Tuesday, December 27, 2011

POEM #6: Going to Mount Babag

Napo is where I start for the true
      path to Mount Babag.
Some say it should be from Busay.
I doubt at the latter and I shrink
      at the thought.
I don't like walking on paved roads.

Anyone who walks at a trail
      finds meaning and
      good exercise.
Listen to the watery laughter
      of Sapangdaku river.
Birds flutter by, here and there;
Smile as a ripe mango sways by
      as you reach for the sky.

An old spring refreshes you
      in Lower Kahugan.
Walk another level and bathe
      at the hidden falls
      of Busay Lut-od.
Green coconuts tastes sweet
      lying idle on a bamboo bench
      beneath a Java plum tree.
Freedom pervades in the air.

Take your pick to Babag Ridge:
      the difficult East Ridge Pass?
      or the easy Babag Ridge Road?
Once you are on the ridgeline
      gawk at the sprawling city
      and the scattered islands.
Meanwhile, pitch your tent and
      spend a night at Manwel's Peak.

Monday, December 19, 2011


2011 WAS ANOTHER BANNER YEAR for Tactical Security and Detective Agency, Inc. It had maintained its momentum despite some minor setbacks borne out of financial difficulties experienced by some of its clients. It is the year of the rabbit and it favored the eagle. The eagle is our logo and it is two-headed like the mythical Roman deity Janus.

The year 2011 saw Tactical Security more than double its guard strength when the new owners acquired it in January 2008 as it snared juicy contracts from all comers: through connections, by word of mouth or through the Internet. Tactical Security do not maintain a paid subscription though but has a free Multiply account and a Facebook page that is under construction.

So, it boils down to performance, branding and credibility of its existence that people and businesses take notice of. Do you want to know the secret? You know what? Tactical Security takes care of its people – ITS FRONTLINERS – the security guards. We do not do a Houdini upon our payroll nor do we exact unethical and systematic deceptions upon our guards. It is the stronghold of inept and third-rate security agencies. 

Tactical Security believes in karma and it owed its existence to the Creator and Beginner of Life. It had ridden the back of a tiger for a long time but it had seen a crossroads wherein the tiger will be weakened and it is a time for Tactical Security to soar higher. It had soared high beyond its wildest dreams and it is intoxicating but we maintain a level head, our history rooted to the ground.

We could not deny that our individual security guards and many detachments are our showcase to the market and we deem it proper that we bestow recognition upon them. It is a tradition that Tactical Security have practiced for three years running: the awarding of Best Detachments; the Best Head Guards and Shifts-in-Charge; and Special Awards for deserving security guards who, in their tour of duty, perform exemplary service.

The day is December 8, 2011 and Tactical Security is up all ears to commend the following detachments and individuals:

CATEGORY A (28+ Guards)

Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center

CATEGORY B (20-27 Guards)

Cebu International Convention Center

CATEGORY C (13-19 Guards)

Province of Cebu comprising of:
Museo Sugbu
DA Compound
Provincial Engineering Office
Fuente Osmeña Property

CATEGORY D (8-12 Guards)

Province of Cebu - Balili Beach Property


HG Rogelio Rojas, Balili Beach Property
HG Joseph Varga, Sugbu-Gawad Kalinga Village
HG Servillano Angcay Jr, Cebu Provincial Capitol
HG Paulino Lacandula, Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu
HG Noel Villacarlos, Museo Sugbu


SIC Luke Carniga III, Cebu International Convention Center
SIC Ruel Manlosa, Cebu South Bus Terminal
SIC Rene Anduyan, Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu
SIC Eugene Cinto, Cebu International Convention Center
SIC Ranilo Renedo, Banilad Town Center


SG Samuel Carreon Jr, Cebu Country Club
SG Luke Carniga III, Cebu International Convention Center
SG Marlon Villaganas, ThreeSixty Pharmacy-Legaspi/Colon Branch
SG Lloyd Bernard Ricaplaza, Cebu South Bus Terminal
SG Ruel Manlosa, Cebu South Bus Terminal
SG Julius Abapo, Tactical Security Headquarters
SG James Barazon, Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center
SG Rogelio Lanoy, Gateway Motors (Cebu), Inc.-KIA Talisay

Each element of every detachment and each individual awardee receive prizes for their achievements. Aside that, every guard not mentioned above and detailed in each post spread out in every breadth and reach of Tactical Security receive a small token. Not only that, Tactical Security remembered their fallen comrades and we go out of our way to personally carry gifts to their surviving families north and south of Cebu.

I wonder if other security agencies would do the Tactical way? I know of just a few and Tactical Security appreciate their efforts to treat their frontliners in the same way we do and even more. For our undertakings (and those agencies that care of their security guards), we reap. I hope the rest of the security industry do the same.

As of this writing, the Province of Cebu have reduced 111 guards as part of their austerity measures. Likewise, one of our oldest clients, Total Bulk Corp., decide to end our services due to economic constraints. Our consolation comes from winning the public bidding for the 79-guard strength of the The Philippine Amusement Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) and retention of the Pag-IBIG Fund after a heated contest and gained for us ten more seats.

In the different fields, PRI Solutions, Inc., have taken trust with our brand of service despite minor setbacks and offers of sub-sea level prices from competitors, as we continue to supply security for each branch opened. Amidst those, other big detachments from the private sectors have cemented and renewed contracts with Tactical Security, as well as yanking out new contracts in our way.

To enhance our service, Tactical Security have contracted independent contractors to teach our people how to properly operate radios which the National Telecommunications Commission handled (complete with license and permits); how to detect and apprehend criminals which the Theft and Robbery Section of the Cebu City Police Office taught; and how to become a responsible gun user which Warrior Pilgrimage have shown in the different firing ranges.

At the end of the day, all the above factors conspire to draw out the good results that you would have desired in your endeavour. We pursued excellence and worked hard for it and it is there pouring. It is a given in every management objective and strategy but we have not realized it coming ten-fold. 

You know? Without faith in God, it goes out for naught. Be sensible and make the best of your guards by giving them more than what they deserve. Do not make milking cows of them at their expense and exact undue abuse at them in return of their subservience. Treat your frontliners as your own family. It is the best way and the ONLY way.

Document done in Libre Office 3

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


WHEN DECEMBER COMES, a festive feeling hangs in the air. For us Christians, it ushers in the remembrance of the birth of the child Jesus which we celebrate every December 25th of each year. When December comes here in Cebu City, we love to remember also the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the eighth and partake of the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the twelfth.

When December do come in my place where there is a little chapel by the banks of the Lahug Creek, I and the rest of my small neighborhood prepare something for the coming of the feast of our patron – Saint Lucia. It falls every December 13 and my neighborhood had been observing her day since 1979. So you may know, St. Lucia is patron saint for the blind. Let me tell you a short story:

It is such a special day for me and my family for St. Lucia had been one of the blessed ones that had been petitioned by the mother of my late grandfather – for healing - when he was stricken with German measles as a child that caused him blindness. That was in 1901 when the Americans came to colonize the Philippine archipelago and the native population have no means to protect themselves from the introduced exotic diseases.

Now, back to the present. As is the custom of every Filipino borne out of gratitude and remembrance for the Creator, I decide to prepare food for my guests and of my youngest son's guests. As you see, my son – Cherokee – will celebrate his birthday on December 14 and I resolved to have his birthday celebration be held in advance instead to coincide with the feast of St. Lucia. 

My wife, Vilma, did all the cooking of calderetta (tomato-based goat soup), paklay (goat innards), humba (braised pork), fried chicken drumsticks, macaroni salad, spaghetti and rice with some help from daughter, Lovella. My neighbors, Berting and Agnie, meanwhile, did the slaughtering of a live goat right on my backyard in the morning as my grandchild, Gabriel, earnestly watched nearby from a swinging hammock. 

My neighbors were preparing some parlor games at the chapel as I was leaving for work at 8:00 AM. When I got back at 6:30 PM, a holy mass done at the chapel is about to end and the priest was now announcing for the baptismal rites of new Christians and is asking for the parents and godparents to come forward. My heart leaped with joy when I heard this and stayed a while to watch the ritual.

When I got home, daughter Laila is already there with husband Chokie and son Kurt and niece Roann. Grandson Jarod is playing a game on my laptop with Gabe beside him. Cherokee arrived shortly with two classmates and they just came from a retreat seminar at the Holy Family Retreat House in Nivel Hills. My sister, Aileen, came alone from work and waited for daughters Denise Gael and Via.

My eldest son, Charlemagne, got home together with girlfriend Christy and presented Cherokee with a cake. My mother Marietta arrived together with Denise Gael and Via; sister Genevieve with daughter Alyanna; sister-in-law Beth with sons Kevin and King Ivan; and all came from Lahug.

After dinner, the talks flowed among the ladies as they watched Amaya on prime time TV while the young 'uns tinker with their gadgets. For me and Chokie, aside from busy shooting pictures, we shared a bottle of local brandy mixed with soda energy drink and ice. 

The procession passed by my house and my mother is quite elated to see her former neighbors again. Then the fireworks lit the night sky as me, King Ivan and Gabe stood on a small bridge to watch the spectacle. When the guests leave, I spend the rest of the day with Vilma and Gringo in a lively talk. Lovella, Gabe and Jarod are all upstairs while Cherokee decide to join his neighbors in a disco near the chapel.

Document done in Libre Office 3

Monday, December 5, 2011

MAN-SIZED HIKE SERIES: Lutopan to Guadalupe III

THIS IS THE THIRD TIME that I will be leading men from Lutopan, Toledo City to Guadalupe, Cebu City. This is a cross-country activity over the widest part of Cebu and it will be 36-40 kilometers long and following mainly the Mananga River of over, probably, twelve hours of hiking.

This is the route that I have discovered on February 20, 2011 and which I repeated with six others on April 23. This day in August 25 is different from the first and second episode. First, because it comes at a time when there is a tropical cyclone – Typhoon Ramon – entering the Philippine area of responsibility.

And secondly, this is the initial event for the newly-refurbished Camp Red1 and the young bloods will be attempting for the first time this man-sized hike with me. Four of the guys have not been on to this kind of activity before and that is a situation that I will give consideration to.

Aside me, guest Jerry Pescadero of ALPS-M have certain experience to approximate mine while the rest are still newbies when you are talking about a long-range day hike. Glenn Pestaño, Raymund Panganiban and Jhurds Neo carry extra weight while Jon Ducay is slight of build but he carries a heavy camera.

I am looking out for the well-being of my party at a time when weather and clime are its worst. My experience and aptitude will be tested once again and, just like before with my other activities, I will tow the party to safety and exhilaration. I have seen this thing before but this is different. I will be the ones who will be excited at this prospect at the end of the trail.

Yes, did I mention a trail? Hopefully, I will name this route soon. What name? That will be the privilege of the discoverer. But, first things first.

I arrive at the assembly area at 4:00 AM. I am a proponent of the “new” Filipino time and I need to be at the place an hour ahead. One by one, the participants arrive until we decide to board a bus for Lutopan at 6:30 AM.

What bad luck! This is the same bus that I have ridden twice before on this trip! The kung fu movie on the small screen and the 20 KPH drag are its trademark. Besides that, it keeps on picking up passengers along the way until people are found on the roofs for lack of standing space inside. Fortunately for me, I chose the front seat and I was not inconvenienced.

We arrive at the Lutopan Public Market at 8:00 AM and we immediately find something to eat for breakfast. After that, we pool money to buy food provisions for lunch. It is a long way and we are already behind schedule so we decide to hire motorcycles-for-hire to close the gap.

We arrive at Camp 7, a mountain village of Minglanilla, and walk our way to Sinsin, a mountain village of Cebu City, via this tree-lined stretch of the Manipis Road. It is very peaceful and the boys are quite excited about the prospect of cutting across the wide breadth of Cebu island.

When we arrive at Sinsin, I brief them about the route and the weather situation. I did not raise their hopes but give them a realistic alternative in case the Mananga River becomes a life-threatening beast. I designated the different escape routes and evacuation areas and everybody agreed to follow my decisions, come what may.

Our next destination would be Buot-Taup, another out-of-the-way village of Cebu City that is found by the banks of the Bonbon and the Mananga. We follow the unpaved road and several runners on training pass by us as we take a right turn on another (but very rough) road that goes down and down.

The road surface is blistered by the recent rains. Deep furrows were dug by water and several stones were unearthed and caused ordinary walking a very exciting activity instead. I don't mind these but I thought about those runners. What if they run here? I'm tempted to run but the better of me objected. I don't want the guys behind me to feel “abandoned”.

Even so, Jerry followed me like a shadow and I have to slow down a couple of times to give the other guys time to catch up. Up ahead is a small stream that pass under the road. There is a switchback trail there that goes all the way to the Mananga River. Jerry and I waited for the others here and it is 10:15 AM.

Walking now in single file, we reach the river and it is not swollen nor it is in brown color. Fine, but I wouldn't trust appearances. Rivers are very deceptive. At any instant, water will surge at you from out of nowhere even on a hot day! I have seen it happen many times.

We walk downstream, crossing several fords. My senses, however, are attuned to the slightest change of sound or current or water level of the river and I keep looking back trying to assure myself that it is alright. The weather is very cloudy but without no trace of rain and quite breezy. A perfect weather!

Then I sense something wrong about the riverscape. Wide craters are found everywhere hiding those sinister shovels and big sand strainers within. Quarrying of sand, gravel and stones are very blatant here and nobody is enforcing environmental laws. A group of three men even have the gall to prop up a 20-foot mountain of sand in the middle of the riverbed!

But the biggest harm to the environment comes from the riverbank-clearing operations of these cockroaches. They are not contented anymore quarrying on the riverbed and have concentrated their illegal work on the banks and hillsides, dislocating and uprooting a number of fully-grown trees and coconuts. Not only that, the river becomes hazardous to human travel because of potential landslides.

This is a problem that needs to be solved fast by the government. The increase in population have taken its toll on the river. Aside from quarrying, human waste and household sewage threatened the life-giving attribute of the Mananga. Then there is the local candle-nut industry whose residues are thrown on the river and it stinks.

We reach a place where there is a water source at 11:15 AM and opt to rest there and do cooking. I'm glad that my companions are all mangeurs de lard and that simplify my menu: pork adobo. It is alright as long as I don't use MSG and those “ginisa mix” on my food. For flavoring, I would rely more on soy sauce and cane vinegar and enhance the taste with green pepper. Aside that, I also cook milled corn on an almost-empty butane tank.

After a very brief siesta, we move once again for our destination. It is 1:00 PM and we have not reached yet the halfway point. Up ahead is Camp 4, a village which is part of Talisay City. I need to reach there before three so I hasten our pace disregarding the scenery for speed. I arrive at 2:20 PM.

At a jumble of large stones underneath an acacia tree, I prepared myself for a change of terrain and scenery by wringing my new Rivers hike boots and my pair of wet socks of water. This place is the halfway point and it stands on the southern edge of the Babag Mountain Range. From hereon, we will be treading on home ground – Cebu City.

But we need to negotiate Cabatbatan Trail so that's why I am ridding myself of excess weight like water on my shoes and socks. It's also the best time to examine each and everyone's feet condition, especially Glenn. He is not wearing a proper pair of shoes for heavy-duty walking and I know our feet have suffered much getting wet walking on the Mananga and inviting lots of sand and tiny pebbles inside.

Exhausted yet excited, the guys seem to get well with and among themselves. Despite having an average weight of 85 kilos, they paced faster than the previous two groups that I have had the honor to lead here. Cabatbatan Trail will change all that as the route start from river level and just climb and climb steeply for about five hundred meters until you reach a ridge.

I lead the climb while Jerry, Jon, Raymund, Jhurds and Glenn follow me in that order. Your rhythm will change complexion here and so will your skin tone. Breathing is very important here and it should be done in consonance with your footsteps so you will maintain your bearing and focus.

This trail is very unkind to burly guys as well as to those that have evaded exercise for so long. By purpose, I make a slow stride to accommodate even contestants for The Biggest Loser2 and constantly keep my eye on those that are lagging far behind. I am kind today and I make several stops so everyone could recover their breath.

I need not worry about Raymund, Jhurds and Glenn and the rest of the team for, at the end of this trail, there is a store that sell the only cold drinks between Sinsin and a small community in Bocawe five kilometers ahead. Just the mere mention of it will raise everyone's hope and they will hasten their pace. You will see!

After crossing the last of the Bocawe Creek, I lead them to the store but it is closed. Everyone were dismayed. I just need to raise their hopes a little bit further to offset their thirst and their fatigue especially now that the path we will be following keeps on ascending and ascending although it is a road. Half of it are unpaved and half are concreted but this is home ground and somewhere over every rise lay a little assurance.

When everyone douse their thirst in Bocawe, it is already 4:30 PM. We need to tackle the last rise before taking another rest at Pamutan where there is a lone police outpost. We arrive at the road junction and, this time, we will walk the rest of the distance downhill. It starts to get dark and everyone retrieve their head lamps.

I also retrieve my small old-school flashlight which I lash to a head band made of cord but I prefer my natural night vision for my navigation. When we arrive at Baksan, we abandon the road and use the trail to cut distance between here and Guadalupe. I find no difficulty finding my way around among trails and I look back at the rest of the pack and they're quite excited with their lights bobbing in the dark.

Along the trail, a black object cross my path. Locals use black PVC pipes to divert water from natural springs into their homes but I doubt that the black straight thing is a water pipe. It's just too thick. I switch on my light and I discover a good-sized python travelling in slow-motion unmindful of my close presence. I call Glenn to share with what I just found and leave them all behind.

From my forward position, I could hear agitated voices from behind me and some hurried footsteps. Hahaha. Encountering wildlife at close range is ordinary with bushcraft and survival. It's either the creature escape or it becomes part of your diet. At this time, I am not interested and the snake is free to go.

After a half-hour among the forest trail, the ridge becomes clear and my eyes feasted on the sparkle and glimmer of the metropolitan lights at a different angle. This is my first time to see this spectacle at this point of view and it is beautiful. I needn't need of my flashlight anymore as the city lights reflect on the thick clouds overhead illuminating the path in an eery red tinge.

We finally arrive at Guadalupe at 6:30 PM. The boys were spent out with the long hike and, one by one, they disappear until only Jhurds and me were left to talk about the just-concluded event. These are good guys and some of them will be the new nucleus of Camp Red. I have finally found the right people and the possibilities hereon are endless.

Document done in Libre Office 3
1An Cebu-based outdoor group which specializes in bushcraft & survival.
2A reality-TV show about a weight-reducing contest.

Friday, December 2, 2011

KERYGMA CONFERENCE 2011: Glory 2 Glory

AFTER WAITING FOR a year, the Kerygma Conference (or KCON 2011) had finally arrived again in Cebu. Coming back is Bro. Bo Sanchez and the rest of the Kerygma Preachers. They, and all the rest of the technical staffs from Shepherd's Voice, shall converge in one house that is the Waterfront International Hotel on November 26, 2011.

This year's theme is GLORY TO GLORY. The Light of Jesus Servant Community of Cebu had been moving heaven and earth for this and mobilized all their members to accommodate this special event which happens just once a year besides propping up and serving the Kerygma Feast which is held every month at the Sacred Heart Center.

Celebrating the Holy Mass again is Fr. John Iaccono. During his homily he touched on the preservation of life and spoke out against the proponents of the Reproductive Health Bill as anti-life. I agree with Fr. John.

For the third straight year, I am invited again to attend and serve in KCON as a volunteer. For the years 2009 and 2010, I have been tasked to secure KCON. But, this time, my task is more complex as it is broad. Eight people are under my bidding and supervision. Four at the venue and four following the itinerary of Bro. Bo.

Coming back also to serve and part of my team are Marco Albeza of Camp Red and Eugene Abarquez of Pundok Habagat. Joining them are Camp Red's Laertes Ocampo and Glenn Pestaño. I get my team of volunteers from the outdoors people. However, there are other concerns which need to be addressed and I contracted four guards from Tactical Security & Detective Agency, Inc.

Together with Bro. Boy Dy, I and my four subalterns fetched Bro. Bo from the Mactan-Cebu International Airport at 3:30 PM of November 25 and tailed behind him going to Park Mall for a meet-up with the KCON Marketing Team. After that, we proceed to SM City and then to Ayala Mall where a dinner was served at Cafe Laguna. The day ended at the Waterfront.

KCON formally started at 9:30 AM and ended at 6:00 PM. Bro. Bo took two sessions for the book signing before leaving Cebu for Manila. I did not have a camera this time unlike last year where I am able to document the whole KCON, but, fortunately, my sister-in-law Beth took many shots of me behind Bro. Bo during a book-signing session. I believe it is a blessing to serve in KCON and to shake hands with Bro. Bo.

See you again on the next KCON.

Document done in Libre Office 3
Photos courtesy of Beth de Egurrola