Tuesday, December 25, 2012
THE OLD MILITARY TRADITION of rank inspections which had been adopted and practiced at Tactical Security and Detective Agency, Inc. in 2009 have ran its course towards its fourth year. This activity involves small posts and big detachments, who showed form through uniforms, appearance, teamwork, professional know-how, cooperation and command perception.
Each detachment and/or unit is graded according to their performance and effort. The Board of Directors have shown support to this endeavor as it showcases Tactical Security to the market as it is, in itself, a very effective marketing tool. The very sight of a platoon-sized number of men in immaculate white shirts and ironed blue pants in a square formation marching and facing about elicit awe and interest to a passing public.
When Tactical Security started 2008 under new management, it had fully grasped the immense obstacle facing their existence in an industry already crowded by competitors engaged in a fierce cut-throat struggle. Tactical Security needed to have an image that would stand them out from the rest of the league and so they institutionalize this activity.
This showdown troop formations are not without bestowing of awards to deserving detachments, big and small. Previous winners have received tokens of appreciation and material rewards for their effort. It boosts confidence and increases morale as well as creating a loyalty bond between individual guard and Tactical Security.
Group formations such as these are not complete without Troop Information and Education. This is the most vital component where management would be able to link up with its manpower from the soul and from the heart. It is an open venue where two-way communications are observed.
This year -2012 - the Inspection Team visited each and every big detachment and small post. There are four categories and each category is accorded only one winner. In Category A, there were four competitors; Category B – five; Category C – seven; and Category D – ten. All put their best foot forward and never in this competition’s history have the scores been so tight.
Cebu Toyo Corporation won over closest competitor Casino Filipino-Crown Regency by only six points in Category D. Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu won by twenty points over nearest rival Cebu South Bus Terminal in Category B. Category A champion, Casino Filipino-Lahug, upended nearest pursuer Sky Rise Realty Development Corp by just ten points. Only the Cebu International Convention Center dominated Category C by a wide margin.
Awarding was held at the function room of Allure Hotel and Suites in AS Fortuna Street, Bakilid, Mandaue City on December 4, 2012. Winners of a side contest – the Best Head Guard and the Best Shift-in-Charge – were also honored and awarded for their year-round but efficient supervision and control over their subordinates as well as their excellent relations with our respective clients.
For Best Shift-in-Charge, SG Rene Anduyan of Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu got the first place; second goes to SG Gervacio Esmero Jr of Philippine Health Insurance Corp. Regional Office 7; and third place was yanked by SG Abundio Racaza III of the Cebu South Bus Terminal.
First place for Best Head Guard was awarded to 2009 awardee SG Paulino Lacandula of Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu; second to SG Rogelio Rojas of the Cebu South Bus Terminal; and the third best was taken by SG Eugenio Tampus of Greencoil Industries, Inc.
Special awards were also bestowed to deserving guards for their exemplary service, academic excellence and loyalty. Such awards are given each year to ten security guards – male and female – who were selected for their performance and their dedication to their jobs exemplified by SG Noel Lequin who was able to bust a syndicate of shoplifters preying on ThreeSixty Pharmacy branches.
For posterity, Tactical Security is very proud to announce the other winners through the years:
Category A (30++ Guards)
2009: Cebu Provincial Capitol
2010: Cebu Provincial Capitol
2011: Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center
Category B (20-29 Guards)
2009: Casino Filipino-Mactan
2010: Banilad Town Center
2011: Cebu International Convention Center
Category C (10-19 Guards)
2009: Greencoil Industries
2010: Greencoil Industries
2011: Cebu Province Properties (Museo Sugbu/DA Compound/PEO/Larsian)
Category D (6-9 Guards)
2009: Cebu Province-Old BBRC Property
2010: Cebu Province-Balili Beach Property
2011: Cebu Province-Balili Beach Property
Best Head Guard
2009: SG Paulino Lacandula (Sacred Heart School-Jesuits)
2010: SG Servillano Angcay Jr (Cebu Provincial Capitol)
2011: SG Rogelio Rojas (Cebu South Bus Terminal)
SG Joseph Varga (Cebu Province-Sugbu Gawad Kalinga)
2009: SG Arthur Pacaldo (Cebu South Bus Terminal)
2010: SG Rogelio Rojas (Cebu Province-Balili Beach Property)
SG Rene Anduyan (Sacred Heart School-Jesuits)
2011: SG Luke Carniga III (Cebu International Convention Center)
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Thursday, December 20, 2012
NOVEMBER 30, 2012 is a legal holiday. I may have to take time off from my day job and enjoy the day. No, my wife asked me instead to repair the the upper floor bathroom of her daughter which had been leaking through floor and ceiling into the ground level bathroom. Since I know something about waterproofing, she requested me. Bye bye day off.
Waterproofing is a trade skill that I learned during my warrior pilgrimage days and that was more than a decade ago. I used to work as a free-lance waterproofing applicator together with a neighbor and it was another source of income for me during those days. You toil under the heat of the sun with a fire torch and melting asphalt sheets on the roof deck. While working, you either sit on your ankles, you kneel or you crouch. It was such a reprieve then to just stand after 15 minutes or more of bending your knees .
Well, I may have to re-visit that situation again with arthritic knees now and then prepare the materials and equipment needed for this waterproofing job. The surface that I am working on is just small: two meters by two meters. It is indoors, so no sun to torment me but it is windowless. In a small confined area, it will be very very hot, I tell you.
I searched the local yellow pages the day before for “waterproofing” and all items found are waterproofing contractors except one who supply asphalt membranes. I phoned Ritebuild Systems in Mandaue City and they were able to sell me a roll of Sika BituSeal asphalt sheet that is 10 meters long, one meter wide and 3mm thin. Yes. So thin indeed. Back then, we used to work on membranes that are 5mm thick!
In the morning, I proceed to the Cebu Home & Builders Center in Consolacion and buy the other stuff like a gallon of Shell Flintkote bituminous primer, a Kessler gas torch, a 75ml bottle of butane, two cheap brushes, a bottle of paint thinner, a cutter, a pair of work gloves, safety glasses, disposable masks and a spatula. I complement the butane fuel with three used bottles which are leftovers from my camping sorties.
I start the work right after lunch. So, that leaves me just five hours of daylight. I had the bathroom floor thoroughly cleaned after it was removed of floor tiles two days ago. A row of tiles all around the wall that is located at the bottom layer were also rid of to free the spaces intended for waterproofing.
Fine dust were the last to be taken away before a thin coat of bitumen primer were to be applied. I paint black on all the bare spaces devoid of tiles including the upper part of the inside surfaces of PVC pipes which are used as drain. I re-section the floor in imaginary segments so I would not waste my supply of bitumen membrane.
The bathroom do not have lighting and the only source of light comes from the door and from my small LED torch. Since it is cramped and hot, I directed an electric fan to the bathroom door. I need a lot of air flow to disperse the vapor resulting from the melting of asphalt and so I use another electric fan to suck air coming from outside the window into the living room from where the other fan is located near the bathroom.
The heat from the flame torch and the melted asphalt goes back at you as it bounce off from tiled walls. The tiles are a perfect convector of heat as it possess a shiny sheen. What made matters worse is that the heat are carried by the air blown off by the electric fan once I change position facing it. From time to time, I turn off the appliance.
I am sweating profusely, drops of sweat fall from my eyebrows into the softened asphalt, my knees, my feet, my forearms, the bare floor, my eyeglasses and into my eyes which cause a sting. My t-shirt, my briefs and shorts are all wet including my pair of cotton work gloves.
The gloves are smeared with tar which adhere when I position the hot membrane to the floor sections. If liquified asphalt is accidentally touched, I would quickly remove glove as it is very hot. I would stop every thirty minutes to stretch my legs and to cool down my body and the gas torch. I would do that by going downstairs (where the refrigerated water is) and inhale fresh air outside. A fifteen-minute break is all I need every hour. Fair enough.
You have to overlap each sheet over the other by at least two inches and seal it by pressing down the spatula going from left to right or reverse or up going down. You cut small square pieces of membrane to patch areas where you are short of measurement and seal it all around. That is painstaking work since you need both gloved hands for torch and spatula and nothing for the flashlight. Fortunately for me, I have an extra hand from a carpenter.
The most delicate one is sealing the drain edges. Possessed with a very good imagination, I hurdle it in a breeze and finish the entirety of the waterproofing job at 6:20 PM. Before I say it is over, I may have to test the efficacy of the waterproofing by temporarily sealing the drain holes and open the water tap to create a water pool then wait for three hours for a leak.
Got rid of the wet clothes and change into dry ones. Dinner comes and, after that, a good seat infront of a TV set to watch the Philippine Azkals beat the Myanmar White Angels, 2-0, in the Suzuki Cup. What a day!
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Wednesday, December 12, 2012
THIS IS MY FIRST TIME to teach bushcraft and survival outside of my home turf in Cebu. The Mountain Climbers Alliance of the Philippines, Inc. (MCAP) hierarchy have tasked me to conduct a bushcraft camp among its members so as to equip them with the necessary skills to complement their outdoor pursuits. MCAP is a fledgling national umbrella organization of individual mountaineers in the Philippines that follow the concept of “old-school mountaineering”.
I am old-school and so are Edwin Gatia and Vicky Evarretta, the MCAP President and Vice President, respectively. Both deferred to follow the present state of mountaineering which hinged more on form and quantity rather than in substance and quality and both do not want MCAP to tarnish its image by dabbling towards capitalistic inclinations which some enterprising mountaineers have taken advantaged of of others. The mountaineering community is in such a state of disarray and rift that it needs an immediate reorientation of its priorities and objectives to achieve unity.
The visionaries of MCAP desires only to unify all Philippine mountaineers by providing them with an organization that seeks to protect its own with above-board transactions, an insurance policy to cover its members from mountain climbing accidents, a cooperative for members and an opportunity to be selected and sponsored in overseas mountaineering expeditions. I have longed to enjoy these privileges when I was then at my prime and I am elated to see that it will soon be a reality.
Anyway, the MCAP Bushcraft Camp commence on September 29, 2012 at Mount Balagbag in Rodriguez, Rizal and will end on October 1. Eighteen MCAP members and other outdoorsmen from different affiliations opt to participate Class 01-2012 by proceeding to the assembly point in Tungko, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan where the party leave for the camp at 1:30 PM. Also coming along are my volunteer staff: Raymund Panganiban who will be the official event photographer and EDC instructor; and Jay Z Jorge who will be the camp ramrod.
It is a Saturday and Super Typhoon “Lawin” was supposed to have left the Philippine area of responsibility many hours ago yet it persistently refused to budge its watery weight and parted scattered heavy rainshowers and thunderclouds. Rivulets of water run along creases on the road as we walk upwards to the camp from the Balagbag Elementary School which attest that the tempest is still here. On the roadside ditch, water roared furiously whose rhythm had methodically pushed my mind to think and seek other last-minute options, just in case.
After an hour of uphill walk, we reach our campsite located inside a private property. The small flat space fronting a small house whose electricity is powered by a tiny solar power facility is squishy and completely immersed in water underneath. We gaze at the higher ground and set up our tents on four small clearings which each could hold three to five tents. I opt to set up a primitive shelter of cheap tarpaulin propped up by a foraged tree trunk in the middle and tied at the four corners with strips of cord from a cotton shirt.
Setting up beside me in an almost similar manner is Melchor Radovan of the Alamid Mountaineers. His is of fine quality rip-stop tarp and pricy-looking flat rope strung from shrub to ground. His tarp is big enough to accommodate five people yet he welcomed me to sleep under his shelter which I oblige and I immediately splay my PVC tarpaulin above the dirt for my own bed space. I decide to make my shelter as a storage area for the rest of my gears which amounted to nothing but just an assortment of borrowed, foraged, improvised and hand-me-down items.
I prepare my dinner while there is still light and make work on the taro sprouts, gumbos and green pepper and stir fry this after cooking milled corn. There are no milled corn sold in Metro Manila marketplaces and I bring my own from Cebu. All the participants, except those few from the Visayas and Mindanao, got fascinated of my milled corn while my “takway” dish elicit a lot of questions from the urbanites.
After supper, some of the participants converge on a tarpaulin awning fronting the house for social time and a getting-to-know-you circle ensued. It happen to be the birthday of Ella de la Cruz and there is a simple celebration ratcheted up by her fellow participants. Soda drinks and wine flowed all around while a full cake is sliced after a candle blow-out rite complete with sparklers. Funny two-liners passed around even while the heavens start to pour another flurry of rain which stopped just as it had started. Boyet Cristobal arrive just in time to enjoy the exchange of jokes and he got a lot of doses of it as well.
Meanwhile, Pastor Reynold Boringot (yes, Virginia he is an evangelist) I learned, had made Mt. Balagbag as a training ground for himself and for MCAP climbers and, not only that, he targetted the children here as recipients of their outreach programs. The recent paint make-over of the libraries of public schools of Rodriguez, Rizal is a testament of MCAP’s willingness to part generously their time, resources and charity in tandem with the National Book Store and KaEskwela Foundation – an NGO. Quite commendable and endearing and should be replicated everywhere.
Mountaineers should give back to the highland residents and indigenous communities in appreciation of the latter’s willingness to have their domain and farming lands accessed and used by the former either as camping grounds or hike trails. I have done a similar program such as those mentioned above in the Babag Mountain Range of Cebu City and how am glad to be with an organization that has a heart.
Lights out is at 10:15 PM and I snuggle into the half-open shelter with nothing but long hike pants, long-sleeved synthetic shirt, socks and bonnet. It began to rain at dawn the following day – September 30 – and I awoke shivering. I try to remedy the situation by curling my body as close as possible and place my bare palms between my inner thighs to preserve body heat. It is a temporary relief which elicit me short stretches of sleep that gets snapped, time and time again, by the cold wind and drops of moisture running down the tarp. Raymund abandoned his tent and joined us and we are now a crowd.
I awoke at 5:30 AM and I see Dr. Randy Castro, Liam Fritz Doños and Benju Pausanos braving the early-morning cold weather and taking bath under the rain. I used to do this in the ‘90s to taunt and challenge fellow mountaineers to wriggle them out of their comfort zones. This time, I am challenged and I change my long pants to shorts and embrace the rain half naked like a child again. The best way to break cold is to treat the wind and the rain as your brothers and embrace the cold.
Today will be the main day of the MCAP Bushcraft Camp and, after breakfast, I may have to walk an hour to a stream where there are groves of bamboo. Bong Magana with friends arrive just in time and set up tents with help from Jay Z and Marc Gana. Shirtless and carrying a machete, I follow Reynold on a dirt road for the stream. Coming along are Dino Sarmiento, Max Tercerus III, John Paul Martires, Ulysses Ibarrola, Joseph Tagle, Boyet, Melchor and Raymund. Guiding us are local grade-schoolers Dagul and Li-it. A steep path go down into the stream with thick jungle.
There are many groves of bamboo but it is of the “bagakay” or “buho” variety (sp. Schizotacyum lima) which is smaller in diameter and thinner in thickness than the usual bamboo that I used to cook with rice or milled corn. But, bushcraft and survival is adaptation and I choose the two biggest poles which I cut into three sets of two unopened segments each. These will be my “cook pots” later. We took a lot of time hunting bamboos and walking forth and back that it is almost 11:00 AM by the time we reach camp.
In a little while, two birds of prey appear and soar above our camp in circles. The raptors are not that far and I could plainly distinguish the length and color pigments of their wing feathers as different from Brahminy kites and I believe these are serpent hawks. I am fortunate to witness their welcoming presence and it is a good omen for me. I hear them calling each other or it may have been a welcome greeting for yours truly - the Trailhawk.
I decide we first prepare and eat lunch before starting the the basics of bushcraft and survival. I work on my last stash of taro sprouts, gumbos and green pepper for my meal. Dino helped me with it by stripping away the thin skin which may contain small amounts of toxin. Jay Z and Bong shared their pork caldereta with me and it is superbly cooked. Outdoorsmen should enjoy the outdoors with good food eaten hot from the cooking fire and not rely so much with canned goods and repacked food eaten cold.
At 1:00 PM, I start the bushcraft camp. Part One is Introduction to Bushcraft and Survival. The participants make use of boulders on a slight rise of a knoll as seats like a crude amphitheater. I explain the idea of bushcraft to them; what are its standard activities; where it is usually done; its relation to the environment; how it affects your psyche; and why should it be taught to mountaineers. After that, I proceed to Part Two which is Survival Tool-Making. I discuss the most basic hand-made tools that a survivor would likely use in his day-to-day chore like foraging sticks, cordage, cooking/dining implements, friction devices, etc.
I included a sub-module about Everyday Carry or EDC which is Part Three of my syllabus. This time, Raymund do the honors of explaining to the participants about the importance of EDC in everyday living, whether you are in the mountains or in your workstation. Raymund is a member of Camp Red Bushcraft and Survival Guild and he specializes in EDC which he maintains for himself and, at the same time, give pointers about this kit. From a distance, I see thundercloud looming and coming fast. As I begin to resume my lecture, rain fall hard and everyone go to the safety of the lone house.
For about thirty minutes, we could do nothing but wait for the rain to subside. It is now 3:20 PM when I start Part Four and, this time, it is about Knife Care and Safety. Bushcrafters are proud of their blades and I assume mountaineers do likewise, albeit in a discreet way. The choice of sheaths and the manner of carrying are very important to minimize accidents not only to oneself but also of others. Rain interrupted my lecture and have to transfer into the tight confines of the house to continue my discussion. I talk about the only knife law in the country – Batas Pambansa Bilang 6 – before I finish it with the traditional way of sharpening knives.
As the rain becomes a slight drizzle, the class transfer again outside. The boulders are wet and the ground very muddy and Part Five tackles about Foraging. This is a sticky subject which goes against the tenets of LNT but, then again, when you are on survival mode you withdraw from whatever moral values you may have in order to survive. I give an explanation of what needs to be foraged, collected or hunted in the course of your survival or in your preparation for survival. Foraging in the line of your preparation and being ready amounts to nothing else but just scraps of natural and man-made material. Hunting for food, however, is essential and absolute.
Part Six is next which is Firecraft. I explain to them that you could not achieve fire from friction if you could not even accomplish this with a simple conventional method like lighters and safety matches. Emphasis for this lecture would be more on what type of tinder and kindling and the proper arrangement of your firewood so you could successfully produce a flame. Methods, however, vary according to convenience and efficiency and I am more inclined with the bow-drill method as much better than that of the bamboo saw granting you have determined the perfect combination of wood for this which you could carry as a kit.
The last part of the lecture is Outdoor Cooking and it could either be done in the campsite, along a trail or during survival. Survival cooking means that you would have to forage materials for your cooking vessel, ingredients for food and firewood from the environment. For demonstration, I teach the participants how to prepare a bamboo as a cooking vessel and how to arrange firewood preparatory to making a fire. The air is full of moisture and thick with fog. The ground completely immersed in water and very muddy. Firewood is half-wet yet, with persistence, a fire did start by conventional means and cooking rice inside the bamboo begins.
An hour later, under Kris Shiela Mingi’s and Randy’s watch, the rice is cooked together with instant noodles done in an adjacent segment. Ella and Randy decide to cook rice on another bamboo pot which they did successfully while practicing to light tissue papers with a firesteel set on the side. The rain refused to budge and everyone went on their business of cooking meals for supper. Gene Jesus Arceno and Kris prepare spaghetti while the company of Bong and Jay Z cook pork sinigang and sisig. These people know their cuisine very well and I get to taste some of the finest food done in the outdoors.
After a short lull of washing dishes and groping in the dark for some private moments, all reclaimed their places under the tarp awning. By now, a preview of camp storytelling and yarns – sans a fire – begin to unravel. At 9:00 PM, the nocturnal hunting episode start. It would have been done at the stream where we source our bamboos but it is very far and I cannot assure the safety of everyone for night foraging is a dangerous undertaking. I choose instead a brook beside the road to simulate the idea of nocturnal hunting. There is not much to hunt except for a small fresh-water crab and a field frog. Wild strawberries complement the collection of food though.
It is minutes past ten and we reclaimed once more our seats at the house and continue our storytelling and yarns minus a campfire for we have used up our stash of firewood. This time a glass of local brandy make several rounds around the joyous circle. Jokes and funny two-liners are exchanged among the campers. Camp Red stickers and logo patches, a paracord bracelet and a Warrior Pilgrimage t-shirt are raffled off to the participants. It is raining hard again but we transfer inside the house to continue with our jolly activity. After two hours, the bottles are drained of its content just in time for the rain to stop and we make a beeline back to our respective tents.
Since it is very cold, I unpack the SOL Emergency Bivvy that Jay Z had gifted me during the Philippine Independence Bushcraft Camp last June and try it for the first time. I slept warmly until I awoke at 3:00 AM of October 1 shivering. It is raining hard and strong winds swept over our campsite. The tarp mat where my feet are is in a pool of water but I am dry, thanks to the bivvy chute. My body is warm but my face is exposed to the wind for I forgot to don on my bonnet; my feet could feel the cold water touching the thin layer of the thermal sack; and my hands touch condensed moisture inside the bivvy. I longed for daylight as I try to sleep out the discomforts.
I wake up at 5:45 AM and the sky is calm. Fog hover on the faraway peaks of the Sierra Madre and over the lower foothills going down to the municipality of Rodriguez, Rizal. A sinister smog hover all over the Greater Manila Area and I could hear the distant hum of a million vehicles running which a local interpreted as a roar of a flooded stream. Today is Monday and people rush to work. Some participants do leave early to avoid the traffic jam. For those who stayed, we have a lot time to pursue.
When breakfast is done, the bushcraft tradition of blade porn is unleashed. There you go brothers. Place your blades and take a shot of it and those of your friends’ knives with your cameras. I see a Ka-Bar, a Smith and Wesson, a Columbia, an Aitor, a Zachary Crockett, Leatherman multi-tools, a SOG, Victorinox Swiss Army knives, native blades, machetes, a tomahawk, a home-made blade, an ax and sickle, even a tiny scalpel by Dr. Remo Tito Aguilar. All are spread on a folding cot – a pageantry of the few who may soon become legion.
The last activity would be to summit Mt. Balagbag (770 meters ASL) and renew our bond with flag and republic. I brought a Philippine Flag for this occasion which Melchor attach to a bamboo pole that I collected yesterday from a stream. The flag dance with the breeze and we all sing the National Anthem which I lead. We then raise right palms and take our oath of allegiance for country and then all shake hands with each other for a successful summit. We go down back and break camp. We say our thanks to Ma’am Lenlen and family for our disturbance and walk to the trailhead.
We transfer from San Jose del Monte to SM Fairview, Quezon City for a post-activity discussion. Stephen Dayandayan is already at the area waiting for us. Stephen would whisk me off later for Camp Crame for some unfinished business and then to the airport. Last September 28, Stephen have fetched me from NAIA Terminal 3 and hosted me at his home in Marikina City. Later on that same day, we go to Camp Crame for an errand by my office to submit documents but we had a lot of misadventures and I failed. But today, I successfully submit these at the last minute after a great trouble of evading traffic.
It was a great and fun weekend with the participants of the MCAP Bushcraft Camp. Despite the rain, the wind and mud, we made ourselves comfortable as possible by cooking great food and making light of the situation. I have given my time generously and imparted special skills for they deserve it. These skills command a high price commercially but Warrior Pilgrimage gave it back at almost no cost at all save for replenishment of my air fare and for the printing of certificates. Looking forward to the next batch.
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Some photos courtesy of Warren Bulasa, Gene Jesu Arceno, Paul Martires, Jay Z Jorge and Dr. Remo Tito Aguilar
Saturday, December 8, 2012
I HAVE PARTICIPATED an anniversary celebration of my fraternity - the OMEGA PELTA KAPPA - only once and that was during the Martial Law days. Memories are vague but, I believed, it happened right after an initiation rite for neophytes in Liloan, Cebu. I could be wrong but it seemed we were celebrating on the beach.
I am a Peltan since 1981 by way of the Delta Chapter.
Fast forward to September 8, 2012, I finally get a chance to attend my first “real” OPK Anniversary Celebration. This will be my first time to see the rest of my Peltan family through the years of its foundation in 1965 up to this 47th year.
The Municipality of Sibonga is hosting this year’s anniversary which, incidentally, is the birthday of the Virgin Mary where a feast is celebrated in the Shrine of Mary in Simala. A motorcade started at 8:00 AM from Cebu city where it converge at the Nuestra Señora del Pilar Parish for the 11:30 AM Thanksgiving Mass.
Motorcade then proceed to Coco Beach Resort in Bagacay where lunch is served and a host of other activities like giving recognition of Peltans who have made this year’s edition possible, the election of officers of the Peltans International Society of Professionals, Inc. (PISPI) led by Brod Edward Cilocilo and the distribution of PISPI ID. Theme for this 47th Anniversary Celebration is:
Coming together is a beginning;
Keeping together is progress;
Working together is success!
Absent were my 1981 batch mates, my Delta Chapter upperclassmen and my recruiter. I solemnly missed all of them but, what I lacked in familiar faces, are compensated by a present host of my other brothers and sisters from other chapters whom I may have crossed paths, in one way or another, in the past and the not-yet-distant years. Also present were representatives from Iloilo, Negros Occidental and Misamis Occidental.
The rest of the day were reserved for socials and bonding activities. The resort provided cottages, a fresh-water swimming pool, a beach volleyball court, bathrooms, restaurant, tables, chairs and open spaces for our activities. It is the best time to refresh my links within the OPK-PISPI hierarchy and to my individual sisters and brothers.
The following are the collage of photos that best describe the 47th OMEGA PELTA KAPPA Anniversary:
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Saturday, December 1, 2012
INDUCED BY THE BRAZEN cutting of trees by mindless zombies with chainsaws inside of the Buhisan Watershed Area two Sundays ago, I decided to re-visit the place today, September 9, 2012. Coming with me again are Silver Cueva, Jhurds Neo, Ernie Salomon, Dominikus Sepe, Edwina Marie Intud, Eli Bryn Tambiga and Nyor Pino. They were with me on the date of August 26, 2012 when we saw NINETEEN, repeat NINETEEN, stumps of recently cut mahogany trees and two teak trees. We were going to Kilat Spring then for a grassroots bushcraft activity about Trailsigns and Stalking.
Adding to our number today are Randell Savior, Glenn Abapo and Mr. Bogs. We are the core group of Camp Red and I will discuss a non-bushcraft topic about Environmental Advocacy. In addition, I will also do a discourse of the Leave No Trace outdoor ethics. We all meet at the front court of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Guadalupe, Cebu City except Randell who will be late and would go directly to a place called the Portal.
The Portal is the hub of seven trails located somewhere along the edge of the Buhisan. Buhisan is where the Metro Cebu Water District source part of their water in providing services to about 15-20 percent of the city’s households. It is a protected area and is covered by a national law known as the Central Cebu Protected Landscape Act. Buhisan is one of the playgrounds of Camp Red and is the only and last place in Metro Cebu that still host a a large forested area.
Few people go to its wildest side and Camp Red happens to carry that honor and reputation of being the only outdoors group who have penetrated its thickest jungles and leave almost no traces of their visits. It is terra incognita to the rest of the other outdoor clubs and rightly so for this place is not designed for ordinary outdoors recreation like camping lest presence of many people and their refuse would threaten water source quality which is not what protected-area administrators wanted.
It rained the whole night but I am not worried because the weather pattern is very predictable like sunny mornings and late afternoon showers. Anyway, it had always been my manner to proceed in all kinds of weather and the weather had never given me any disappointment like postponing an activity on the mere excuse of muddy trails. Rain clouds of last night’s dissipated quickly as the sun emerge from its slumber and it is mildly hot when we finally move up for Bebut’s Trail at 8:00 AM.
Dews adhering to blades of grass at this hour only suggests that “heartbreak ridge” will not be tormenting. When we arrive at the Portal at 9:00 AM, Randell is already there. I show to the newcomers the stumps of mahogany and that most hated sound of a chainsaw from a distance and unseen from our point. After rehydrating, we take Kilat Trail and I notice two new stumps of mahogany and their respective upper trunks already cut into pieces. The illegal tree-cutting activity have caused so much disturbance among vegetation and wildlife. I could hear no birds nor other creature sounds in the vicinity of the newly-cut trees.
My heart sank into despair and dejection of seeing and knowing that the government cannot do something to protect the trees and the environment in a place that is just about six kilometers from City Hall and their bureaucrats utterly inutile and incompetent to monitor a protected area. This gave me the vigor to commit Camp Red to an active role in protecting the very places we choose as our playground. When these places are destroyed and become off-limits we may be ultimately forced to transfer our bushcraft camps to faraway places and that will entail us more transportation expenses and several days travel which is very impractical.
When we arrive at Kilat Spring, I start my discussion on the good cause of advocating for the protection of the environment. I would have understood the cutting of trees done by farmers during the hot summer months and during a drought season when their crop yield could not support their families but during the middle of the rainy season it invites suspicion. The use of chainsaws only supports my hunch that it is done in commercial quantities instead of by subsistence.
I enjoin all not to be antagonistic against these people but to use social media instead to create awareness among the rest of the populace. Facebook and Twitter are good vehicles to spread information fast and course it amongst politicians, environmentalists and other well-meaning citizens who, in the course of their works and causes, created accounts for themselves to make them relevant before the mainstream public. Everyone now has access to the Internet and information can be accessed and distributed from the tips of your fingers in almost real time.
When all have understood that protection of the environment can be done with the use of social media, all heave a sigh of relief. Then I proceed to the next topic which had been causing a slight strain among a number of outdoor groups against Camp Red. Camp Red, by the very nature of its niche which is bushcraft and survival, do not follow LNT as a rule. Still, I entertain the idea of educating Camp Red bushmen about LNT to let them understand better about its principles and to be informed.
I explain to all the very reasons why LNT is formulated by its original authors and its seven guiding principles based upon my knowledge, understanding and experience. This is my first time to teach the whole of LNT yet I state each and every sentence and line while giving certain examples to make it more understandable and illuminating to my audience. Furthermore, I sift every information to distinguish which are useful and applicable and which are not.
LNT is good and knowledge of it will guide you to conduct yourself properly in the outdoors in the barest impact possible. Making it as a rule though makes it counter-productive. I have known certain outdoor clubs and their individual members who insist that LNT should be strictly followed and use this as basis to reprimand or boot out their own. Such skewed interpretations of LNT defeats the very purpose and the intent of the originators. LNT, just like religion, is harmony and not foment discord.
Exactly as I have anticipated at the end my discussion, Ernie finished his cooking. Lunch consists of vegetable soup, pork adobao, raw cucumber in vinegar and milled corn. Aside those, Silver shared his gourmet beans. All take several turns to relish the excellent food. Water is very abundant and flowing from the concrete spring box of Kilat. I narrate to everyone why this place is called Kilat and how the spring came to be. Above us is a fig tree that nurtures the quality of the natural spring.
After an hour of socializing and exchange of conversations we take off at 1:00 PM for the lone mango tree which serve as my landmark on the other side of the high ridge. We reach the tree after twenty minutes of uphill climb and the shade of the mango is the last cool place after this if ever we decide to go either to Tisa or to Banawa. I let them choose which trail they would want to take and they opt for the latter so I target the Celestial Gardens of Gochan Hills.
It is all downhill now except when crossing between clefts of hills and we arrive and follow the Way of the Cross, a series of life-sized figures depicting the route and agony of Jesus Christ carrying his cross on his way to Calvary Hill. We arrive below the entrance arc of the Celestial Gardens at 2:30 PM and we take rest at a nearby store and rehydrate ourselves with soda drinks to pep up lost energy. We walk the private road down to Duterte Street so we could transfer to M. Velez Street.
Final destination is at the Red Hours Convenience Store and it is a good place to exchange conversations and observations regarding the day’s activity. We arrive there at 3:15 PM while Guns Pestaño make himself available in a short while to join us in our gathering. All are in high spirits and that is a healthy omen that Camp Red will be here for good.
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