A Feel-Good Baler Trip With Freewaters
It's true when they say that we take things for granted lalo na when it's something accessible, yung nandyan lang kasi. May it be time, clean drinking water, and even people (#hugot, haha).
I remembered when our city was hit by a storm, that our street had no water and electricity for a week! That was when I started to appreciate a faucet with running water, or being able to read or just move around freely even at night, and not bump into random things.
I appreciate all these and much more when Freewaters invited us to Baler last March 1-3. Clueless about this new Primer Group brand, and always excited for every opportunity to travel, I said yes right away!
It's a plus that I was with Paul, Mother Earth, and Pax:
We stayed in Costa Pacifica, which is beautiful. I enjoyed the few hours of sleep we had in their super comfy beds, and of course, service is as superb as the last time I've been there.
And I super duper love their pool! If I had the time, we could have stayed here longer.
Roommates were pre-assigned, and I'm happy to be with Mother. At night, she just lets me do my thing (pagpupuyat sa Internet with coffee, haha), while she watches TV or had her social media time. She's actually very light and easy to be with.. Love you Mother! :)
We both received our kits on our beds the moment we entered our rooms, phones up for Snapchat (lol). Of course, flatlay muna!
For Day 1, the group's itinerary was already packed! As in after the gruelling, are-we-there yet hours of travel from Manila to Baler, we freshened up, took photos, and ate our lunch, THEN we were already asked to pick our adventure for the afternoon. Pak! Pak! Pak! The choices:
1) Yoga by the beach,
3) Waterfall Trekking.
My friends wanted trekking, so I went for it even though alam ko namang weakness ko yun!
Good thing they gave all of us a pair of Freewaters. This Freewaters TallBoy is lightweight, durable, comfortable, and provides the right traction and support for a short trek. I've proven this myself, from this experience. I guess choosing trekking was meant to be!
We took a ride to the site, while Kuya Guide told us stories about Baler. It was the second time I met kuya, and I am all for his history and city trivias! :D
A few reminders and rules to follow + everyone's game-face on.
And then, off we go!
The trek wasn't as bad as I thought, and although I had 1 million holding hands with different Kuyas (as usual, haha), it was a bearable journey. Didn't slip (Thanks to my Freewaters TallBoy!), I was able to take good photos, and of course, it was also a good bonding activity with my best friends Pax and Paul and the whole group dahil panay kwentuhan lang while we were walking.
Photo with the Ditumabo Falls:
Day 2 was the start of finding meaning in this whole trip. With little sleep, we were up before the sun and traveled via van and then boat to Casiguran.
Ilabas ang shades to hide the sleepy eyes, hehe!
Freewaters is a progressive footwear brand made for those who chart their own path in life. Created by surf buddies Eli Marmar and Martin Kim in 2010, they make casual footwear for the active and travel lifestyle.
Since they are both surfers, Marmar and Kim love the water, it is the common thread that runs through all the lifestyles that their footwear is designed for: coastal living, boardsports, outdoor, and travel.
More importantly, Freewaters provide a footwear that is not only comfortable, but addresses an important community issue: Access to clean drinking water. 1% of the top line (gross) sales goes directly to fund Freewaters global clean drinking waters projects--which are currently in Kenya, Haiti, California...
...And now the Philippines.
Our trip to Baler is actually a part of this Freewaters project, as we visited the municipality of Casiguran Aurora, a community badly hit by Typhoon Lando in 2015. This storm destroyed almost 100% of their infrastructures, including facilities that gave them clean drinking water.
I am lucky to have this opportunity to serve:
Thirty Water Filters were turned over as part of the "Be Part Of 1000" campaign currently running in Freewaters stores. Look at the kids' curious faces! Freewaters Team demonstrated how to properly use these tanks.
Sir Martin Kim, one of the founders of Freewaters, was there with us in all our site visits and water filter turnovers. His drone was the bida as the Agta children enjoyed catching it!
We were told later on that when the Agta tribe learned that we will be visiting, they immediately asked if they can present a dance for us. It was a heartwarming, thoughtful welcome:
We were also asked to give bracelets to the Agta kids as remembrance. I told them that they danced so well, talong talo ako. :)
Group photo before leaving for the next site!
Our last stop was another coastal community, but in a more remote part of Casiguran. We took the boat again, then a long tricycle ride with a beautiful view of the province. Btw, weather was also good the whole day, cloudy and not so hot. Everything felt perfect.
Everybody went off their tricycle when we saw this BEAUTIFUL beach. It looks unreal, waves were crashing, sea foams were huge...
It turns out that it was already our stop! Second turnover and demo of the water filters. I learned that these facilities are expected to last from 10-15 years!
But as a sustainable project (with a heart), Freewaters Team plans to go back to their chosen sites from time to time to just see how the communities are doing.
Then we had lunch, boodle fight style!
Yey for the vegetarian corner, hehe! Met 2 other non-meat eaters in the group. :)
Ended the meal with fresh buko juice:
Fooling around by the beach:
And watching the carefree kids play with Sir Kim's drone:
It was a tiring trip, we catch sleep every chance we've got.
But let me tell you how meaningful it is, we all went home with satisfied hearts.
To new and old friends, and traveling with a heart. Thank you Freewaters for creating change and for this feel-good trip. As a brand, your team inspired me not only to go for what I am passionate for, but to also make a change and touch lives along the way. Faith in humanity restored! :)
Special thanks to Freewaters and Ms. Macel and Ms. Vida of Primer Group for making me part of this event.
For more information, follow Freewaters Philippines online: Website, Facebook, Instagram @Freewaters_PH