Wednesday, May 25, 2011
THE KIA PRIDE IS already in its place by the time I walk into the parking lot of the Our Lady of Guadalupe of Cebu Parish at 6:30 in the morning of December 5, 2010. Ah, it's good to know that Boy Toledo is here and, I know, he is inside the church right now to hear of the Holy Mass. And I know also that he will pray for our safety and the success of our activity.
I am expecting Ernie Salomon to arrive later and, perhaps, Wil Rhys-Davies and Professor Marco Albeza. They came except Jungle Wil. Ernie and Marco are in high adrenaline mode today. Blame it to last night's very inspiring activity – the Kerygma Conference 2010. Held at the Waterfront Hotel, they serve as volunteers in securing the event under me. Plus, they were privileged to hear the message of Jesus and be near with Brother Bo Sanchez.
Okay. This is the third straight week that we will visit the Roble family up there in the foothills of the Babag Mountain Range. We were there on November 21 and on the 28th. As I have done before, I carry my usual 50-peso worth of bread to Manwel, Juliet and Josel. You know what, I could go there everyday and need not worry of the monotony. The act of giving and sharing inspires me!
It is already 8:30 AM when we start from Guadalupe. We follow the hard road to Napo in Sapangdaku. Yes, we walk instead of riding. We don't cheat ourselves and it is good. A long warm-up walk before a climb prevents injury. Besides, that's why people call our kind as hikers, backpackers, mountain climbers and so on. Yes, we are like that, but more. We prefer to be called bushcrafters.
By 9:15 AM, we cross the Sapangdaku River after a brief rest at Napo. It is a hot day and we suffer for this because we start late. Along the trail, I parted five used books to a family living nearby the river and, further away, I collected four camias1 fruit to mix with Boy T's fresh seaweed that he carried. I arrive first at the Roble homestead at eleven.
Instantly, I recycle the bamboo pot I used last week in cooking the milled corn. The other segment is unopened and unused so, I bore a hole with my tomahawk and survival knife. With my hatchet, I chop and slice to pieces firewood for my fire. Then with two pieces of dry bamboo, I rub one with the other to make fire after I scrape the smaller of the two for tinder.
Tried many times but the magic wasn't there anymore and it is almost twelve noon. I decide to light the tinder with a lighter and, from there, my fire roared to life under the bamboo pot. Elsewhere, Ernie and Marco are busy slicing spices and vegetables for our viand while Boy T is cooking a back-up milled corn inside a conventional pot. Viand is mixed vegetable, stirred and fried, and steamed seaweeds dipped in spiced vinegar.
Now, cooking on a bamboo pot is not easy as it may seem. Remember that bamboo is not impervious to fire unlike aluminum and stainless-steel and you have to use good common sense in managing the cooking fire just hot enough to cook through the woody chamber yet cool enough to leave the underside whole and intact. One more thing, it takes so long to cook something inside of a bamboo pot if you don't use your head. Today, under my watch, I cook it in just under 50 minutes.
We start our lunch ten minutes before one in the afternoon after a brief prayer by Marco. Boiled sweet potato were also added to our meal, as well as a half-ripe papaya, sliced and dipped in vinegar, and two cans of Spanish hot sardines. Later, Fele Roble opened four green coconuts for dessert and that bloated our tummies. Well, after that, we reclined on the bamboo benches and savor the cool breeze.
Some moment later, two youths arrive and carry an odd-looking rifle. I thought it is just a toy due to the blue- and orange-colored plastic components like the barrel, trigger and what seem to be a forestock. Yes, these things were made of PVC. These were attached to wood and, you know what, this rifle shoot glass marbles at a distance of 25 meters through ignition of a sprayed denature alcohol into the forestock-like gas chamber. The trigger houses an electronic ignitor of an ordinary lighter. That's Filipino ingenuity for you! A Filipino is a natural bushcrafter, don't you think?
We leave the Roble homestead at almost three in the afternoon but, before leaving, the Robles let us bring ten pieces of pomelo from their farm. These were the tree's first fruits and I carry four inside my almost empty backpack and It is quite heavy as it is the size of bowling marble balls. Another, I carry in my hand and juggle it as I tarry along the homeward trail.
We reach Guadalupe at four and proceed right away to a monthly meeting of the Cebu Mountaineering Society. After the meeting, Boy T, Ernie and I went back to Guadalupe and finish our day in our favorite watering hole called “Camp Red”.
Happy bushcrafting day!
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Saturday, May 21, 2011
MERELY MY OPINION (and soon to be renamed as WARRIOR PILGRIMAGE) will be attending the 2nd Cebu Blog Camp on May 28, 2011. The engine behind this blog, PinoyApache, will be there to represent this site along with its niche.
This is an event that come only once in each year and this is a good opportunity to hobnob with fellow local bloggers, notably from Cebu and the rest of the Visayas. Hopefully, bloggers from Mindanao and Luzon would come as guests as they did last year.
To recall, MMO joined the 1st Cebu Blog Camp last year which was then held at the CAP Arts Center near Fuente Osmeña. This time the Camp will be held at the Sacred Heart Center along Jakosalem Street. This is an undertaking of the Cebu Bloggers and the Philippine Blog Awards and MMO will support this endeavor as a participant.
The theme for this year is “LEARNING NEW SKILLS, EXPERIENCE NEW THRILLS”.
Below is the media blitz for CBC 2011 concocted by the organizers:
The Cebu Blog Camp Team has once again organized the biggest gathering of bloggers in Cebu. One of the most sought after blogging related event(s) of the year, the Cebu Blog Camp is a whole day event where bloggers, interact, network and learn.
This biggest gathering of bloggers in Cebu will happen this May 28, 2011 in the Sacred Heart Center @ St. Joseph’s Hall. Registration is free* and is open to any blogger who can be present on the blog camp itself.
For this year’s theme the blog camp will focus on developing skills related to blogging such as Photography, Travelling, and Social Media Marketing.
The blog camp will be a day of meeting new friends, reconnecting with old ones, learning new skills, or sharpening old ones and many more surprises.
What to bring?
- Camera** (digital/DSLR, any would do)
- Notebook and Pen
- Official Invite (printed) for the event proper
So what are you waiting for? Head on over to our Registration page on the link located in our side bar and get registered! We only have 163*** slots left!! Tell your friends!
THE CEBU BLOG CAMP 2011
is co-presented by
Media and Institution Partners
Official Web Browser
Official TV Media Partner
Official Online Print Media
Official Photo-Social Media Partner
Academy for International Culinary Arts
(*Registration is moderated, please follow registration instructions)
(***As of May 19, 2011)
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Saturday, May 14, 2011
IN MY PRIME DURING the early '90s, I have climbed the Babag Mountain Range only four times. I laugh at the thought as I reminisce. That's a far cry from what I am doing now as a mere old man: twenty-four times a year. That's twice a month!
Do I feel good? Obviously, YES! I not only perspire a lot but I have increased my resistance to cold and heat and fatigue threefold! Besides, I could do it alone. Rain or shine. Day or night. I can go it slow or I could go it fast. It doesn't matter. I just carry the barest minimum and raincoats or jackets, headlights or any specialized gears are not part of what I carry. What I cannot carry, I compensate with my head.
I am not a light backpacker but a budget bushcrafter. This mountain range is the only one I could afford and this is my backyard. It has all the trail elements that you look for in other places and I could assure you that you will begin to believe that you are in another mountain. It only takes a positive mindset with the courage to navigate new routes and the persistence to repeat the process over and over again. Just walk with me. Or run.
Approaching middle age, I am still here and how many of my peers have gone from the local outdoors scene for good? They are many. They're still practicing wishful thinking. Their mindsets have been built on spectacular climbs of this place and that place in the past and that they cannot get out of it unless they reinvent themselves. Me, I just spend THIRTY PESOS of loose change to climb a mountain called Babag.
It's not the mountain itself that prod me to go back in a flurry of mind-boggling repetitions. It is the people itself. I see people do backbreaking work in the field for so little. My mere passing elicit me empathy as I pursue my personal agenda of recreation and fun amidst the difficulty of the times. A smile from a sweaty brow is enough for me as I unload a cache of used textbooks and bread. Books are heavy but I won't mind.
For just a little sum, your soul is uplifted as you go to a difficult terrain to part something. And when you have a healthy spirit, everything follows. Even your footfalls are light leaving no trace of your passing. People, mountains, trees and all living creatures make up this world and I enjoy being there almost every weekend perfecting my craft!
I have helped made Mount Babag climb-friendly again with my blog articles and volumes of pictures documenting my activities for the past three years and many people notice that and they go there every weekend as a result. I recommend the mountain everytime I receive a client calling for a trail guide at the more popular peaks of Cebu. Most of them have tight schedules and they enjoy the luxury of time after climbing Mt. Babag as well as saving a lot of their budget.
For two years, the Babag Mountain Range have hosted the Philippine Freedom Climb in Cebu organized by FIMO, Inc. Two camping sites are always designated. One, at the bigger camping ground above the former Swiss Chalet Restaurant and the other at Manwel's Peak. The latter is smaller and could accommodate, at the most, nine tents but is much safer. The lesser the campers, the lesser its impact on the environment.
The former can be reached via the Babag Ridge Road from Upper Busay. And because of its accessibility, many weekend campers go there by motorcycles or by foot and had been used by certain outdoor clubs that tolerate excessive drunkenness and new-age practices which, in turn, led to petty crimes, quarrels and illicit sex. Worse, the local residents there have turned against the visitors by robbing them of valuables as a result of their disrespectful behaviour. Such unethical activities have given a bad name to the Babag Mountain Range.
The third installment of Freedom Climb will be held on June 11-12, 2011 and the organizers are aiming for the Guinness Book of World Records by inviting as many participants as possible to break the record held by England. I do not wish to be a part of that. I just want the Babag Mountain Range to be free from publicity-hungry organizers who don't give respect to the environment or to the inhabitants. Go elsewhere instead and leave the mountain alone.
It is enough that the hillsides are subjected to the abuse of slash-and-burn farming done by impoverished residents where a finely-tuned tree-planting program could help address its regeneration, just don't add her misery with this unwanted activity that do nothing except promote your organization and give recognition to your local counterpart who does nothing but keep on bleeding gullible climbers at your expense and to the detriment of the environment as well. You have poor eyesight and could not see beyond the real picture.
Again, I will not be part of any mass-climbing activity. I will not add my footprint, if it could be noticed, to a trail that will be trod upon by more than a hundred pairs of threaded hiking boots. Be considerate to the environment and forego of that Guinness thing. It is not worth it.
Document done in OpenOffice 3.3 Writer
Saturday, May 7, 2011
IT IS TEN IN THE morning and it is so hot by the time we leave the cool cavern that is the Waterfront Hotel in Lahug, Cebu City. The WE are no other than cousins Jay de Paula, Albert Lavilles and me. Staying behind is Aunt Lourdes, Albert's mother. She has special visitors today – my mom Marietta and my aunt Evangeline, Jay's mama.
Albert is a naturalized Australian of Cebuano origin and I last saw him in the early '90s and that was a long long time ago. Since then he visits Cebu every now and then and I just can't cross paths with him. Not until today – November 22, 2010. Our meeting is already arranged by Jay's sister, Coy. It is very important for Albert to visit Carbon Market. Taking pictures of markets and places that are exotic to his adopted country is his passion and I am tasked to guide him there as well as protect his person and camera.
On the other hand, Jay is a frustrated basketball star, having shined his behind on the bench of the Santa Lucia basketball club. Not the pro club, pardon me, but a grassroots team somewhere in Barangay Tinago. But, despite possessing a pair of arthritic knees, Jay could do a Michael Jordan pirouette during a fastbreak or do a Tim Hardaway crossover dribble above the arc. Yeah, I'm telling the truth. Honest. And he will add his brawn today.
Anyways, we did go to the Carbon Market. But, first, I insist that we drop by at the Cebu Heritage Park in Pari-an. It is the first time that Albert saw the monument designed by the famous Filipino sculptor Reynaldo Castrillo. A short walk brought Albert to the Yap-San Diego Ancestral House at the corner of Mabini and Lopez Jaena streets.
Then we transfer to Freedom Park. Sitting right across is my alma mater (and of Jay's too) - the University of San Jose-Recoletos. Freedom Park is not a park anymore and it is converted to a dry market where you could buy flower bouquets, native crafts, cabinets, cribs, juju medicine, second-hand RTWs, etc. We cross a street and ogle at the stall lining the former Warwick Barracks with its wares of home-made hearths and lanterns, giant tansan1 basins, slippers and those things made in China.
We took a left turn to Escaño Street nearby the VECO Power Plant and Albert kept on putting pressure on his camera button and shoot whatever that took his fancy: poultry eggs, fresh seaweeds, laundry dyes, alum, peddlers, stalls, tobacco leaves, fighting spiders, etc. We cross MC Briones Street and go inside the wet market designated by city administrators as UNIT I.
I disdain visiting the wet market of Carbon because of filth and dirt but, today, it is a different matter. The unsightly makeshift stalls have been removed and fresh air could now move freely so it doesn't stink anymore. The floorings have been tiled and there is a semblance of hygiene. We saw a squad of market administrators doing their inspection rounds. That is fine. Former city mayor Tomas Osmeña did a good job overhauling Carbon.
The meat stalls are now more orderly and stall owners are much more organized. Greeting our eyes were small production shops, on the stalls themselves, of local sausages, known as chorizo. People are grinding pork meat, some are mixing spices and dye on the ground meat while others were stuffing the meat into cellulose-like intestines and tying a string around each segment and finally display the finished product!
Moving on, we saw more of the different red meat for sale like beef and goat; chicken were a-plenty too. What's interesting with these vendors selling meat and chicken is that nothing is wasted. Meaning the skins, the heads, paws, lungs and other innards, intestines, claws, the tails, the blood and anything in between can still be sold for there are many many ways how people cook it. We Cebuanos are very good at using these animal parts into something of a specialty. Yes, for every part there is a different way to cook.
Then on a neighboring section, fish, sea shells, crabs and prawns are sold. Rabbit fish, white mackerel, yellow-fin tuna are very common. Mussels and clams also. I could name a lot of fish and shellfish in Cebuano dialect but I am at a loss of how to give its English version. Haha... Anyways, Albert did get his shots of the sea critters that will soon be food on someone else's dining table. Now time to move on the other side of Carbon Market, this time to UNIT II.
This second building is dedicated to fruits and vegetables. Green and half-ripe mangoes of Guadalupe are so plentiful. Citrus fruits, coconuts and root crops too like sweet potatoes, taro, cassava, greater yam, ginger, carrots, radish and peanuts. Amidst all these are cabbage, breadfruit, spring onions, Malabar nightshades, sweet potato tops, cucumber, string beans, taro hearts, swamp radish, cayenne, bell peppers, camias2, soursop, tamarind, melon and Mambajao lanzones3. Albert didn't miss them all, it's still part of his system.
Now, we retrace our route and take a pee at a public toilet in Freedom Park. Despite the frequent washings and cosmetic appearance, the urine odor stuck to the wall, the tiles, the ceiling, the fluorescent bulbs, the electrical wires, even on our clothes, hair and nostrils. It stink! On the tiled floor is an orphaned brief that used to have an owner. Held my breath for as long as I could and I got my own version of the Guinness record for myself.
Thankful to get rid from that claustrophobic wetbox, I towed Albert and Jay to Magallanes Street and pushed them up and inside a horse-drawn carriage locally known as the tartanilla. The cart creaked and rocked as we settled in the wee seats where our knees crossed and touched each other's crotch then the jockey say something to the horse and it made a slow U-turn towards Tabo-an Market – our last destination.
Right after crossing Forbes Bridge and taking a right turn to B. Aranas Street, the tartanilla took on an easy roll. The steel shoe make a clop-clop-clop sound on the hot asphalt pavement and it is almost noontime. We cross busy C. Padilla Street and the horse showed consistency and discipline in evading careening vehicles and slowing down on street corners through the tug of the reins. All this time, I took a video from our starting point until the cart stopped infront of a dried-fish store. Word of caution: Do not do this if you are not street-smart.
I don't know how to eat dried fish and my palate is not in good terms with it. But today I am overwhelmed by the different types, colors and shapes of dried fishes. In one basket is a heap of anchovies; on another is a tinier variety. Over there is rabbitfish or “danggit” - everybody's favorite. Some basket contain dried-fish, tapa-style; while others contain either “toloy”, “mangsi” or “bodboron”. I see strange varieties of fishes, salted and dried. Over one corner is my favorite – the “pusit” or dried squid; right beside it is another dried-squid variety and another basket is full of dried shrimp.
Hanging on a post are dried tentacles of octopuses and dried skins of large fishes packed inside of plastic. Stacked neatly are bottles of pasted shellfish, sea urchins, crab, tiny shrimps and tiny fish. The place is swarmed by a sinister fish odor that is strangely pleasant and acceptable for humans on this side of the globe. I see Albert having a relapse of his asthma and sinusitis but Jay is enjoying this gastronomic delight. Me? I badly need a cold drink.
We could have spent more time were Albert have a day or two of stay; and he needs rest too. He and his mom just came from Labason, Zamboanga del Norte; a far-away place that takes a day of travel. Yes. But, for less than three hours, I have achieved more than what he has done visiting Cebu by himself or with another through the years!
By ten before twelve, we were now inside a taxi cruising back to the hotel. I drop by my place and that ended the less than three hours of the old-city market tours that produce valuable images for Albert. Enjoy the ride.
Document done in OpenOffice 2.1 Writer
Images courtesy of Albert Lavilles
1Cebuano for tin bottle caps.
Sunday, May 1, 2011
CAMP RED IS CLIMBING to the foothills of the Babag Mountain Range today, November 28, 2010. Today is no ordinary day. Fele Roble, Manwel's father, will be celebrating his 39th birthday. This is the reason why Camp Red will be there – to lend support and more. Yes, something like bushcraft activities and overnight stay.
I arrive at twelve noon on the front parking area of the Our Lady of Guadalupe of Cebu Parish and, several minutes later, Ernie Salomon arrived then Jamez and, last to come, Boy Toledo with his KIA Pride. We leave Guadalupe at two in the afternoon. Boy T is generous enough to give us a ride to Napo, our jump-off point, and save us the trouble of walking on a hot pavement.
I bring my Habagat Viajero for this occasion. Inside it were my Apexus tent, my Korean-made sleeping bag, my heavy-duty Maglite with four size D batteries, two kilos of milled corn, cook set, stove, clothes and my tomahawk in its special case. Added also were two bottles of 750-cc local brandy and four bottles of 350-cc commercial energy drink. Well, if you ask me how much it all weigh, I reckon it is more than ten kilos. Probably, 12-and-a-half kilos.
It is a hot afternoon. After Boy T parked his car in Napo, we cross the river right away and follow the meandering trail beside the Sapangdaku River. I am ruthless today and I exert a fast pace. I arrive at the Lower Kahugan Spring in thirty-two minutes. Five minutes later, Ernie and the rest arrive one after the other. I toil for about two minutes before I leave them again towards that knoll where a giant tamarind tree grow and where the Roble homestead is located.
My Viajero is very heavy yet I manage to climb the hill and arrive in about forty-three minutes. Already there were a number of people. Fele have visitors and I did not see as much local people in his place as I see today. I did not know he has that many neighbors. Little Josel is the first to meet me and, even when I am tired, I can still afford a smile. Meanwhile, I waited for the others. After ten minutes, they came.
Fele already prepared for our coming a two-segment bamboo, goat caldereta and free-rein chicken soup. The bamboo is where I will cook the two kilos of milled corn I carry and the caldereta and chicken are the ones that we will eat during our early dinner. But, before the meal, I work on the bamboo. I baton my tomahawk to create a rectangular hole on the bamboo. Later, with my 'hawk, I chop firewood for the fire that will cook the milled corn inside the bamboo.
Espying a mature brown bamboo, I chop this into two pieces and pierce a small hole on the large piece. I place my collected tinder underneath it and rub the other bamboo over the hole. Grrr! No heat! I choose a long slender firewood and smooth its face with the 'hawk and tried rubbing it over the hole and white smoke begin to emit and, after much perspiring effort, I failed and it never caught fire.
The locals were very entertained by our activity and they reminisced of their grandfathers who cooked and made fire with same and such devises. They also averred that their forefathers also used to light fires with flint stones and steel! Very well. And that unleashed a floodgate of important information for me and Camp Red. The locals talk like a myna after several rounds of local rum and entertainment provided by us and it helped our guild's vision. You wouldn't have it in any other way and time except today and here!
Oh, the milled corn inside the bamboo took time to cook. You cannot force it by increasing the fire else it will burn through the underside. Anyways, we eat the native chicken soup and caldereta with milled corn cooked inside conventional pots. The chicken and soup is superb as it filled our burning hunger and everybody concentrated their spoons on that while the caldereta is okay even without that organic orange coloring.
After the meals, I retrieved my cache of brandy and mix that with the energy drinks on a 1:2 ratio. Glasses of mixed brandy were passed all around and even the locals liked it. The conversations now were more animated and very entertaining. For two hours the brandy supplied the spirit of the fellowship until it run out its course. By that time, the locals leave slowly until we have all the place to ourselves and the Roble family.
Meanwhile, Ernie keep up the fire going to cook the milled corn. Well, it did cook though the milled corn but the fire burn through the bamboo and overcook the bottom layer to a black color. I keep the cooked milled corn and bamboo high up and safe above the ground to protect it from ants. We intend to eat it tomorrow morning.
Night is already late and time to look for ourselves our sleeping niche. I chose the makeshift hut while the others prefer the long bamboo benches. Fortunately, it did not rain that night but it is cold. The tents were rendered useless. Mine remained undisturbed in the bottom of my bag.
I wake up when my cellphone scream its pre-set alarm. Why is it always noisy? Anyway, the sun have just cleared the horizon and it's my first time to see sunrise here since the time we visit this place over two years ago. True enough, we finish the milled corn for breakfast. Caldereta that have escaped last night did not last after a minute this time.
We pack up and leave at ten. Today is a holiday and many children are tending the farms that their parents have hacked out of hard sloping ground. Many were watering the plants and some are on a search-and-destroy mission against caterpillars and plant worms.
Document done in OpenOffice 2.1 Writer