Saturday, March 17, 2018

NAPO TO BABAG TALES CXXIII: Bukal Outdoor Club Goes Survival

IT IS ALWAYS A GOOD INVESTMENT for an individual to sit, listen, watch and participate actively in outdoors training. Much more so if it is a survival class. That individual would know exactly what to do in an ugly situation. With people around him, his presence would be McGyver-like. Perhaps not. Unlike others who prioritized equipment and gear over training, knowledge does not get stolen nor get damaged. Its value does not depreciate because it is priceless. It becomes part of you.

A group investing in survival training is much better. Everybody knows what to do when SHTF comes. We know that no activity is perfect. No trip is seamless even if it is well planned. A number of trained people caught in dire straits would weather that out much better than on another group who have none or even with one. I would cast my fortunes on the former any time, any day and on any place. With a group, a member would complement another in clockwork precision.

MCAP and CLIMBER, legitimate outdoor organizations based in Luzon, had previously harnessed my know-how in preparing their members or participants in survival education. It improved the participants’ stock knowledge and raised their confidence and understanding a few notches higher. Same with PECOJON, an NGO composed of journalists I trained in bushcraft; emergency response units like the ones maintained by the Archdiocese of Capiz and the Municipality of Liloan, Cebu; and an Army reserve unit.

Here in Cebu, BUKAL OUTDOOR CLUB is the first outdoor recreations group to cross over that line which separates a club that values their members’ well-being and those that do so only during Christmas Day. It is a collective sacrifice. A group investment. But it shall reap dividends, not only for themselves, but also covers to those who are with them. They shall become more responsible campers, they would have more time to think and would appreciate better the dangers nature present.

BUKAL OUTDOOR CLUB have undergone my standard three-day Basic Wilderness Survival Course on the dates May 13, 14 and 15, 2017. I held it at Camp Xi, another mythical nook found within the foothills of the Babag Mountain Range, Cebu City. They brought their usual camping gear and were just by their normal selves. No fanfare like subjecting them to cosplay and act naked and unafraid. Nor did I let them crawl on dirt to eat raw bulbs dug from the earth.

The camp we used was the ones that I used for the Bushmasters’ Camp last April 28 and 29. The campsite is accessible but is not along a route frequently used by mainstream activities. A path less taken. The campsite is on a high ground, wide and grassy, below the tree line, near a small stream, a small waterfall, a small pond and a natural spring. It has bamboos and dry firewood. Perfect requirements of a bushcraft camp.

There were fourteen excited participants sitting before me on that first day (May 13). Joining me as my assistants are Dominic Sepe, Leomel Pino, Jonathaniel Apurado, Denzen Delima and Jenmar de Leon. They are all with the Camp Red Bushcraft and Survival Guild and have taken the Philippine Independence Bushcraft Camp on different occasions between 2011 and 2017, except for Denzen who is a product of the Bonifacio Day Bushcraft Camp of 2015.

As usual, I always start the day on a light mood with my patented selfie with participants. In a few minutes, I got serious. Really serious. I explained the purpose of this basic seminar and how it will change their paradigms. It is meant to open the eyes of the participants on the real possibilities of these chain of events that would go beyond anybody’s control since the outdoors, the mountains, the weather and everything that is in nature, can never be controlled when things go wrong.

The first topic is about Introduction to Survival. During times of accidents and calamities, nobody has that ultimate answer when to survive such. A prepared mind would, at least, be blessed by chance. Surviving the initial impact is one half of it while ensuring your survival until help comes in is the other half of that. In between, the mind controls everything from the way you think and even to the release of adrenaline. Your brain is a supercomputer but, unfortunately, it could only process one thought at a time. 

When in a survival situation, your brain works double time and, in the process, use up huge amounts of body heat, water and oxygen and inadvertently release adrenaline for no apparent reason just like you would experience when getting lost or just plain hiking in darkness. It is best that you stop and sit still, relax and breathe deeply, then gather all your thoughts and rehydrate. You would need water and it is your first priority to keep your blood flowing so your brain would work properly.

In the Hierarchy of Needs and of Nutrition in a Survival Situation, water is tops on both. Why? Because we are in the tropics and the body is surrendering perspiration due to humidity and by your exertions. Along with that, goes our body heat also which you do not know. To sit still would minimize losing body fluids and keep it confined by setting up a shelter – if you still have one, or make one from scratch. This is the second need. The third would be food then warmth. Last is security which would complement well with all.

Our body has four hypothetical tanks that needs to be replenished during survival. First you have to rehydrate often so you could offset dehydration. Second is food that would give you nutrients, carbohydrates and proteins. Third is sugar converted by enzymes for your adrenaline rush. Fourth is fat, hardest to find in the tropics yet are wrapped as tissues in our body. Then you make sure your body is supplied with adequate oxygen. Keep those air passages free of obstacles. Then, by all means, you should practice personal hygiene during survival. It helps to have a healthy body and a healthy mind.

Topic for the next chapter is about Water Sanitation and Hydration. The first chapter had mentioned the importance of water during survival. Water could be sourced from natural springs, water seeps, man-made water holes, flowing streams, the atmosphere and from plants. It could be sanitized through boiling, by chemicals, exposure to heat, through filtration and by desalination. It is wise to cache water in your survival camp or just travel early and take advantage of shady places and breeze if you happen to have less.

The last topic for the day is Knife Care and Safety. I would like to change the perception about the knife and it is important that people relearn why our ancestors invented it, generally, to aid them in their daily activities and made their living better. The knife is a tool and should not be used to what it was not designed for like digging latrine holes and as pry bars. It is a vital piece of equipment that should be properly handled and cared for because it is your link to your surviving. In all the training I conducted, knife etiquette is learned first before people touch a knife.

Besides my rules, there is a knife law that forbids the display, even of concealed carrying, in public places unless you are in a lawful activity, which camping and hiking are. A knife should be in a sturdy sheath when travelling - for safety - and should be unsheathed when at home to keep it from rust. There are many kinds of knives and it is important that people know the parts, blade shapes, grind styles and the tang designs because, from those qualities, you would know how to achieve maximum work. People must also learn how to field sharpen a knife.

The participants troop to their shelters at 17:00 to proceed with their food preparations and to answer the call of nature. The campsite is located on a wide meadow and shielded by mango trees. Above us is the ridge and the trail. Over on the other side is the latrine facing another valley. Walking uphill a trail would lead you to a small stream where there is a natural spring. Most of the people visit this other side while I spent my free time, splitting firewood for tonight’s campfire. After dinner, everyone sit around the fire and the Campfire Yarns and Storytelling proceed as planned until 24:00.

The second day (May 14), the participants eat a full breakfast. After this they fast and are obligated to use all their attention and concentration listening and understanding the lectures. Denying them a meal for the rest of the day would, at least, make them feel of what is it like to be in a survival situation outdoors. They would feel the pangs of hunger but they could rehydrate as they wished. Humidity, drowsiness and crawling insects would torment them as they use all their power to remain alert.

First lecture is Customizing the Survival Kit. It is better that your survival kit should be made from scratch than bought commercially because a survival kit’s size and its components depends upon the type of the activity you are in to and the kind of environment you are going on to. Your personal touch on certain items are very important to you should it be needed. Redundancy is its best attribute especially fire-making tools, lighting gadgets, water-purification methods and cutting tools.

The components are the medical kit, the replenishment pouch, the repair kit and a back-up knife. It could all be integrated in one container or it could be separated from one another in their own containers. As much as possible, avoid clutter. In a survival situation, you could misp second lace things. Make it waterproofed, dust-proofed, insect-proofed and keep it away from direct heat.

Next is Cold Weather Survival. Since the outdoors is about mountains and high elevations, exposure to the elements are expected. There are five physical mechanisms that steal away body heat and there are ways to keep us constantly warm. Then comes Survival Tool Making and, after the lecture, they can use their knives. Tool making is essential in survival or even when not in that situation like a missing utensil or tent peg.

I showed them the most basic of tools like the digging stick, cordage from bamboo skin and coconut midribs, traps and snares from bamboo, and the batoning stick, which they would need when cutting up bamboos for their cooking pots and for their spoons and drinking jugs. I assign 4-5 participants each to three groups for this knife-dexterity exercise for better supervision.                                     
This activity would run through the early afternoon, crossing over a one-hour siesta break, where another topic, Traditional Navigation, begins. This technique was perfected by our ancestors and uses the natural terrain, shadows and the sky fixtures for travel; avoiding obstacles and highly-exposed areas that cause possible hypothermia; and knowing signs on trails made by animals and by humans. This chapter also talks about how to effectively use visual and audio signals.

Last for the day is Foraging and Plant Identification. During survival, you would need to gather food and non-food items. Food could be meat and proteins which would only be sourced from animals and insects. Catching animals would be very tricky and you would have to make use of traps and snares. Food can also be sourced from edible plants. It is fundamental that you know these because it is everywhere. It is also important that you know the harmful ones. Showed them photos of stingy, thorny and poisonous plants.

The participants, exhausted by hunger and by the long and warm day, are released from sitting for long hours and proceed to the business of cooking rice in the improvised bamboo pots they made during the tool making session which employ the Trailhawk System of cooking. Their dinner would materialize after the fruits of their Nocturnal Hunting which would be done on the small stream I mentioned ago.

All the participants and camp staff, including me, use this moment to tidy up at the small stream where there is a small waterfall and a pond upstream after two days without bath. They were able to forage fresh-water crabs and a few tree snails and it becomes their dinner. They also cook food from their supply and add it to the late feast. The campfire becomes alive again and another session of Campfire Yarns and Storytelling which goes past midnight.

The last day (May 15) start early. The discussion also start ahead of time and it is about Firecraft. This is the most expected part. You cannot make a fire if one or all elements are not present, namely: fuel, heat and air. Lately, they added a fourth element – chemical reaction. Fire-making is 80% common sense, 10% skill and 10% perspiration. We are talking about the friction methods. Your fire, done with any method, can start if you can acquire and identify the right tinder, if you are in a dry place, and if you have the patience.

Aside from friction, there is the conventional or modern method which are matchsticks, lighters, ferro rods and the flint and steel. Then there is solar magnification which can be done with any magnifying lens, reading glasses, water and even ice. Then you have pressurized air, exemplified by the fire piston. I proceed in demonstrating the flint and steel, which I paired with charclothe, and the ferro rod, which the participants tried and successfully produced ember and flame. 

I showed them how to make charclothe and how to make a tinder bundle, popularly known as the “bird’s nest”. Then I demoed how the bow drill method is made and spun.  Unfortunately, I could only make thick smoke as sawdust embers refused to light up my tinder. I let others try the bowdrill. I showed them another friction method using bamboos.  Just like my bowdrill, only burnt smoke emitted. The humid conditions might have something to do with that. Staff and participants tried their hands on these primitive gadgets but all to no avail but they now gained an idea how it is made and worked.

The last discussion topic is Outdoors Common Sense.  This is the latest topic that I added and it is but excerpts from my yet unpublished book, ETHICAL BUSHCRAFT. It covers trail ethics, travel and campsite, using the time-tested principles of Blend, Adapt and Improvise. It also talks about wildlife and farm animal encounters and how to react in such situations. That sums up this three-day outdoors course which I first introduced in Luzon last 2013 and is now one of the cornerstones of my training programs.

Giving of certificates follow and the imparting of giveaway items courtesy of Seseblades and Jhurds Neo of Camp Red Bushcraft and Survival Guild. Brunch gets served at 10:00 and after breaking up of shelters, it is time to leave the campsite. We will take another route, crossing Sarapia Creek and following a less-trodden trail to Mapawon Peak and Katugasan Peak and going down to a road where a signboard says we are now in Kalunasan. A wait of an hour for motorcycles brought us all to Guadalupe.

Done in LibreOffice 5.1 Writer

Sunday, March 11, 2018


I HAVE NEVER BEEN TO A BIG family reunion affair. For myself, my family is not big. I got a rare and difficult-sounding last name and a middle name that is equally uncommon. On my father’s side, we can count only of a few households.  On my mother’s side, much less. If I were to gauge on these, I could never be a politician. Not my cup of tea though even if I have the numbers. But my late grandfather was a rare exception.

However, my wife belonged to a big family in Mindanao with ties that originated from Northern Cebu. Her late grandfather was formerly a mayor of two different municipalities there, her uncles and cousins joined local politics because they can rely on their big numbers. The problem with politics is it alienates you from family ties and you see brother running against a sister and a nephew against his uncle. Such is politics and it is ugly.

Big families have reunion affairs and it is common for political rivals who carried the same surnames or from the same parents trying to evade from each other which is quite impossible to do considering the limited space of where the event is held. In other families, family reunions became disruptive affairs and fragment into factions from within but, in my wife’s case, all behaved civilly as if all axes of discord were disposed away.

Rightly so, for they are all Seventh Day Adventists and they lived like one, unlike some who practice hypocrisy in their lives. I am a Roman Catholic, a renewed one, and I do not criticize my own religion but the faults of my fellow believers. Anyway, this is not about religion but how one behaved in such big family affairs and in their everyday lives. Me and my wife co-exist in one roof and we do not talk about our faiths and start a debate but we strengthen each other instead.

Going back to that reunion of my wife’s family, we set sail along with our grandson Gabriel to Ozamis City on the night of May 3, 2017 to attend that. We were met by Ayen Abuton and Michelle Mantos, my wife’s nieces, the following day, May 4, and we went home with them to Mahayag, Zamboanga del Sur. We were there for a week-long vacation last Christmas 2015 and we will stay again here for a day of rest.

On May 5, we set out early from Mahayag to Pagadian City and then to Diplahan, Zamboanga Sibugay, where the two-day Mantos Family Reunion would be held. The hosts would be my wife’s first cousins: Mathusalem and Ludy Mantos and Edward and Feninah Mantos. From the highway, we reach the farming village of Guinoman and there is a festive mood in a big house. The usual greetings and hugs proceed normally.

Although we were assured of sleeping spaces, I opt to bring my own hammock and taffeta sheet and fixed it in a corner so I could give my space to others. Slowly, more of her relatives arrived from Misamis Occidental, Misamis Oriental, Lanao del Norte, Bukidnon, Surigao del Sur, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental and South Cotabato. Those from the Davao provinces arrived on a big dump truck.

Meanwhile, Mantos cousins Ike, Dodo and Jay invited me to go along with them to Mathusalem’s farm. We rode on a cart pulled by a Kubota L3608 farm tractor. It was an enjoyable ride, scary at times as it passes by a narrow path where there is a steep slope on one side. It crossed streams and climbed up a steep bank, its big wheels digging in deep, carrying the cart through. A poor man’s version of ATV but much expensive. I laugh at the small description of the tractor under its brand name: Spectro Shuttle.

The farm is beside a stream with fish ponds being dried up. Mathusalem is talking with a soldier. There is a military detachment nearby. I got introduced to his son, a port authority police officer, and we had a lengthy talk. Contents of Fundador Brandy are served in a wide circle through two glasses that ran clockwise and counterclockwise. Beef is being butchered and cooked in a big cauldron over open-pit fire. Along the middle of the stream, I watched three boys on a sled pulled by a carabao where another boy held the bridles.

I love the sight of the simple provincial life, to include the Spectro Shuttle driven back to the village center. After a very generous meal of pochero (beef stew) and rice, I need to stretch out by taking a short walk beside the stream. I stopped to observe a man and a boy casting their lines on the water. The man had with him a small basket which is half-filled with juvenile tilapia and another type of fish. He was good at choosing the best part of the stream which gave him a good catch.

I go back to the farmhouse and the rounds are undulating as ever as I had left them minutes ago. By mid-afternoon, we walk the distance back to the village center and to the reunion. The parking spaces are now filled up and my wife’s kin began to populate the wide lawn. Monobloc chairs kept them in place while some pitched tents and others sat on cheap laminated-nylon sheets on the ground. The program begins to start and my wife led me to the back to take a meal. After that, I proceed to my waiting hammock and slept.

I woke up in the morning of May 6. I missed the rest of the program yesterday. My wife is overlooking the food preparations so I passed to her my Victorinox Trailmaster. I left her when Dr. Tuesday and husband Jun Canugao wanted to take a bath on a local resort nearby. I accompanied them with Gabriel in tow. Their pick up truck could not go further and we have to walk the 150 meters distance. There is a warm pool and there is another warmer pool. Steams rose from the pool surface on this cold morning.

We immersed in the warmest pool and I could feel my balls boiling. I looked around how such things appeared? I could see the flat rice fields ringed by mountains. The wide Guinoman valley is a crater of an ancient volcano. It is a very remote village rich in natural resources like sand and gravel, silver and gold. Bandits used to harass small miners and farmers here with revolutionary tax and food and that is why there are military detachments.    

We left the warm pools, going back to Mathusalem’s house on foot. The morning program is about to start and I changed into a new set of clothes. I reeked of sulfur! A church service began and I, a Catholic, joined the SDA worshippers. After the service, lunch was served. At the back of the house, I assist my wife with her chores. My Victorinox remained sharp as ever. Then two farm workers arrived bringing with them a big bucket full of tilapia. Along that is a foot-long mudfish (haluan) and a fresh-water eel (bais).

I watched a boy deftly slicing the belly of each tilapia with a bolo like a professional. With a small knife, it took me a long time to slice into bite cuts on the single mudfish. With the slippery eel I gave up the Trailmaster for a bigger blade. Chopping is much better. Jay cooked both in brine and I waited. I would not trade these two for red meat at the moment. I missed these two and it soon would be a delightful meal.

Reclining on a chair, Jay gave me a cold bottle of beer. I watched Dodo supervise the roasting of two pigs (inasal) on an adjoining lot far from the rest of their kin. My wife grabbed my hand and asked me to accompany her to a waterfall located in Mathusalem’s property. Gabriel came along and Ayen too with little Kelly. We all settled in the cart of the Spectro Shuttle as it lurched forward on the road, crossing a long bridge and stopped at the trailhead.

From there we walked over the mud dikes between ricefields and around teethered carabaos with their young. It is a difficult walk with all the ladies and little ones, balancing along the very narrow path, sometimes with gaps of a meter in between. The ground shifted where it is soft and you have to move fast else you slide downward to the softer mud on rice paddy. A nasty thought.

When we reached firmer ground, it was easy navigating along the contour of the terrain. It was not difficult terrain but you cross streams and walk among marang, durian and rubber trees that were harvested. I saw something that aroused my interest: hieroglyphics on rocks. It could not be! It was an engraving done between 50 to 100 years ago. A gold trail, perhaps!

People made their fortunes from this place for so many years digging for gold and silver. The mines are now abandoned after the mother lode had been found and there is nothing left. What is left are legends and it can still be sold to the gullible and to the greedy ones who wanted to make it rich quick. I loved legends but I just deposit it in tales. Mere conjectures.

The waterfall is about twenty feet high and the water cascade to a deep pool. Beside the chasm is an old wooden structure where someone attempted to harness the power of water with a treadmill. Textbook design except that the penstock is missing. Maybe it was abandoned when electricity eventually reached Guinoman. What if it had indeed been operating successfully? With uninterrupted power it could power a small mine day and night.

After an hour of overwatch, the bathers were done. We made our way back to the rice paddies. Gabriel fell from the already weakened path and mud are all over him. Poor Gabriel. We reach an open well and Gabe took a second bath. From the trail we walk back to the big house passing by an abandoned house that used to belong to Ludy’s family. It has an empty swimming pool. It may have been a small resort in the past.

We reach the house at an hour before dusk. The walking have made me see and appreciate the beautiful parts of Mindanao where few outsiders considered visiting. I have long heard the tales of Guinoman since the ‘90s when I ventured to do a little farm business in Mahayag. It would have been different then. Much wild and much dangerous. How could people survive there is testament to their resoluteness to carve a livelihood as farmer, miner, hunter, fisherman, trader or even as a preacher. 

We prepared ourselves for a long night ride to Mahayag. My wife had a grand time meeting again and reconnecting with her relatives. She is now a bit sophisticated and has now an Android phone. She accepts friend requests on her Facebook account and there are eighteen pending ones. I got my pictures and I got my good memories of the Spectro Shuttle.

Document done in LibreOffice 5.3 Writer

Thursday, March 1, 2018

NAPO TO BABAG TALES CXXII: Outdoors Leadership

THE PASSION OF SHARING MY IDEAS to people is a very intoxicating feeling just as I had experienced it when I initially introduced the Philippine Independence Bushcraft Camp in Cebu in 2011. The outdoors then were all about mainstream activities with people doing the same things over and over again for more than 25 years. It had reached its summit a long time ago and it overflowed to dangerous proportions despite its monotony.

I have seen that and I do not want to be part of the problem. Shifting to leisure bushcraft was the best decision that I made because the outdoors landscape was virgin ground and it is an interest that is closest to my heart. I learned it young from the greatest teachers of all time: self-reliance, endurance, kindness, audacity, wisdom and humility. It was a long process and it came to a point in time where it has to be served on a silver platter.

Getting a share of people’s attention was not difficult. I found many unenlightened ones. These were the ones who watched too much survival reality TV shows and stereotyped bushcraft with it even though it is a completely different animal. Those who embraced my brand of bushcraft with an opened mind came to love it and understood the idea very well. They became the Camp Red Bushcraft and Survival Guild.    

The PIBC became an annual affair and institutionalized as a membership requisite for the Guild. I journeyed far and wide to share my knowledge to more people who cannot come to Cebu. I have succeeded in educating people about the correct practice of bushcraft and ignorance declined. It would not have been possible were I would not have composed the raw manuscripts for a future book which would soon become known as Ethical Bushcraft.

I envisioned Ethical Bushcraft as a guiding literature for those who would like to indulge or enjoy leisure bushcraft in the Philippines. It is still under improvement and more pages have to be added. It is indigenous, it is modern, it is for the environment, it is practical, and it is common sense. Its heart and philosophy are anchored on the very simple and time-worn principles of Blend, Adapt and Improvise.

This is the same material where I based a new outdoors seminar that I organized as the Bushmasters’ Camp. This is an overnight camping activity which answers people’s thirst for more knowledge about bushcraft and its best practices. It refines an individual into someone who could blend instead of standing out, to adapt instead of giving up, and to improvise instead of complaining. This is outdoors leadership training and a prerequisite for camp volunteers in PIBC MMXVII, therefore, an advanced subject matter.

On April 28, 2017, seventeen people who have taken the PIBC and related training done by me arrive at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Guadalupe, Cebu City. We proceed to a new campsite that I had located five days ago. They are Jhurds Neo, Rany San Juan, Marc Lim, Jingaling Campomanes, Mirasol Lepon, Mark Lepon, Jon Apurado, Justin Apurado, Locel Navarro, Maria Theresa Lanit, Jamer Maestrado, Justin Abella, Nelson Tan, Nyor Pino, Ariel Lim, Glyn Formentera and Jenmar de Leon.

The first part of the seminar is about Campsite Management. Before we proceed to the choice of a campsite, it is important that you know the different outdoor activities here. It could be Mainstream which is purely recreational on popular destinations; Adventure Tourism which is regulated and also on popular destinations; Outdoor Sports which is a race; and Unconventional are activities on unpopular destinations.

Adventure Tourism and Outdoor Sports may well be part of Mainstream for it is well organized with participation and support of local government units, business, NGOs and community organizations. Bushcraft, even if it is recreational, comes under Unconventional along with exploration and hunting. Bushcraft is not that popular here and it is held without too much fanfare. Our camp selection would concentrate here.

First thing to look for is accessibility. It does not have to be difficult and far. It shies away from the high and exposed places. What it desire are places below treeline. It is a small activity if you compare it with mainstream camping. It strictly consider hazards that might threaten people like running water, unsteady trees and branches, rockfalls and landslides. It has to have a water source and it makes sure that it will not threaten or disturb wildlife.

Going to a campsite requires good travel management. Bushcraft is found in wilderness areas and it may well pass mountainous and difficult terrain which route you must identify. You must have a good knowledge of the places you are passing for your security. Walking composition are the same as that of mainstream. Pace depends on the slowest member. Distance between members are 2 meters on normal terrain and 4 meters going downhill.

Trail ethics puts more emphasis on the right of locals on the use of trails. We are just visitors, we see to it that we give them right of first passage and we make sure that the trails are in good condition after walking through it. Leave less footprints and walk elsewhere when trails are muddy. Of course, do not forget to show respect. Use your people skills. The principles of Blend, Adapt and Improvise are very useful here. 

When camp is found, it is always a good practice to give importance to hygiene. Size of camp affects health and hygiene of people. Small-sized camps are manageable and, where latrines are made, catholes may well do. Personal hygiene should also be practiced especially when touching food and, if possible, purify water sourced locally. Assign a compost pit for biodegradable wastes while separating non-bio ones inside garbage bags.

It may also be important that when you are a responsible outdoorsman, you must also be an advocate for the environment. You do not confront locals making their livelihood cutting trees, burning grasslands, hunting wildlife and making charcoals. Use your cameras secretly and upload images in social media with date, place and caption. Be responsible with your posts. Do not mention people who had nothing to do with that. While you are at that, you must also think of what you will bring outdoors: garbage.

Garbage issues needs a good understanding of wastes. There is the biodegradable, the non-bio and the recyclable. Campers pack opened cans and mix it with the rest of the undesirable ones inside a thin black bag. Because of hygiene issues, they tie the garbage bag on the back of their bags or carry it by hand. Note that the opened cans will severe easily the thin bag and disembowel your garbage on the trail without you knowing. Razor-sharp blades of grass will also tear away the bags to shreds even if you pack it double.

The best practice is to segregate your garbage. You place food scraps, fruit peelings and unused ingredients in a compost pit. Top it with ash from the fire before covering with soil so it would not be smelled by wildlife. You just rid the most unpleasant pieces. What about plastic? You just let them dry and let the ants sort them out. By the morrow it would be clean and light and ready to pack. What to do about the cans?

After opening, you turn it upside down so the juices would flow out and let the ants do their thing. In hours it will be completely cleaned off then you fold the opened serrated top back inside and step on the opened part. Once it is partly sealed, step on the bottom towards the rim so it would lay flat. It would not be bulky anymore once you place it inside your garbage bag and you can pack that inside your backpack with peace of mind.

In a bushcraft camp, there will always be cooking with real fire. It becomes the center of social activity and becomes a campfire. A campfire could be placed down a pit or it could be encircled by stones. Whether it is a big camp or a small one, the fire should be small. Just enough to boil water, cook food and provide heat and light. Do not make bonfires. It is a waste of firewood. Use the ash to neutralize the odor of your biodegradable pit.

Never use a live tree as your heat reflector. Do not set-up shelter near designated fire pit. Clear dry debris around your fire and protect it from gusts of wind. Do not make fire inside a tight forest of pine, cedar, pulpwood and eucalyptus and within a rubber tree plantation. Assign a night watch to protect and feed the fire throughout the night. If that cannot be possible, put it out thoroughly. Spread the ashes when you leave. Cover pit with stones.

Water source management is making sure that you do not contaminate this with your presence. Keep your camp and latrines a hundred feet away. The same with urinating. Do not wash your pots and plates directly on the stream. Make a water hole and use water from there. Do not leave food scraps on the water hole. Waste water should be thrown spread out away from the stream. Do not use household detergents.

Bushcraft is a child-friendly activity and it is normal to find children/minors participating. Minors are usually shy when in the company of other adults. The parent or the organizer should make it a point to hydrate the minor regularly. Same with nutrition. The child does not know outdoor conditions and it is so different from an urban setting. When in the presence of minors, adults should behave appropriately. Watch those language.

Long ago, it used to be just between a male or a female only but now there is the LGBT. They are people who are just different yet they are protected by law. A bushcraft camp should respect all genders. You must be sensitive to what you say or act. Aside that, all must respect the culture and religion of others. Serve them with food appropriate to their faith and do not force them to worship with you. Ask first.

Last for the day is conflict resolution. A bushcraft camp might tolerate the serving of alcohol but not too much. You can not carry much anyway. Conflict could sometimes happen within the camp or it is caused by outside interference. Put your best foot forward by reconciling all parties. If cannot be reconciled, separate both as far away from each other. Be very accommodating when dealing with locals but be alert. Use good people skills.

It was a long day but the lectures were delivered before sundown. Most of the participants set up simple shelters while a few brought tents. I used and tested for the first time another Silangan Outdoor Rev 20 tent acquired last August 2015. Cooking were done with small pieces of firewood in special burners and by butane stoves. I have explicit instructions to bring only canned goods. There will be no feasts. Just mundane proletariat meals.

I have already identified garbage management as the most underappreciated task in outdoor activities. Few people thought of that. New set of campers complain of garbage strewn about in popular destinations. I have even passed by camps left by so-called “environmentalists” and the most ardent followers of Leave No Trace and it is discouraging for one was in a watershed area. People are only good when someone is looking

The opened canned goods would be the yardstick of how people would treat their garbage seriously. I hope I could change old mindsets. I would inspect that in the morning if people have really absorbed my lectures. I would also home on the latrine and the compost pits. I would not allow people to assign one to carry all their garbage nor will I allow this to be carried outside of a backpack. They do not know that yet.

The second day, April 29, opened my eyes to one person who have not absorbed the part about opened canned goods. Old bad habits cannot be changed overnight. There are people who absorb knowledge like a sponge and there are some who have low absorption process and they are college graduates, come to think of it. Adaptation and improvisation are skills learned by those who want to practice bushcraft. If you do not have that, you can never blend in.

This is the second part and is about Organizing Outdoor Events. You must identify the kind of people you are targetting before creating one. Nowadays, it is very easy to broadcast your event. Facebook has a template for that and it is very user-friendly. You just name the event, identify a place, set the time and date, and describe the event in as understandable language as possible. You may add an itinerary. Contact person is a must!

The itinerary is the plan of action as ought to happen in your event. It is the guiding path of how, where and when should who will be. You place the dates, the places, the hours and the micro activities. From this information, making the food plan would not be difficult. You develop organizational, management and control skills starting from small day events, progressing to complex multi-day ones. Do not be tempted by greed.

The event should be realistic, controllable and manageable. Limit the participation. Mainstream events are known for massive participation to attract more revenues for the organizers. Too many people are eyesores to the mountains and causes environmental degradation due to the wear and tear on the vegetation and its soil by a huge number of shoes treading on it. It is rampant on popular destinations. Then you consider human wastes. Create your own destinations and make it small.

You should present your intentions to the LGUs and the police or military authorities on the places where you plan to hold your events. You should liaison with these offices and you should exchange contact numbers with them. You must provide yourself all the numbers of all police stations, tourism offices and rescue units of certain places in your phonebook. You send messages as you enter their AOR and on places where you set up campsites. Give them the courtesy of informing them too when your event had ended. Thank them!

Another item in liaisoning that you should make is the Route Card. It is the event with the itinerary but, included, are the names of the participants, their age, the contact numbers of their nearest kin and information of medical history and medication taken. Other information are special equipment, evacuation routes, extraction points and your contact numbers and final instructions should you remained incommunicado after 24 hours. A copy should be provided to a friend, a relative or a rescue unit.  

Lastly, if you are on leisure bushcraft, do not join a mainstream activity camp. You could never blend yourself in there. You would be a sorry sight. On the other hand, a bushcraft camp is a special activity that nurtures creativity in a person. If you have a place like this, it is better that you keep it to within yourselves. Do not share. Do not tell.

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