Thursday, January 22, 2015

NAPO TO BABAG TALES LXXVIII: For the Benefit of the Children of the Highlands

      “Whoever welcomes a child such as this in my name, welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me, welcomes not me but the One who sent me.”

                                               Mark 9:37, Catholic Pastoral Edition

      “The one who is found to be the least among you all, is the one who is the greatest.”

                                               Luke 9:48, Catholic Pastoral Edition

PICTURES TELL STORIES. This is all about The Outreach phase of the Who Put the “N” in Nature III, held at the Babag Mountain Range, Cebu City on May 25, 2014. It is a very warm sunny day, made humid by an early morning rain. Volunteers take the loads of school supplies and food and juice cups into their sturdy shoulders to bring smiles to the children of Kahugan, Kamiliano and Napo, who all were already expecting us at the Roble homestead. The number of recipients are a lot more compared to last year but the team worked hard to achieve the goal of feeding the children and their parents and evenly distributing the school supplies.

This is our story:

The following are cited for their collective effort, support, sacrifice and cooperation to make the Who Put the “N” in Nature III, a very successful endeavour:


...and to those not mentioned, God knows the good things you did in secret. Smile.


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Thursday, January 15, 2015

WARRIOR REVIEW: Silangan Greyman Hike Pants

A PAIR OF LONG HIKING pants are essential in my outdoor activities. Bushcraft and survival demands such apparel for it protects you from scratches and some harmful plants as the playground it chooses to be are thickly wooded areas and jungle. There is a big difference when you wear a pair of long pants that I decide to purchase a few pairs. One of these is made by SILANGAN OUTDOOR EQUIPMENT.

SILANGAN OUTDOOR EQUIPMENT is a local company based in Talisay City, Cebu that had made its name making quality tents like the REV 20, the REV 20+II, the AMIEL 5 and the EIS 8. These tents had taken by storm the local mountaineering community because of its revolutionary designs. The tents had been to all of the most notable peaks in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao and had stood toe-to-toe with imported brands when it comes to weight and resistance to the elements. Its prime advantage is its price.

When Jay-R Serviano thought of experimenting about branching into outdoor apparels, he begun to produce rain pants and wind breakers. Then he made a prototype short pants that Wil Rhys-Davies of Snakehawk Wilderness School volunteered to test. I liked the fabric that he used that I insisted to order a pair of long hiking pants, based upon a simple design. I even suggested to make it custom-made for me and so the SILANGAN GREYMAN Hiking Pants was born. It is the only one of its kind since the SILANGAN tab is stitched, by mistake, at a different place.

Why is it called a GREYMAN? Well, for one thing, it is in gray color. Gray is a neutral color. When you are wearing something gray, you could blend well on any environment, whether you are in an urban area or in the mountains. Gray had been associated with people who remain inconspicuous or go unnoticed in places where they live or operate and these are people with dangerous occupations or doing clandestine jobs. The street lingo “grey man” is meant to describe these certain individuals.

In fact, when wearing gray, you could pair it with anything. Whatever shirt or semi-formal upper attire you wear or whatever color, gray seems to melt into the background and becomes one with what you have on. The color is just so flexible and the SILANGAN GREYMAN had given justice to the flexibility of gray by using a very flexible fabric that stretch for almost an eternity. The GREYMAN is made from a light synthetic cloth that is available locally.

It has two main slip-on pockets on the front and another pocket at the back, which has a zipper, found at the right. The front opening is secured by a good-quality velcro tape and a durable zipper. Four belt loops are stitched at the waistline which could accommodate standard operator belts. A black PVC key ring is stitched at the front to keep those small items handy all the time.

I had worn and tested the GREYMAN for the first time during the Outlaw Bushcraft Gathering held at Sibonga, Cebu in 2012. For three days and three nights, I had not removed it away next to my skin. It was a hot and humid three days yet the fabric had not caused suffocation on my skin since it is very breathable. Its lightness had added to the comfort. During the coldest temperatures brought on by dawn, the GREYMAN surprisingly held my body heat in check, particularly at the lower legs.

I had also worn the GREYMAN on thick forests and jungles. Many times, I got caught with the spines of rattan palms. This is a very formidable vine-like plant where spines grow on its stems, leafstalks and leaves. Its tendrils are thin and would always catch fabric and skin unnoticed until you get tugged. Miraculously, the GREYMAN had survived such ordeals with nary a tear except a few dismounted strands which can be easily returned to its place with a few stretch of the fabric.

One time, it was accidentally sliced by a knife. I leave it be. Instead, I observed the damage over a period of time, whether the cut would extend to other areas like most wearable materials do. It had not run and the edges had not frayed despite exposure to sustained tropical outdoor activities. The cut had not widened either.

I have used the GREYMAN as my main working pants during humanitarian missions in Bohol, after the 7.2 earthquake, and in Northern Cebu, after Typhoon Yolanda. It was soaked many times by saltwater when I had to wade beaches to transport relief items from boat to shore. I had also used this during a week-long filming sessions that documented the Bajau people in Leyte. I was partly wet all the time but I had not encountered chafing on the inner thighs by its smart design.

The GREYMAN fabric, not only is very light, flexible, breathable, stretchable and tough, it is also quick-drying. You may get wet, but as you walk by, it dries very quickly. Washing it with regular laundry detergent is no problem inside a washing machine or by traditional means. It is tough and could withstand rubbing and wear-and-tear at its most vulnerable condition like being wet.

After more than two years, my pair of SILANGAN GREYMAN Hike Pants is still in good condition. It had received abuse by any conceivable form in the furtherance of my outdoor activities. I would want another pair because I am quite satisfied with the material used and the workmanship of SILANGAN OUTDOOR EQUIPMENT.

Unfortunately, this apparel is not sold openly on the market yet but you could order it personally from Jay-R Serviano or thru me but it is best if you could visit the SILANGAN OUTDOOR SHOP located at Sangi, Tabunok, Talisay City.

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Thursday, January 8, 2015


ALTHOUGH THE OUTREACH will be next week, Jhurds Neo and Dominic Sepe found it imperative that the donated school supplies which were collected during the Who Put the “N” in Nature III Concert-for-a-Cause last Friday at the Handuraw Events Cafe be immediately transferred to Kahugan. I go with the flow of the two and I am here at the parking lot of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Church today – May 18, 2014 - because of that.

There would be a lot of notebooks, writing pads, pencils, crayons and other items and I will have to maximize my presence and usefulness by bringing a big bag for this purpose. For the first time, I will use an olive-green duffel bag that used to be the property of the South Korean military which a cousin had given me many months ago. No, my cousin is not Korean and he neither looked like one.

Jhurds, on the other hand, will also be using a vintage rucksack that was issued to the Swiss military and once belonged to his uncle who was drafted in the early ‘70s. It has a 50 liter room space. He showed me the spacious insides and it had already been claimed by two 1.5 liter plastic bottles of iced Coke. How does he plan to place some notebooks in there?

Anyway, aside from Jhurds, Dominic and I, those who also come are Aljew Frasco, Christopher Maru, Eli Bryn Tambiga, Jerome Tibon, Bogs Belga and Tope Laugo. This had not been an announced activity but the idea of this worked its way through cellphone messages. This is strictly a Camp Red Bushcraft and Survival Guild activity. Although the donated items are many and may be heavy, but it is not daunting. We have many good reasons why it is not despite this oppressive heat.

We leave at 08:00 and, thankfully, Aljew had brought his Toyota pickup and it saves us money to pay for motorcycles. The pickup found parking space in Arcos and we only have to hike a few meters to Napo. My duffel bag is heavy, fully loaded with children’s books, notebooks and writing pads. As usual, I have my dirty cook pots, my EDC kit, my blades, extra shirt, a water bottle and a Silangan “stealth hammock” which I used as a cushion between pot and my lower back bones. Aside that, I add a kilo of pork meat into my cargo.

From Napo, I readjust the tilt of the duffel bag from time to time so I could maintain balance and prevent chafing on one of my shoulders. The uneven terrain causes the bag to shift many times and I also have to adjust this the same number of times. When I reach a mango tree, I stop to rest. It is good to just stop for a while and listen to your body talking in its very peculiar manner. After 10 minutes, I move on.

I reach Lower Kahugan Spring and drink a lot of water. I am deprived of that since my water bottle is empty and placed inside the duffel bag. Oh, it is a blessing to just remove it from my back. I am beginning to experience a little pain on the flesh of my shoulder blades. It is because, while it is heavy, there are no cushion pads on the shoulder straps. It will be painful once the terrain begins to go steep and I am now facing an ascending trail with dread which I will soon walk.

This first person monologue also applies to the rest. While I may be explaining my predicament, the others have had also their own difficulties. Even with smaller backpacks and lesser cargoes, they are also in a struggle with the heat and their hands are holding plastic bags of school supplies. These are men of hard stock and they manifest their presence on this day by doing something good here instead of being somewhere else. They are not mainstream and does not want to be.

These are men whom I could rely on any SHTF situation anytime. They do not blink and give alibis at the last minute. They are very austere in their gears and the lack of it does not cause a problem for them since what they do not have they make. They carry knives openly, hanging proudly at their sides, which showed their true worth as gentlemen of the outdoors. These are not carried for anything else except as an extension of their working hands in union with their thinking minds.

Enough said! I walk Kahugan Trail with a liter of water added as weight. I concentrate on my breathing in cadence with my steps. I close all perceptions of discomfort and focus on how I could deliver my precious cargo to the Roble homestead. The Roble family will again host the outreach on May 25, 2014 and, for the time being, we will use their home as a storage space for these school supplies. I know there will be more donations of this kind when we will do the event reprise at The Outpost on Friday.

Slowly, I ascend. The bag straps digging into my shoulders. The load conspicuously present all the time. Behind me is Bogs, the rest are beyond my vision. The warmth of the day is relentless but I have a camouflaged veil protecting my face and my nape. I looked like a queer Arab though with my improvised headgear. I yearn a drink but it is in the duffel bag and I do not have the patience to unhook the straps from my shoulders and putting it back after a mere sip.

Good thing the route pass by a lot of old mango trees. Shady spots keep your head high, especially when there is a cool breeze. Every so often I rest under these spots. If a cloud passes overhead, I take that opportunity and walk a good distance until the sun take back what little joy I had. Regardless, I push on, passing by an even steeper path, rocky and uneven, but with a lot of handholds. I could already see the great tamarind tree and the house neath it from half a kilometer away.

Finally, at 10:30, the heavy duffel bag is off me. It now sits on a rough-hewn wooden bench, its precious cargo are being unloaded. I take a much-deserved drink and I begin to scrutinize a Mora Companion knife that Jerome had given me hours ago. I never had a Mora before and I appreciate Jerome’s generosity. It is genuinely Made in Sweden. As with all Scandinavian knives, it is rat-tailed, the tang buried by a rubber handle. The blade is made of carbon steel while the sheath is PVC with a clip to hook on a belt.

I snatch the pork meat I carried and sliced it with the Morakniv according to the menu: Squarish for the pork adobao and slender for the mung bean soup. It is effortless, of course, with the great reputation these Swedish knives have for its edge. Deboning the meat is seamless as well. Trust that to the dexterity of the hands. Meanwhile, Bogs offer me a sachet of gourmet chocolate drink and I would not pass this chance while the place is still blissfully empty. When the rest arrive, it will be pandemonium!

My waiting for the rest of the stripes took quite a while. They had not anticipated the heavier load they carried on a warm sunny day. Jhurds is winded but ever smiling. Jerome feel something bad in his stomach. Aljew is speechless but unbothered. Christopher gave a sigh but shrugged off the predicament. Doms is scowling as sweat drip on his face. Eli, unbothered, just keeps his silence. Tope, on the other hand, prays for blessing on a board exam he is going to take.

Like sudden rain that fall on land, the Roble homestead gets flooded with the sound of chopping wood. The famous blades of Camp Red gets unleashed by their masters. Even with that, you feel safe as all use their knives responsibly. All know their knowledge of knife etiquette learned during the Philippine Independence Bushcraft Camp.

Tripods are immediately set up when the first flickers of fire showed among the matting of tinder and kindling. Firewood are collected and split by large blades or by smaller ones with help from wood batons like Aljew did with his KaBar fighting knife. You do not do that to a vintage blade but Camp Red uses their blades on all kinds of work unlike some people who treat it like some sort of Barbie dolls. All the food ingredients are unloaded, as well as all the school supplies.

Dominik, Eli and Tope gets busy doing an inventory of the donated notebooks, pencils, crayons and other items. Christopher, Jerome and Jhurds help among themselves the slicing of onions and vegetables. Garlic are crushed while the fern tops are washed. The pot of rice is suspended over the fire while another pot of mung beans is boiled. Preparing a meal with the stripes of Camp Red are done the old way.

When all the food are cooked and ready for serving, all fall to order and behaved like gentlemen. The food, oh yes, the food, it tastes good. The mung bean soup is the first to get decimated, then the pork adobao. It is not everyday that you get to hike the mountains, do something good, test your prized knife, drink coffee under the sun, talk of bushcraft trends, sweat as you work with your hands and eat good food.

Then the conversations rises to a high crescendo when the blade porn is unleashed. We leave at 16:00, retracing our route that we took hours ago. We arrive at Guadalupe and go on our separate ways. But the best thing we did was the launching of the precious cargo for the children which we will be distributing next Sunday.

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