Wednesday, April 23, 2014

INTERVIEW ON PINOYAPACHE, LAST PART

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONNAIRES FROM A B.S. EDUCATION STUDENT AS A REQUIREMENT FOR STUDIES IN THE UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES, DILLIMAN, QUEZON CITY.  SEPTEMBER 6, 2013.


1.     Do you think bushcraft is applicable in this age of instant gratification and package tour mentality?

Everything is possible with capitalists and amateurs.  However, in bushcraft, instant gratification absorbs very deep to an individual and, once learned by heart, will become his/her way of life.

2.     Do you think BMC (Basic Mountaineering Course) needs to be updated to include bushcraft?
Not necessarily.  The BMC introduced by the University of the Philippines Mountaineers had been very valuable in educating many generations of mountaineers, backpackers and other outdoor enthusiasts where it had increased safety, organized better the process of climbing and had given the satisfaction of freedom to the individual.  If bushcraft is to be included, it has to wait for the proper timing when an individual needs to upgrade himself/herself to teach same with survival skills and that means learning it outside the scope of BMC.

3.     Is bushcraft for everyone or it requires a special kind of attitude for you to become a good bushcrafter?

It is for everyone.  You may find it awkward at first but when you had made your first wooden spoon or created a fire by friction, you will begin to understand what is self-reliance is all about and you begin to notice that your backpack becomes lighter and lighter everytime you take a bush hike because what you carried before are now found inside your head.  The challenge there is to visit the outdoors with as minimal gears as possible and adapt with nature.

4.     What makes you an effective leader?

I just do what my heart lead me to.  It is a combination of experience, a youthful exuberance, good planning, timely judgments, endurance, a thankful spirit and adherence to the Almighty.

5.     What is your most successful accomplishment?

If you meant my 15 minutes of fame, it is the time I arrested a serial killer in a place I hardly knew, almost by my own lonesome self, which placed that feat in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on January 10, 1995 and a documentary in ABS-CBN’s Magandang Gabi Bayan.  Promoting bushcraft and survival among outdoorsmen and other individuals as a better, but cheaper, alternative to enjoy the outdoors in the Philippines is a feat in itself, considering that we have a community of outdoorsmen with closed minds with own personal agenda among themselves.  But my most meaningful accomplishment is my charity activities for children in the highlands of Cebu that inspired many clubs and individuals here to replicate it and make it as one of their activities.

6.     What are your greatest weaknesses?

Too trustful.  Too kind.  Impatience.  Doing things at the last minute.  Too daring.        

7.     Name some situations in which a leader may fail.  Tell me about a time when you failed as a leader.

When the very people who placed you to lead begin to question your motives and decisions.  It was during my incumbency as president of my former club when the old pillars used LNT as basis to censure me when they ran out of reasons to back me up the wall.       

8.     What methods have you used to gain commitment from your colleagues from different fields?

Treat them each as a very special individual.

9.     All leaders have to deal with conflict situations.  Describe a recent disagreement or conflict you personally had to handle.

When some Camp Red members became embroiled with people of another forum, I have to stamp on my authority to stop their visits and interactions to that site because, by their very actions, they placed Camp Red in a bad light.

10.  What are your career goals, short term and long term?

I would like to shorten my time with the corporate world and concentrate more on Snakehawk Wilderness School or with Warrior Pilgrimage.  By that time, I would be with the outdoors all the time and, possibly, tour the country and, hopefully, the rest of Asia, as a wilderness survival lecturer.

11.  What are the most important values and ethics you demonstrate as a leader?

Courage.  Stamina.  Compassion.  Wisdom.  These are the only virtues which a warrior need and it is still applicable in these present times.      

12.  Tell me who you would like to emulate.  Why?

Sir Ranulph Fiennes.  He is a modern-day explorer who, despite his age, had overcome extremely difficult expeditions and adversities in life.  I have read his autobiography – Bad, Mad and Dangerous to Know – and I begin to learn his style of leadership and the manner by which he carried out his expeditions.  He is a class by himself and I am quite delighted by the way he planned his journeys.  

13.  What do you dream for the Philippines?

I would like to see a Philippines that is not afraid of external threats and could define its course of economic independence free of the shackles of its colonial past.  I would also like a Philippines led by worthy statesmen instead of politicians who were voted for office because of money (ex. Pork barrel) and other perks that comes with their positions.

14.  Is there anything that you would like to share that was never asked from the questions above?

Just one: Why did I name my blog as Warrior Pilgrimage?

A warrior on pilgrimage is a lethal warrior; offering his best skills against an adversary by test of arms, strength, will and cunning.  A warrior after a pilgrimage is a changed man; he finds grace in defeat and compassion in victory and wisdom in between.  It is a path taken by just a few and that is the essence why I name it as such.  I have once been on that path long ago and it had given me inner peace and insight that I have not had before.  A warrior-style pilgrimage can now be adopted in real life in whatever circumstance (minus the tools of conflict and warfare) to gain acceptance and understanding of yourself, of people, of community, of life.



Tuesday, April 15, 2014

NAPO TO BABAG TALES LXIV: A Rough Cut

I AM PREPARING FOR my trip to Luzon in less than two weeks.  Going into the mountains of my playground alone is quite appropriate for me yet I cannot say no to anyone who would want to come along.  A lot of people text me and I text others too.  I can assure everyone that when they do come they will get quality time.  It is not the place or the privilege of my company but it is the totality of the journey.

I am going to Kahugan today, October 5, 2013.  I missed the place and the good folks who live there.  The last time I was there was on May 26, 2013 during an outreach of the Who Put the “N” in Nature II.  That time, we made a lot of people happy when we distributed school supplies to the children of Kahugan and Napo, two mountain communities in Sapangdaku, Cebu City.


I choose Jerome Tibon to accompany me today.  He informed me that he is a regular reader of the Warrior Pilgrimage Blog and would love to learn bushcraft and survival from me.  Wow, another rough diamond!  He told me he was a former amateur baseball player and a long-time Australian resident.  He now works here in one of the BPOs at the Cebu IT Park.  

Going along also is Jhurds Neo of Camp Red Bushcraft and Survival Guild.  He needs to exercise more often and I invited him to come along too to liven up our hike.  He just came from Manila for a medical check-up and I believe that a cardio-vascular activity would do him good.  

Meanwhile, another of our guys at Camp Red, Dominic Sepe, is guiding people from Redtrekkers, also today, to hike the trails of Kan-irag and then summit the peak of Mount Sibugay (750 MASL).  It was Dominic who informed me of Jhurds’ condition where I immediately pushed for his inclusion into today’s sortie.

I am the last to arrive at the parking lot of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish and I assume the task of procuring the ingredients for our noontime meal.  Camp Red does not like to eat pre-cooked meals and packed lunch and we prefer our food eaten just off the fire.  Corporate package of “instant everything” dulls your attitude and your culinary skills.  I am sure you will agree with that.

By the way, I just want to slowly introduce Jerome to our own brand of bushcraft culture and our inclination towards the open carrying of knives during all our activities in the woodlands and to develop his stamina as well.  As I have said before, we are not mainstream and we do not subscribe to what other groups do and we do not give a heck if you do not agree with what we do.  


Camp Red is very different from the rest and we follow our own outdoors philosophy.  You just have to live with what we do although we may share the same trail on some places.  We are not here just for recreation and exercise.  We come because we want to learn woodlore and to polish off our skills aside from eating good food even under stark conditions that we prepared personally. 

We leave Guadalupe at 8:00 AM on board motorcycles for Napo.  Once there, we stretch tight muscles.  Jhurds and I belted on our knives before embarking on the hike.  The Sapangdaku River is full today.  A structure is being built spanning one bank with another:  A concrete foot bridge.  The sky is sometimes cloudy, sometimes not.  Tree cover is impressive and we do not feel the morning heat yet.

Along the trail, I show Jhurds and Jerome of fish berries (Local name: lagtang).  These berries are dried and then crushed by pestle and mortar and then mixed with krill in a bucket of water.  From this mixture, it is scattered on the sea where fish are lured by it.  When it is swallowed, it paralyze fish for a while and float to the surface where they are easy picking.  Although considered as poison, it does not kill the fish.

Adjacent to it are rambutan, lanzones and Johey oak (Local name: marang) trees.  These trees “do not grow in Cebu” as some people would like us to believe but I do not agree with that.  Anything can grow here and I know that ripe fruits were recently harvested from those trees.  I know also that there is a fully-grown durian tree somewhere nearby.  Conventional hikers do not know and see these little things because they are so preoccupied of time.


Anyway, I walk a pace that is very slow.  From time to time, Jerome will take a rest as local folks pass by us offering their best smiles.  I greet people whom I meet on the trail all the time and give space to them before reclaiming the trail back when they pass by and then people say that I do not follow LNT?  I don’t think so.  I can understand it very well except those that which I considered impractical.

We reach Lower Kahugan Spring and I fill my empty bottle.  A lot of sections of the Kahugan Trail are now concrete.  Motorcycles are now used to transport people and produce from farm to market and vice versa.  The trails were inaccessible to these motorcycles until a year ago and, although it gave me a frown, it is blessing for the local folks.  For that, I may as well share their joys.

While we are at rest under a sandalwood tree (Sp. Sandoticum koetjapi), some hikers came.  We shared the place with them and the place becomes alive with their conversations.  They are all stupefied by the knives on our sides.  Jhurds and I ignored them for there is nothing to explain to these people.  They are just visitors and, probably, would never come back here.

I let Jhurds and Jerome know that I have not yet eaten breakfast.  This is the crucial part because the trail will be ascending, parts of it exposed to the sun.  Besides that, I will be monitoring Jerome, who is now harassed by muscle cramps on his lower legs.  I study the options and take Kahugan Trail which is longer but very friendly.  I chose my resting places wisely and take advantage of the terrain.


After a painstaking advance, we reach the Roble homestead at 10:00 AM.  Manwel and his cousins are playing basketball on a makeshift goal and court.  The visitors’ hut had expanded while old benches had been repaired and replaced with new bamboo seats and back rests.  Fele is worried about an injured male goat.  I retrieve the bag of bread I bought for Manwel, Juliet and Josel.    

Automatically, Jhurds set up three stones and pile firewood between it.  Then he start a fire and cook rice while I set up my camp stove and boil water for coffee.  When I have finished coffee, I proceed on to preparing our mixed-vegetable soup at the earthen hearth.  Since we don’t use MSG (Local name: vetsin), I fry garlic, onions, meat and green pepper, in that order, in oil before I add the rest of the mixed vegetables into the fry pan.  Then I pour coconut milk.  Cabbage, Malabar nightshade, jute and basil leaves are mixed to the soup. 

Another set of hikers arrive and rested on one of the empty benches and watched our cooking.  While we dine on good food, they are content with their cold packed lunch.  What a pathetic way to enjoy the outdoors!  “Instant everything” is miserable and I wonder how these people lived with it for so long?  Anyway, Fele provided us with green coconuts and ripe bananas for dessert.  

After the meal, conversation just flowed naturally from knives to herbs to places to baseball to ham radios and so on.  I test my CIGNUS V85 Dual-Band Portable Radio on a pre-selected frequency.  The signal is good but scratchy at times.  I just passed the Class C Amateur Radio Operator examinations and I am in the process of getting a license for myself and my radio.  I am planning to organize an amateur radio station dedicated for all outdoorsmen.

Today, I did not bring my tomahawk and I feel sorry for Jerome because he wanted to feel it on his hands.  I brought instead a spin-off of the Puffin Magnum knife, my William Rodgers bushcraft knife, my Victorinox SAK Trailmaster and a Case XX folding knife, which I recently got from a trade.  Also in my possession is a vintage World War II era Imperial boot knife with which knife I was commissioned by the owner to restore this to its former grandeur.   

I am a knife collector but never an obsessed one.  I collect good knives not because I want to gain from it or getting prestige of owning these but because I am bred by people who understood knives.  If you will just erase the misconception that a knife is a weapon, you will begin to understand the utility of purpose for which mankind have been so grateful for by its invention. 


Dark clouds begin to appear at the ridges of Mount Babag and there is a heavy downpour at 1:30 PM but our conversations went on.  I begin to wonder at the reactions of the two separate groups of hikers when rain overtakes them on a steep terrain.  That is the question Jerome posed to Jhurds which the latter shrugged as a no-brainer.  Bushcraft paradigm is you either adapt or you suffer.

When 4:00 PM came, we leave the Roble homestead for Napo.  The rain had stopped but the trails are slippery.  Jhurds walk the point while I take the tail with Jerome in between us.  Fogs enveloped us.  After an hour, we reached Napo.  Darkness comes early at this time of year.  We wait for motorcycles to take us back to Guadalupe and we got it after we walk for the main road.

When we all arrive at Guadalupe, the group of Dominic had already settled at EZ Mart, a convenience store located 800 meters away.  With him are Ernie Salomon, Ramon Corro, Boy Toledo and Sam Lim.  Jhurds and I join them while Jerome needs to get home early to tend his baby girl.  Today is Sam’s birthday and the beer flowed freely with pizzas to boot.  


Document done in LibreOffice 3.3 Writer


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

INTERVIEW ON PINOYAPACHE, PART 2

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONNAIRES FROM A B.S. EDUCATION STUDENT AS A REQUIREMENT FOR STUDIES IN THE UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES, DILLIMAN, QUEZON CITY.  SEPTEMBER 6, 2013.


1.     What professional development topics interest you?  What are your plans for professional growth?

Business!  If I could make something worthwhile about bushcraft and survival then I could concentrate more on this.     

2.     Describe the teaching techniques or strategies that are most effective for you.

Students taking notes or the teacher walking the talk.

3.     Describe a time when a lesson was not going well.  What did you do about it?

I know when a lesson is not going well when I ran out of ideas to explain certain aspects.  I let others participate instead and let them express their own knowledge and know-how and that saves me an awkward situation.

4.     How have you influenced Wil Rhys-Davies to follow your strategic vision for the organization (Camp Red)?  How did he influence you?

Bought him two bottles of beer.  Seriously, Rhys-Davies is a very intelligent dork and a well-traveled pirate.  He and Thomas Moore influenced me to shift to bushcraft and survival when they learned that the Philippines, most notably Cebu, have a dearth of people who can teach primitive-living crafts in a non-commercial manner.  Although both learned from the Aetas, they wanted to learn more skills from other parts of this country.  It was a timely meeting since I, at that time, wanted to enjoy the outdoors better instead of just climbing peaks and hiking trails.  I believed, I have outgrown my relevance to mainstream outdoor activities and needed something to shift my paradigm.  On the other hand, Rhys-Davies is trying to steal me away from Camp Red and confine all my teachings with Snakehawk Wilderness School only.  I just let myself go with the flow but I will never abandon Camp Red and I would sneak in to conduct free activities with them anytime.

5.     What was the most significant change you brought about in an organization?

Make it different from the rest.  Provide members some sort of a badge of honor; an identity that is truly their own.  Conduct consistent outdoors seminars and activities on different topics which were not taught before.

6.     Is there a specific leadership style that you’re using?  If yes, what is it?  If you’re using multiple styles, please enumerate and tell me the advantage of those for you.

I do not really have a specific template of leadership style and prefer not to know any of it or speak about it.  It is just second nature to me or my being a senior citizen has to do with it. 

7.     Describe an outstanding leader.  What makes you one?

An outstanding leader is one who would create dynamism among his community which then creates opportunities for other individuals to excel and take off from where he/she started.  I do not think that I am an outstanding leader although I believe I am some kind of leader but not outstanding.

8.     How do you define bushcraft?

Bushcraft is a definition coined by Mors Kochanski about surviving and living in the backwoods.  It is just another term to either mean survivalcraft, primitive-living techniques or wilderness skills.  As far as I know, bushcraft is survival in the wilderness on a long term; a way of life which our indigenous brothers are masters of.  

9.     What is Camp Red (aside from the information that can be found in the Internet)?  What inspired you to form Camp Red?

Camp Red is really an alternative vehicle to enjoy the outdoors using bushcraft and survival as the means.  It is a guild of artisans and craftsmen and a repository of woodlore and traditional crafts.    

10.  How did you learn your wilderness skills?

Mostly, it was from my late grandfather; the rest, from experiential education. 

11.  What are your plans for Philippine bushcraft?

When I started the Philippine Independence Bushcraft Camp in 2011, I aim to make it as an annual event.  The purpose of the PIBC is to divert people from the sickness of mass climbs done every June 12th and to teach the uninitiated about the rudiments of bushcraft and survival.  It is just confined to a certain fixed date with Cebu as the host but I am open to do it elsewhere and not necessarily replicating the event in itself just like I did to individual members of a new mountaineering federation in Luzon last October 2012.  Likewise, I also organized another bushcraft camp which is different in structure from the PIBC and will be a forerunner of an international event soon.  I want to place the Philippines in the world map as a bushcraft and survival destination.

12.  What do you see in the bushcrafters of today?

Presently, bushcraft practiced by non-indigenous Philippine population are confined only to true-blue hobbyists who are really very few in number and I consider them as precious jewels.  These few individuals may or may not be the core of Philippine bushcraft but I see this number gaining every year, thanks in part to the advent of social networking sites.  

13.  Is bushcraft a lost art or a dying art?

Neither.  It is inherent in us native peoples yet we refused to acknowledge it because we now rely so much on technology and grew on the trappings of Western-style education and methods that make it irrelevant yet Westerners wanted to learn more of it which becomes an irony in itself.  The timely setting up of the PIBC allowed that bushcraft is indeed a skill that needs to be re-learned by this present generation.

14.  How do you see bushcraft in the Philippines 10 to 15 years?  Will it prosper like mountaineering?

Bushcraft has been here for so long before mountaineering became an interest started by Europe’s nobility and landed gentry in the 19th century.  Prehistoric people had been practicing survival skills side by side with mountaineering (when it was not yet known by this term), during migration or flight.  Bushcraft will move on its own pace in the Philippines according to the sum/quality of their activities.      

15.  What do you think about LNT (Leave No Trace)?  In your opinion, where would LNT and bushcraft meet?

The spirit behind the 7 Principles of LNT is good and should be taught to anybody who wanted to enjoy the outdoors, even us bushcrafters.  Sadly, some mountaineering clubs and individuals interpret it verbatim and even make LNT as a rule instead of as a guide, which was not what was in the minds of the originators had intended it to be.  Besides that, what is applicable in temperate zones will sound hyperbolic in the tropics and quite absurd when you are on survival mode.  It is not LNT that bushcrafters have an aversion to but the very people who interpret it.