Trek For Hope: Mount Pulag & New Smokey Mountain, Philippines

Imagine visiting a world where the only income families receive comes from sorting through a mountain of trash every day. That is a reality for many families who live in Tondo, which is a district in Manila, Philippines. Even though the four decades old Smokey Landfill has been closed for two decades, the area is still very impoverished and many still scavenge for a living in this old landfill today.

For TS Chua and Simon Chan, the founders of Trek For Hope, adventure means more than just going on a trek down some well-traveled path. It means helping those who are in need the best way they know how. “Each trekker or adventurer who associates with Trek For Hope raises money on behalf of their preferred charity for their adventure,” Chan said. “This way we can all bring something substantial to each community we visit.”

On a good day of scavenging, a family can make enough money to buy food for that day. They then repeat that process day after day, barely surviving while putting themselves at risk of diseases like tuberculosis, hepatitis, dengue fever, and typhoid. If these families don’t catch a disease, malnutrition is certain to affect them at some point in the near future.

Trek For Hope

Trek For Hope aims to have regular trips planned throughout the year, with the first trip being a trek along Mount Pulag and then a visit to the New Smokey Mountain region. Why choose this location as the inaugural event for Trek For Hope? “It all started with an episode in a television show called the Activist Journey hosted by popular Singaporean actress, Joanne Peh in 2010,” recalled Simon. “In that episode, Joanne shared about her journey to Tondo, Philippines, where the Smokey Mountain is situated.”

“After that program, I actually made a trip to the Tondo region with my son in 2013,” Simon continued. “I have a deep connection with those people and it just made sense to have Trek For Hope make their first organized visit happen there.”

Trek For Hope

For TS, also the founder of the Singapore Adventurous Nature Lovers group, Trek For Hope holds a deeper meaning. “I want to share with my fellow adventurers and members that anyone can make a difference in this world,” he said. “You don’t have to change the whole world to make that difference. If you can help just one person, just one family, then you’ll have helped to change their world for the better.”

43 Singaporeans have signed up for this initial adventure that Trek For Hope has scheduled. “When the trip was first brought to my notice, I was skeptical whether an amateur like me is capable of completing such a feat,” said Joanna Lee, a bank executive, who will be on Trek For Hope’s initial adventure. “I procrastinated for the longest time. However I started looking up Mount Pulag and the mission of this trip, and I was so drawn to it and jumped right in. Personally, one of the greatest meaning in this trip is not only that it brings together like-minded people to make baby steps to helping people living in the NSM, it also allows people to realise their different goals. Mount Pulag is just a stepping stone to great heights literally. I can’t wait to look at the magnificant view; across the mountains above the clouds! :)”

Those thoughts are echoed by Ruth Chua, admin executive, another inaugural attendee: “I have always enjoyed hiking and trekking,” she said. “When I knew this event was not going to be just a normal hiking trip, but would also involve an element of giving, I got really excited! It’s very meaningful to be able to contribute back to society while doing something that I’ve always enjoyed!”

Trek For Hope

About the organization:

Trek for Hope aims to make a difference on a global scale by combining the love of trekking, climbing, and adventure in general with charitable works. Trek For Hope’s goal is to help individual communities within the mountains and plains of the Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia, and other Asia and/or Oceanic countries. Trek For Hope strives to provide each community, including the communities where we each live, with the needed resources that can help everyone discover the wonders of nature.

For more information about Trek For Hope or to share in their passion for adventure in the outdoors, you can follow along with their adventures by joining their Facebook page at:

{ *All text and pictures in this blogpost are supplied by Trek For Hope }