Founder & President
In 2006, the germ of the idea that would become Uncharted Philippines took hold of Leo's brain even as his body was being ravaged by a debilitating virus (ok, it was only stomach flu but it was bad enough to keep him from work and in bed). He had worked in leisure real estate for several years, helping design and develop seaside resorts and mountain retreats. His job let him engage occasionally in some of his favorite activities such as diving and hiking during the workweek, yet he yearned for greater fulfillment and excitement. Laid up in bed and feeling miserably immobile, he recognized adventure travel as not only a hobby but a passion and decided to dedicate his life to it. A year later Leo was in Boston, Massachusetts getting a master's degree in business and developing his idea for a world-class Philippine adventure travel company. While in the United States, he worked with Earthwatch Institute and gained valuable insight into adventure travel and sustainability. After getting his MBA, he then moved to Bogota to work for a Colombian adventure company. It was there that he learned the intricacies of running a tour company in a developing country. In late 2010, feeling that he had learned what he needed, Leo returned home and established Uncharted Philippines.
Leo spends his free time diving, climbing, backpacking, mountain biking, kayaking, traveling and practicing his Spanish with his Colombian wife and their Colombian dog.
In 2008, while getting her master's degree in business in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Cami never imagined she would be where she is now. Cami was an industrial engineer from Colombia who had spent most of her pre-MBA career in finance in the insurance industry. She was getting her degree with an eye on making the move to business strategy consulting. Towards the end of her studies, however, several unexpected things happened. The global financial crisis hit. Cami met a Filipino who reacquainted her with her love for climbing and the outdoors. She spent a semester in China and fell in love with Asia, traveling and chow fan. Four years later these unrelated events proved to be factors that steered Cami towards an Uncharted career path. After getting her MBA Cami moved back to Colombia and spent two years working in business development, human resources and marketing. During that time she went on several adventure trips with her Filipino boyfriend before they eventually got married and moved to the Philippines. Cami's passion for traveling and experiencing new things made her realize that a corporate desk job was not for her. She decided to focus her talents on helping develop Uncharted Philippines into the best adventure travel company in the region while indulging her passion for new experiences, discovering places, and learning about different countries and cultures.
Cami is an experienced diver, hiker, rock climber and backpacker. Her favorite things in the Philippines are its coral reefs, its local handcrafts and its comfort dishes such as sisig and dinuguan.
Zean likes to bite off more than he can chew. This is most applicable when it comes to food as he can easily gorge down a meal that's good for 3 persons. But other than his voracious appetite for anything edible, he moreover has a big hunger and thirst for new and exciting experiences.
Zean took up Biology in college, hoping to someday become a doctor. But his forays into mountaineering and other outdoor activities changed all of that, and he eventually decided to pursue other "less confining" occupational options. His professional history thereafter became as colorful and diverse as the many places he's been to. Zean has worked in widely different fields, including environmental conservation (whereby he worked as a marine biologist and lived on an island), finance, arts and literature (he was once a dancer and theater actor), education, and information technology. The only thing that remained constant was his passion for travel, adventure, and the outdoors. His itch was just too irrepressible that he left a lucrative and stable office job at an IT company for the freedom and challenges of a freelance career.
Having helped set up the Uncharted company from the get-go, Zean has likewise put up his own creative media business which allows him to indulge in his interests in photography, writing, web development, and graphic design. He is also a scuba diving instructor and likes to spend his free time hiking, rock climbing, freediving, and surfing. Needless to say, he also loves to eat.
Jun is an industrial engineer who spent many years as project manager/engineer for several companies in the logistics, telecoms and electronics industries. He used to work on such things as TQM (Total Quality Management) and developing systems according to ISO standards. Jun, however, was always happiest outdoors and in 2011 he joined Uncharted Philippines as a Trip Leader to indulge his passion for travel and nature-based adventure. Over the years Jun became (as one of our happy guests put it) a legendary guide. In 2016, after leading countless adventure trips and making hundreds of friends from all over the world, our most veteran Trip Leader took over as our Operations Manager.
Jun is an avid hiker and loves to explore new places on foot. A savvy traveler, he always figures out the best way to enjoy a destination. As our Operations Manager, Jun ensures TTA (Total Tour Awesomeness), maintains ISO (Intensely Spectacular Outdoors) standards, and optimizes the fun level on each one of our trips – what else would you expect from an engineer?
Though Dax has always been a nature-lover and has a post-graduate degree in Environment and Natural Resources Management, he got his first dose of extreme outdoor adventure and physical torture challenge during his stint with the Philippine Navy. After Dax left the Navy he entered the security and safety industry and handled projects for some of the best island resorts in the country. His work required him to spend much of his time on islands and beaches (poor guy) and the outdoors became a major part of his life and livelihood.
In 2012 Dax established his own security consulting firm and he was also an operations officer for a commercial diving company. As if his work protecting people and executing complicated dives wasn't exciting enough, Dax also joined Uncharted Philippines as a trip leader. Leading trips enables Dax to commune with the wild and the sea (two of his great loves) and gives him a chance to show off his beloved country to other people. It also gives him eager audiences for his many interesting life stories. As trip leader Dax makes sure that our tours have the things that he values: excitement, safety, physical challenge and lots of nature.
Dax (whose real name is Jeffrey by the way; like a Navy SEAL he has a cool nickname that fits his personality better), is a family man with a wife, four kids and 20 pairs of Vibram Five Fingers.
Don't be alarmed if you think you see blood in Jody's mouth while hiking with him. He's not bleeding from exhaustion. In fact, while you might be catching your breath, Jody probably hasn't even broken a sweat. Jody has been hiking in the Ifugao mountains since he was a kid and the area's trails are as challenging to him as your neighborhood's sidewalks are to you. The red liquid in his mouth is not blood; it's the juice of a palm tree seed (commonly known as betel nut) that he loves to chew.
Jody is a Banaue local and knows the region's people, customs and culture intimately. He is also very interested in foreign cultures and can speak a surprising amount of French and a smattering of other languages. Living in the small town of Banaue opens up the world to Jody and he is friends with hundreds of people from every corner of the globe. When Jody is not guiding people in the mountains he can be found at a guesthouse that he helps run, on the road riding his tricycle or at home with his young family.
If you've ever seen photos or videos of Ifugao men in their traditional attire racing wooden scooters down a hill at breakneck speed, chances are you’ve seen Marvin before. He's part of the Banaue Wooden Scooter Racing Team and his photo has graced many magazines and newspapers. Yes, Marvin is a sort of celebrity, but he is a tough one – you need to be if you ride a scooter with zero shock absorption at 50 kph on bumpy roads. Many things attract Marvin to scooter racing – the speed, the rugged action, the adoring fans – but it's the tradition and culture associated with the race that is most important to him. Marvin is very proud and knowledgeable of everything Ifugao and he exudes this pride and knowledge when he takes guests around his home region. Get past his infectious smile and you will find a serious devotee of Ifugao culture and history.
Aside from being a racer, celebrity and trip leader, Marvin is also a double major in IT and Tourism.
Jonathan has a gift. No matter what he is doing his hair is always impeccably styled. On the most challenging and rugged trails he looks like he just got out of the salon. In fact, only moments after a swim or putting on a hat Jonathan's hair is already back to its usual form.
Aside from his hair Jonathan has two more things that are always in perfect order: his pleasant attitude and desire to show his guests a wonderful time. Jonathan's grin is as constant as his coiffure and he goes out of his way to ensure that his travel companions wear similar smiles. Though always smiling he takes his job very seriously. From reading to learn more about different cultures to attending various skills training seminars, Jonathan is constantly improving himself as a trip leader. A proud Ifugao and a multi-skilled guide, Jonathan is the ideal person to show you around the Banaue region and surrounding areas.
When not leading trips or styling his hair Jonathan helps run a guesthouse in Banaue and chews betel nut with his friends.
He won't admit to it, but Jhonas is a rock star among tour guides in Coron. Ok, maybe not a rock star but definitely a TV star – he has been on national television thrice, taking celebrities around his beloved Northern Palawan. Jhonas is historian, storyteller, environmentalist, outdoorsman and chef rolled into the ideal island expedition leader.
Jhonas finds beauty, excitement and inspiration in nature. He is an avid photographer, a motocross rider and an excellent cook, and nature provides his subjects, playground and ingredients. Not surprisingly, Jhonas devotes a lot of time on activities that help preserve the environment for future generations.
Jhonas leads our boat expedition in Northern Palawan and shares his passion for nature, culture and cooking with his lucky guests. In his leisure time he likes to play basketball and soccer and go trekking.
Ken De Vera
Don't let his boyish, happy-go-lucky looks fool you: Ken has had a stormy life. No, his life is not all drama – it's just that he often gets caught in typhoons (a typhoon is the Philippine version of a hurricane). Ken has survived being caught in storms on top of a mountain, beside a rampaging river and even in a small boat in the middle of the sea. He is a seasoned backpacker who has explored some of the most remote regions in the Philippines. Ken is serious about taking "the road less traveled" – so serious that he often plans his personal escapades during the stormy season so he can avoid crowds of tourists. Getting caught in typhoons just comes with the territory.
When the weather is more pleasant and less life-threatening Ken leads trips for our guests. He is an outdoorsman, a self-taught chef and a beer connoisseur. Ken is also a licensed Landscape Architect and is the perfect resource for learning about the fascinating plants you see while traveling in the Philippines.
Ken's dream is to settle down in a tropical island and run his own café where he can share his love for good food, coffee, music, literature and films and where he can regale people with stories of his stormy adventures.
Joe became a mountain explorer not for sport but for art. He has been a bonsai artist since 2003 and took to the mountains in search of yamadori which are naturally occurring bonsai. Yamadori are highly prized by bonsai enthusiasts but Joe came to realize that taking them from their natural habitat is wrong. Like other wild plants yamadori are essential to their ecosystem and are more valuable in nature than in a pot. Joe turned to sustainable bonsai art and now rescues hedge plants and other bonsai material that are threatened by construction and development around Palawan.
Joe grew up in Manila but was seduced by the adventure possibilities of Palawan and now lives in Puerto Princesa as a professional guide. He is known as a walking information desk (for being both knowledgeable and talkative), a gym rat who gets into a Zen state while pumping iron, and an endurance junkie who crosses open seas in a kayak. Despite his impressive physical and mental attributes Joe considers his being "sensitive, conscientious, reliable and compassionate" as his key strengths as a Trip Leader. (We'd say his being a drama queen is his greatest strength but this is his profile so what he says goes...)
Joe enjoys making gourmet meals in remote wilderness and at high altitude. He is the happy husband of a wife who taught him how to bake and the proud father of a daughter who dreams of becoming a marine biologist.