Saturday, March 31, 2012


THE MONTH OF MARCH comes to the Philippine Islands as a bringer of more sunlight which intensifies its heat once it enters the Lenten season. March is the start of summer in places near the equator and almost all areas in the tropics. March signifies the end of the school year and commencement exercises are held here, there and everywhere.

Last March 17, 2012, I witnessed my youngest son, Cherokee, going up the stage to receive his high school diploma at the school gymnasium of the University of Southern Philippines, Lahug Campus, Cebu City. His beaming mother, Vilma, came; as well as his elder sisters, Laila and Lovella. His grandmother, Marietta, also came.

Coming also were Laila’s husband, Chokie, and son Kurt; Kurt’s neighbor and Cherokee’s playing buddy, Jericho; Lovella’s sons – Jarod and Gabriel; cousins Via and Alyanna. Also going up to receive his diploma is Cherokee’s classmate and close neighbor, Paul John.

Cherokee studied at the Mabini Campus of USP since the time when he enrolled in Grade Five in 2006 coming from the East Visayas Academy in Bulacao, Talisay City. The USP Mabini Campus is the same school where I graduated from high school forty-three years ago. This same school produced graduates for almost all my clan.

After the activity, we proceed to the Gallery in Mabolo for a thanksgiving dinner at Boosog Native Restaurant. Cherokee’s brother, Charlemagne arrive with his girlfriend as well as his cousins, John Saint and Roanne. After the dinner, we proceed to the Asiatown IT Park so the boys could stretch out their time a bit.

Last March 20, it was my grandson Gabriel’s turn to receive his kindergarten diploma at the Tejero Elementary School in MJ Cuenco Avenue. Lovella and Jarod went with him to give support. I and Vilma might not have been present but we both were elated that Gabriel have hurdled his first level of formal education from the very school where I finished my elementary.

We just eat our thanksgiving dinner right in our home after that yet it cast a glow of happiness amongst us. Cherokee’s last year in high school signifies another challenge for me as he will enroll in college this June but I am amenable with that. May God bless our home and our family!

Document done in LibreOffice 3.3

Monday, March 26, 2012


GOING AWAY AGAIN to Misamis Oriental this time. My employers needed to have their farthest and most remote detachment at Laguindingan investigated for some lost items. I take a Trans-Asia boat that leaves at eight in the evening and arrive at Cagayan de Oro at 5:30 AM of January 18, 2012.

Before leaving the Port of Cebu, I take a seat inside the public terminal operated by the Cebu Port Authority. You cannot directly embark on your ship without riding a shuttle bus where, in my case, I board mine after the bus took a circuitous route only to drop me about fifteen meters from where I first rode it.

The government could have saved money if passengers were allowed to simply walk the short distance from terminal to boat instead of riding through a long route which, naturally, would use fuel, oil, manpower and other resources. The system is good but there are instances where it would defeat its purpose. It should be applied on a case-to-case basis.

So much for that. Coming along with me is my Sony DSC220 digital camera and an autobiography of Ranulph Fiennes which describes himself as “mad, bad and dangerous to know”. The book had been with me for more than a year and I haven't got the time to read that until I got tired of seeing it collecting dust at my book shelf.

I pass by Carmen Bridge and I see the damage wrought by Typhoon Sendong which hit the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan a month ago that killed more than a thousand people. I begin to wonder what happened to that little girl I saw in 2008 who lived under the bridge right across the Sacred Heart Parish in Kauswagan? It seems a needle is pierced into my heart at that moment.

The public jitney driven by an annoying driver reach the terminal at Bulua and I transfer to a Rural Transit bus bound for Iligan. It leaves its station promptly for the next. The bus pass by the towns of Opol, El Salvador and Alubihid before I alight infront of the Laguindingan town hall.

I take a picture of the building and a policeman approach me suspiciously. He is asking me too many questions and my nerves are beginning to smell trouble. Time to show him my ID and my purpose and, finally, he begins to comprehend that I am no al-Qaeda. He won't believe I am a tourist. Poor cover story!

I take breakfast at a small family-run restaurant. They offer me “La hoya” and I am intrigued. I buy one order for me and it is just beef stew with the same ingredients and given another name or it's just the way folks here name that dish. Just the same, it is very cheap. Anyway, I pay just 45 pesos for the whole meal, to include bottled soda and rice.

Down I go to the village of Sambulawan astride a motorcycle and get inside an abandoned structure that used to be a steel mill. The guards are all there and I start my inquiries. I move about this huge shell of a building with my camera and I notice each living quarters used by the guards are covered all around with fire bricks at chest level.

One hut, aside from the fire bricks, even used other materials such as hard rubber mouldings, rubber tires and concrete culverts filled with gravel. At the far side, are breastworks made of culverts formed in a square that could accommodate one man and there are four of these. They look like midget fortresses.

Amidst all these are huge rectangular holes that are five feet deep that could be used as fox holes. One hole became an impromptu firing range complete with an asbestos target board that have recently welcomed five new holes. One guard showed me the gun that fire such big holes and it is a bushcraft rifle1 made to look like an M16.

These guys are preparing for a zombie attack, I think. They are self-sufficient. They stack lots of firewood, bred hens and roosters and utilize a lot of dogs as their alarm system. They had been forced to improvise a defense system when they were surrounded by a belligerent community who coveted the steel structure which can be converted to cash if you have time and know-how to cut it in small pieces.

Just like in the movies. I admire these guys for their steadfastness and resourcefulness. At the end of the day, I rejected the notion that they have had to do with the missing roof sheets. It just blew away when Typhoon Sendong came. Force majeure!

Might as well spend a night at this place. Buy lunch and, later, dinner for them. I choose a slab of concrete that project over the ground and spread my ground sheet over it and then place my sleeping bag. There is no breeze and I get a worry of them mosquitoes. I collect a couple of coconut husks as my mosquito repellant. It gives off thick smoke when lit with fire.

The night is dark as there are no electricity here. Even my natural night vision find it hard for me to work my way around for a leak. I remembered the fox holes and I don't want to fall into one. Now I have to consider answering the call of nature in a not-so-comfortable distance but bushes are nearby me and I put on green leaves on my small fire from time to time.

I like these guards and they have kept their shotguns in good order although they have short supply of ammo now. I spend breakfast and lunch with them the following day before I proceed back to Cagayan de Oro at three in the afternoon. I pass by the bridge where a little girl lived underneath it and it is washed out now and I found drops of tears stream out of my eyes.

Walk my way around Cogon District and look for something to temper my heart. I found it and I buy ten pairs. These are the biasong (sp. Hystrix macroptera) and the tabon-tabon (sp. Atuna racemosa) and they make your raw fish dish taste heavenly. Trust my wife, she does magic with those.

Leave for the Trans-Asia boat early and I make my bed at six in the evening and continue reading about Ranulph Fiennes. This guy is really mad, bad and dangerous to know and has something to do with the “Feather Men” that had became the base story of a recent movie – Killer Elite. I admire his expeditions. I see myself in his shoes someday.

I am so sleepy that I ditch my urge to have supper. I sleep early with a heavy heart. That little girl under the bridge is always on my mind. Tomorrow I will do her memory good by absolving the guards of a harsh accusation with my report. Really, it’s the least that I could do and it would, at least, help me recover my stupor.

Document done in Libre Office 3.3

1Home-made rifles that fire glass marbles. It uses denatured alcohol as propellant that is ignited by a disposable-lighter igniter attached to the trigger.

Friday, March 16, 2012


I CALL THIS INDUSTRIAL city north of Metro Cebu as “Steely Danao”.  Steely Danao of course is Danao City, 33 kilometers from where I write.  The word “steely” that I imply do not refer to the machinery that run the industries and commerce there but of the material that makes this city famous for: gun steel for their underground gun-making industry.

It's been a while that I have not visited my friends there, especially “Mr. and Mrs. Fine”, who really are a nice couple and who are very accommodating.  Mr. Fine has a shop that specializes with gun steel.  No he does not make guns, rather he fine-tune these and improve its appearance by bluing.

I go to him whenever my friends request me to have their handguns repaired, reconfigured or re-blued.  Last time I was there was on July 21, 2010 and I even featured this last meeting in this blog titled Early Dinner at Steely Danao.

Today, December 30, 2011, I am going there with my Camp Red buddies, Glenn Pestaño and Raymund Panganiban.  No, we are not going there to have guns repaired, reconfigured or re-blued.  We are trying our best to be Santa Claus and bring goodwill and happiness to their humble abode and, at the same time, induce Mr. Fine to have a lively conversation. 

Me and Mr. Fine have known each other for almost twenty years and I could vouch of his good nature and trustworthiness which his peers are found lacking.  I wanted to have Mr. Fine's shop as one of the places where international visitors would stop over if ever the International Outlaw Bushcraft Gathering would be realized. 

When we arrive, I saw Mr. Fine doing work on his shop buffering a KG-9 magazine to a shiny sheen preparatory to immersing these in his boiling “tub” of a sinister-looking chemical mixture of lye and hydrochloric acid.  He covers half his face to protect himself from fine dust and looks like Mad Wolf (aka Rodderick Scout) of Outdoor Skills.  Hahaha...

His son and assistant, “Mr. Coarse”, is not around.  Mr. Fine says gun business had been difficult and a few buyers come and Mr. Coarse had to help both ends meet by working in a construction job.  It only picked up in late December though.  I saw a stack of empty revolver frames on one side and disassembled cylinders and other parts on another side placed inside little boxes per set.  A set of disassembled pistols and a submachine gun are among those.

Anyway, I bring a box of ham for them and Mrs. Fine jumped up and down with delight.  Hahaha...  Since it is almost 12:00 noon, I slip a bill to Mrs. Fine and requested her to buy us raw fish, pork meat, rice and a gallon of fresh coconut wine locally known as “tuba”.  We intend to stay for the rest of the day and we could afford a late late lunch.

Raymund gets busy with his DSLR camera while Glenn begins exchanging information with Mr. Fine.  Me, I just listened and join the talk when I feel I have to and help Raymund with the picture-taking.  Here and there where free ranging fowls and their chicks and a lot of ducks.

The water apple tree begins to bear fruit while the papaya is full of huge fruits hanging all over its top trunk.  An Indian mulberry tree beside the shack have grown tall now while the jackfruit and mango trees remained green and healthy amidst a sprawling garden of Malabar nightshades, sweet potatoes, swamp radish, eggplants, pepper, gumbos, lemon grass, horse radish, sweet basil and cantaloupe.

Meanwhile, Glenn and Raymund decide to tour more of Danao by going in the hinterlands where the real underground gun-making shops are found.  Mrs. Fine arrive and I help myself with glass after glass of a fresh gallon of tuba which tastes sweet.  Amidst all that, Mrs. Fine's daughter help in starting a fire for the pork meat. 

At exactly two in the afternoon, the duo returned and the meal is served, although late.  Grilled pork, pork-ribs-and-cabbage soup and raw fish with spiced-vinegar-and-coconut-milk mix were the viands and everyone help themselves including neighbors who, by chance, have business with Mr. Fine.

The coconut wine served its purpose well as it helped in digesting the food and added more animation to the conversation.  Camp Red[1] is a repository of country lore and the more we collect, the more it will give value to our existence when the SHTF[2] time comes.

After a couple hours of talk, we decide that we have to go back to the big city.  We take a short walk to the highway and ride a mini-bus coming from Carmen town for Cebu.  We arrive at our destination at 5:30 PM whereby Raymund decide to walk to SM City while Glenn and I ride a jitney for the downtown area.

It is another good and productive day for Camp Red and a good boding for Mr. and Mrs. Fine.  Happy New Year, my dear readers!

Document done in Libre Office

[1]A Cebu-based outdoor group specializing in bushcraft and survival and the only one of its kind in the country south of Subic Bay.
[2]Shit Hits The Fan.  Standard word acronyms used by bushcrafters and survivalists when something goes wrong.

Friday, March 9, 2012


I RECENTLY WENT to Gaas, in the highlands of Balamban, Cebu, Philippines last September 2011 to be reunited with my visiting sister, who just came from the U.S.  She is staying temporarily with my cousin.  Going there is expensive since there are no bus routes along the Transcentral Highway.  There are only two alternatives:  the vehicle-for-hire and the motorcycle-for-hire.

It is a Saturday and it is 6:30 PM and I gave up the four-wheeled transport when a lot of passengers are stranded at the Ayala Terminal due to shortage of V-hires.  I transferred to JY Square to look for motorcycles.  I found many.  I negotiated with one and I need to ride without sharing a seat with another and I was charged 250 pesos.  Fair enough.

You know why I don't want to share a seat with another?  It is for my own safety.  The motorcycle run only on two wheels and is already placed at a disadvantage before other bigger vehicles on the road.  By wonders brought about by the laws of physics, it could stand on its own on the road provided there is a driver to steer and maintain its balance.

Motorcycles-for-hire are a dime a dozen and they are not strictly regulated.  Although it is not classified as a public transport yet people prefer to ride on one.  It could access the most remote mountain trails and cross rivers where no four-wheeled vehicle could.  It could travel anytime you would wish.  It has a following of its own and no government regulations could stop it. 

Motorcycles-for-hire are illegal per se.  The drivers behind are an ill-disciplined lot and they break every traffic rule as fast as you could type your name on the keyboard.  They don't put premium on safety and they deny that as well to their passengers.  They are there on the road plying their trade at very long hours.  Some took amphetamines to extend their waking time well into the early mornings.  

If circumstances forced me to ride on one, then I should be responsible to that risk else I could express my prerogative like not sharing a seat at my expense or insisting to wear a safety helmet to the driver's detriment.  I know how to drive a motorcycle and I know where I stand.

Steering a running motorcycle demands great concentration especially if you are negotiating on a mountain road like the Transcentral Highway with a passenger or passengers.  The lesser the load the better are your chances of survival.  Motorcycle brakes cannot absorb the force during downhill turns at a fast speed and would likely cause wheels to burst or flop the motorcycle forward.

Driving a motorcycle demands great responsibility as well.  The word that comes to mind is SAFETY!  Safety cannot be compromised or replaced by anything else.  The best item to describe this is the safety helmet.  It is not something to hang at your steering bars or worn lackadaisically above your head to comply with the law.  It should be worn with workable strap locks and do not separate from the wearer during a road accident. 

If possible, wear long pants and shoes.  Long denims give some protection to your knees and could absorb the heat of the muffler when you keel over to the right with the motorcycle on top of you.  The shoes would protect your toes and would complement the brakes anyway as people tend to use their feet when slowing down as if they are riding a bicycle.

Do not race with another or be challenged by one who just overtook you.  Survival on the road is not a race.  Regulate your speed and enjoy the moment.  The slower you are the more inclined are you to control your motorcycle provided you are on the rightmost lane reserved for slow-moving traffic.  

Do not overtake at the right especially when you are following a bus, a jitney or a taxi.  Drivers of these public modes of transport do not take consideration of who is following them and are more concerned of profits.  The rightmost lane is their domain but, most often, they stop at the middle of the road to take in passengers.  Their levels of discipline are just as worse with motorcycle-for-hire drivers.

When you do overtake at the right, like taking advantage of a slowdown in traffic or during a stoppage, flash the right signal light and drive slow else you might hit a crossing pedestrian that appear suddenly from amongst vehicles or get snagged by a just-opened door of an expensive SUV.  As a rule, I don't tread upon these tight paths that limit my evasive options either only to the curb or to the canal.

Always overtake on the left.  Make your intentions known by flashing the left signal light.  When I say “make your intentions known”, I mean you do it as early as possible particularly when you are making a left turn or a right turn.  (A U-turn is already considered a left turn in the Philippines.)  It is very important then that other drivers notice your intent and you should flash the signal lights from 80 meters to 100 meters before a corner.

If possible, refrain from making hand signals unless you just know one of your signal lights is busted or out of order.  It is very important then to check your head lights, your tail lights, your brake lights and your signal lights regularly, in that order, before speeding away else keep the motorcycle parked.  Complement your visibility by wearing light-colored clothes and switching on the headlights even during daytime.

Do not drive with one hand.  I have seen insane drivers speeding on the road using a cellphone, smoking a cigar or even licking a melted ice cream.  What's worse is that they got passengers riding behind them, to include children.  These kind of drivers are the worst kind of people and are dangerous to commuters.  I hope their stupidity would only consume them and exclude other people.

Keep both hands on the steering handlesConcentrate on the roadGlance in a while at your rear-view mirrors to be sure that a vehicle on the loose is behind you and take evasive actions.  Use your signal lights when overtaking and changing directions.  As much as possible, run on a straight lineAvoid weaving in and out of traffic or blocking other vehicle's path by your constant swerving. 

When overtaking a vehicle, do not swerve right away and close the lane of the one you have just overtaken.  Chances are the driver behind you would (a) apply an instant brake and get bumped from behind; (b) swerve instantly to avoid hitting you and collide with another; or (c) bump you hard.  Be sensible when using the road and think of others.

Be a responsible parent.  Do not allow your small child or children ride a motorcycle even if you are the ones driving.  What you have overlooked or ignored is that children have short arms to embrace you, small hands to grip you, little strength to offset the natural forces of dynamics and has short attention span where, most likely, would doze off without you knowing.  Please, ensure their safety by having them ride a healthy four-wheeled vehicle instead.

Whether you like it or not, driving a motorcycle is very stressful.  Take a lot of rest so you could possess an alert body and mind.  Avoid taking very long trips.  Sitting in one position for a very long time take its toll on the body and that makes you less alert.  As much as possible, park the motorcycle when you think you have traveled for an hour-and-a-half, at the least; or feel drowsy and tired. 

If you think you feel bored, look for something at the roadside that would attract your attention and replenish your vigor.  It may be food, a local cultural festival or something odd and rare.  When you do this, catch every moment with a camera.  Taking pictures and exercising your lower limbs is an absolute elixir to defeat ennui.   

Do not play loud music on your earpiece when driving.  It is best that you are aware of your surroundings that is beyond your field of sight.  The collective hum of engines is your best indicator that it’s time to go or not else you get a jolt from the collective blare of horns behind you.  What you cannot see is best served by hearing.  Enjoy music but keep it low.

A motorcycle is a very convenient mode of transportation and consumes less fuel.  Starting first a motorcycle at a parking area and then back yourself out by foot before speeding away once you face the road defeats fuel conservation.  I have seen many motorcycle owners do that.  What you do not know is that the amount of fuel used during that maneuver could already result to about 200-300 meters worth of fuel.  That measure would already save you pushing an out-of-gas motorcycle to the next refueling station.

The motorcycle is the only ones I could afford.  I do not want to be distracted by any pretty face and any attention-catching gestures from the sidewalks and I do my best to keep my eye on the road.  During fuel-crunch time, I am assured that my motorcycle can ply the road because its fuel consumption is very low.  If I am astride another motorcycle that I am not driving, I see to it that safety is religiously followed at my behest, of course.

Personally, my being on a motorcycle is the best form of my own interpretation of freedom.  My notion of freedom accentuates with the flow of the wind or the lope of a herd of deer.  My Native American cousins call this “unimpeded freedom” and I embrace it very much without any reserve.  Your freedom is best enjoyed by your own set of parameters and not by wanton or reckless abandon. 

BE SAFE ALWAYS and bless each and every journey by saying a short prayer of protection.  We Roman Catholics make the sign of the cross just like Manny Pacquiao do before each and every fight.  Have a safe journey, my brothers.

Document done in Libre Office 3.3

Thursday, March 1, 2012

NAPO TO BABAG TALES XLIX: Professors, Yogis & Crazy Bushmen

THE URGE TO CLIMB Mount Babag again comes knocking at me today, December 11, 2011.  While I have mastered the trails going to there, my present companions have not.  Most of them are; except Jerry Pescadero who had been climbing mountains here in Cebu and elsewhere since the '90s.

This is another test of endurance for the new Camp Red guys and I aim to bring them there, all four of them: Glenn Pestaño, Jhurds Neo, Lawrence Lozada and Silver Cue.  Glenn and Jhurds are bulky but they have mastered and known their body very well since the time they have been bush hiking with me.

Coming along with us are two faculty members from the University of Cebu: Professor Ting and Professor Cathy.  A pair of vegetarians from the Yoga Center also came:  Brother Siddharta and Brother Paul.  Well, here we are, a strange mix-up of the academe, yogis and crazy bushmen.

At the back of my mind, I am looking for ways of how to prepare food for the meat lovers on one setting, and another set of viand for the vegetarians.  By the way, I am doing a demonstration today of bushcraft cooking to my guests and to those who have not yet seen me how to cook milled corn inside a bamboo.

Also today, Camp Red will distribute goodies for the children of Kahugan.  Lester Padriga of the Circle of Friends and of Green*Point and who is based in the U.S.A., have donated cash for this activity.  His son, Myke, used some of the money to buy cookies, chocolates and jellies and pass it all to me the night before at the Persimmon in Mabolo.

As always, just like everyone else when going to the Babag Mountain Range, we meet at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish.  After finishing our breakfast and securing food provisions for lunch we proceed to Napo, where I give the actual briefing for this activity before crossing the Sapangdaku River.

It had been raining for several days until yesterday but some parts of the trail were still muddy.  I have to slow down my pace when I observed Prof. Cathy breathing hard at the first part of the route.  I need to let her recover her bearings so I requested Yogi Paul, who was not carrying anything, to carry her backpack and then let Jerry sprint ahead together with Prof. Ting.

We arrive at Lower Kahugan Spring and the shade there is cool: a perfect place to rest and at the same time replenish water needs.  For about fifteen minutes, the place is a beehive of pleasant conversations and a getting-to-know-you until I decide that rest time is enough and start the climb to the Roble homestead.

Although the weather is hot, there is enough shade along the route to shield the party from the rays of the sun.  By the time, we reach the humble abode of the Roble family, everyone looked for a niche to retrieve their wits.  Everyone are found okay and I have to find me a bamboo pole.  I found a bamboo grove below and it is encircled with thorns.

I cut at a pole with my tomahawk at a part where I could still reach it and safe from the thorns.  These thorns cause wounds that last for months if left untreated.  I have experienced those and I am wary now.  The pole perched on a high branch of a mango tree and refuse to fall down.  The only way to have that bamboo is to climb the tree and cut the pole again at the middle and let it fall.

Shucks, I am tired of the reaching out and hacking the pole with all my strength and I have now little of this to carry my 200-pound weight up a high branch of a tree.  Fortunately, Yogi Sidd volunteered to climb the tree for me and cut the pole by himself with Fele Roble's bolo.  The blade is sharp and it made short work as the top half of the pole come crashing down.

Elated with this, I chose the best two bamboo segments and cut holes on them. I start to look for firewood and found a dry stump of a Mexican lilac tree which I split into small pieces.  This wood make a good fire and gives good heat.  Start a fire with wood shavings and split pine wood and the dry firewood easily catch the fire.

I pour water on one chamber and waited for it to boil.  Now, I have to retrieve my gifts to the Roble family which consists of two kilos of rice, a kilo of sugar and 500 pesos for Manwel, Juliet and Josel.  I request Tonia Roble to cook for me pork adobo and give away all the ingredients to her so I could concentrate on my bushcraft cooking.

I present the goodies to Prof. Cathy and requested her to organize these into groups and distribute it to the children, who came one by one.  While I am tinkering with my fire, children's laughter echoed on the hills and is sweet music to my ears and is one good reason why I do not tire coming over and over here.

After the milled corn got cooked, I use the other empty segment for my mixed-vegetable stew.  Again, I pour water and wait for it to boil while slicing my gumbos and long green peppers.  At the same time, I also cook another set of milled corn inside of a Vietnam-era mess kit on a conventional camping stove.  I am totally busy but I could still find time to snap a picture here and there.

Mealtime came at 2:20 PM plus green coconuts for dessert!  An hour and 50 minutes late from the itinerary.  Too few a moment to spend siesta and too little daylight time left if ever we return to Guadalupe by way of Kalunasan after climbing Mt. Babag.  It would be effortless if I have with me swift and fit walkers like Jerry.  I have to try and decide when we reach the ridge.

Going to Babag Ridge, I have to choose and take the steep East Ridge Pass.  Although much easier of the only two trails direct to Mt. Babag, it is still a difficult route, especially to those who are new to mountain hiking.  The trail is beginning to be encroached by swidden farms.  Someday it will be obliterated by these farms just like Ernie's Trail.

Slash-and-burn farming here had not still been checked by our lazy bureaucrats.  The present mayor is all busy clearing away creeks and sidewalks and making enemies of everybody and forgetting to give other options to the upland settlers here, who chose to follow what they know of from their forebears: gathering charcoal.

I have no beef against people gathering charcoal for a living.  It is their way of life.  If the present administration sincerely cared about the environment and the plight of the uplands, they could have implemented a good program whereby these mountain people would benefit and keep our forests and trees intact at the same time.  Sadly, there's none.

Prof. Cathy, aided by Silver, came in last at Babag Ridge.  It is already 3:35 PM and we have a long way to go.  Prof. Cathy, along with Jerry, Prof. Ting and Lawrence, decide to part company with us and walk the ridge road to Busay.  They have other business to attend to.  So are Bro. Sidd and Bro. Paul.  Everyone, except Jerry and Lawrence, were spent up with the climb to Babag Ridge. 

So that leaves me, Glenn, Jhurds and Silver to complete the circuit.  We have to finish the climb by a hundred meters more to reach the shoulder of Mt. Babag before continuing on down the road to the trailhead to Kalunasan.  I will take them to the No-Santol-Tree Trail and it is already 4:30 PM when we start for Kalunasan.

The sun is about to set and it glowed an eerie red color on the surroundings which we pass.  The shadows are already long and it disorients my familiarity about the route where, for a moment, I thought I have lost it.  Eventually, I am able to find the trail and follow its familiar landmarks.  As it is almost dark, I arm myself with a walking rod.

Good for Jhurds, Glenn and Silver, they carry with them headlamps.  I prefer to navigate in the dark without any light and I move very fast.  Lights destroy your natural night vision and limits your sight.  Without lights, you could see beyond and your peripheral vision could detect movement or objects close by.

A good-sized bat took a swipe at me when I took a rest at the the first of the many tamarind trees but I have already noticed it from afar.  By reflex action, I raise my staff and veer my face away from the bat's path.  The bat bump the staff and went on its way after recovering quickly.  After that, it made many strange noises.

I pass by “turtle rock” and the bat make another dive but I am ready and use my staff to ward it off.  I walk on hurriedly while there is still a very faint light.  I hear many strange sounds and I begin to wonder about Jhurds, Glenn and Silver.  I shout and call their names but I get no response.  Up ahead, I see a copse of tamarind trees and decide to wait for them.

I sit under one of the trees and close my eyes when I notice something in the air coming at me.  I open my eyes and I see this bat again attacking me but my stick frighten it away.  I stand up and dared the bat to make another try but it disappeared.  Later, there were voices shouting from afar down the valley and it echoed in the hills and I thought the trio are in distress.

So I backtrack, half-running, towards them.  I may have walked back for more than two hundred meters before I could see a faint trace of light coming from a headlamp upon the foliage and I call their names.  I hear a distant reply and that release some worries from me.  I assure them that they are on the right path and I will be waiting up ahead.

I went back fast to the tamarind trees and wait for their arrival.  The bat fully understood my challenge and never bothered me again.  When the trio arrive, they have also been bothered by the same bat, hearing strange noises and hearing me talking to them from a near distance.  Strange?

Up ahead in the dark is the Kalunasan circumferential road and it is still about 300 meters away on a steep route.  At a bare ridge, I notice a full moon just rising from the horizon.  Meanwhile, my natural night vision is decimated by the lights of Jhurds, Glenn and Silver and I clumsily lead them that downhill path to the road.

Jhurds and I take the right going to Napo while Guns and Silver go directly to Guadalupe via Kalunasan.  We regroup at the church grounds at about 7:10 PM and we decide to proceed to Summer Kyla for rest and refreshment.  There were many people at the church and on the streets for it is the eve of fiesta in Guadalupe. 

Along the way, a religious procession is coming from M. Velez Street towards the church and the whole width of the street were thick with the parishioners and devotees of the Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Already at Summer Kyla is the outlaw Welshman, Wil Davies, and a couple of Redtrekker members – Boy Toledo and Ernie Salomon.  I smoke the peace pipe with Boy and Ernie over endless bottles of Red Horse beer.

Document done in Libre Office 3