Voluntourism Philippines.

What a Voluntourist Finds by Trekking

Camille Lumbang is a proud member of TREK. She has been with the group for some six years.
Voluntourism offers a wealth of experience as it enables others to contribute to communities and cultivate friendship with other like-minded individuals.

One person who knows this all too well is Camille Lumbang who joined Trails to Empower Kids (TREK) in 2010. Her story paints a vivid picture of how voluntourism has allowed her to give back to different mountain communities and gain friends along the way.

Lumbang hands over an item to a happy kid in an outreach held at the Palina Elementary School in
Kibungan, Benguet. Photo by Joseph Cruz.
TREK is a non-governmental organization (NGO) that celebrates its 10th founding anniversary this year. The volunteers bring good cheer to their partner communities by delivering educational materials, slippers, and other items that are most needed by the residents.

Scaling mountains and crossing rivers, the TREK volunteers have been to far-flung areas in the country including Calintaan, Mindoro; Balbalan, Kalinga; Fuga Island, Cagayan; Sta. Elena, Camarines Norte; and Papaya, Nueva Ecija.

Ready for the Climb

Lumbang said that she discovered TREK through Facebook. She shared that she wanted to join but felt a tinge of uncertainty because she does not know anyone from the group. It was not until she spoke to an elementary classmate that she finally made up her mind to enlist.

“I saw the TREK page on Facebook and thought about joining. But then I decided to give it some more thought. I had a chat with Jasmin, an elementary classmate, told her about my interest, and she said I should join because I would meet ‘kind’ people there,” Lumbang shared.

Lumbang continued that she mustered enough courage to post on TREK’s Facebook group. She stated her intention to join but, unfortunately, she has no buddy or partner for the climb.

The newbie’s apprehension vanished when a TREK member sent her a message that they can team up. It can be said that the simple act was Lumbang’s introduction to the warm and welcoming environment of the organization.

“Flo Fajardo sent me a message. She said that since her buddy will not make it, we can be partners,” she shared.

When asked about her first experience with TREK, Lumbang said that it was easy for her to establish rapport with other volunteers.

Lumbang (rightmost) strikes a wacky pose with her TREK friends while crossing a river in Calintaan, Mindoro. Picture taken by Nelfie Flores.
“It was a happy experience. I instantly made new friends. You won’t feel like an outsider. Everyone is warm and approachable,” she enthused.

She added, “It's not difficult to develop friendships with fellow volunteers since you have the same goal of helping the target community.”

Care for Others

According to Lumbang, the spirit of “bayanihan,” a Filipino custom where the whole community joins forces to achieve a common goal, can be seen and felt within the group.

“There is the willingness to organize donations and arrange the programs for the outreach,” Lumbang said.

Lumbang added that the cooperative and helpful attitude becomes more evident during the trip as the volunteers face the travails of mountain climbing.

“Based on my experience, you will see the support and concern for one another when the mountain is difficult to climb. (For example), we help and assist one another when a volunteer gets tired or has to carry a heavy load. Moreso, we help one another when the road is slippery or when there is a need to cross a river,” Lumbang enthused.

The trek may be tough but for Lumbang it does not steal the joy of serving others.

“It is an opportunity to serve and to share the blessings that I have. When you get there, you will be touched because of how they (partner communities) appreciate the efforts. When you share blessings, you get something in return (even if not monetary). And you also realize the blessings in your own life,” she noted.

Lumbang is all smiles while giving goodies to the kids in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya. Photo by Joseph Cruz.

TREK’s 10th Year Anniversary Campaign

As part of TREK’s tenth-year celebration, Lumbang and other TREK volunteers are going back to their ten partner communities for ten straight months.

TREK recently partnered with Conquer Outdoor Equipment to come up with a collection of travel bags that will be used to generate funds and supplies for #10for10 campaign.

In relation to this, the group recently held a benefit concert for the campaign at B-Side (The Collective) in Makati entitled, “Diyes Is It.”
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