UP Geography classes discover Baler, Aurora

Most people I ask about Aurora province, often react in the same classic way. They would say,"Aurora in Quezon?". The confucion results from the fact that Aurora used to be a sub province of Quezon. It became independent in Feb 19,1979. Hence, the province recently celebrated its 28th Foundation Day. Two Geography classes of the University of the Philippines conducted their field trip in Baler, the capital of Aurora. Except for three of the 37 students, all of them visited the Pacific side of the country for the first time. They were led by Geogaphy instructors Iona Lacson and Pryor Placino. Bluewater facilitated their trip and introduced them to the concept of outdoor education and environmental investigation. The former is about appreciation of land forms and their "story".

Through nature interpretation the participants were able to validate learnings derived from the classroom setting and discovered that various landforms are constantly under serious threat due to anthroppogenic activities. Environmental investigation exercises made the students look at the natural world from a different perspective. They were asked to be sensitive to "indicators" that provide clues to the current state of the environment of the place, the beliefs and values of the people using the resources, existing conflicts in resource use and the threats that the natural occurences pose on communities.

A trip to the PAGASA Weather Station situated on top of a hill overlooking Baler Bay and Dikasalarin proved to be a real workout for some but also educational. Thanks to Mr. Arthur Querijero and the other staff of PAGASA, the students learned how typhoons are tracked and detected. They also discovered that the white dome is actually a cover to protect the radar dish. PAGASA uses other instruments to measure wind speed, direction and barometric pressure.

Another highlight of the trip was a hike through varied terrains from a place near ASCOT (Aurora State College) all the way to the hanging bridge. Crossing the long bridge was quite exciting and even life altering to some who had the great opportunity to finally face their greatest fear. Congratulations Tiffany for facing your fear and doing it anyway. Way to go! For those who were able to sign up for some surfing lessons from the excellent local surfers of Baler, don't give up. Being able to kneel on the board is already quite an accomplishment,specially for first timers. The fact remains that you have conquered the surf of Baler, a major destination for seasoned surfers. This is a good enough reason to come back for more.

AMCO Beach Resort and Kamp Digisit, owned by Aida Miemban and August Miemban hosted this trip. The sumptuous meals, fresh buko, grilled fish, home-made suman,puto and rice cakes, as well as the pako (fern) salad made all of participants gain a pound of two. Thanks to your hospitality and care. Educational field trips and team building will be the main focus of Kamp Digisit in its future development scheme. Whether people travel for relaxation, for seminars and workshops or field trips, they are all tourists. Learning about the environment, the history of the place and its culture is part of the experience. Developing awareness on the fragility of nature and culture is a major objective of responsible tourism.

This field trip is part of the "Wildlife in the Classroom" program. This philosophy in outdoor education promotes Authentic Learning, a process of deep assimilation of life skills and values that makes a person a more responsible and productive member of the global community. For more information about this concept, visit www.wildclassroom.blogspot.com. If you are interested in letting us help you design a highy educational and life enhancing experience for your group, send us an email at wildexpeditions@yahoo.com.