Höglund of World Youth Alliance Asia Pacific who has organized a crowdfunding drive with her team and the Christmas party PANGARAP KONG PASKO for the children of the Christian Mission Service Philippines on December the 15th and so many other inspiring new friends from MakeSensePH, THANK YOU and, yes, LET’S DO THIS!

P.S. Of course you can get involved in the projects mentioned here! Just check out the event or FB page you’re interested in or PM the individuals you need to connect with. #JustDoIt!

Write up by Pauline Apilado, who attended the Sensecamp 2018: Sustainable Tourism and is now an active member of the Makesense Philippines community. Pauline is a freelance writer and conscious traveler.

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