Thursday, August 21, 2008


I SAW TODAY, June 25, 2008, four agents of the Witness Protection Program of the Department of Justice (WPP-DOJ) escorting a government witness in their midst. They were armed each with 7.62 mm Galil assault rifles slung across their necks and 9 mm Jericho pistols inside their holsters complemented with enough ammo to hold to a standstill George Bush's boys in Iraq. Both fine firearms are made by the Israel Arms Industries (IAI).

They were, in the meanest terms, formidably armed and they put on a show as they escorted their principal down the stairs into a waiting double cab. They were clad in blue uniforms and khaki cargo pants, badge shining on their left breasts with dark glasses to hide their stiletto eyes. You wouldn't see the likes of those except, perhaps, inside a cinema. But, they were real.

They were very alert, disciplined and they were well attuned to the slightest movement as their heads followed jerkily every motion found in their peripheral vision. They were young and clean shaven and they adhered strictly to proper gun safety as I found their index finger extended safely away from the trigger. I will give that last point of observation to them my earnest admiration. And they were tense --- very tense! You could see clearly how they gripped the handgrips hard, some fingerprints adhering to cold steel by their sweaty hands.

It just so happened that I was in Toledo City, on the west coast of Cebu Island attending a criminal court hearing when one of them caught my critical eye, one hand gripping the handgrip of a Galil while the other hand flailing loose and free. The next two imitated the first one while the last one clutched the Galil's forearm stock in a reverse and awkward manner. They were in a textbook diamond formation and I couldn't wait to exult on my own discovery of several weak spots, or should I say, their inexperience.

They were just small details that a trained eye would take notice of and utilize these to his favor and slightly decrease the “enemy” advantage of superior strength and firepower to well within his own control and comfort. For one thing, I already have the element of surprise on my side.

For a hundred grand, I could ping off the four guards with a .22 wheelgun and successfully deliver my client's message to the witness in a matter of seconds if I have my way! But I am not. I am just a sadistic perfectionist. I would love to poke into somebody's chink in their armor and get away with it in my imagined bloody street wars of my mind.

A weapon like a Galil needs respect from its owner. You wouldn't handle a Galil, even if it is slung safely around your neck or shoulder, with just one hand unless another hand is clutching the forearm stock nearest to the magazine. The tendency of a long firearm with a sling is that it would swivel and swing if it is held at the handgrip in the event of a sudden reaction to face an armed aggressor and would only be stabilized when the support hand grabs the forearm stock and, by that time, it would be too late, considering that you'll have to switch from safety to semi-auto after that.

A weak hand clutching the middle of an assault weapon stabilizes its fulcrum point as it would bring the weapon closer to the body of the holder and makes the transition to fire very easy and swift and it is much comfortable as it relieves the strong hand of its tenseness from holding the handgrip for so long. It would also remove the aggressive stance by which the latter hand position would project to people.

It would take a few gunfights or of some considerable amount of time engaging in “immediate action drill” (IAD) exercises to arrive at a conclusion whereby one could see beyond what others could not. I am speaking from a view of someone who was there before and, by good fortune and having a wise teacher, I was able to keep my hide that long.

Looking back many years ago, I could not forget how my Israeli instructor lambasted me for taking for granted my handling of an assault rifle. I was like those kids I saw a while ago with those deadly Galils. It was for that reason he turned his ire on the ground where I stood and emptied one magazine of his baby Armalite, intentionally missing me by inches, as showers of dirt and dust fell on me. It was for a reason why he did that – to show a sense of value for my weapon! A little sign of respect. A small gesture that would ultimately save a life...mine...and others as well.

Document done in OpenOffice 2.1 Writer, Trebuchet MS font, size 12.

Monday, August 11, 2008


THE YEARS 1992 TO 1998 were, without a doubt, my finest years as a mountaineer and an outdoor enthusiast. I was caught in a vortex of outdoor activities that my club, the Cebu Mountaineering Society (CeMS) have organized, starting from my initial climb at Mount Pangasugan in Leyte, which was very unforgettable, reaching a high crescendo with the ascent of the country’s highest peak in Mount Apo on 1994 and tapering off on a cave exploration at Nug-as, Alcoy.

In between, I was fascinated in learning the art of the rope. I learned the mechanics of SRT or single-rope technique during an orientation. It was very useful in traversing and climbing difficult obstacles without adequate (or slippery) handholds and footholds like caves thru the use of a 11-millimeter rope and a pair of jumars - a mechanical ascender.

For this purpose, CeMS purchased a dynamic rope, carabiners, a figure-8 descender and a harness. Dr. Abe Manlawe provided himself a pair of jumars, a static rope, carabs, descenders and some harnesses to complement the club equipment. Later on, some of us owned a harness, a set of carabiners, descenders and other accessories. (Mine were a Black Diamond Onsight Bod harness, three REI carabs and one Russian-made locking snap link in anodized pink color.)

One of those that I learned, or have perfected, was rappelling. Back in 1988, I learned rappelling at Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal. But it was done with crude equipment. Sliding sown a rope with proper tools is sheer joy, mind you!

CeMS were so obsessed with rappelling right after completion of the Land Navigation and Jungle Survival Course conducted by the 7th Regional Civil Defense Unit (7RCDU) and the 3rd Army Training Group (3ATG) of the Visayas Command (VISCOM) from March 22 to May 8, 1993. Every weekend after that were spent for training and perfecting this craft, to include knot-tying skills. We either anchored our ropes over roadside cliffs in Maria Luisa or on the railings of the abandoned 4-storey high air-traffic control tower in the old Lahug airport.

Those days I practiced on my own on some weekdays to really master that craft and on some occasions, in Phase 8 of Maria Luisa, I would lower myself in a 130-foot drop on a cliff doing just three bounces. Repeating the process, I would flip myself in mid-air right after clearing my feet off the cliff and do a lizard rappel down to the bottom. Other times, I would bring a rope when I have a chance to practice my gun skills at the CPRA firing range in Lapulapu City and practice rappelling there and at times I train the whole Cebu City SWAT team.

When my skills and confidence level began to peak, I set my sights for the limestone cliffs at Cantabaco in Camp 8, Toledo City to go rock climbing. Honestly, only a few of us took to cragging seriously. Once in a while, Ramon Vidal, Nanding Mercado and me would spend some weekends at Camp 8 to try the different routes and pitches that Cantabaco could offer.

Snakeskin and Fields of Gold were some of the known routes I can still remember that we took on and Devil’s Ledge was something to think about gravity when you start for another pitch. I never thought I could imitate verbatim the life of a lizard back then. I lost all sense and fear of heights and vertigo. One thing that never escaped my mind back then is that safety should not be compensated with anything else. It should always be safety, safety and safety!

I did strength training on my own for this purpose. My gym were either my home or the outdoors. No special offers or stupid machines! Just plain common sense and sheer practicality complemented my interest and skill. I have built my own legend for my own consumption. A memory that I need to share with to those who wanted to learn the art of “falling”.

Document done in RoughDraft 3.0, Trebuchet MS font, size 12.

Friday, August 1, 2008



SILICON VALLEY – The rebellion commenced by the Linux Desktop Liberation Front, with backing from the Open Source Knights, of three summers ago have taken on another dimension – the GUI desktop feature. As of late, rebel forces have overrun the Windows Imperial Army of the Microsoft Empire where it is thought to hold a highly-impregnable fortress in the desktop graphics manipulation.

That 95% market share controlled by the hated Microsoft regime of late had been receding fast as they could count with their fingers as more and more oppressed areas that Windows ruled with an iron hand have been liberated by the advancing and victorious vanguard of the Linux forces, the Ubuntu Brigade, who epitomized the value of freedom.

Dell and Hewlett-Packard, for many years under the yoke of Windows levy and toll, changed loyalties and joined the Linux forces in a tactical alliance that would surely boost the integrity of Linux as a better alternative to the oppressive Windows imperial forces.

Below is a first-hand account of an eyewitness that captured on video the scenes of that great battle at the GUI desktop: