Scuba diving, caving, rock climbing, mountain trekking, the list goes on and on. Gian and Sheila, aka Team Sweetie of Adrenaline Romance, kicks it into high gear in search of the quintessential adventure. It’s amazing that they are also killer foodies, because who has time to eat while belly crawling through the crevices of Elephant Cave, or rappelling down the cliff face of Kiokong Crag. This awesome couple shows us that working full time is no excuse to not live a life of adventure! Throw away all your preconceptions of the Philippines, cause you’ll never see it the same way again after getting to know these two….
Tell us a little about Adrenaline Romance. Who is Team Sweetie, and what are you all about?
Team Sweetie is Gian and Sheila. We are sweethearts who love and constantly seek adventures, new places, and awesome experiences. At heart, we are rock climbers, mountaineers, scuba divers, trekkers, and backpackers.
We document and compile all our sojourns in our blog Adrenaline Romance. It is a photoblog that contains our experiences as well as tips, itineraries, and other useful information for those who want to go adventuring in the Philippines.
From rock climbing to scuba diving, you guys are obviously on a search for the ultimate rush. How did you get into that, and what was the inspiration?
Our time in this world is temporary. We want to live a full, accomplished, and exciting life. For us, the idea of getting into an adrenaline high, witnessing indescribably beautiful places and unique cultures, and understanding our place in nature is the key to acquiring that life.
We don’t want to be stuck in worry, stress, and uncertainty; life is simply too short and too grand to be stuck in a rut.
How do you find the balance between working and adventuring?
We work full time five days a week, but that is not an excuse to shelf our adventures. We found out that we could strike a balance between our careers and adventures by thoroughly planning our sojourns—budgets, itineraries, activities, contacts, and more.
For example, each year, we get a number of vacation leaves. Early in the year, we distribute our leaves to coincide with holidays and rest days so we’ll have longer trips.
How do you guys prepare yourselves to take on all your life-threatening activities? And what sort of preparation should someone new to adventure travel do?
Well, it all depends on the activities we take. For instance, in mountaineering, we research about the mountain we plan to climb, acquire top-quality gear, update ourselves of the weather and micro-climate, exercise our leg and shoulder muscles, and more. In backpacking, we research about the place we’re traveling to, find out the best activities and sites to visit, book our accommodations in advance, etc.
But for more life-threatening activities, we get the proper training and certifications so we know what we are doing. That requires some sort of investment of money, time, and effort. As scuba divers, for example, we underwent a PADI Open Water Diver course and earned a license. Having that training makes diving safer and more enjoyable for us. In rock climbing, we have coaches who teach us rope work as well as climbing techniques and safety protocols.
Entering into the world of adventuring is fun, yes, but you have to understand the responsibility of doing so. Thorough preparation and acquiring the right skills and gear for your chosen activity are crucial for safety and fun.
What are the best places for someone who wants to go adventuring?
We would recommend novice adventurers checking out their immediate locality first. That is the easiest, cheapest, and, in many cases, safest way to venture out into the world of adventuring. Thus, novices can start hiking on a nearby hill in or mountain near the city. Or they can take their first steps in rock climbing in their local indoor climbing gym.
If you are asking for specific places, oh boy, there are just so many “best” places in the Philippines. Indeed, our country is so full of adventuring venues that it’s hard to enumerate them all. To name a few, there is Cantabaco and Poog in Cebu for rock climbing, Kiokong White Rock Wall for vertical bivouac, Apo Island for scuba diving, and more. The list goes on.
As committed adventurers, you guys probably have no end of exciting stories! What is one of the craziest situations you guys got yourselves caught up in and how did you get yourself out of it?
Oh, we have a whole lot of exciting, funny, and life-changing stories that are forever etched in our minds! One of those stories was our first multi-pitch climb. In layman’s terms, this activity involves climbing an extremely tall cliff in segments; each segment is called a pitch. By tall, we’re talking about hundreds of feet off the ground.
The pitches were easy enough to climb, but the extreme height was something that was new to us. In fact, we could not even see the ground from where we were. The thought of slipping and falling down a 250-foot cliff, even if we’re using safety equipment, was absolutely terrifying. Sheila let her nervousness get hold of her, and she panicked right at the top of the 3rd pitch! Even though the route was easy, she could not move a muscle! We had to haul her to the belay ledge, which was just a step above from where she was dangling.
Our dilemma didn’t end there. Hauling her took a lot of time, and it was already dark when we started abseiling down. Just imagine rappelling in the darkness—we didn’t know if the rope got stuck, or where we can anchor ourselves at the lower pitches. Yes, we were groping in the dark at hundreds of feet off the ground! Thankfully, we had a safe touchdown.
That was one hair-raising adventure that taught us never to give in to panic.
And what was your most memorable adventure?
Our most memorable trip was our most recent sojourn, which is a vertical bivouac adventure in Quezon, Bukidnon offered by Adventure Technology Outfitters. This activity involves a 5-hour rope ascent using the single rope technique on a sheer and monstrous vertical cliff that is around 500 feet high. We spent the night on a tiny, rocky ledge 480 feet off the ground with a deep abyss just in front of our feet! Then in the morning, we rappelled down that immense height to be back on solid ground.
It was an honor to be part of this adventure because this is the only one of its kind in the Philippines and, possibly, Southeast Asia. And we were among the very first clients who were able to successfully undertake such adventure.
If you could offer only one survival/safety tip, what would it be?
We couldn’t emphasize enough the importance of preparation. Yes, it’s cliche; but as responsible adventurers, we abide by the old Boy Scout motto of “Be prepared.” Having the right exercise, gear, training, and mindset makes adventuring safer and more enjoyable.
In addition, remember that in all outdoor adventures, we are at the mercy of Mother Nature. We won’t succeed if we underestimate or show the slightest disrespect to her.
How have you both evolved from when you first started, to becoming the epic adventurers you are now?
Even before we met, we already had our share of adventures. However, fate, if there’s such a thing, was kind to us one weekend in April 2012 when we first met at the local crag in Cantabaco. We can truly sense the passion and spirit of adventuring within each other even though we barely knew one another at that time. Needless to say, we instantly clicked, one thing led to another, then we became sweethearts who share the same passion.
We evolved into better adventurers and travelers by taking into heart the lessons of each destination, activity, mishap, and triumph. If you read our blog, Adrenaline Romance, you would notice that we include the lessons we learned in each post.
What is the one essential piece of travel gear that you guys can’t leave home without?
The right footwear. Once your feet give out, you’re done for. That’s why we don’t go into shorcuts when it comes to footwear; we are very meticulous on the quality and features of shoes, sandals, and related items.
We have trekking shoes, rock climbing shoes, aqua shoes, trekking sandals, and more; a pair for each activity.
Where are you now, and what cliff or mountain will you guys be exploring next?
We have plans to climb a number of rock crags in the country. Also, a few friends and us are planning to climb Mt. Guiting-Guiting in Romblon, one of the most difficult mountains in the Philippines, next year. We also want to explore a few dive sites these coming months, but the weather is not cooperating.
Do you have any final advice for those who wish to get out there and Blaze their own adventure?
Live your life with fiery passion and drive. As you get older, you’ll regret not taking the risk and not following your heart to travel to new places, explore new cultures, and live a life of exciting adventures. Don’t wait until you get to a point in life when you want to go adventuring but your body or health is hindering you to do so. The best time for you to live your life to the fullest is now!
The beautiful real world is out there, not in your office, in your smartphone screens, or in the bar.
About Adrenaline Romance
Team Sweetie consists of Gian and Sheila, a loving boyfriend-and-girlfriend team of adventure junkies who are eternally thirsty for the next adrenaline rush.During weekdays, Gian works as a content writer for a company that specializes in search engine optimization. Although writing is one of his passions (he fantasizes writing his own novel someday), he hopes to someday save enough money to start a few businesses such as bed-and-breakfast, adventure tour operation, and peasant restaurant that will readily cater to fellow adventurers
Weeknights find Sheila working as a copy-editor for a market research company. Sweet, simple, and motherly, no one, at first glance, would believe that on weekends, she becomes a die-hard fanatic of mountaineering, rock climbing, wall climbing, caving, and a host of other adventure sports. Sheila hopes to travel around the world in search for the ultimate adrenaline lust.
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