Saturday, December 1, 2012

BUSHCRAFT BUHISAN XVII: Environmental Advocacy & LNT

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.

Document done in LibreOffice 3.3 Writer

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