Friday, October 15, 2010


ERNIE SALOMON HAD been urging me for several weeks to go back and explore further the Buhisan Watershed Area which we did the first time on May 2, 2010. I saw his explorer spirit peak up once I led him down into the faint trails amidst dense jungle. It was a worthwhile activity for Camp Red that would surely perk any individual's interest.

This time, I will not be exploring more. I have seen enough. But, I will surprise Ernie a thing about bushcraft and survival.

On May 30, 2010, after buying provisions in Guadalupe, we climb the low hill above it. This trail is the one called Bebut's Trail which I have explored in early January. Along it are two small houses where there are children living that I identified as another target of my own private outreach program.

The first of the two small houses seemed to be vacant of their occupants. I know there are three children living here along with their 60-something father. Nevertheless, I leave a plastic bag of bread worth twenty-five pesos and hang it beyond the reach of their free-reining dog. The children would be happy to see this and I am happy with this thought.

The second house, 400 meters further up the hill, would be that of Ricky Flores and his family. Ricky is recovering from flu and he look pale. I leave his share of the bread I bought and I quickly wipe a teardrop from the corner of my one eye as the children divided their bread happily. Ricky's hut, by the way, is adjacent to a war-era tunnel and he would be happy to guide you inside the labyrinth that extend to about a kilometer in length.

Time to move on to the Portal – a crossroad of seven trails. But before that, I look for a healthy clump of bamboos. I found one and leave the trail. Ernie followed after me with a quizzical look. I retrieved my hatchet from my bag and started cutting a bamboo pole. I explained to Ernie that I am going to cook our milled corn inside the bamboo and an approving smile is written all over his face.

The pole fell and Ernie happily drag that to safety. I choose the best two segments and cut it away from the rest. It is more than a meter long and weigh about six kilos. I borrowed Ernie's orange nylon rope which, I know, he bring all the time and make a sling so I could carry the bamboo easily over difficult terrain.

I climb up the trail and take a very welcome rest once we reach the Portal. The bamboo is quite heavy and thick. As we rest, I give Ernie some important inputs of what steps to follow when cooking in bamboo especially with the size of the fire to use. I am tempted to boil water for coffee. Maybe later.

The downhill route into Buhisan would have made easier my carrying of the bamboo but it got snagged by the thick vegetation and so it made me exert some more effort to unhook the bamboo from strangling vines and twigs. Along this route are two stretches where I practically have to use both hands and knees to navigate among low canopies.

We reach the creek bed and I disdain walking on bare low ground. However, this route is almost flat ground and no branches and leaves to snatch away my bamboo. I have to compromise and walk for some distance until I decide to stop at a shady sweet spot for it is past twelve noon. But, first, I need to have that coffee.

Along the way, I picked up wood for my fire. With my survival knife, I mark the bamboo where I will make my hole. I baton my hatchet on both ends of one segment and leave the other unscathe. I explained to Ernie why and he understood. That's what I like about Ernie. He is a well-trained “soldier”.

I let Ernie do the splitting of the bamboo along the part where the ends are cut with the use of his M16 bayonet while I split wood for firewood with my 'hawk. The part gave up easily and Ernie remove that from the rest creating a long rectangular hole. The detached part will be the lid for the bamboo pot.

I scraped away the dangling fibers from the lid while Ernie improvise a handle for the lid by chopping a bit of the skin creating a mere fingerhold. Good ol' Ernie. I cleaned out the pulps from inside the cavity of the bamboo with a wooden spoon after which I looked for more firewood as Ernie arranged the place where we do the cooking.

I arrived with several dry branches and started splitting wood while Ernie started the fire going. We let the firewood burn through to its ends until we were able to gather enough ember and heat to penetrate the thick bamboo but safe enough for the fire not to eat away at its bottom. Ernie carefully lay down the bamboo upon two evenly-matched stones.

I poured the water an inch below the hole's rim and replaced the lid. We waited for it to boil and, while doing so, I took videos to document this activity. Ernie, while watching the fire, started preparing the pork meat by slicing it in cubes. Then the spices too. Using my camping stove we cook the meat, adobo fashion.

Faint steam start to rise from the hole between chamber and lid. Ernie poured the milled corn into the chamber and stirred evenly before replacing back the lid. After twenty minutes, Ernie stirred again the milled corn and it is almost firm and we feed more wood for the fire. Waited again for about five minutes and Ernie pour just a bit of water for added moisture and stirred again and leave it to simmer.

It is already 2:30 PM when we decide to take our lunch. Ernie transferred all the contents from the bamboo into my stainless-steel pot and we serve our lunch from thereon. Hmm, the milled corn exude a sweet-smelling aroma as it absorbed the odor from the bamboo during cooking. It made the corn more tasty. This is good. Boy Toledo should have come.

Late afternoon is fast approaching and we don't have time to take a rest today. We followed the route that we took last May 2 and found more trees being chopped down. Some trees are hacked and left to teether under the mercy of the elements. I couldn't understand why DENR1 and MCWD2 never lifted a finger to stop all these harassments in a supposed-to-be protected area. I leave it to the readers of this blog article to help me send this message to these government agencies.

I promised Ernie a cold bottle of orange soda once we reach Punta Princesa while we were walking the old route of the man-made forest of Buhisan. From there we walk the asphalt-and-concrete road down into Punta Princesa and downed one bottle each. We transferred to Guadalupe and Boy T joined us during an after-activity discussion and showed him the pictures and videos of our bushcraft cooking which elicit envy from him.

There's always a next time, Boy T.

Document done in OpenOffice 2.1 Writer

1Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The sole government agency tasked to enforce environmental laws. The Buhisan Watershed Area is covered by the Cebu Landscape Protection Act of 2008 and so under their jurisdiction.
2Metropolitan Cebu Water District. A quasi-government body established to distribute water to the whole of Metro Cebu and some parts of Cebu Province. MCWD operates a dam in Buhisan.

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