May 4, 2018 – The Outsourcing Angel team mustered the courage to trek high up into the mountains to go and visit one of the Dumagat tribes in Sitio Quinao – One of the recipients of our OA Love Projects.

We rode the habal-habal through the bumpiest road (mind you, that was literally a pain in the butt!) for about 45 minutes and got soaked in the rain during the ride. After we reached the jump-off point, we hiked for more than 5 hours before reaching our destination.

This trek has been a series of adventure, drama, comedy, and action – rolled into one. Since I only have a few minutes to tell you my side of the story, let me summarise it by sharing with you the 5 life lessons I have learned during this once in a blue moon trek:

1. Do not compare. 

During the hike, we have several companions who got way ahead of us as if the trek is just a stride to them. There are times when I overtook others and a gazillion more times when I see myself at the very last of the trail.

You see, in life – there will always be people who are ahead or behind us. Everyone has a different journey and pace. Instead of feeling inferior from people who are better than us (smarter, richer, prettier, stronger, etc), make them an inspiration to move forward and be a better version of yourself.

More so, it is easy to fall into the trap of feeling better or more important than others if you are an overachiever. If you are better than others, keep inspiring those who are behind you and help them along the journey.

2. Do not carry heavy baggage.

Before the trek, I had a long list of things to bring on my backpack. However, my husband told me, ‘Are you sure you are going to bring them all? It will just slow you down’. To which I replied, ‘But it’s a girl thing’. Thankfully I listened to him because true enough, I would not have survived that 5+ hours long of a trek if I became so stubborn and brought all those non-essential things that will just make my backpack heavier.

In life, we are also weighed down by carrying heaps and heaps of jealousy, anger, grudges, complaints. Take off these heavy loads and enjoy life. If possible be at peace with everyone, be content, and let go of negative emotions as fast as you can.

3. Patience is a virtue.

Going through that trek for more than 5 hours is so exhausting and frustrating that ranting and getting impatient can be easy. Kuya Bimboy, our trekking guide, have this one rule: “Do not ask, how soon are we getting there”.

Let’s backtrack to the meeting before the trek. Last March, a couple of Manila-based VAs had a meetup and discussed the upcoming trek with Linh and Tribu Ni Bro. Ate Wendy specifically requested to go on the easiest trail because we have foreigners onboard and we don’t want accidents to happen – to which Kuya Bimboy agreed (or so we thought).

Fast forward to the trek day. An hour or so to the trek, some of us have been cursing already because this was not what we have agreed on 2 months ago. The only briefing we had was it will be a 3-hour walk, passing 7 rivers. Even Linh muttered, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s like it’s never going to end! I hate you Bimboy!’ I think all of us from OA hated Bimboy at some point during that trek. Because hello!…we are not physically, mentally, and psychologically ready.

When things don’t go as planned and we get uncomfortable, the first resort we usually do is complain, rant, and whine. But the question is, does it solve or change anything? You see, it’s when staying composed in the most uncomfortable situations makes everything easier.

4. Tough times are temporary. 

It was the most challenging hike I have ever experienced. We passed by boulders upon boulders of rocky paths, 45-degree inclines, slippery slopes, cliff, rivers (aaaah I’m feeling exhausted just thinking of all those things we went through!)

After several hours of walking, climbing, trudging, and panting we finally arrived at our destination. It was the best feeling in the world when we got there! Finally, we can rest! Suddenly I felt a sudden surge of emotions when I finally got to sit on a chair – happiness, fatigue, anger, disbelief, awe…that I burst into tears. Even I can’t control myself from crying, it just went out on its own – oh wait, it was more of like a loud weeping, OMG!

I’m so embarrassed I could not contain myself. And when I was finally over it (or so I thought) Linh came over and hugged me – and I cried again!

Life is not always a bed of roses as we all have some sort of troubles along the way. But hang in there! If you are going through tough times now, do not give up. Everything will be sorted in its own time, and you will reap the sweet fruits of your labor.

5. Believe in yourself.

For sure, all of us who joined the trek felt overwhelmed when we finally realised what we’re going into. How in the world are we going to make it through that trek? We are not experienced hikers – and most of our waking hours are spent just in front of the computer.

What I realised is that mind over matter is really powerful in this type of activity. You can be physically strong, but when you are easily fazed by the daunting situations – each step will feel heavy and a burden.

Having mental toughness can be rewarding because if you believe in yourself, you will be able to get that energy all fired up and running all the way to the destination.

So when life throws some setbacks, we can face them all head on.

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