Jungle Living: A New Economic Lifestyle
’m forever on this perpetual hunt for the new economic lifestyle. The kind where the only mode of taxation is purely physical; as you stumble upon a fresh water swimming hole crowned by a waterfall in the middle of the jungle. One can find respite in such landscape nestled in the Philippines.
I have recently taken a winter sabbatical in Subic; an area 3 hours north of Manila along the western coastline, a first class municipality in the province of Zambales. With a population of about 90,000, this tropical zone holds more than enough space to clear the mind and get into some real raw nature. Here, a perfect balance of indigenous culture co-exists with modern society, technology , and wouldn’t you know… solar power. Coming from a fast paced lifestyle in New York City to this was a huge awakening that invigorated one back to true Self and the harmony of man with nature.
The wind blows amidst bamboo and coconut trees that lull you to a restful state and you’re quickly inspired to imagine a life less ordinary; it’s supernatural. As a creative person, arriving at places like these help ideas propagate in a very unique way. All senses are heightened, you don’t take things for granted, and you gain a much needed perspective on life.
The other caveat of coming here was to create with my sister Vivien Ramsay who recently unveiled her own in-house production facility for sustainable luxury clothing in Subic. Her studio is embraced by arboreous jungle, amazing sunsets, and a steady breeze. Vivien’s creative process incorporates the use of natural dyes, whose elements are foraged locally by indigenous tribes who gather leaves and barks from fallen trees to enact the truest pigments most pleasing to the human eye.
I have been surrounded by a lot of nature. On the weekends we take a 40-minute bus ride north along the coast to a place called Pundakit. There you can hire the ubiquitous bangka (pump-boat) for about 750 pesos roundtrip (USD $17.00) to take you to a special little island where you are literally the only visitor; gratuitous overnight camping optional. So we’d post up, strip down to our bikinis and prepare lunch, setting up the grill over some charcoal and pulling out freshly caught jumbo prawns that we’d purchased from the open air market in town. Island life is surely the tastiest.
Above all else, a return to nature is certainly a mandate for all those who want to experience personal evolution in the flow state. As we are reminded to slow down, listen to the sounds, and play like the cosmic babies that we are. Being racked up in the city sprawl for too long breeds contempt for what you know you really need… a healthier relationship to time. And it’s only once you get back into mother nature do you begin to rebuild that intrinsic body of knowledge.
The world has changed and nobody told us. We need to adapt to the “new normal” so that we can grab hold of the opportunities happening right now. For the approximate $150-200/week you spend recreationally in a city like New York you could live on your own private island steps from the sea for that same amount of time, food and orgasmic sunsets included— and if there’s a system brewing, you can surf some lovely waves too.
But if you’re not much of a beach person, there are plenty of deep jungle trails and hikes to native villages where the promise of a home cooked meal inside bamboo reeds can be arranged with an indigenous explanation of the healing benefits of the local flora. Last but not least; in addition to this off-the-beaten-path itinerary, perhaps like me, you seek inspiration to be able to think up new creative ideas and projects. Well, the Subic area is filled with abandoned concrete bunkers camouflaged in the jungle that you could rent for a mere $500/month; great for someone that wants to think outside the box into a long and spacious sprawl of 3,000 square feet.
And if you’re obsessed with ephemeral light you’ve hit home. I’ve found an endless stream of visual delight in this part of the country. Great fuel for photographers, and all those who venture off the beaten path. Plus, with all the essential modern amenities nearby, you can let loose and co-exist with the fauna, knowing that if you ever get accosted by a monkey you can phone the local forest ranger and he’ll remove him from your backyard. I mean it rarely happens because the monkeys do know better by now. After all, we are all in it together.