Poler Express: Falling in Love with the Great Outdoors

I was first introduced to the great outdoors living from one tent to the next, hiking from one mountain to another as a member of the UST Mountaineering Club during my college days. To this day, I can still clearly remember the sight of the cloudless sky at night inhabited by glittering stars, and hearing nothing but the buzz of insects around us. I became hooked to that kind of life that it comprised all of my wonderful college memories more than my academic endeavors itself.

#CampVibe Campsite
Fast forward to my recent outdoor camping experience: Late afternoon and, at the onset of sunset, temperature ranging between five to nine degrees while a heavy downpour makes the already glacial environment even frostier. Hands freezing, I pitched the tent barely enough for me and my then-girlfriend to crawl inside. The whole night we stayed up wondering if we would get hypothermia. Almost freezing, we struggled to slumber the whole night and ditched our plan of cooking sinigang. That was at Mount Pulag almost a year ago. The next day we awoke to a dew-rinsed morning greeted by a fantastic sight from the mountain peak.

Poler Outdoor Stuff products on display
Slowly, we made the final approach for the peak and were gifted by a more mesmerizing spectacle. We both agreed to go hiking more often. Since then, I’ve seen my plans for another outdoor incursion get botched in favor of the normal manner of traveling, of backpacking and staying indoors at hostels. I can see my outdoor life at my rear-view mirror—slowly fading away, same way as my tent gathers dust in my storage room back home.

I was reminded of my love of camping at the great outdoors when I saw the rows of Poler Outdoor Stuff tents pitched neatly at the beach head of Anvaya Cove in Bataan. I reckoned with my advancing age and diminishing leg strength, I would not need to hike mountains to enjoy the great outdoors once again. With the Philippines surrounded by beautiful beaches, the idea of camping out on a beach acted as a perfect way to kick start my love for nature-based adventures again.

That timely reminder never escaped my fellow participants as well. Travel writers, photographers, chefs, and other professionals who attended the two-day, second Poler Camp Vibes were also reminded of the importance to escape our monotonous existence in the big cities. To some of them, who even brought their whole families, being closer to nature gave them a blueprint on how to introduce our bountiful natural resources to their kids.

And this is what the Poler Outdoor Brand wanted to convey, “To reignite the spark for adventure and exploration. To show a strong  passion  toward  galvanizing  an  adventurous  life.” The brand also intends to bridge the gap between action sports and traditional outdoor activities through their adventure-centric marketing strategies.

Poler Outdoor brand executive JC Alipo-on explains, “Poler Outdoor Stuff dedicates its existence to providing a line of versatile gear  and  apparel  that is equally  fun  and  functional  and  apt  for  everyday  use  in  the  city  as well as your  next  trip  into  the  wild.  The brand  even  introduced  its #CampVibes motto,  which  imbibes  one’s awesome  adventures  with distinctly  positive  outdoor  vibes  from  rock  climbing,  skateboarding, surfing, motorcycling, to picnics, road trips, camping on the beach, and so much more!”

Masterchef Asia contestant Chef Lica Bautista Ibarra
As the curtailing light of the beautiful Bataan sunset sweeps the skyline, the participants eagerly awaited the night’s dinner prepared by Asia Masterchef contestant Lica Bautista Ibarra, who prepared a delicious dish consisting of elote (Mexican grilled corn), grilled churrasco beef kebab, grilled taco chicken kebab, smoke pulled pork tortillas with capsicum, cilantro, onions, chimichurri, crema, and lime. A dining area set up in the center afforded the participants to enjoy the food and create conversations among each other.

#CampVibe Dinner
After our sumptuous dinner came the first set of #CampVibes games participated by the mostly younger participants followed by an open mic music jam and film showing. The rest of us just chilled around sitting on the cool soft sands of Anvaya Cove Beach while taking turns making smores by a classic bonfire—with an ice cold beer in hand.

The next morning, after the Zumba session, which I was forced to partake, the participants engaged each other in a friendly competition as they race each other through the mini adventure course during the Poler Awesome Games Challenge. Some of the participants included teams composed of parent-children tandems. The dads and the moms delighted at the opportunity showing their kids all the fun stuff they can enjoy in the great outdoors as opposed to limiting their leisure time to playing electronic gadgets.

The mini race was won by professional surfer Luke Landrigan and his son Kai. The father and son duo set off ablaze on the paddling part of the race to get the first clue a hundred meters to the sea and never relinquishing their lead after that.

Poler  Executive JC Alipo-on awards Pro surfer Luke Landrigan & son Kai as the winner of the Awesome Games Challenge
During the awarding ceremony JC Alipo-on highlighted further the brand’s mission and added, “Poler Outdoor Stuff believes that any trip can be a life-changing adventure for as long as one enjoys the journey  and  picks  up  rich  experiences  along  the  way  and  they  are  more  than  happy  to accompany one’s inner adventurer the Camp Vibes way!”

During the two-day event I also get to check out Poler Outdoor Stuff’s various products such as tents, sleeping bags, backpacks, shirts, and other adventure items at their showcase booth. I got myself an easy open backpack for my future trips but other than that, I acquired my outdoor camping mojo back.

After I returned home, I took out and cleaned my dusty tent and proceeded to make plans for an upcoming camping trip this summer. I may not be able to keep my promise of going on more hiking trips with my ex-girlfriend, but I see no reason I shouldn’t let my inner adventure let out the Camp Vibes way.

* This article appeared in the May 22, 2016 issue of Manila Bulletin's Lifestyle pages *