Ariel and the Team Bundol Mountaineering Group

This video was taken during their interview with Chat Ansagay last February 13, 2014

In an interview, Ariel Lalisan talks about his group – The Team Bundol Mountaineering Group, and shares their experiences in protecting and saving the environment. 

Atnayan Waterfalls in Sitio Canaan Brgy. Pag-asa, Alabel Sarangani Province

Yadu Karu: Can you please give a brief profile of your organization

Ariel: Team BUNDOL Mountaineers is a group of outdoor enthusiasts based in Poblacion Alabel, Sarangani Province. BUNDOL stands for Backpackers United for the Defense of Life. Started by a group of neighborhood friends, the group soon evolved into an organization that attempts to change the trend in mountaineering.

The first members of the organizations are neighborhood friends—out-of-school youth at that time – who are into outdoor activities. The name “BUNDOL” originated from the Hiligaynon term for “slow” or “awkward,” for which one of the members was usually teased for.

Today, the organization has gained a good reputation among other outdoor groups. In other words, we have changed the meaning of the word “BUNDOL” into something that has positive significance in the community.

Currently, the organization has 19 active members. Some of which are young professionals, students, and out-of-school youth.

Yadu Karu: With many mountaineering groups that exist in SOCCSKSARGEN, what made the Team Bundol unique?

Ariel: We are not elitists. We don't consider ourselves better than others. We just enjoy our activities. We just enjoy being able to help. We have been looked down by more established groups, saying that we can't last a year together. But you see we're still here. We've even been given recognition.

Yadu Karu: Can you tell me more about your ‘EcoTrek Project’. I’ve read that this project caught the interest of TAYO and Coca-Cola.

Ariel: The EcoTrek is an annual mountaineering activity organized by Team BUNDOL Mountaineers in partnership with other local organizations. More than just an ordinary outdoor adventure, the EcoTrek is our way of making a difference by advocating Tourism, Education, and Environmental Protection. Aside from trekking to potential tourist destinations, we organize mountaineers to carry books and school supplies to schools in distant sitios and to take part in reforestation efforts such as tree-planting and establishment of plant nurseries. Its objectives are: a) to promote responsible mountaineering while discovering potential eco-tourism attractions in the province; b) to initiate various actions for environmental conservation and protection; c) to support education by delivering books and school supplies to schools in far flung barangays and sitios; and d) to inspire other mountaineering organizations to do similar efforts.

During the 1st EcoTrek in 2011, more than 100 mountaineers trekked to Atnayan Waterfalls in Sitio New Canaan, Brgy. Pag-Asa, Alabel, Sarangani Province. We divided the books and school supplies we have gathered among the participants and delivered them to the schools in the area. We also planted about 150 seedlings.

In the year that followed, we added Basyawan Falls to our destination, brought books and school supplies for the schools, and established a plant nursery. The participants also signed a manifesto urging local government, schools, and local communities to work together to address the issues we raised.

Yadu Karu: State the reasons why you thought of this project.

Ariel: Team BUNDOL used to just participate in trekking activities. We realized that we can do more than just climb mountains. We noticed the sad reality about our environment. A large portion of our forests have been damaged by destructive farming practices of the upland dwellers.

In the first year, we initiated tree-planting in the area. In the year that followed, we decided to establish a plant nursery. The task of maintaining the plant nursery was turned over to the locals so that they will have a sense of ownership of the project.

We also learned from the locals that schools in far-flung areas do not have books. We knew from DepEd and QUEST (a local education development initiative) that, although there are books allotted for those schools, bringing them to the remote areas is very difficult. Since we are mountaineers and we frequently go to far-flung places, we could bring the books to the schools in the sitios we visit.

So, we came up with a project that will address these issues - one sitio at a time.

Yadu Karu: So far, what’s the unforgettable experience that has effect on your life?

Ariel: When we first visited Atnayan falls, we lost our way. We followed a very narrow but very deep crevice. It was raining so hard. Ahead of us, we heard a very scary sound. We rushed to climb up the ravine. In no time, the crevice was inundated with floodwater that carried rocks with it. That fateful trek strengthened our desire to do something to save our watersheds.

Yadu Karu: What are the challenges that you (and your group) encountered that test your character and ability?

Ariel: So far, our most difficult challenges take place during our preparation for the EcoTrek. Some of our partners fail to deliver, so we had to do some crisis management. You know, we have scarce resources. There have been times that I thought of giving up but when I look at the team, I see the fire in their eyes. I can't afford to fail them.

Yadu Karu: We are aware that the mountains of Alabel in Sarangani Province have lost most of its forest. What are the measures that your group conducted and still continue to pursue to save the environment of Alabel?

Ariel: The task of saving the environment is too big for us. The problem is multifaceted. There are plenty of manifestations, which, in themselves are difficult to address. This requires collective effort. We drafted a manifesto that we sent to various offices and agencies. The problem requires collective action. We continue to work towards the institutionalization of environmental protection. The tree planting and establishment of plant nurseries in the sitios we visit are the least that we could do.

Yadu Karu: Does Team Bundol conduct an awareness campaign with regards to the environment?

Ariel: Yes, we do. We don't just campaign, we exemplify.

Yadu Karu: How’s the recruitment process of your group? Is this voluntary basis?

Ariel: We don't recruit members. They just join us. Before they get accepted, they have to prove their sincerity by joining us in our activities and training with us.

Yadu Karu: I’m from Alabel, but I’m not that familiar yet in many beautiful sites. As an eco-trek enthusiast, what can you recommend to a tourist visiting in Alabel?

Ariel: We are promoting Atnayan and Basyawan in Alabel, and Siniel in Maasim. But these are for the more active tourists.


you may also want to read:

Coca-Cola announces this year's "Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations

you may also like to watch the 11th TAYO Awards Ceremony:

for more information about The Team Bundol Mountaineering Group please visit 

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