A Lesson on Responsible Tourism

A lot of people in this blog can see how ‘crazy’ I can get for the sake of having a unique photo taken. I slipped and hit my head on a rock in Bomod-ok falls in Sagada, I stood on top of the lighthouse in Capones Island in Zambales, I jumped off a cliff in Malapascua in Cebu. I even do headstands in different spots of the country and outside.

But sometimes the fun comes up at the expense of the structures of the places I’ve been. Let me count the ways.

Standing on Top of the Guisi Lighthouse in Guimaras Island

We were given a go signal to go on top of the lighthouse in Guisi, Guimaras. But I managed to really stay on top of a pedestal which looked dangerous if I fell.

This was an 18th century lighthouse and it’s evident because of how rusted the metals looked. We were lucky enough to be given a go signal by the caretaker but I still persisted in climbing the topmost part. What if something happened to the lighthouse and it would fall off?

Photo Shots at the Temple Frames in Siem Reap, Cambodia

I had ‘adventure’ shots at the temple frames in Cambodia feeling all active just to have a few photos taken. I placed my feet on the sides to show that I could carry my weight without difficulty.

These temples are century-old buildings that are rich in history and I only thought about having snapshots taken for the sake of vanity.

Climbing on Stalagmites in Salay Cave, Cebu

During a recent trip to an off-the-beaten trail to Salay Cave in Alegria, Cebu, we found a cave that awaited us. Despite not seeing its full view due to the darkness, we knew how beautiful it whenever we saw glimpses of it when we flashed our cameras.

I climbed on the stalagmites and even had a photo published on Facebook. A comment was posted by another travel blogger indicating that it takes thousands of years, millions even, to form these stalagmites and I just made fun out of it for the sake of a selfish photo. I later found out that even a touch of these rock formations can hinder their growth.

Stalagmites should normally not be touched, since the rock buildup is formed by minerals precipitating out of the water solution onto the old surface skin oils can alter the surface where the mineral water will cling, thus affecting the growth of the formation. Oils and dirt from human contact can also stain the formation and change its color permanently. Wikipedia – Stalagmite


These are simple scenes that might seem amusing at first, but have its effects when a lot of people will do the same. I cannot undo what I did and I feel bad about the circumstances that have happened out of my rash decisions. Because of these,ย I’d like to bring another form of awareness to others who don’t know the effects of enjoyment due to lack of knowledge; which shouldn’t be an excuse.

Responsible Tourism

I agree with not throwing your trash anywhere as it destroys wildlife. I agree with valuing culture as it’s what makes us different from other people and it’s also what makes us the same. I also agree on not bringing souvenir items such as shells in beaches I’ve visited to preserve nature.

I may promote tourism by blogging about places I’ve visited but I realize I should be more responsible of my actions. These structures are NOT mine.

I may not stop doing crazy stunts in my pictures but I need to be more vigilant of the consequences of what I do or else nature will be taken for granted. I could simply ignore everything and just turn a blind eye by removing the photo alone (which I’ve already done) but I decided on completing this write-up for the benefit of those who have the same thinking. Even if I’m just part of a minority who acts crazy, there’s still a large number of that minority.

Ultimately, this is NOT my place and I’m just a visitor so I should have more RESPECT.

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soloflightEd.com is a travel blog by Edcel Suyo. He enjoys performing headstands and crazy stunts during his trips in the Philippines, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. Now based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and working to earn a living, he takes time to enjoy the city and travel during weekends.
For updates, Like his page on Facebook or Follow him on Twitter.
For questions, advertising, and other concerns, shoot an email to ed@soloflighted.com.

44 thoughts on “A Lesson on Responsible Tourism”

  1. Good insights here, Ed. Nung kwinento mo nga na naka-akyat kayo sa Guisi Lighthouse, naisip ko din na paano kung biglang nasira yun dahil sa bigat mo? hehe buti na lang walang nangyari.
    We travelers must be a bit more sensitive when it comes to century old ruins (kahit ruined na talaga hehe) and mga natural formations. Like what you said, it's not ours. Nakikitingin at nakikidalaw lang tayo ๐Ÿ™‚ 

  2. It was very honest of you to write down these instances wherein you thought could very well be result into something unpleasant to the place you visited and what better way than to set it as an example for travelers to think twice of thrice before doing something for the sake of a self portrait shots. 

  3. Amen! ๐Ÿ™‚ The Leave No Trace ethics can be applied not just for the great outdoors but for every place you step on – "take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time." ๐Ÿ™‚
    I believe every person who has the thirst for travel has two main responsibilities – promote eco-cultural tourism and practice social responsibility.
    Oh, and don't forget to take your trash with ya! ;D

  4. I admire your courage of admitting what you have done Ed. I am guilty as well.
    I also stand at the top of Capones Lighthouse, and even touched the stalactites in sagada though for a split sec, still I touched it.
    This post is powerful enough for us to become more responsible.
    Nice one Ed!

  5. Nice, nice! i like the article. Now, you keep this blog in balance — promoting places and bringing awareness to travelers.
    "Take only memories, leave nothing but footprints."

  6. Leaves everyone to think of more creative ways to get our photo ops without 1. doing damage to the structures, 2. risking injury to ourselves, and 3. desecrating temples and other sacred monuments. Very nice post!

  7. i never knew ganung ka-sensitive pala ang stalagmites! but yes, very nice insights Ed. I'm sure kahit papaano, others have also done stuff na naka-disrupt sa place like having pictures with tarsiers, etc. The impt part is we learn from our mistakes ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. ako din! di ko alam na ganun pala ang stalagmites – will remember when we go to sagada. i agree – we must all think responsibly not only by nature but for the sake of ourselves. ingat ingat lang because life only comes once. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. @micamyx: thanks for understanding, mica. and tama, we need to be more sensitive. ๐Ÿ˜€

    @marky: there are also instances where we don't know what we're doing is actually harming the places we visit. thanks marky!

    @robbie: yes, apektado talaga, cause I might have already destroyed nature and in the process and I didn't know it. ๐Ÿ˜€

    @mel: it's actually now that I'm able to fully grasp that understanding mel. thanks for sharing your thoughts! ๐Ÿ™‚

    @darwin: thank you for also sharing your experience darwin! let's promote responsible tourism in our own way. ๐Ÿ˜€

    @lakbay: hi edwin. yeah, karun pa sad ko kasabot ana.

    @josh rex: let's help each other educate ourselves. thanks.

    @will: thanks as well and hope we can also pass the info forward. ๐Ÿ˜€

    @renz: thanks renz. ok lang sad magkiat-kiat basta dili macompromise ang lugar. ๐Ÿ˜€

    @vernon go: we can learn to do that vernon. i think that's the easier part. ๐Ÿ˜€

    @christy and patti: thanks christy and patti! i can risk the injury as that's what i always do when i do headstands, but definitely not do damage to the structures and disrepecting temples and such. thanks for sharing! ๐Ÿ˜€

    @smarla: yeah, actually, I've been to Sagada and I think I didn't really listen to the guides as much. Even touching a woman touching a Monk, it's not allowed. Yes, I hope to share my mistakes so other people can learn from them. thanks smarla!

    @brenna: salamat brenna. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. nice one ed!
    travelers may need to learn first  the set of guidelines to preserve mother nature or perhaps a little knowledge about mountaineering or backpacking before traveling. learn the basics , and remember   "Leave nothing but footprints. Take nothing but photos. Kill nothing but time. Keep nothing but memories"

  11. Point well taken. Ako din, I don't get hate comments, except once. Someone commented about a photo of mine straddling a naga balustrade in Srah Srang, Angkor. You know how it is in Angkor – the ruins are just there by the roadside. Wala man lang sign and it wasn't cordoned off. So i climbed on it and rode it like a horse! ๐Ÿ˜€
    Anyway, the commenter called me ignorant for doing that. I saw his point so I removed the photo from my blog, but I also wrote him to say he shouldn't use name-calling. Nag-apologize naman sha, in fairness.
    This is a responsible post, birthday boy. Nice way to celebrate your special day. Treat yourself to some masareal, my fave Cebu delicacy. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Ed, this is a very nice post and you were very honest about your mistakes. I hope everyone could learn responsible tourism as you have learned it. We all make mistakes, but l hope everyone of us could be responsible to correct our mistakes and encourage other not to make the same mistakes. Good job on this post. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. tama! may kasabihan nga kaming mga mountaineers… Bring nothing but memories, Leave nothing but footprints. Lets help conserve the wonderful things for us to share in the next generation. ๐Ÿ™‚ Im excited to meet you during the solesisters exhibit ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. As a student of Cultural Heritage, thank you. Many of us do forget that sites, structures, items, etc.. are all part of who we are as a nation and as a soul on this planet. Preservation, restoration, conservation (of such) is tedious, and a serious business. I really believe that travelers should be aware of where they are and what they do when around important/historical places. Let us leave something nice for the future generation so they too can have something to marvel at as well. ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. @lionel: I need to finally attend a seminar about backpacking/mountaineering to learn these simple things. thanks sir!

    @AJ: sometimes, we get caught up with enjoying the moment that we tend to lose sight of the value that we're simply visitors — despite paying for certain fees.  thanks for sharing your story too AJ! I don't think I've eatne masareal, thanks! ๐Ÿ˜€

    @josiah: This is my way to remind myself of knowing our limits and be more responsible. Thanks, Josiah for sharing! ๐Ÿ˜€

    @kathleen: thanks for dropping by kathleen! hope to meet you din! ๐Ÿ˜€

    @carmine: very well said, Carmine. Thanks for your thoughts to reinforce the importance of preserving what we have. Appreciate it! ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. @hana banana: thanks hana! it's a watermark, i use Photoscape to place a watermark in my photos. ๐Ÿ˜€

    @thepinaysolobackpacker: hi gael, thanks a lot for helping me out. I appreciate all the help ๐Ÿ˜€

  17. OMG! napaisip ako sa mga pose ko sa mga nakaraang trips kung meron bang panira ng kalikasan dun. hahaha! Seriously, very informative to. I never thought pwedeng ikadeform ng stalagmites ang paghawak hawak sa kanya. Actually, hindi lang kasi tayo aware siguro kaya minsan, for the sake of having great pictures as souvenir hindi na natin naiisip kung ok pa ba ang ginagawa natin sa structures. Pero sabi nga nila, ignorance is not an excuse. Salamat sa entry na to.

  18. it is indeed important to see tourists being a responsible traveler because most of the time, there are no signs of warning.
    but with a mind-set of protecting/preserving the spot… it surely helps.

  19. @kura: at least alam na natin ngayon kura. ๐Ÿ˜€ 

    @batang lakwatsero: ok lang yan, basta kung anong nalalaman natin, mas maganda pag naisheshare natin sa ibang tao ๐Ÿ˜€

    @dong ho: thanks dong! there were no signs indeed most of the time. 

  20. since I love island hopping, naisip ko dati na magcollect ng sand from each beaches that i've visited. buti na lang before I even actually do it meron nagsabi sa akin na di sya magandang idea and she explained it to me that i totally scrap the idea of collecting sands…besides it's for everybody to enjoy, right? hahaha one more reason why I love photography…picture picture na lang hehe

  21. I like the emphasis of humility on this blog post, Ed. Kudos to that!
    I know this may look awkward but since you're no new blogger in the blogosphere, I'd like you to know I had my fair share of promoting the Philippine tourism when one of my blog posts was promoted to Freshly Pressed on WordPress.com hompage for three days (September 2-5, 2011).
    Thank you for contributing to that success through your wonderful posts here because it added to my motivation to do better in each post or article that I make!

    Just in case it interests you,  here's the link of my post (talking up the wonders of the sea creatures at Manila Ocean Park) that made it to WordPress.com's Freshly Pressed for three days:
    Let's keep on sharing the beauty of the Philippines …

  22. @supertikoy: Hi jerome, yes, kahit yung sand, nalaman ko yun when a friend who has a friend from Greenpeace.org shared their thoughts about bringing them as souvenirs. It's great if we share these info to everyone. Solb na tayo sa photos. Thanks. ๐Ÿ˜€

    @sonyboy: thanks sony! Actually, I really felt guilty for being ignorant re: the stalagmites that's why it prompted me to post this article.

    I'm deeply touched that you were motivated to do better, thanks for sharing your feedback. At least I know I'm on the right path with the way I write my stories too. ๐Ÿ˜€ congrats on the WP Freshly Pressed feature! ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. @vin: thanks, i think i should promote it (social awareness) more now ๐Ÿ˜€

    @christian: thanks for sharing your thoughts and congrats again for the win! ๐Ÿ˜€

    @tinathefrustratedtraveler: thanks for being honest as well tina! ๐Ÿ™‚

    @pinaytraveljunkie: thanks gay. let's all share what we've learned so we can also influence others about it. ๐Ÿ˜€

  24. Responsible Tourism is something that each traveler should practice… it gives lesson on awareness about the importance of the sites or places that you visit or surrounds you… It is also great to practice Green Travel, which I campaign in my travel blog. Nice post, Ed.

  25. This is a really great message.  Being a responsible tourist is more than just picking up garbage after yourself.  Although some have a hard time just doing that.  I think you raise a good point on figuring out how to both see a place and be respectful at the same time.

  26. @ian: thanks for campaigning Green Travel ian. thanks ๐Ÿ˜€

    @steve: yes, it goes beyond that and I learned it the hard way. thanks steve!

    @grace: thanks for sharing your thought, grace! ๐Ÿ˜€

    @drew: let's spread what we can. ๐Ÿ˜€


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