The Human Spirit and the ASEAN

The Human Spirit and the ASEAN


There are no constraints on the human mind, no walls around the human spirit, no barriers to our progress except those we ourselves erect.

Ronald Reagan

The ASEAN or the Association of South East Asian Nations was founded in 1967 and is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The primary objectives of the ASEAN is to foster economic development, multilateral cooperation, and mutual cultural development in the region.

The existence of the ASEAN has brought into the lives of the people in the region, a new sense of togetherness, community, and freedom that would not have been possible before. The region has fostered a sense of community among people, and has allowed individuals to push their limits further by broadening their horizons beyond their native land.

I began mountain climbing back in the summer of 2010 at age 11 with my dad and Pinoy Mountaineers with the founder Gideon Lasco being one of my first climbing leads, and by October of that year I summited Mount Apo (elevation 2,954 meters above sea level), the highest mountain in the Philippines. Mountaineering allows me to experience the beauty of the great outdoors as well as meet the most amazing kinds of people, from doctors to travelers to musicians and so many more. I wasn’t always the fittest person, and each new mountain I climb is an opportunity to push my boundaries and see how far my body and mind can take me.

Thanks to the ASEAN’s visa free movement policy, I was able to easily travel to Indonesia and climb the highest mountain I’ve summited to date. Gunung Kerinci, a 2 day trek, located on the Island of Sumatra, the highest point in Sumatra at an elevation of 3,805 MASL. The terrain had some added challenge because it began to rain heavily, and the volcanic activity and potential earthquakes made the climb potentially dangerous since the most recent eruption was only in 2013.

The climbing conditions on the first day were fair, but then later that same day the conditions quickly deteriorated, and we were caught in a thunderstorm which made the trail very muddy and potentially dangerous, luckily the conditions eased up enough to continue as planned. The climbing team was composed of generally seasoned climbers with our lead being Coby Sarreal, co-foudner of mountaineering site Trail Adventours. I was able to push my own personal limits and summit the highest peak on Sumatra.

The ASEAN has made the region my home, and has allowed me to not only explore it, but feel like a native resident of such a wide and diverse region with people who come from different backgrounds and faiths, and terrain that may be rainforest of urban jungle, but in the end, this is my home.