Tuesday, September 25, 2012


BOUYED UP BY the success of the 2nd Philippine Independence Bushcraft Camp last June 10, 11 and 12, 2012 held in Cebu, this blogger - under the banner of the Warrior Pilgrimage Blog - will go up north to Luzon to convene another bushcraft camp for members of the Mountain Climbers Alliance of the Philippines, Inc. MCAP is a national umbrella organization of individual mountaineers established just this year.

The MCAP Bushcraft Camp 01-2012 has the blessing of MCAP President Edwin Gatia and personally endorses this wilderness skills orientation as a prerequisite for full membership into MCAP. MCAP believes that every mountaineer should be adequately equipped not only by what he carries on his back but also that which he carries inside his head which would quantify his survival in the event of mishaps and accidents.

The MCAP BC will follow the same syllabus designed for the PIBC minus the nationalistic rites. Reynold Boringot insists, however, that the singing of the national anthem and the oath of allegiance to flag and republic should be included which this writer is obliged to include in the program. The MCAP BC will be held at the slopes of Mount Balagbag, Bulacan on the dates September 29, 30 and October 1, 2012.

This blogger is the main instructor of MCAP BC and would ably be assisted by PIBC alumni Raymund Panganiban (2011) and Jay Z Jorge (2012) who both will lend their time, services and skills to make MCAP BC a worthy event. Raymund shall be the official photographer. He shall document all camp activities and related events through his camera lens. Likewise, he shall demonstrate and expound the module on Every Day Carry or EDC.

Meanwhile, Jay Z shall be the official Camp Ramrod. He shall be in charge with the administration of the campsite like ground space allocation, water, firewood and hygiene. He shall brief regularly the participants about camp rules that will be implemented and the daily routine that each participant will take part. This is organized by MCAP for the benefit of their members.

Special mention is given to Reynold for engaging in the assessment of the trail and of the campsite and for providing a pre-activity briefing before MCAP members on my behalf on September 16. Also worth mentioning is Vice President Vicky Evaretta for keeping tab and supporting this writer through her administration of MCAP activities, to include this bushcraft camp.

MCAP BC 01-2012 shall officially start from San Jose del Monte, Bulacan on September 29, 2012 at 1:00 PM where participants will be transferred to the trailhead at Tungko and then follow the trail to the campsite. Below is the full itinerary of PIBC MMXII:

08:30 – Assembly,
(Take your breakfast before start of activity)
10:00 – Leave Metro Manila for San Jose del Monte, Bulacan by transportation
11:30 – Arrive San Jose del Monte
12:00 – Lunch time
13:00 – Leave San Jose del Monte for campsite via Tungko
15:00 - Arrive campsite, rest & rehydrate
14:00 – Explore camp, pitch tents/sleeping quarters
16:00 – Prepare dinner
18:00 – Dinner time
19:30 – Socials, MCAP-BC overview
22:00 – Taps

05:00 – Wake-up call
05:30 – Prepare breakfast
06:00 – Breakfast time
08:00 – Introduction to Bushcraft and Survival
09:00 – Tool Making
10:00 – EDC Preparation
11:00 - Prepare lunch
12:00 – Lunch time
12:30 – Siesta/socials
13:30 – Knife Care and Safety
14:30 – Foraging and Firecraft
16:00 – Outdoor Cooking
17:00 – Prepare dinner
18:30 – Dinner time
19:30 – Nocturnal Hunting
20:30 – Socials, Campfire Storytelling
24:00 – Taps

05:00 – Wake-up call
05:30 – Prepare breakfast
06:00 – Breakfast time
07:30 – Blade Porn
07:45 – Socials, photo session
08:00 – Break camp
09:00 - Leave campsite for San Jose del Monte
10:30 – Arrive San Jose del Monte
Lunch time
11:30 - Leave San Jose del Monte for Metro Manila by transportation
13:00 – Arrive Metro Manila
14:00 – Post-activity discussions, socials

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

NAPO TO BABAG TALES LIII: An Outreach Mission and a Firecraft Workshop

THE DATE IS SET for July 15, 2012. The place will be the Roble homestead. The mission: To send to the children of Kahugan gifts of notebooks, writing pads, pencils, crayons, pencil sharpeners, erasers, envelopes and used textbooks. This is the main event and it precedes a firecraft workshop of Camp Red.

These gifts were generated during the Who Put the “N” in Nature concert for a cause at Handuraw Events Cafe on June 1, 2012 which were jointly organized by the Outdoorsman’s Hub and the Redtrekkers. To recall, that event was a resounding success as donors and the minions of free outdoorsmen came to give this cause their unreserved support.

Everyone arrive at the parking lot of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Church – the gateway to the Babag Mountain Range – to volunteer themselves to carry the gifts to the children; accepting the hardships of a heavy load over an ascending terrain just to put joy on every children’s heart. The line is long; the additional loads printed itself deep on the dirt trail where shoes have trod. The day is hot but their disposition is light.

Upon arrival at 11:00 AM, everyone settled on the benches to start the activity. All unloaded their loads of gifts they carried from Guadalupe via Napo. A table shielded by a taffeta tarp becomes the platform for the gifts. Randell Savior, JB “Badburner” Albano and Dominikus Sepe directed in the segregation of the books from the notebooks and the rest of the educational supplies with the help of the lady volunteers.

Meanwhile, Ernie Salomon gets busy with the cooking while the rest practice their skill in cooking milled corn. The menu will be taro leaf stems cooked in coconut milk; pork adobao; pork soup with bamboo sprouts; and raw cucumber with tomatoes in vinegar. Meals most probably could be found in gourmet restaurants yet these are just ordinary when Camp Red goes on an outing.

After the meal, the children arrive; some of them with their parents. An impromptu program is started as the gifts were lumped into sets for the benefit of children of the Kahugan highlands. The Badburner take the center as emcee whereby he pass the earthen stage, respectively to this blogger, to Rans Cabigas, to Boy Toledo and to Randell; to acknowledge and give thanks to the volunteers and to the anonymous donors.

Invocation is by 6-year old Josel Roble; the Philippine National Anthem is sung by everyone – children and volunteers alike – from the beat of a child; and then the children recited the oath of allegiance to flag and country. Then the program steers into showcasing the individual talents of the children through singing to the delight and entertainment of all.

Visiting mountaineer from Luzon, Mark Alvin Estrella, came to lend a hand and document this activity for purposes that this may show awareness of the value of generosity and charity. Hopefully, this gets replicated in other parts of the country where there are kind-hearted outdoorsmen. The following are the collage of images that document the above activity:

...and these are the people who go out of their way to make this event memorable to the eyes of the children of Kahugan and their parents:

ON THE OTHER HAND, Camp Red had another activity aside from the outreach program which they co-hosted with the Outdoorsman’s Hub, Tribu Dumagsa Mountaineers, Redtrekkers and other free-lance groups which do not own yet official organization names. This is the Grassroots Bushcraft Teaching Series organized by this writer under the Warrior Pilgrimage blog.

This is supposed to be a whole day affair but it surrendered time and space to the charity climb for the common good of all. This writer started the firecraft demo at 3:00 PM when the first activity is about to end. Actually, this is a workshop kind of event since this writer intends to show to Camp Red members and to those who were there the different methods of starting a fire through friction, to understand its principles and to learn the materials needed to accomplish these.

On the order of difficulty and simplicity, the first method shown is the Hand Drill. This consists of a spindle made of soft wood which is turned by the hands and a fire base made of hard wood. The second method is the Bow Drill. This time it uses a green and flexible branch as a bow with a shoelace as the bow string to do the work of spinning the spindle instead of the hands while a pressure block held by the other hand on the top of the spindle is pressed downward to increase pressure.

The third method is the Bamboo Saw. Dry bamboo is used at each other to create friction, heat and, hopefully, an ember. There are two styles: the moving and the inert. Fire tinder used for the three methods are the soft fibers of the silk-cotton tree fruit (sp. Ceiba pentandra; local name doldol). Glenn Abapo demonstrated the efficacy of a balled silk-cotton fiber in catching a spark from a firesteel and the swift process of combustion by which it consumed itself.

After an hour of effort, the participants fail to catch an ember into the waiting fire tinder although Nyor Pino was able to produce smoke from the heat of a fire saw. Eli Bryn Tambiga blister his palms doing the hand drill with a piece of string tied to his thumbs and notched over the top of spindle. Anyway, the seeds of knowledge have been planted and soon this may bloom in their own backyard of self-education by which bushcraft is founded upon. I hope to see bushcraft being taught to all and become part of day-to-day living.

We say goodbye to the Roble family and we leave at 4:15 PM for Lower Kahugan Spring then at Napo. Some volunteers have already left earlier bound for Babag Ridge and they were quite elated. I see smiles on their faces and their hearts are on fire. We all have the same feeling. We arrive at Napo at around 5:00 PM and transfer to Guadalupe.

Those with Camp Red stay for a while at the Redtrekkers’ favorite watering hole – the Red Hours Convenience Store. This writer, Boy T, Ernie, Randell, Marjorie Savior, Ella Savior, Shildy Savior, Glenn Tampus, the Badburner, Mayo Leo Carillo, Anthony Pepetua, Kulas Damaso and Dax Bayotas opt to cool down and celebrate the success of the outreach event and the firecraft workshop. Dax produce a hooka and we have a good “smoke on the water” night.

Document done in LibreOffice 3.3 Writer
Some photos courtesy of Mark Estrella, Glenn Abapo

Monday, September 10, 2012

WARRIOR REVIEW: Index Titan 2 Safety Helmet

SAFETY IS PARAMOUNT when you are astride a motorcycle, whether as a driver or as a passenger. The motorcycle is vulnerable to road accidents due to its two-wheeled design that demands balance and bursts of speed to stay on the road.

Unlike four-wheeled vehicles, which have adequate protection on its body to protect the driver and passenger, motorcycles do not have that advantage. In a collision with other bigger vehicles, the driver and/or passenger gets the brunt of damage caused by physical injuries and most of the statistics in fatalities.

Head injuries are the most common causes of death in vehicular accidents involving a motorcycle. The head is that body part where it needs protection the most and road-safety proponents insists that the safety helmet should be the most basic safety equipment that should be worn by a motorcycle driver and passenger. No ifs and no buts.

The safety helmet shell should be sturdy enough to withstand a strong impact. The liner should cushion the head from any blunt object that would strike the shell. The straps should secure the head and would not separate the helmet from the wearer during a road accident. The helmet shall cover most of the face and shall have a transparent but flexible visor to protect the eyes of the wearer from dust, shards and ultraviolet rays.

However, I would like to emphasize that safety helmets do not prevent head injuries or death; it only lessens these. The driver should be responsible for his/her own safety and his/her passenger as well but the wearing of a safety helmet increases their chances of survival. The motorcycle owner should be prudent in choosing the best safety helmet possible.

There are many commercial brand names and models of safety helmets offered in the market today but few have passed the safety standards set by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Land Transportation Office (LTO) here in the Philippines. A hologram sticker bearing the Import Commodity Compliance (ICC) mark would attest to the helmet’s warranty of safety and is issued by the DTI.

Since the LTO and their deputized agencies are in a strict campaign to implement Republic Act 10054, otherwise known as the Safety Helmet Law, and penalize those who are wearing sub-standard motorcycle helmets; my office decide to purchase seven units of INDEX TITAN 2 Safety Helmet. All are in frost-blue color with the ICC sticker already adhered at the rear. Gleaning from its product literature, INDEX safety helmets are made in Thailand.

Construction of INDEX TITAN 2 Safety helmet shells reduce impact energy by evenly distributing it over the surface and not concentrate on a particular part of the helmet. The surface of shell is made to protect against UV rays and has an anti-scratch component. It has a ventilation system integrated into the helmet allowing airflow to move from forehead to back for a more comfortable wear.

The liner absorbs and reduces the impact energy distributed by the shell. It is made of polystyrene and is neither hard nor soft. The soft cushioned lining allows the wearer to fit the helmet properly and prevents the helmet from shifting during the motorcycle ride. Optically correct pre-formed visor gives better vision to the rider. The visor has an anti-scratch coating as well as protecting nearly 100% the eyes of the wearer from UV rays.

Helmet retention system is satisfactory with the addition of high-quality buckle and chin-strap. The strap is securely fastened under the chin to prevent the helmet from separating from the wearer during an accident. Double D-ring metal locking ladders increase a better retention arrangement and doubles as an eye to hook securely underneath the motorcycle seat.

I have worn many inferior safety helmets in the past, a lot of them made in China bearing indiscernible names and of questionable quality, but INDEX TITAN 2 Safety Helmet fulfilled my well-being with its assurance of its credible adherence to safety standards. I drive a motorcycle and my INDEX safety helmet gives me added protection and confidence to ply the roads in any conditions and time.

INDEX TITAN Series Safety Helmets are available in all establishments here in the Philippines that caters to motorcycles, parts, accessories and maintenance services. My INDEX TITAN 2 Safety Helmet was bought from Newstar Motorcycle Parts in Mandaue City.

Document done in LibreOffice 3.3

Saturday, September 1, 2012

MAN-SIZED HIKE VI: Lutopan to Panadtaran via Tubod

FOR THE BENEFIT OF those that have not had the privilege to join the cross-country multi-day hike that I led on the dates March 22 to 25, 2012, I have organized a shorter activity which details the route of that first day. This is from Lutopan, Toledo City to Tubod, San Fernando passing by Lamac, Pinamungahan which, I estimate, would be at least 18 to 22 kilometers long.

I have scheduled this activity on June 24, 2012 and this is a day hike. I may have to add though the route which will start from Tubod to Panadtaran, also in San Fernando, where the national highway is located, but doing so, we may have to walk a long way which, I reckon, will take two to 2.5 hours. This would, at least, expose the hikers to the scenes, the heat, the fatigue and the anguish that the first passers have experienced.

Going with me are Jhurds Neo, Edwina Marie Intud, Eli Bryn Tambiga, Dominikus Sepe, Glenn Abapo and Mr. Bogs – all of Camp Red. Also coming is second-timer Silver Cave. We meet at 6:00 AM inside the Cebu South Bus Terminal and transfer to Lutopan via a slow-running bus with which place we reach at 8:05 AM. We enter Bunga, also in Toledo City and walk the road to Lamac which we reach at 9:45 AM.

We rest at Lamac while I occupy myself of procuring the ingredients for our lunch later in the day. Lamac has a mountain resort but I decide we not visit it today for lack of time and so we continue on our walk at 10:00 AM. It is a hot day and there are too few shades until I decide that we take rest at Sibago at 11:00 AM near where there is a water source and prepare our meal.

I think 400 grams of chicken can be accommodated to eight people, so I chop the chicken into many bite pieces as possible while Edwina and Glenn help me with slicing the eggplants, squash, tomatoes and onions. Meanwhile, Doms, Eli and Mr. Bogs do the honors of cooking the milled corn. Jhurds, on the other hand, recon the area for any cold refreshment that may be found and discovered instead pure coconut wine.

After the meal, the native wine became the center of our social time. A local provided us green coconuts to give us added electrolytes which we may need during the assault phase towards the Pinamungahan-San Fernando boundary and the rest of the journey. We leave Sibago at 2:15 PM, too late for my own comfort knowing that we are already an hour behind schedule when we started this trek in the morning. The day is very hot and our resolve would be tested.

We reach the top of the knoll and shaved some minutes off and that is good. We were in light backpacking mode compared to the first time when we were packing heavy loads. That time I was carrying a Habagat Venado II which has a capacity of 80+ liters but, today, I am bringing a Sandugo Khumbu good for 50 liters. I carry less than that inside and I am testing the backpack for the first time as well as my new Mammut SDT hike pants and Nautilus bike shorts.

After, a short rest, I lead the party to the old “carabao highway” that pass on a series of ridges to Tubod. This meter-wide path have been dug by countless generations of swamp buffalo hooves and travois. As I am following it, recent ruts caused by the wooden sled are engraved on each side of the path. My pace is relentless knowing that we are now in a covered route and that it is not that hot anymore.

We finally reach Tubod at 4:10 PM and I am quite elated that we have shaved off some 50 minutes from our deficit of one hour but we did not stop and proceed down an unpaved road going to the national highway. We found a store and refresh ourselves with cold drinks that its sugar we may need up ahead on the road. Sooner we may encounter paved roads and that would put a strain into our feet soles, which have already suffered from walking a long distance under the mercy of the hot sun.

A tipsy local answered our query of how distant is Tubod from the highway: Two hours if they locals were to walk but three or more hours to those who are not from here. I don’t know if he is exaggerating or not but that remains to be seen. At exactly 4:30 PM, we leave Tubod and cross a spillway where, it is now all uphill walk.

It is not easy for me now since my right thigh is suffering from a severe pain which I did not show to others for I fear it might cause them concern. I could not freely raise my right foot high during a climb over every rise and it gives me great discomfort. I begin to assess of what caused those and I suspect that either I am quite overweight or I forgot to stretch my muscles before this hike. I suspect both!

It gives me so much consternation and disbelief that reaching the lowland I will have to tackle a series of road rises whose pavements are so uneven, broken or disintegrating causing footing and balance a nasty affair on an unending rhythm. You have to make sure you do not step on those pebbles else it press onto your already tenderized soles. Besides that, you have to watch out for those revving motorcycles whose drivers honk all the time to clear their way.

Darkness overtake us on the road and the hazards coming from motorcycles trebled especially after the wake of a speeding four-wheeled vehicle raise up a storm of dust that hampers visibility. Pain underfoot, meanwhile, doubled when discernment of surface feature is almost obliterated. There are no street lighting and what light there are come from a few houses which have electricity and from vehicles which are very fleeting.

Good for my party they have used their LED lights. I prefer to use my night vision even if I know I have a torch with me. That increases my difficulty in my walk but I have gained great insight as my mind work on the study of the disadvantages of walking in the dark. Basically, when I am walking I am at peace with myself and my thoughts are clear.

Reaching Tabiangon, there are now few rises and the road starts to gradually steer towards the lowlands and that increases pressure on the feet. Pebbles and uneven surface are my constant worry. Tiptoeing is out of the question and it boils down of how well you know of yourself and what organic mechanisms you are to use to kill pain. I turn off pain by switching off the nerve that signal this to the brain. Easy.

For an hour the road is like a white serpent winding slowly down and down until the bright lights of the Grand Cement Corp. is visible at a far distance and that raise our hopes. Minute by minute, the distance is cut down by inches, by yards and then by kilometers. Edwina struggled but she put on a brave front and so were Jhurds and Mr. Bogs.

I am the last to reach the highway at Panadtaran at 8:05 PM. Everyone have walked the distance of nearly 45 kilometers without complaint. Everyone were quite fatigued but they retained their poise and true grit. The rest have not done this longest walk yet in their lives and they have cause to celebrate over this achievement. Hungry stomach and thirsty throats have not dampened their spirit nor the threat of rain which have missed us by a half-hour over the route which we just have traversed before Tubod.

Passing buses for Cebu City are overcrowded and that made waiting a longer interlude until one God-sent empty public utility jitney made a U-turn infront of us and began calling for passengers. We took the hint and how I am glad to sit and relax again. The rain have missed San Fernando by a hair and, as the jitney moved, we feel it when we reach Naga City. The jitney reach the end of its route at Talisay City but we transfer to a downtown-going jitney and I drop off at the bus terminal where my motorcycle is parked.

The air is cold and I am soaked by rain as I go on my way home. It is 10:00 PM and I think I need a good dinner which I have in the form of hot shrimp soup and braised pork. Meals fit for a hungry explorer.

Document done in LibreOffice 3.3