Adventures that matter | Inquirer Lifestyle

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Horsepower is overrated—this is how you ride in style in Zambales.

Adventures that matter

If it’s soothing the soul that you’re after, traveling is one of the best ways to do it. Escaping the everyday grind to unwind (whether it’s by lazing around the beach, or conquering your fear of heights by hiking), to discover something new and to reconnect with yourself are some of the things you can look forward to, no matter if you go on a solo trip or with your barkada.

But what if we tell you that you can feed your wanderlust, and give back to a community at the same time?

MAD Travel, a social tourism enterprise, works closely with Gawad Kalinga and other marginalized communities to make you gain not only memorable travel moments but a lifetime’s worth of experiences.

They create alternative travel experiences where people can travel with a purpose. Through MAD, travelers are also able to meet the locals and make a difference in the communities they belong to.

Launched in 2015, MAD Travel has catered to more than 500 travelers, investing 30 percent of its revenue in 15-year community development plans for its partner communities. MAD Travel is also continuously expanding its community network to Bohol, Baler, Gawad Kalinga Pinagsama village and more.

Check out these four places you can include in your travel bucket list:

Surf, trek, and meet the Yangil tribe in Zambales 


One of the nine indigenous tribes in Zambales, the Yangil has its village at the foot of a mountain, accessible by trekking through an expansive lahar valley in between mountains. A cool stream with a pool greets guests a hundred meters before entering the village.

Horsepower is overrated—this is how you ride in style in Zambales.
Horsepower is overrated—this is how you ride in style in Zambales.

Who you’ll meet: The community is generally shy but friendly. Many of them are farmers and hunters, seasoned in climbing mountains and trekking. Look forward to meeting Aeta chieftain Erese, a seasoned hunter, farmer and leader, who dreams of lifting his community from poverty through food security and literacy; Aeta elder Milyang, a talented dancer in her mid-60s who can only speak Zambal but communicates well with guests through smiles, hugs and dance; and Aeta chieftain Iking, the head of the nine tribes in San Felipe, who has lived through the Mt. Pinatubo explosion, sharing stories of the Yangil tribe before the explosion and the entry of money in their community.

Help the community: Guests spend a day with the tribe to get to know them and their stories. One traveler, Jackie Vargas, recounts that it was a life-changing experience. “These Aeta kids just amaze me. Despite their lack of material things, sometimes even their basic needs, they remain very genuine and helpful. It really got me thinking about the basics in life and what’s really important. I’ve been traveling around the country and abroad for four years now and I don’t think I would have had half the wonderful experiences that I have had if it wasn’t for volunteering,” she said.

Aetas enjoy teaching guests archery, one of their main modes of hunting.
Aetas enjoy teaching guests archery, one of their main modes of hunting.

Aside from spending the day with the community, guests have also dined in the tribe’s indigenous restaurant, donated fruit and vegetable seeds, helped plant bamboo and forest trees, and hired tour guides directly from the Yangil tribe.

Leisure activities: After a day with the Yangil, guests can create their own itinerary while in Zambales. Guests can trek, swim at the fishpond and streams, island-hop to Capones Island, swim in the Anghalo Waterfalls, surf, skin-board, stargaze, light a bonfire and watch the sunset by the nearby beach.

Relax and unwind in Bulacan

The Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm is a 38-hectare farm-village where rich and poor, east and west, and worlds of business and charity converge.

The farm is bustling with social entrepreneurs who partner with the local community to build businesses so no one is left behind. Here, you’ll also find SEED, the School for Experiential and Entrepreneurial Development, where underprivileged but talented college students learn to become social entrepreneurs.

In the farm, you’ll find yourself surrounded by expanses of trees and nature, and amazing views where you can spend the afternoon lounging and curling up with a book.

Who you’ll meet: Guests can look forward to meeting a wide range of interesting personalities, from social entrepreneurs to the nanays of the village. One social entrepreneur you’re bound to meet there is Fabien Courteille, founder of Plush and Play, providing livelihood opportunities for the Enchanted Farm’s mothers.

Help the community: Short-term (day) visitors can take the Enchanted Farm Tour, where they can meet social entrepreneurs, volunteers, different community members working together for an inclusive future. Guests can also attend different weekend events held regularly, from singles events to yoga weekends, kids camps, to volunteering events. Proceeds from these activities go to communities in the farm.

Leisure activities: Spend your weekend unwinding at the farm. Get a well-deserved massage and spa day at The Oasis, chill out at the infinity pool, or relish breathtaking views from The Bamboo Palace or the Bamboo Villa. Guests can also enjoy evening activities ranging from sunset cocktails, to live music under the stars. Evening activities and events are organized upon request.

Tickle your taste buds and befriend the real Manila

Gawad Kalinga Silver Heights is located in Caloocan, Metro Manila. With a total of around 70 houses and families, the community is relatively big, painted in bright colors and is definitely an eye catcher among its surroundings. Just recently, they added a small colorful bakery selling fresh bread and cakes.

Who you’ll meet: Look forward to meeting families with an inspiring community story. Enduring multiple resettlements within Metro Manila, the GK Silver Heights community finally settled in Caloocan only to have all their houses left in shambles as a fire spread throughout the community soon after. Look forward to meeting Nanay Nora and Nanay Annette, who’d love to tour guests around and open their homes for guest homestays.

One of the “nanays” teach a guest how to cook a Filipino dish.
One of the “nanays” teach a guest how to cook a Filipino dish.

Help the community:  Travelers visiting Silver Heights can participate in the construction and further development of the village. Guests who come to eat and stay overnight can help the community earn and save money for livelihood projects.

Leisure activities: Learn to cook your favorite dishes with the nanays of GK Silver Heights, who are known to be experts in tickling your taste buds with their amazing kitchen skills. Learn how to bake local bread, or revisit your childhood by spending time with kids and playing patintero, langit-lupa or piko.

Who says having fun and making a difference don’t mix? Try out something new and travel with a purpose on your next getaway!

For more information, visit Like Make a Difference Travel on Facebook. Follow on Instagram @madtravelph for updates on latest tours.