The air still gives a chilling breeze at five in the morning, the room is still well-lit by a lampshade, knapsack’s all packed with extra clothes, chips, wallet, and slippers. Teenage boy gets the camera on the top shelf and wears its sling around his neck, walks out the front door, starts the engine, and drives away while tuning his stereo. It was the day of his trip to the mountains of Sierra Madre.
While most prepare for travel with those things in mind, a student organization known as UP ROAD TRIP packs their luggage differently. Since 2014, they never travel without their five advocacy namely:
- responsible tourism
- appreciation of Filipino cultural heritage
- understanding of local history
- road safety education
UP ROAD TRIP was born on the 23rd of September 2014. Led by Development Communication Professor Romel A. Daya, professors and instructors from different colleges began shaping the organization through a Facebook thread.
Together, the founders share the same ambition for the organization. UP ROAD TRIP is envisioned to promote Philippine scenes and heritage, to campaign for responsible tourism and recreation especially activities that support environmental awareness. All these will happen while the organization is on trip.
Days later, students were invited to be charter members of the organization. Publication materials were posted on bulletin boards of different colleges and on social networking sites. When the search was over, more than 80 students happen to target the same goal with the founders of UP ROAD TRIP.
On the sixth of November 2014, the first meeting with the students was held. It was on that meeting where the other four key advocacy were founded; environmentalism, appreciation of Filipino cultural heritage, understanding of local history, and road safety education.
Responsible tourism is the umbrella advocacy of UP ROAD TRIP. Prof. Daya pursued this advocacy since he had observed that most tourists just have fun when traveling; even leaving the places unclean after visiting. And for him, that is not a responsible way of tourism.
According to UP ROAD TRIP Captain (President) Jordan Cabarles, the other four advocacy were born out of responsible tourism. He said responsible tourism means taking care of the environment, knowing and appreciating the history and culture of the places visited, and following the rules and regulations of the road. All are also manifested in the other advocacy of the organization.
Moreover, Cabarles said that responsible tourism does not end with enjoying the trip.
“Dapat at the end of the day, you do something for that place; for the development of that place, [At the end of the day, you should be able to do something for that place, for the development of that place,]” he said.
Responsible tourism is the organization’s first advocacy. It was the advocacy that drove the founders to pursue the existence of UP ROAD TRIP. And with that advocacy, other advocacy branched out.
Caring for the environment is as important as traveling for UP ROAD TRIP. As Prof. Daya pointed out, many tourists tend to leave places unclean after the visit. The organization then led to considering environmentalism as one of their principles.
In a blog post about their trip to Panguil Eco-park in Laguna, it was mentioned that the organization did a clean-up along the riverside towards the end of their trip.
According to the article, they were able to fill up four large garbage bags with litters and other unnecessary materials. The organization also did the same thing when they went to Bunga Falls in Nagcarlan, Laguna as seen on their Facebook page.
In an interview, UP ROAD TRIP Secondary Co-Captain (Vice President for External Affairs) Paulo Luis Zipagan mentioned that people should always think about the welfare of the place whenever they travel there.
“If you’re going to travel to a certain place, di mo dapat binabalewala yung dignity nung lugar, [If you’re going to travel to a certain place, you should not disregard the dignity of the place,]” he said.
He further emphasized that people should also maintain the integrity and dignity of a place they visit.
Local history is one advocacy that is a bit unfamiliar to many. Roadpersons of UP ROAD TRIP believe that our country has a diverse and colorful history. However, it was pointed out that most people tend to forget about it. This led the organization to promote this advocacy. They want to bring back and reintroduce the vast history that the country has.
“…that [our country’s] history will define who we are as a Filipino,” Captain Cabarles highlighted.
Introducing and reinforcing the country’s history while at the same time educating the people to be proud of it, is the very idea roadpersons have in their hearts when they advocate for the understanding of local history.
According to Shaira Lopez, UP ROAD TRIP Primary Co-Captain (Vice President for Internal Affairs), local history starts with familiarization. It is about looking back to the past and treasuring it.
“Isa itong paraan sa kung papaano natin mabibigyang motibasyon ang ating sarili para pangalagaan ang isang lugar, [This is a way on how we can motivate ourselves to care for a specific place,]” she shared.
Lopez also explained that locals of a community have some kind of esoteric connection to the place where people, foreign or not, must respect.
The organization shares stories with the local community when they travel to a certain place. They believe locals of a community are great storytellers of local histories.
Filipino Cultural Heritage
The Philippines is an archipelago formed not only by its 7, 107 islands, but also by the Filipinos with their rich and colorful cultures. Each island has their own traditions and beliefs that gives them their identity.
UP ROAD TRIP advocates appreciation of Filipino cultural heritage. It is about knowing the Filipino culture. According to Captain Cabarles, it is important to know the cultures of a place to avoid disrespecting the people. He also said that knowing the culture can also help us learn more about the place.
“There are a lot of versions of adobo in the Philippines…Isa [iyon] sa mga dahilan kung bakit natin masasabing napaka-diverse ng culture ng Philippines, [There are a lot of versions of adobo in the Philippines…That is one of the reasons why we can say that the Philippines has a very diverse culture,]“ he shared.
The organization believes that knowing different Filipino cultures is like learning how to become a Filipino from another perspective.
Road Safety Education
Some people who already know UP ROAD TRIP asked them why they considered road safety education as part of their key advocacy. People say that it seems a little disconnected with the other four. However, the organization clarifies that it is the other way around.
For Primary Co-Captain Lopez, road safety education is not really apart from the organization’s other advocacy. According to her, the main objective of this advocacy is for the people to be disciplined and civilized.
Since UP ROAD TRIP is a travel organization, she mentioned that safety of the roadpersons is a priority whenever they travel. Familiarity with the road safety practices is needed.
In connection with environmentalism, she said that discipline can also be applied to caring for the environment.
“After all, we are stewards of this environment and it’s our main responsibility to care for the environment. So in caring for the environment, we might as well care for the people…” she said.
On the other hand, Secondary Co-Captain Zipagan sees road safety practices as something to be educated to people.
Working with the five advocacy
Captain Cabarles sees responsible tourism as the root of the other four advocacy.
According to him, environmentalism connects to responsible tourism through maintaining the areas clean when visited. In local history, he explains the importance of knowing the backstory of the place visited and educating the people about it. He pointed out that cultural heritage goes hand-in-hand with the previous advocacy as it values the diverse cultures of our country. Lastly, Cabarles explained that road safety education means following the rules of the road and preparing the vehicle needs.
All these advocacy target one purpose which fall under responsible tourism as he described.
For Secondary Co-Captain Zipagan, the organization’s key advocacy were all interrelated. He described each advocacy as connected to one another like a “domino effect”.
Traveling with a cause
UP ROAD TRIP has already marked a lot of places on the map. Packed with them as they travel are their key advocacy. As they plan their next destination, they always keep in mind how they will carry out their advocacy when they get there.
Every month, UP ROAD TRIP is organizing a major roadtrip to continue fulfilling their advocacy. They have been to:
- Pico De Loro (Ternate, Cavite)
- Wawa Dam (Rodriguez, Rizal)
- Panguil Eco-park (Panguil, Laguna)
- some areas in Calatagan, Caleruega, and Balayan (Laguna)
Valuing cultural heritage and local history, the organization also celebrates with the people whenever there are town fiestas. UP ROAD TRIP has been to:
- Pahiyas Festival (Lucban, Quezon Province)
- Tsinelas Festival (Liliw, Laguna)
- Bañamos Festival (Los Baños, Laguna)
For them, celebrating the country’s culture with its natives is the best way to appreciate culture and history.
Captain Cabarles also mentioned that UP ROAD TRIP is catering to unfamiliar places to promote its market and attract tourists. He also shared that they will be educating the tourists about the culture of the place they had already visited.
Looking through a different lens
UP ROAD TRIP allowed people to look at traveling on a different lens. Since most people connote roadtrips as a happy-go-lucky kind of hobby, roadpersons of UP ROAD TRIP has taken traveling on another level.
Captain Cabarles believes that the Philippines has beautiful cultures that is why he decided to promote Philippine tourism as his personal advocacy in life. When he saw the advertisement of UP ROAD TRIP online, he knew that he will definitely join the organization since its advocacy coincides with his.
For Primary Co-Captain Lopez, the concept of ‘roadtrip’ for UP ROAD TRIP also added to her own perception. It even gave her motivation to support her own visions of traveling as well.
And as for Secondary Co-Captain Zipagan, his perception changed a lot since he joined the organization. According to him, he realized that he can travel with a cause while having fun.
“…sabi nga nung orgmate ko, ‘not all those who wander are lost, some people travel with a cause,’ […just like what my orgmate said, ‘not all those who wander are lost, some people travel with a cause,’]” he concluded.