Paragliding is not as main-stream a sport in the Philippines as surfing (thanks to Baler and La Union) and scuba diving. It can be done in a day, but will have to be planned for days.
Here’s a little help from FootlooseTomcat, so you can plan your own paragliding adventure, or we can book it for you for a hassle-free experience.
- Price – it is not an inexpensive sport. The price is not even for revenue, instead, it is only for the use of the equipment. The “canopy” costs around PhP 200,000 and can only be used for a couple years. As Uwe put it, each time you use it to fly, its value diminishes. Why don’t the tandem pilots ask more than 3,500 per head? Because they only want to introduce and promote the sport to fellow Filipinos (and maybe other expats too).
- Fly-Sites – as mentioned in my other paragliding series article, there are currently three sites in the Philippines, Carmona (Cavite) from October until before the rainy season starts, San Mateo (Rizal) from June to October, and Sarangani all year long.
- Planning – be open to the possibility that your pilots will confirm your flight only a day or so before the actual flight. You know how the Philippine weather changes from time to time, even intra-day. But it will be worth it. It will take about an entire day from the meet-up to the drop off point. We had to do it on a Monday, and we had a shift that same night, coming from off.
- What to bring – this sport requires patience, as sometimes, it’s “para-waiting” and not paragliding.
- Bring a lot of stories or books – which shouldn’t be too hard if you’re there as a group. We chanced upon a big group (from another call center company) and we joked around as if we knew each other a long time. Mary and I brought books but never got to read my Patterson and her Lang Leav because there was too much action going on, and even while we were waiting, we were busy calming ourselves down anyway. A solo glider, Maribelle, brought her phone and her power bank so she’s online all the time (Smart signal was stronger than Globe that day). If you want to bring your MP3 player, go right ahead.
- Wear something comfortable and protective – Mary and the other girls wore sweat pants or leggings, the boys varied with long and short pants. It is grassy, “masukal” even. It was scorching hot, and a pair of sunglasses, sun block, mosquito repellent, and a cap (or sarong) should be helpful. Running shoes or outdoor sandals would be the ideal footwear. Don’t forget to bring extra shirt, and other toiletries.
- Food – we left home before 7am and got back at almost 5. We got to the fly-site before 9 am and left it before 4pm. Imagine if we had not taken some food with us? At least a liter of water per person, some mints, and a granola bar maybe. Please don’t eat before you fly. With all the tricks the pilots can do, you didn’t want your gopro to capture you puking, right?
- Camera – whether it’s your phone, your gopro, or your DSLR, make sure they’re properly charged (my gopro drained because I forgot to turn off the wifi feature when I tested it with the gopro app on my phone), you have the SD card, cables, monopods, etc. They also offer lending you their gopro for 500 PhP per group.
- Expect some trash-talks with your friends, tips from your pilots, some failed attempts, some flights maybe shorter or lower-hanging than the rest. But most of all, expect a divine connection between you and nature. As Titoy put it, you can scream, you can eat, you can pray, just don’t swear. We don’t own the wind, we respect it.
- Itinerary – this is how our trip happened, may vary depending on your location, the number of pilots, the number of participants and the wind condition. If you’re going there on your own, bring your SUV. If you have a sedan, you can park it at the landing site, and then a stunning custom-built dessert-yellow Nissan Patrol will bring you up to the fly site.
0715 – pick up at Chino Roces corner Gil Puyat
0830 – arrived at the fly site after buying ice, water and packed food
0900 – pilots setting up and testing the wind
0930 – group of 13 started flying
1100 – we lost some wind power and waited for a while (this is when I only got 2 mins of fly time)
1200 – resume flight
1330 – everyone’s done flying. pilots gather their equipment, we waited for our photos / videos from their gopros to be collated, finalizing bills
1430 – off to late lunch
1530 – left Carmona for Makati
Please visit and like Footloose Tomcat’s fb page at: http://www.facebook.com/FootlooseTomcat – message us if you have questions about our Paragliding experience, and if you need help with yours.