Sunday, March 1, 2015


IN APRIL 1975, a boy enjoyed his summer vacation shooting a basketball on a dirt court. The ball bounced off the iron rim and landed beyond the court and rolled into a grassy area. The ball stopped among a clump of thick grass. The boy chased the ball and stepped on to something that gave in to his weight. He retrieved the ball and ran back to play basketball under the heat of a noontime sun.

He noticed something warm and slippery on his left foot and saw a lot of blood spurt out from a cut on the inside of his left ankle. He looked at the long trail of blood behind him and limped back home with his basketball under his right arm. He went to the faucet and washed away the blood, thinking the action would improve his condition. He could clearly see that part of his sole, starting from the arch, was sliced clean up to the part below the ankle bone joint.

He began to rattle and called out his grandmother. His grandma saw the 3-and-a-half-inch wound and woke up the boy’s father. The father, seeing that a home remedy is out of the question, decided to carry his son to a family doctor. He carried the boy on both his arms and half-trotted to the clinic some 400 meters away. The good doctor was around and begins to work on the wound. He has no anesthesia but he sewed up three lacerated arteries and the skin to temporarily stop the bleeding.

The boy’s face turned pale through loss of so much blood and was brave enough to see his left foot being sewed up by the doctor. He sounded off a stifled cry each time the needle pierced his flesh and dreaded the next action. Nevertheless, he heard the doctor and his father talking in a better tone and found it reassuring. The boy was transferred to the hospital for re-sewing of the skin but, this time, anesthesia was injected around the wound.

The boy had been on the brink of death due to loss of blood but his courage to face his difficulty allowed him no time to faint while limping home for help. The wound was caused by a large Ovaltine glass jar that broke under the weight of the boy. The jar was covered by thick grass. After that incident, the boy went back months after to retrieve and dispose hidden broken glasses on his playground and anything that might cause harm to anyone, especially his playmates. It has been his advocacy ever since.

That boy was me. I just took an examination for entry into a Catholic-run high school that morning and, after finishing lunch, went to shoot basketball. It was a very traumatic experience for me, especially at the clinic. The legendary doctor was Dr. Poliento B. Dy. He passed away many years ago. He was the last of his kind. He did weekly house calls in our neighborhood and his clinic was located at the corner of MJ Cuenco Avenue and Villagonzalo Street in Cebu City. No doctor in urban centers do house calls nowadays.

Now, back to this “broken glass” advocacy, it is nothing but a personal commitment on my part being the best example of how carelessly-placed, or thrown, broken pieces of glass could cause harm on people, especially carefree children, even to the extent of snuffing away their lives if there is no help on time. It had not been the first time that a broken glass had caused me injury nor was it the last. My eldest child had the same laceration on the left foot caused by glass when he fell on a hole, just meters away where I was wounded, when he was just seven years old.

It pains me to see children suffering from pain, agony, shock and loss of blood because some careless and irresponsible individuals did not think clearly when they start leaving bottles, glass jars and broken glasses out of doors. They even burn this as part of garbage. A lot of people are really stupid when they know that glass, along with empty cans, can never be burned by a small fire. In fact, it makes glass more brittle and much difficult to pick from the flesh because it disintegrates into small bits and flakes.

As much as possible, I pick bottles along mountain trails and hide it where it cannot be exposed as a target for both children and adults exercising their marksmanship prowess. I collect broken glasses on the same trails and bring it down the mountain and dispose it in city garbage bins. I have to be careful when I carry it inside my bag else a misstep would tear up my bag, slice the things inside or it pierces through the bag and cut me up.

During my visit to Osmeña Peak in 2009, I saw a lot of broken bottles that the collecting and carrying of it downhill would be a herculean job that required fifteen people. I simply pound the glasses into powdery bits with stones and drop these into any rock I can find with holes and plug it with stones. There were more bottles and broken glasses thrown in the sinkholes by people who visit there though and, I think, Osmeña Peak should be declared a national park so visits would be regulated and ground maintenance would be imposed.

The most hideous places where a broken glass could effect harm are on the streams. You go barefoot when you swim and your soles becomes soft because of exposure to water. One day in 1995, while going on picnic at the source of Matutinao Creek with my wife and son, a boy stepped on a broken glass. Blood were everywhere and, I believed, an artery was lacerated. It reminded me of my wound years ago. His mother could only apply a herbal remedy with a poultice of chewed horseradish but I forbid it when I decide to involve myself in.

I put pressure above the wound to control the flow of blood then I carried the boy in my arms making sure the wound is above his heart. Then I ran and followed the trail going down the national highway. Those who have visited upstream beyond Kawasan Falls knows the terrain is rocky, difficult and very slippery. I ran on it downhill and where I am most susceptible to an accident myself. A lot of it are above cliffs and sometimes you have to cross the stream over coconut logs that move as you walk above it.

Bathers at the waterfalls stare at the bloodied foot and they begun to think twice about what is in the bottom of the part of their river. Eventually, I reached the road. A bus passes by and I instructed the driver to bring the injured boy and his mother to the nearest hospital which is at Badian. In my own small way, I saved a boy’s life but the problem with broken glasses remain. It was at this instance that the inhabitants and other stakeholders of Matutinao began to clean their beloved river of this hidden menace.

When you see me stopping on a trail, picking up something which sounded like broken glasses, do not be alarmed. I am not acting like a fool but, rather, I am doing a service for the inhabitants, especially the local children. I am making the world safer for them. This is another of my advocacy. There are no corporate sponsors and there are no media hypes. It is just me with a past. I am personally inviting you to do your part. Let us rid this world of broken glasses and educate people how to dispose of this safely.

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Monday, February 23, 2015


IT IS AN UNUSUALLY COOL morning of June 22, 2014. For several months now, Cebu had been experiencing a hot spell. Officially, this month is supposed to be the start of the rainy season but climate analysts are forecasting an El Niño weather pattern, which may last up to November. So, for now, it is not warm.

The ground is wet as I follow Bogs Belga and Mayo Leo Carillo. The Sapangdaku Creek is clear and flowing brought on by last night’s rain. Behind me are Justin Apurado, Jhurds Neo, Ernie Salomon and Jingaling Campomanes. This would be the first time for Justin to join an official Camp Red Bushcraft and Survival Guild activity. He just attended the Philippine Independence Bushcraft Camp more than a week ago in Sibonga.

I am carrying a smaller backpack. It is an old-school canvass rucksack with a Lifeguard USA label. I open carry a Puffin Magnum knife ripoff dangling inside its handsome leather sheath. We walk non-stop until we reach Lower Kahugan Spring. The sun begins to show up so I don my desert camo sniper’s veil on the head with a black cord holding it from falling down – Arab man style. I am expecting a very warm morning.

After we had filled our water bottles, we proceed on. The Roble homestead is our destination. As always, by our desire to eat food fresh from the cooking fire, we will cook our meal there. Jhurds had promised to bring shrimps and salmon strips. We complemented it by procuring rice and pork belly bought from the roadside market in Guadalupe.

We take a short cut to the place and arrive at about 09:30. Some hikers are already there sitting on a bench underneath a mango tree but leaving the visitor shed vacant. We occupy the shed. Meanwhile, I forage three sticks and lash it with a cord so it could stand as a tripod from where our pots would be hanged. Fele Roble and son, Manwel, offered to share their dry firewood for us.

I split bigger firewood with my Puffin Magnum while I make small ones with my William Rodgers bushcraft knife. Bogs shaved a feather stick with his Mora to add to my retinue of tinder and kindling from my fire kit. Firewood is arranged while a dried Spanish moss burned underneath, the wood catching the flame and giving the impression that our meal is feasible.

Justin watch the fire while I prepare the bigger of my two pots for the rice. Once it is suspended above the fire, I talk with Jhurds about my project, Survival Day. It is a practical test of endurance and resourcefulness for members of Camp Red. Two members would be selected each weekend to undergo this overnight activity, which has an escape and evasion element.

The pair would be equipped between themselves with only one knife, a fire-making device of their own choice, a metal cup and a simple shelter, also of their own choice. They would have to source their own food and water while in the mountains and the setting up of a camp that would blend well with the surroundings. A third member would accompany them to document and observe. The third man will be their lifeline should things go wrong and the umpire should they cheat.

Three places in the Babag Mountain Range – the Buhisan Watershed, Tagaytay Ridge and Kalunasan Valley – will be the pilot places for the pairs to engage in their craft. A pair could only choose one place and they have the option to repeat it on the other two places if they so desire. The pairs would be graded according to their performance based on the documentations and the giving of recognitions or badges for their effort is well considered. Perhaps.

Everyone are mesmerized by this conversation that they abandoned their chores to involve themselves in the talk and at Survival Day itself. Everyone laud this project but safeguards would have to be set up once it starts. There has to be a medical team on standby along the route and radio communications have to be set up. Survival Day would start on July 5 and would end on December 31.

When that conversation was wrapped up, Mayo returned to his place and cook the pieces of pork belly on an iron grill and charcoal. Bogs set up three stones and give life to a fire in the middle of it and a large frying pan with oil is heated. Ernie prepared the ingredients while Jingaling helped in the slicing of vegetables. Jhurds unleashed his shrimps and salmon strips. He went on to clean the salmon of its scales.

And so it happens that Ernie is present, we gave him the ladle and a wide berth at his “office”. There are a few individuals who could dish out a number of good menu in an outdoor setting and old Ernie is one of those. Well, he start with the swamp radish and diced pork and saute it with soy sauce. Then he begins with the shrimp soup, adding pieces of eggplant, radish and iba (Sp. Averrhoa bilimbi), to achieve that tamarind-like taste which in local parlance is known as “sinigang”.

As if that is not enough, Ernie converted the salmon strips into a thick and spicy concoction. Jingaling prepared raw cucumber, tomatoes and onions in sweetened vinegar as our dessert. All the blades where used including Jingaling’s new Seseblades NCO knife. People are now beginning to feel hunger pangs even though we had blunted it for a while with hot coffee.

After lunch, we talk on more about Survival Day, about knives, ideas and the recent PIBC. It is the usual conversations which people at Camp Red are known to indulge in. Mayo is excited and decides to volunteer for Survival Day but he is not familiar with the places where it will be engaged in but he is curious about Tagaytay Ridge. I invited him instead to go with me to Tagaytay next week (June 29) to do a survey which he would. Good.

We left the Roble homestead at 15:00 back to Napo. It is a beautiful afternoon for a walk. I pass again the place where I saw some week ago of a flowering durian tree and a flowering marang tree (English: johey oak). Many people thought these trees do not grow and bear fruit here in Cebu. I do not think so. I always believed that what grows in Mindanao or, for that matter, in the tropics, grows also here. I just saw healthy fruits of both trees and I envy the person who planted these.

We reach Napo and then Guadalupe. We proceed immediately to our watering hole in M. Velez Street to talk about the just-finished activity and about Survival Day over a few munches of pizza and cold beer. Jhurds decides to partner with Mayo for Survival Day on July and I advised them to expect for my briefing after next week’s recon hike.

For myself, I am also excited since this activity had never been done by any outdoors group here in the Philippines and Camp Red would be a pioneering club that would indulge on this. Why is it different? First, this is done by only two people sharing a knife, a match, a simple shelter and a cup between themselves. Second, aside from sourcing their own water and food, they have to blend with their environment. And, last, they have to navigate on unfamiliar terrain under pressure by time.

If, later, both Mayo and Jhurds should find the activity too daunting for their own comfort, I could choose another pair or, possibly, try this myself – alone. I have a good reason for the latter possibility since this is my idea. Maybe they could follow my gist and wisen up.

Document done in LibreOffice 3.3 Writer

Thursday, February 12, 2015


FOR THE FIRST TIME, the 2014 Philippine Independence Bushcraft Camp will be done at Lower Sayao, Sibonga, Cebu. For the last three years, it had been held at Camp Damazo, a very secluded nook of the Babag Mountain Range, Cebu City. Camp Damazo had hosted forty-seven individuals, on three occasions of the PIBC, to learn bushcraft and survival from this blogger.

The old camp had increased in size brought on by a yearly occupancy and this blogger looked for other places which does not necessarily be a jungle environment. The campsite would have to could accommodate a good number of people and be able to absorb the impacts of campfire cooking. So on June 10, 11 and 12, 2014, the PIBC migrated to a new location.

Sibonga, a town located 56 kilometers south of Cebu City will host the new campsite on a hilly village which can be accessible from its village in Candaguit or from Ocaña, Carcar. The good thing about the new campsite is that it has a very reliable source of clean potable water, a healthy relationship with the local community, a very secure location and an ever-present cool breeze coming in from Bohol Strait.

We all assemble at the 7Eleven Convenience Store, across the Cebu South Bus Terminal, early morning of June 10. An aircon bus loaned from the Municipality of Liloan left at 07:40 and ferried all to the base of the campsite. All begin the short trek afterward to the top of a hill where mango trees grow. It is a very warm day but the possibility of rain is not discounted. The campsite is open terrain but there are shady areas.

The PIBC is a very limited affair and those who counted themselves in to learn the basic training on tropical bushcraft and survival are Jerome Tibon, Nelson Orozco, Maria Mahinay, Justin Ianne Abella, Jillian Ann Yap-Binoya, Justin Apurado, Jon Daniel Apurado and Gerald Ortiz. Some of them had been joining the activities of Camp Red Bushcraft and Survival Guild and their participation would solidify their entry as full members.

Coming along are previous products of the PIBC like Jhurds Neo (2012), Dominic Sepe (2012), JB Albano (2012), Eli Bryn Tambiga (2012), Fulbert Navarro (2012), Conar Ortiz (2012), Aljew Frasco (2013), Christopher Maru (2013), Johnas Obina (2013), Allan Aguipo (2013) and Patrick Calzada (2013). Jhurds and Dominic will both administer the campsite; Eli Bryn would document the whole event with his camera; while Fulbert, Conar and Aljew would discuss different chapters. The rest would function as handymen.

This year’s theme is MAKING A DIFFERENCE. It is inspired by the resolute spirit of the Filipino people in spite of the challenges and difficulties it faced right after the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Bohol and the post-Typhoon Haiyan devastation in Leyte and North Cebu. I am convinced that with the proper set of survival skills and knowledge, any calamity can be overcome and the PIBC could provide these.

On the campsite, majority of the participants and staff preferred the simple taffeta or a laminated-nylon sheet as shelters which they either paired with a hammock or with a ground sheet. The rest of the morning are dedicated to foraging firewood, inspecting the latrines that the organizers had prepared last June 1 and fetching of water for drinking and cooking. Additionally, I cut a single pole of bamboo for training aid later.

After lunch, this blogger opened the PIBC and proceed on to the first chapter, which is about Introduction to Bushcraft and Survival. It rained but it never interrupted the outdoor lessons. When I had finished this section, Aljew proceed to talk about the chapter on Knife Care and Safety. It is still raining but Aljew is very persistent, nonetheless, and refused to be bothered by it. The rain had slackened when I begin the lesson on Survival Tool-Making.

The long bamboo pole gets dismembered as the participants practice their dexterity with the knife by carving drinking jugs and spoons. They were taught the proper way to cut and safe handling of the knife. After dinner, a small fire becomes the center of the PIBC socials where a bushcraft tradition of Campfire Yarns and Storytelling will entertain all. Liquor is encouraged to provide animation to the tales but it is drank in moderation. This caps the first day yet there is a nightwatch alternately done by two camp staffs every two hours.

The second day – June 11 – starts with a breakfast. After this, the participants and staff would spend the whole day without food to simulate the hunger pangs associated with survival. Conar and Fulbert jointly hold the lessons on Basic Knot Tying. This was supposed to be discussed on the first day but delay caused it to be rescheduled. It is another warm day but droplets of rain threaten the training but we were not about to be bothered.

Firecraft is the next chapter, which I discussed, with Aljew lending his time to demonstrate how to make fire with a bow drill and Fulbert with the bamboo saw. Glenn Pestaño (2011) and Ernie Salomon (2011) arrive to provide support to the staff. Glenn will take charge of additional logistics while Ernie will fix the meals for tonight and tomorrow. I proceed on the next chapter, which is about Shelters. Then comes the long chapter on Foraging and Plant Identification.

In the middle of the afternoon, I lead all to a high hill where the village chief reside for the Plant ID/Prepper Lab Tour. We pass by a small community, secluded farms, a small lake and a cave before entering a large compound. It has vegetable gardens, several water sources, fruit-bearing trees, livestock, a fishpond, a private chapel, a small blacksmith shop, a ham radio station and several layers of defensible spots. It is the center of a self-sustaining community.

When we go down to our campsite, I discuss the new chapter on Prepping and mentions the residence we visited a while ago as a perfect example of a homestead where the owner’s mindset worked on the manner of a prepper. Last chapter is Outdoor Cooking, which I finished at dusk. Patrick and JB demonstrate how to cook rice and milled corn on separate chambers of a single piece of bamboo. Ernie goes to work on a beef stew by sheer creativeness.

After dinner, we get ready for another highly-valued bushcraft activity, Nocturnal Hunting. A small stream teeming with fresh-water crabs is the training ground for the participants. It is raining but it does not matter since all will be wet anyway walking on the stream. The route starts from a rice paddy below camp and ends into another rice paddy where there is a natural spring. In between is the stream itself, a forest, a deep pond and a waterfall.

The participants collected mature crabs only which Ernie saute in oil before cooking it with coconut milk. Another session of the Campfire Yarns and Storytelling follow where the jolly circle is aptly supplied by local moonshine – fresh coconut wines. The rain had stopped by then and the activity went on into the wee hours of the night and that caps the second day. As usual, the nightwatch take their posts.

The last day – June 12 – is a day reserved for the Philippine colors but our tradition of the Blade Porn is scheduled early. So, after a light breakfast, the blades gets the spotlight first. Eighty-one blades owned by twenty-two individuals are spread on two tarps! Then the flag is raised full on a bamboo pole and everyone sang to the beat of Maria’s hands the Philippine national anthem - Lupang Hinirang. Then comes the oath of allegiance to flag and country – the Panatang Makabayan - which everyone repeated line by line thru the instance of Glenn.

We break camp after a very delicious lunch of free-rein chicken soup, which Ernie splendidly cooked, and dried fish. The meal is spread on banana leaves akin to a “boodle-fight” which the military popularized. We leave the campsite for the place where we got dropped off by our transport. The bus arrived at at 13:30 and whisk us off from Sibonga bound for Lilo-an. In a private beach, we celebrate the conclusion of PIBC MMXIV with rounds of brandy to spur on good conversations of past and present PIBCs.

Mayo Leo Carillo (2012) join us and gave away whistle-paracord bracelets to the participants. Free side pouches were also given to the participants courtesy of Silangan Outdoor Equipment. Three woodlore knives made by The Knifemaker were raffled off to the participants; as well as lady paracord bracelets, small LED lights and a compass donated by Glenn; three straw filters provided by Jerome; and emergency coolers from Sea Olympus Marketing.

Certificates are distributed to the participants recognizing their finishing of the basic course on Tropical Bushcraft and Survival. Likewise, new Camp Red stickers are distributed to everyone who attended the PIBC. Before ending, Aljew treat everyone to a free dinner. This present PIBC metamorphosed into the realm of prepping and homesteading brought on by the special quality of the place in Sibonga which this blogger took advantaged of and in consideration of the succeeding disasters which have struck the country.

There is a possibility, however, that the PIBC will not just be confined to Cebu. A different province or city could host it, provided it falls on June 10 to 12. The PIBC is a unique event since it focuses more on the introduction of learning real-world survival skills to anybody. These skills would gather dust if not used or practiced regularly but can be retrieved anytime when the situation demands. PIBC is just like this: You just knock only once and all things will unravel before you.

Document done in LibreOffice 3.3 Writer

Some photos courtesy of Eli Bryn Tambiga