After helping bring back local weavesto relevance especially among city dwellers, Rambie Lim, 37, decided she’s had enough of city life. She then packed her bags and moved to Palawan. She works with the social arm of Tao Philippines, a social enterprise that takes travelers on expeditions around Palawan.
Can you tell me how this Palawan gig came about?
My first experience with Tao was in 2014, I was lucky enough to be invited for the pre-expedition of the Balatik around El Nido, Palawan and it was amazing. The lost boys of Tao truly charmed me, I really liked what they were doing and somehow wished to be part of them. I didn’t think it would ever be possible.
The months after the trip, my life got a little tumultuous—there was a disastrous project, a failed trip, a slip disc, a disc replacement operation and a corporate foundation job. So medyo crazy.
In 2015, a year after the Balatik experience, Eddie Brock of Tao asked me if I could help run their foundation. I was floored—it seemed like such a big responsibility—but I was also a bit heartbroken. I had just signed a new contract for a long-term project and wouldn’t be able to make the move till 2017. I turned him down.
In October 2016, returned to El Nido for another trip on the Balatik, this time visiting Northern Palawan: El Nido, Linapacan, Culion, and Coron. While the natural beauty of the route floored me, what swept me off my feet were the Lost Boys, the Tao crew. The communities we stayed with had this warmth and openness, that just set me at ease, it sort of felt like coming home. I decided that this was what I wanted to do and I had to work out a plan to make it happen. Luckily they still wanted me for the job.
How long did it take you to make the move?
After agreeing with them, it took me just four months. But that’s four months of hard decisions and conditioning. It’s been an adventure with bumps and bruises along the way, with some heartache and a bit of despair, but I haven’t regretted my decision to make the move and take up the challenge.
Has the island life always been your life goal? Was it something you consciously tried to achieve?
I’m actually more of a mountain girl. I was born in Baguio, I love sweater weather, the smell of pine and the mist rolling over hills. Not to say I don’t love and thrive at the beach, but having gone to college in Puerto Princesa and exploring a bit of Palawan, I kind of thought that my next move after Manila would be some were South and cold, like Bukidnon.
Can you tell me about the moment when you decided to go for it? What made you say, “All or nothing!”
On the last night of our expedition last October 2016. Sitting on the grassy lawn in Bulwang, Culion listening to the crew tell their stories of their years with Tao.
So what exactly do you do in Tao?
I run the Tao Kalahi Foundation, which is the social arm of Tao Philippines. We build schools, support early learning and child development programs, create livelihood opportunities, and develop products along the route of Tao Expeditions.
Any fears about relocating and basically changing your life?
Soooo many fears and hesitations. I had to condition myself to find ways to deal with the changes and limitations of the move, as well as wrap my head around the responsibility and the gravity of the job. I surprise myself everyday and am pleased to say it’s not that bad living in paradise. So yes, there were struggles but being here is pretty awesome and the opportunities to be able to help make a difference mostly out ways the little discomforts.
Are there still difficulties in paradise?
Anything we do will always have difficulties and hardships, but being in Palawan make mine a lot more tolerable. Luckily 8 months in, it has been pretty decent.
What is life like in Palawan?
It’s exciting, scary, exhausting, challenging, mind boggling, exhilarating, depressing, uplifting, rewarding, numbing…. it’s like all the colors of the rainbow and more; I don’t know if it’s the magic of Palawan, or Tao or maybe the openness that I have tried to practice since I decided to come on this adventure (as it was required by the founders that I observe first). Change is scary but that doesn’t mean you should just stay the same. I say we should treat life like and adventure! I kind of got too literal with the adventure part, but seriously not being in the rat race, trying to look for solutions and the beach right outside your door… #blessed
Any advice for people who dream of the island life?
Think long and hard. Island life is nothing like a weekend or a week at the beach. You have to think: wardrobe change, sun protection, your personal hygiene routine, your creature comforts, where you’re going to live, what’s the toilet situation is going to be like, how far away you want to be and what are you going to do for work. Once you’ve sorted that out, Make that jump! Live the dream, create your own adventure and if it doesn’t work out, you can always return to the rate race, este big city.
Illustration: Madel Crudo
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