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About the Author

Iris Cecilia Gonzales
journalist (Quezon City, Philippines)

I work as a reporter for the Philippine Star, a Manila daily. At present, I cover the Department of Finance beat but I also write other stories here and there. I'm also a coffee and scotch drinker, a barefoot traveller and a collector of memories. I live in a parallel universe.


To The South Pole: An Expedition for the Environment

Published 24th June 2010 - 10 comments - 7617 views -

Bobby del Castillo during one of his adventures. Photo from the Climate Changers of the Philippines


MANDALUYONG, Philippines - Glaciers are melting.  A thermometer would read -50°C to -100 °C. Winds are moving anywhere from 100 kilometers per hour to 400 kilometers per hour.  There are no polar bears or blooming flowers.  There are no signs of life. Eerie silence. There is nothing to see but clear blue sky and a wide expanse of snow-covered earth.

But 57-year old Bobby del Castillo, a professional golf instructor and extreme sportsman, will embark on an ambitious expedition to this so-called last frontier, the geographic South Pole in the Antartic region. His target is end-November or early December. If he succeeds, he would be the first Filipino ever to reach this patch of earth, which sits atop a windswept icy plateau at an altitude of 2,835 meters.

The expedition will officially start off from Patriot Hills in Antartic where he would begin to walk 1,170 kilometers on an unfriendly blanket of snow. In here, the ice is estimated to be about 2,700 meters thick. 

It’s not just another adventure for del Castillo. Although he spends his time trekking desserts, climbing mountains or diving into the deep blue sea, del Castillo said his expedition to the South Pole would be more than just an ordinary trek.

Del Castillo aims to highlight the worsening problem of Climate Change and he chose the South Pole because it is here where the threat is rapidly unraveling.

By early December, del Castillo hopes to reach the geographic South Pole, bringing with him 1 million prayer petitions.

“I will ask the Filipino people if we could as a people, as a nation, pray again together for Climate Change,” del Castillo said in an interview with this blogger for TH!NK3.

 The expedition is being organized by the Climate Changers of the Philippines, a group of individuals who aim to raise environmental awareness.

Del Castillo, who has just finished his rigorous training here, is leaving next month for New Zealand for climate training and simulation of the harsh South Pole weather, the group said in a separate statement on the forthcoming expedition. He said that New Zealand’s winter season would be helpful in partly capturing South Pole’s extreme weather.

He will then fly to Chile in October for further training and which is also the jump off point for his expedition to the South Pole. “I wanted to jump off from Chile because I wanted to highlight the drought conditions  caused by the melting of glaciers,” he said in the interview.

From Chile, he will take a four-hour flight to Patriot Hills on the Antartic Shelf to commence his icy trek. He will be followed by a New York-based camera man but up to Patriot Hills only, the group also said in its statement.

Del Castillo will be trekking on skis on thick and thin snowfield blanketing the vast South Pole’s frozen snow bed, it also said.

 “At the last stretch of his trek before reaching the geographical center, Del Castillo has to pound the thick snow floor non-stop, which could even last whole day of trekking, since stopping would mean instant death due to frostbite. Del Castillo is also obligated by the Antarctic Treaty regulations to bring back all he carries to the Pole, including his waste,” it added.

Aside from raising awareness on Climate Change, del Castillo hopes to shatter the world record of 33 days achieved by Canadian outdoorsmen Ray Zahab, Richard Weber and Kevin Valley which they accomplished last year. This time, del Castillo will try to complete the trek in just 30 days.    

Del Castillo is keeping his fingers crossed. Raising awareness on the alarming issue of Climate Change is an important start, he said.

He believes that each and every human being can do their part in helping the environment by simple day-to-day things such as reducing their trash, conserving water, planting a tree, protecting the birds and practicing proper waste management.

He won’t stop at the South Pole, he vowed. His campaign would be a life-long journey, beyond the crevices of the earth, lifeless desserts, dark, blue seas and against powerful winds and vertical mountains.

Bobby del Castillo during one of his adventures. Photo from the Climate Changers of the Philippines



The photos show Bobby del Castillo in his various adventures around the globe. Photos are from the Climate Changers of the Philippines

Category: Environment | Tags: climate change, environment, mdg, mdg,


  • Iwona Frydryszak on 24th June 2010:

    it’s very inspiring. But will the inspiration stay longer in people than ending reading the artical or watching the news/film about him?

  • Iris Cecilia Gonzales on 24th June 2010:

    Thanks for reading Iwona. Yes. He’s hoping he will inspire a lot of people.He’s keeping his fingers crossed.

  • Giedre Steikunaite on 24th June 2010:

    What’s the story of the prayers, Iris?

  • Iris Cecilia Gonzales on 24th June 2010:

    Hi Giedre,

    He hopes to gather prayer petitions from Filipinos. The prayers are for a better environment. He is gathering the petitions through the Internet, contacts and media blitz.

  • Sylwia Presley on 24th June 2010:

    I am always amazed how much people are able to achieve for charitable goals and to prove their very valid points! Check for more examples of amazing stories like this one!

  • Iris Cecilia Gonzales on 24th June 2010:

    Hi Sylwia,

    Thanks for reading. Yes, you are right. Amazing and inspiring stories, indeed.

  • Luan Galani on 01st July 2010:

    Hi Iris,

    A stirring read, as always. What a swashbuckling past of his! And, of course, it is a very inspirational story…such things are always completely refreshing for me. Thanks!

  • Iris Cecilia Gonzales on 01st July 2010:


    Thanks for reading and thanks for your comment. I’m am indeed in awe at his courage and strength. I will keep you posted regarding the trip, during which he said, he would be in constant communication with the world through a satellite phone.

  • Iris Cecilia Gonzales on 05th July 2010:

    Thanks for your comment rain4est. Will relay your thoughts to Del Castillo.

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