Puray Falls is one of the best mountain biking destinations near Metro Manila. Getting there means riding up steep slopes, crossing clear flowing streams, hiking up huge boulders, and viewing beautiful mountain vistas. It is one of those rare places within riding distance of our smog-choked, rubbish-strewn megacity where a biker can reconnect with greenery and soak in some soul.
If you want someone to understand what mountain biking is all about, you should take him/her on a bike ride to Puray Falls. Challenging climbs, fast descents, and the thrill of exploration: a journey to Puray provides all of these.
Sadly though, the place is getting trashed little by little.
The first time I went there, I noticed plastic bags of trash being carried along the rain-swollen river. The second time I went there, I saw plastic wrappers and bottles of Emperador and mineral water left on the rocks on the way to the falls. I tucked a few of the wrappers into my pocket because it offended me see them there, but I had little space in my hydration bag for the Empy bottles.
It only takes a few years of apathy for a pristine place to become just another sad sad trash heap. Most mountain bikers are generally environment-conscious and would never leave garbage on the trail. But sometimes that is not enough. In the case of Puray Falls, a clean up was clearly necessary.
Mountaineers regularly do cleanup climbs of peaks and trails. Divers often become scubasureros to do clean up dives of coral reefs. And surfers make sure their beach is trash free, because filth can really kill the vibe of a surf spot.
Last March 22, riders from the Food Trip Bikers, the PinoyMTBikers, and some readers of this blog (bravo guys!) rode to Puray Falls to make sure the area retains its pristine character.
According to Jepoy Salorio of FTB, he got the idea of a cleanup climb in December 2013. FTB members who had gone to Puray saw that the place was starting to look like a mess. Salorio, who is a mountaineer-veteran of cleanup climbs, suggested that they do a cleanup ride in Puray.
An invite was posted on FTB’s facebook page, which was shared at the PinoyMTBikers community facebook page, which was also shared on Outsideslacker. Besides the usual tools, water and food pack, participating riders were also told to bring trash bags and cleaning equipment.
18 bikers showed up at Puregold San Mateo that Saturday morning. Among them were two veteran bikers Roger and Junn Abad who came all the way from Cainta, Rizal and Navotas. The group rode out at 6:30 and less than two hours later they were already in Puray Falls.
Salorio says he was very happy with the turnout. The team immediately started collecting trash upon arriving in the area. The volunteers were able to fill 15 large bags with garbage, which just shows how much rubbish people leave at Puray. The sad thing is, most of the trash at Puray were left there by teenagers who live near the area.
FTB is now planning to tap environmental NGOs to do an outreach program in Puray so that the locals, especially the young ones, will become more aware of how special Puray is and thus take better care of it.