Wednesday, February 1, 2012
IT HAD BEEN QUITE a while since I last visited the Roble family at their humble abode found among the foothills of the Babag Mountain Range. The last time I was there was on July 27, 2011 with Glenn Pestaño of Camp Red and Randell Savior of Tribu Dumagsa. That bush hike gave me an idea instead how to teach and introduce bushcraft and survival to individuals and groups in easy single topics.
Today, November 20, 2011, I will be bringing in the core of Camp Red1 along with the new would-be bushmen. I am Camp Red and returning home with me is Glenn. Coming along for the first time here are Jhurds Neo, Silver Cue and Lawrence Lozada. Going along also for the first time with the pack are Faith Tannen, Justine Ianne and Ouch Melbourne.
We will just stay at the Roble homestead and cook our noontime meal. The main activity would be the Grassroots Bushcraft Teaching Series which I will discuss with the participants, this time, touching about Knife Care and Safety. It is very important for every bushman worth his salt to learn knife ethics and this would be very helpful especially if you are with another or with a group.
This blog, Warrior Pilgrimage, espouses the proliferation of bushcraft and survival here in the Philippines as an alternative, but very affordable, interest or hobby. You needn't have to travel to far-off places spending huge amounts of money and time just to pass by a place and take pictures. Bushcraft and survival is all about learning wilderness skills and you could do that even at your own backyard!
So we start from Guadalupe and motor to Napo where I give them the final briefing about the main route, the terrain, the evacuation areas, water source and inherent landmarks and scenery. We cross the Sapangdaku River twice over stones placed as paths and rested for a while at Lower Kahugan Spring to recover our breath and to replenish water bottles.
Kahugan Trail present itself as an obstacle for all the first-timers as it slowly ascend towards the Roble homestead via a route that is unknown to most of the outdoors people. The weather is fine and cloudy yet we hike along a covered trail. Once we reach the place, I decide to prepare coffee for everybody before I start the lecture.
People would always link the blade as a weapon and the mere sight of it would make them shudder and became wary of the person holding it. Of course, throughout history, it had been used as an instrument of destruction in early warfare and, even today, it settled personal grudges. Even I, have that penchant to use it as a weapon during solitary hours of shadow fighting and knife throwing.
However, I will partly diminish that thought and give another perspective of the knife as a useful tool for bushcraft and survival. Early man invented the knife for this purpose to aid him and his clan for their day-to-day survival. It metamorphosed itself from stone to animal bones or shell to copper to iron to steel. The steel have perfected the blade in its present state and a wide array of steel alloys are offered in the market.
The carrying of a knife outdoors demands some sense of responsibility though not only towards others but also of your own. Personal safety starts from yourself and the demands of the rugged playgrounds that bushcrafters chose is also a venue that you need to think over of what type of sheath you are to use, how would you carry it and where would you hold this when you unsheath your knife.
I remind them that there is a national law governing the carrying of knives and other bladed instruments applicable here in the Philippines but it does not specify the limit of the length of blade. It only forbids the carrying of knives, concealed or not, in public places without the proper permits. Responsible knife owners find the malls, airports, seaports and random police checkpoints as obstacles.
However, for purposes of not entangling yourself with law enforcers and losing your prized possession, it is best that you declare it openly in a fine and pleasing manner. A smile will do the initial thawing of nerves. Bushmen are not mean people and they also know how to smile. Am I right there?
I also emphasize to everyone to treat their blades like a baby brother and to learn how to sharpen it and keep it spotless of stain and rust. For this purpose, I carry my set of honing stones - coarse, fine and smooth - and demonstrate these how to achieve a sharp edge with a traditional system of sharpening a knife. I show them what stone that you would need water when honing your blade and what stone that you wouldn't need water.
For entertainment, I decide to show them part of my blade collection. My backpack is heavy with these but I am not a bit bothered. Bayonets for the M16, the M14, the Garand and the Japanese Kurasa rifles; native blades; my current knives used in bushcrafting; and my constant companion – the tomahawk.
Our lunch consists of chicken soup from two free-rein chicken and a mixed-vegetable stew cooked by Fele and Tonia Roble for us and desserts of green coconut meat and water. We depart at 2:00 PM and go by the same route from which we came. To add accent to our activity, I opt to bring them down to the hidden waterfalls of Busay Lut-od.
We reach Guadalupe in a happy mood and douse our thirst away with rounds of cold beer at Summer Kyla. This is the third activity of the newly-refurbished Camp Red and I beam with pride with how our unconventional pursuit catch on the interest of people like Faith, Justin and Melbourne.
Document done in Libre Office 3
Photos courtesy of Ouch Melbourne and Silver Cue
Reference materials used were from Andy Beck and Caleb Robert John Musgrave
1A Cebu-based outdoors group dedicated to bushcraft & survival, the only one of its kind in the Philippines south of Subic Bay.