AUGUST 14, 2008
(STAR) By Julie Cabatit-Alegre - The tree is said to be more than a hundred years old. One hundred feet from the ground, a steel platform was carefully built around its trunk. This majestic Apitong tree serves as Station 3 of the Tree Top Adventure at Cubi Point in Subic. Located between JEST Camp and Extreme Adventure, the newly opened TreeTop Adventure is just the latest among the country’s many tourist attractions that add vigor to DOT’s “Adventure Philippines” campaign.

In his remarks during the launching program of the TreeTop Adventure, Department of Tourism undersecretary Oscar Palabyab observed that tourist arrivals from Europe have risen in the past years. “The Europeans usually come for diving as well as other outdoor sports,” he noted. “This TreeTop Adventure will naturally appeal to them.” Speaking on behalf of DOT Secretary Ace Durano, who was in Davao at the time, Palabyab commended the efforts of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority led by SBMA administrator Armand Arreza as well as TreeTop Adventure owners and operators, engineers Mario and Maritz Montejo.

“This TreeTop Adventure will surely help you overcome your fear of heights,” Palabyab remarked. Later, after the ribbon cutting and blessing, and a buffet lunch, Palabyab climbed the steps, crossed the suspension bridges, and joined the other adventure seekers for “an experience of a lifetime.”

The TreeTop Adventure may very well be Subic’s own version of Cagayan de Oro’s award-winning “Canopy Walk,” except that you ride, rather than walk, above the treetops on chair lifts (similar to ski lifts) that glide on nine motorized cables, the first of its kind in the country. The cables, 140 to 220 feet long, span 12 platforms built around tree trunks, 10 to 100 feet above the ground. The different varieties of trees that serve as stations include the Lawaan, a hardwood tree; Kupang, with its wide roots and trunk; and the towering Apitong.

“The trees on which the platforms were built were chosen following a path that would cause the least disturbance to the natural environment,” Maritz Montejo explained. “No trees were harmed or will be harmed in all the adventures with our original tree trunk clamping mechanism.” Subic’s tropical rainforest is home to 3,000 types of trees and 10,000 varieties of plants as well as over a thousand animal species including bats and monkeys. “Deeper in the forest, you can find wild pigs (baboy damo),” Maritz said.

The one to 1.5-hour canopy ride (depending on how long you linger on each platform where you can “disembark” from one chair lift and “board” the next) gives you more than enough time to observe and be absorbed by the various sights and sounds of the dense forest — towering trees, sunlight filtering through thick crisscrossing branches, tangled vines, overgrown underbrush, a carpet of fallen leaves on the forest floor, birds chirping, crickets clicking their wings. Once you’ve overcome your initial apprehension, which fades after you’ve passed the first or second platform, you can get the kodakan out of the way and enter a zone of calm. Your treetop adventure almost feels serene.

“In determining the pace of the ride, we had to make a choice between providing a thrill ride or nature contemplation,” Engineer Montejo, who designed and built the ride, revealed. Nature won.

If you’re after an adrenaline rush, however, the Tree-Drop Adventure is more for you. What does it take to step out from a platform 60 feet above the ground and drop into thin air with just some ropes and a harness to delay your freefall? A bit of recklessness, I suppose, and a lot of faith in the safety equipment. Besides rappelling in the conventional style, i.e. vertical, with head on top and feet dangling below, you may choose the more exciting spider style or even the daring Australian style, face first.

“Safety is our number one priority,” Maritz remarked. “All adventures are tried, tested, certified and accredited by professionals. Safety lines are installed throughout the adventures. Our tour guides are trained and certified on standard first aid/CPR and on the industrial rope access work and basic rope-rescue module.”

What gives them the most pride, Maritz added, is that this is an all-Filipino venture and innovation, without any kind of foreign intervention, financial or technical assistance. “We want people to appreciate the beauty of God’s creation; the natural beauty of our country,” she said. “We are proud to be Filipino.”

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TreeTop Adventure office address: In Manila — 18 Paraguay St., Loyola Grand Villas, Quezon City; in Subic — JEST area, Cubi Point, SBMA; call (047) 252-9425/(047) 252-9427; or contact Karen Castro at 0927-4615159 or Dame Esquerra at 0917-2454418 ; e-mail

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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