But we’re getting ahead of the story.
How does one feel to walk on a cliff, break into a sprint, then run off the heights -- and suddenly you don’t feel terra firma? Then the wind rushes in and your heart beats like crazy out of a mix of terror and delight?
Paragliding did that to me.
But before any flying is done, you have to be properly briefed. Here's a mini-guide to paragliding:
1) Wear long pants, long sleeves, and shoes that won’t fly off.
Why? You might scrape yourself with the branches of trees or when you land. For the shoes, well, the land doesn't need shoes going astray!
2) Wear head gear and harness.
The Saragani Paraglide crew will strap you in. They will provide the equipment.
3) Practice carrying the heavy harness.
Walk, run, and jump with it! Be familiar, as you'll be best buddies for the next hour or so.
4) Listen to what your pilot is saying.
Dapat lang, as you'll be partners during the ride.
5) Practice moving your arms.
Get familiar with how to move your arms and hands from one hole to another hole when you’re sitting or taking a video of your experience.
6) Get familiar with the timing.
You'd also want to practice when to walk, run, sit, and allow yourself to relax and enjoy the ride.
7) Be ready to walk off into the horizon.
Don’t look down! :P
8) Get that wind right -- then run!
As soon as the wind is right and you've practiced well, it's time to run off that cliff and get airborne. Don’t jump!
You'll get a myriad of feelings like being nervous, scared, and reluctant to let yourself trust your pilot and the wings. But when you finally let go, the exhilaration rushes in, you'll savor the joy of flying, and you’ll marvel at the beautiful vista spread out before you, around you, and below you.
There’s a lightness of being that comes when you’re at the mercy of the wind and the expertise of your pilot.
I was shouting at how cool the experience was, how breathtaking the scenery was, and how thankful I was to the Lord to have created such a splendor.
Man may have invented the paraglide as his fascination for flying ruled him, but it was God who gave him the talent and the brains to be able to do so.
I was constantly communicating with my Pilot Titoy who was expertly maneuvering our paraglide while answering all my questions.
In a way, constantly talking lessened my nervousness and made me forget that I was sitting with just the harness and the wings with my pilot, hovering 950-feet above sea level.
The experience was beyond words for it was that awesome and amazing.
Again, don’t worry, for your nervousness and fear will slip away and you'll be left enjoying the ride.
Now, back to how I began the story. Why is it that I don't have a video of my ride?
At 13 seconds, the GoPro camera I held stopped recording. And so we took it out of its case to restart it. Thinking that the casing was locked, I raised it to take a panning shot of the vista.
But the camera fell.
It made my ride longer than the usual 5-8 minutes. We circled around the site where the camera fell for almost 20 minutes with the ground crew assisting us. Still no camera…
In a way, it was a bummer not to have a video of the experience from my perspective. (You can watch the video taken from the ground at the top of this article.) But I was buoyed so much by the adrenaline that it didn't matter that much anymore.
I was asking Titoy if we could stay up in the air longer, but we really had to go down.
Titoy made me let go of the ropes to relax and flap my arms like a bird. He has this soothing prayer or mantra that makes you let go of everything. He made me shout whatever I didn't get to say but I wanted to deep inside.
And all I said was, "Thank you Lord! You are an awesome God!" I then began to sing What A Wonderful World.
Now here’s what you should NOT DO when you land.
You're supposed to walk or run as soon as your feet touches the ground.
Now, my right foot slipped and I cushioned myself from the fall by bracing my hand. Thus I got two mini-scrapes on my point finger and middle finger on my right hand.
But it’s a small price to pay for such an exhilarating experience.
The best news is that I and my pilot Titoy made it safe! Yeah, men!
The search for the missing camera continues as of this writing.
Luckily, the MagTV Na, MagNegosyo team of my home base ABS-CBN Davao had footage of me from the ground. So I still have a video of the amazing experience, as well as still photos taken by my travel buddy Olan TheTravelTeller.
So would I recommend paragliding? Definitely! It's one of those experiences you should do before you die.
[Watch MagTV Na, MagNegosyo Ta to be aired over Southern Mindanao on October 12, 2014 Sunday at 9 AM for the Sarangani Paraglide with Onnie Alfaro.]
The team behind the adventure, Sarangani Paraglide, ensures your safety and guarantees one adrenaline rushing ride.
You can reach them at 0922-807-1961/0933-373-6871/0917-327-0113 or at [email protected]
An introductory ride for 5-8 minutes costs PhP3,000.
The best place to stay in is at the Paragliding Viewdeck and Tent City at the Fly Site, SAFI Ranch 1, Sitio Seguil, Brgy. Tinoto, Sarangani Province. (Watch out for our article on the place!)
Big thanks to Sir Germs Pablico, Ms. Adel Sampayan, Sarangani Paraglide’s cool pilots Titoy and Carlaa, Darvin, Paraboys. Engr. Marjhon, Mr. Palermo, My MagTV Na, MagNegosyo Ta Family---Mommy Onnie, Jayvee, Ninz, Tatay Noli, Kmart, RR and Hemhem and my travel buddy Olan TheTravelTeller
How to Get There
PAL and other major airlines fly daily to General Santos City.
Contact the Paragliding Viewdeck and Tent City at 0927-820-4297 to book your 4 x 4 ride to the site and the Sarangani Paraglide.