Monday, August 27, 2012


THE MEETING ON JUNE 21, 2012 at the Red Hours Convenience Store had already adjourned and I am with Ernie Salomon, Dominikus Sepe and two other people who professed to be “mountaineers”. Boy Toledo, Randell Savior, Jerome Tan, JB Albano and Roger Siasar had already left almost an hour ago and we were doing “clearing operations” on the tables.

We have all consumed many glasses from bottle after bottle of one-liter Red Horse Extra Strong Beer when one of the guys who had declared themselves “mountaineers” asked me why Camp Red1 do not follow Leave No Trace and is it necessary to carry axes and knives in climbing mountains? What, I asked myself, kind of dumb questions are those?

I don’t know if I get pissed or tickled to the bones with those stupid questions but I replied to the bloke that bushcraft don’t need to follow LNT and, besides, LNT does not apply well in tropical countries where the density of flora are many times thicker than those found in temperate areas. I added that although I don’t follow LNT but still I respect the spirit of its intention.

The guy was not convinced. Okey, no problem about that. We are entitled to our own respective opinions and we are in a free country anyway. I drink my beer and dismiss his dim-witted arrogance. Anyway, he is just new to “mountaineering” and I could understand his “idealism”.

By the way, these guys subscribe to travel tours and they can’t climb mountains without lots of bucks. They are part of the new phenomenon brought on by the commercialization of outdoor activities where one old-school mountaineer from Luzon coined the words to describe this - “corporate mountaineering”. Their ilk are half-baked clients who go to mountains in sheer numbers and in haste.

He began to quote “Take nothing but pictures; leave nothing but footprints; kill nothing but time.” and added why we should not abide by that. Oh, well, I answered that I have been there and have done that and over the years it had been my maxim until the time when I came to a crossroads where I have to choose which is most sane: the people on the verge of extreme poverty eking out a hand-to-mouth existence on the mountains or the environment?

The idea of poverty in the mountains is so alien to him considering that, according to his understanding, our country is so rich in natural resources and there are so many farms he saw while climbing. Did he? I bet he didn’t see that close and I bet too that he is blinded by his struggle to reach the top of a high mountain in a hurry, with oozing adrenaline, just to claim that bragging right and complimentary photos. He was adamant and totally ignorant and so stupid.

Then the conversation steered on to why I carry an axe and knives on the mountains. The “axe” he meant is my tomahawk. There’s a whale of a difference, my chap. Anyway, I told him that we don’t climb mountains and mountains mean nothing to bushcraft except as an obstacle. What we do is do little bush hikes and stay in one or two places to practice our craft – preferably in the wilderness where there are almost no people.

They start to laugh and I could see Dom and Ernie flustered red and ready to choke them waiting for my signal. His companion, a spectacled guy, couldn’t believe that there are wilderness areas in the Philippines, much more so in Cebu. “Yes, there are if you know where to look.”, I said; and that both are used to mountain guides that they never developed common trail sense to find their way around and, pointing to the one with the spectacles, “Especially if I remove those eyeglasses”.

These disciples of “corporate mountaineering” are sold out about LNT in that they are assured of their good planning, their stock of food and that they can’t comprehend when the SHTF2 comes; of Murphy’s Law. Oh God, they think they are in a fairyland. The real world, my chap, is a hard one and you need your wits and your blades if you want to survive in a SHTF situation.

To them, accidents don’t happen because their trips are properly planned and these are taken cared of by their travel agencies. WHAT? They talk as if they are just like clicking a mouse on a personal computer. These guys are plain nuts!!! Wow! Couldn’t believe what they just said. Why would I trust my life with other people’s planning and stupid rules? People that I don’t even know.

Ernie and Dom joined in the debate and begins to put some sense into their thick knuckleheads but it just increases the intensity of the sound decibels and the heat of where each stood. Ernie and Dom did their best because they were in the real world and have seen it up close while those two morons are contemplating of carrying Barbie Doll-and-dress sets into their next trip, I guess.

Could not blame them. They have this propensity to brag about their high-tech gears; about the mountains they have “conquered”; about the number of bottles of Tanduay they have consumed in their campsites; and just about anything to revel in the limelight of their just-found bloated ego. Unfortunately for Boy T, Jerome and Ernie, these two are with their group.

To be honest, I wouldn’t want to share the trail with them. I have been with them one time and I am not happy with what they did – bringing hard drinks on a day trek with lady guests. They finished three bottles at the Roble homestead and another three at the Busay Lut-od Waterfalls in a drunken orgy that goes on beyond dusk. That is gross irresponsibility and they should know that for they are supposed-to-be adherents of LNT. Hypocrites! 

There are so many of them and they think climbing a mountain is just about adrenaline rush and they label it as “adventure”, “exploration” or “expedition” in Facebook even if a million people have already gone there before them. Dreaming is free but don’t distort it to involve other people so they would click the LIKE button.

By the way, I don’t carry an axe because it is heavy and I am not a lumberjack. What I have is my tomahawk and it is very light and so efficient. It had been with me in Cuernos de Negros in 2001, in the Malindang Mountain Range in 2005 and my epic traverse of Mount Dulangdulang and Mount Kitanglad in 2008. LNT forbids carrying of knives and such but I am a warrior and I am in a real world. No LNT could stop me that.

For good measure (sic), I propose to Camp Red or any bushman worth his salt to follow this by heart:

  • Take anything what you need from nature;
  • Kill or hunt anything to survive; and
  • Leave no footprints behind.

Document done in LibreOffice 3.3

1Based in Cebu, the only bushcraft and survival guild in the Philippines south of Subic Bay.
2Shit Hits The Fan! Standard acronym used by bushcrafters, survivalists and preppers when something goes wrong.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


ONLY THE BRAVE!” That was the theme of last year’s Philippine Independence Bushcraft Camp (PIBC) held for the first time on June 11-12 at the Babag Mountain Range, Cebu City. This pioneering outdoors event opened the eyes of the first participants to the fundamentals of bushcraft and survival taught by this blogger. Local outdoorsmen took the challenge of this unconventional outdoor interest to toil for two days at the jungle fastnesses of Camp Damazo.

Catching up on the heels of the first episode, the second year of the PIBC is lengthened to three days on June 10, 11 and 12, 2012. Camp Damazo is moved up further on higher ground while two more modules are added. Spiking up this year’s event is the theme of “Wits as Sharp as Knives!” whence a basic knife care and safety instruction shall be discussed and then the much-awaited but very special bushcraft tradition of “blade porn” will set out that will surely delight all the participants and camp staff.

Catching up interest of PIBC MMXII are this present generation of local backpackers belonging to various outdoors group; firefighters from different fire stations; Philippine National Red Cross volunteers; Camp Red bushcrafters; and two old-school mountaineers from Luzon. All labored the tricky route from the trailhead to the campsite on the first day and see for the first time one of the most remote but hidden jungles that the Babag Mountain Range had been keeping for a long time.

The second day is dedicated to introducing bushcraft and survival then teaching the basics of survival tool-making, knife care and safety, foraging, firecraft and outdoor cooking. A sub-module of everyday-carry preparation is expounded by Glenn Pestaño of PIBC MMXI. Aside from the blade porn, other highlights of the PIBC are spoon carving, fire starting, campfire yarns and story-telling and nocturnal hunting.

This blogger, who is the organizer and training director, is well-assisted by the following PIBC MMXI alums to run this year’s event, namely: Randell Savior (camp ramrod), Ernesto Salomon (camp fixer), Troy Limpangug (photography and documentation), James Cabajar (camp hand) and Charltone Bathan (camp hand). Another alum, Raymund Panganiban, provided graphics and design for PIBC t-shirts and official banner logo.

The third day is going to focus on the observance of Philippine Independence and serves as the vehicle to refresh love of country and flag. Dominikus Sepe led the oath of allegiance to flag and republic while Angel May Catayoc anchored the singing of the Philippine National Anthem; after which, all break camp and proceed to the Lanipao Rainforest Resort to tidy up on the fresh-water pools after being deprived of the comforts of a good bath for three days.

Aside from the PIBC certificates, participants and camp staff are treated to give-away items courtesy of the HABAGAT OUTDOOR EQUIPMENT. Other items given away were provided for by Glenn Pestaño, Mayo Leo Carillo, Camp Red, Tribu Dumagsa and the Warrior Pilgrimage Blog. This activity is followed by a healthy swapping of items and other blanket trading. The following collage of images best describe that is the PHILIPPINE INDEPENDENCE BUSHCRAFT CAMP 2012:


  1. PIBC MMXII exposed the participants that the idea of bushcraft and survival can complement very well with backpacking and mountain climbing.
  2. Bushcraft and survival is a very cheap hobby. Foreigners love to learn survival techniques in the tropics. We live in the tropics yet we would rather spend expensive gears and equipment designed for high altitude and alpine environment.
  3. PIBC MMXII demonstrated that this will be the best alternative in celebrating a Philippine Independence Day activity in the future as it is the only vehicle in the country that could provide additional wilderness-skills knowledge to the participants in a non-commercial way.
  4. We are used to following an event tailored for Westerners and we disregard the crafts that our ancestors taught us. All of us have the potential to practice wilderness skills but, somehow, we neglect its existence due to technology. These skills are available as traditional lore taught by our elders and all we have to do is remember.
  5. PIBC is an event which will nurture and develop future leaders.
  6. Warrior Pilgrimage, through Camp Red, have espoused the practice of these skills and it is an obligation to transfer these skills to those who would want to learn these.


  1. The PIBC should be replicated in all parts of the country where there are active communities of patriotic outdoorsmen and preppers.
  2. Bushcraft and survival skills should be taught to mountaineers, backpackers, hikers and other like-minded people to improve their chances of survival in disasters and accidents.
  3. Bushcraft camps should not be confined to Philippine Independence celebrations only but should also be part of a continuing education of other outdoors group members.
  4. Camp Red should have the PIBC as one of the prerequisites for full membership into their ranks.
  5. Warrior Pilgrimage is open to conduct basic bushcraft and survival training to all spectrum of society. It is now in the process of formulating the program of instructions for a fledgling national mountaineers’ organization.

Document done in Libre office 3.3
Images provided for by Troy Limpangug, Aaron James, Mark Estrella and Jay Z Jorge.

Monday, August 6, 2012


WHEN MINDS HARBORING GOOD intentions flock together, a small miracle would always erupt. Providence might have a hand with this but it is all part of his design (isn’t it so?) starting from the gamuts of weaving invisible threads that connect and re-cross each other at several points amongst stars and cosmic dust.

When good-intentioned minds do think of the same good things, a floodgate of good ideas comes forth in a beautiful rhythm that have its original beginnings composed by the Great Bandleader who makes his home upstairs where gates are reportedly made of the whitest of pearl. Yeah, that may be true, I reckon so, and I read it somewhere.

Fortunately in my circle, I have lots of friends who are into this kind of syndrome. Who knows, they may have been angels at one time or another sent on a mission to flush out opium farmers in the Hindu Kush Mountains of Afghanistan with nose flutes and trombones?

Okay. Okay. I am serious now. No more jokes. Promise.

I do have friends who are planning to donate school supplies like notebooks, pencils, writing pads, etc. for underprivileged children who lived in the highlands of Cebu. Yeah, I am serious. Where to source these items is one of the most difficult sixty-four dollar query of that moment. Besides, this is a never-ending advocacy that should be supported by everyone, I including.

Why the highlands? Okay, these friends of mine are outdoorsmen and they are out there sweating on the mountains and witnessing, on close quarters, what really is poverty. These friends of mine are bred in sheltered or urbane homes and seeing children carrying schoolbags up and down a trail to school and home, rain or shine, dawn or dusk, barefooted or not, makes them wonder why these children have to suffer so much?

I could relate with my friends, not because I grew up like them, but because I am of both worlds. I grew up in a semi-poverty situation and I studied in a public school although I had not lived on a mountain. My grandfather was and he told me stories of his hardships and it is ingrained in me and why my heart sympathize with these children.

Now comes the good part. Jerome Tan and Dominikus Sepe met at the Red Hours Convenience Store in M. Velez Street, Guadalupe, Cebu City. Jerome Tan is with the Redtrekkers while Dominikus is trying out with Camp Red. Redtrekkers and Camp Red are close kindred and both groups feel comfortable at Red Hours. Over glasses of cold Red Horse Extra Strong Beer, both discovered something interesting and their ears turned red as their talk moved to something worthwhile.

It happens that both Doms and Jerome are fond of ‘80s music. No, they are not of the same age, in fact, they are a generation apart. Jerome find the best moments of his life in the ‘80s, just like me, while Dominikus is a musician, a front act, specializing in ‘80s music. Dominikus and Jerome are fans of Morissey. Now the thread is starting to weave its way. Don’t disrupt me, please!

Somewhere along the way comes Roger Siasar of Outdoorsmen’s Hub. Roger is the Man Friday of OH and he makes magic with sponsorships and such. He approaches Handuraw Events Cafe, with the help of Dominikus, for a one-night gig of a concert for a cause. The theme is the ‘80s music and both looked for several bands to propel this idea into reality.

By the quirks of a Filipino’s penchant to value the bayanihan spirit, especially of education advocacy, Dominikus was able to invite and commit, for a song, the bands SEPHYLA, DEANERY and MISSING FILEMON – all rocking names in the local music scene – to perform on stage on the evening of June 1, 2012. So, that’s it the poster got printed and the event was posted in all Facebook accounts where all my friends and associates are and WHO PUT THE “N” IN NATURE? was born.

This is a FREE event for the general public. A donation of, at least, a pencil and a notebook - an option - would give purpose to the existence of this event. I brought twelve sets of these plus a dozen boxes of crayon, writing pads and pencil sharpeners. The donation table grew to an overwhelming mound as well-meaning individuals trickle in.

The event went on smoothly and I was there to document, take videos and shoot pictures; as well as to inform my readers that Cebu has a friendly vibrance and a relaxed environment which nurtures good fellowship and camaraderie amongst off-stream outdoor groups and visitors like Mark Estrella – an accomplished mountaineer from Luzon.

Emcee for the event is JB “Badburner” Albano. JB did a good job and I could not find a better microphone jock except he at that time.

This event would not have been possible also without the participation and hard work of the following:

REDTREKKERS with Jerome Tan, Boy Toledo and Ernie Salomon
OUTDOORSMEN’S HUB with Rans Cabigas, Roger Siasar and JB Albano
TRIBU DUMAGSA MOUNTAINEERS with Randell Savior, Marjorie Savior, Ella Savior,
Shildy Savior, Glenn Tampus and Aaron James Aragon
EWIT MOUNTAINEERS with Eric Rio and Pawpaw Surban
CAMP RED with Jing de Egurrola, Jhurds Neo, Laertes Ocampo and Dominikus Sepe
GREEN*POINT with Loose Page and Myke Padriga
OUTSIDERS (Life from the Outside)
WARRIOR PILGRIMAGE (Outdoor Outcomes and Other Adventures)

In behalf of all, I thank those who came to donate educational materials; to those who gave support; and to those who watched the show!

The following are the collage of images that document before, during and after the event:

Document done in LibreOffice 3.3

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

BEBUT'S TRAIL VIII: Map Reading Practicals

MAP READING IS a rather technical subject with understanding influenced greatly by the magnetic needle of a compass and by your interpretation of your surroundings into your map. I learned the basics of map reading while with the Boy Scout movement in the ‘70s under the tutelage of the best scoutmaster in the country - the late Sergio Damazo Jr.; and progress into a much better navigator while in Tanay, Rizal in the late ‘80s.

This year – 2012 – is my first time to teach map reading to a group of people and I thought it easy but it is not. It’s different when you are the recipient of knowledge instead of the one giving it. All my life had been used to receiving such valued instructions and I am very grateful for all my very patient teachers. I am not trained to be a teacher but, this time, I have to start acting like one --- even for free!

I did my first lecture about map reading on March 18, 2012 and nine individuals from the different outdoors groups came. I held my morning activity indoors at one of the abandoned buildings of the Department of Agriculture compound in M. Velez Street, Guadalupe, Cebu City. The afternoon segment was dedicated to the practicals at the hills above Guadalupe and Banawa. Critique and review came afterwards.

Aiming to improve my manner of instructions, I scheduled another session for April 29 at the same locations and I may have to accompany the participants, especially during the actual part, so all could fully absorb and understand the mechanics of reading a map in harmony with the compass. Three participants of the previous class availed of this free lecture while two first-timers join the rest.

I start the instructions at 7:30 AM inside the room where a bare wall with light blue paint became an improvised blackboard. Unhinged doors propped up with wood crates were used as benches, improving the classroom situation in a more relaxed manner. As usual, I have my set of maps that will be used as instructional aids, my chalks, my lecture handouts and photocopies of the city map under section 3721-I. 

The first order of lecture touched on the basic information found in the topographic map and the rudiments of using a compass. Succeeding instructions proceeded with how to use the grid lines; how to place and identify land shapes into the locations found on a map; how to orient the map with the compass; how to get a bearing and how to interpret these bearings into your grid coordinates.

The instructions move surprisingly very fast that, at 9:30 AM, it is over for the indoor lecture. I doubt it very much that I have mastered the art of teaching map reading to others but it is just simply that I have a present set of students who absorb all what I taught like water on sponge. I could not be more happy than to end this in lesser time than what I have expected.

So, we leave the DA Compound for the direction of Guadalupe church. We may have to eat a meal – a brunch – to better prepare us for the difficult part of the activity. By 10:30 AM, we start to head for The Portal, by way of Bebut’s Trail. Along the way, we may also have to tackle Heartbreak Ridge on a hot almost-noontime sun. Walking up a hill with a map and compass presents a good combination of brawn and brain exercise.

The sun – the tormentor at Heartbreak Ridge – gave us a wide berth and did not show face until we reach the treeline. In between, the boys tried their best sighting azimuths on reference points and drawing straight lines or the back azimuths on their test maps. One such bearing was taken at the very place where there is a tunnel vent. Participants are forbidden to use GPS.

Everybody are instructed to locate three positions using the resection or triangulation method; one location using a modified resection method; and another location using dead reckoning. The last task requires self to develop the skill to analyze and find your own position when you run out of reference points to sight upon. All were up to the challenge and manage to finish an imaginary short orienteering course in less time.

We leave The Portal at 12:30 noon bound for a small community where there is a native version of a gazebo with a good supply of water. One participant carried a camp stove, fuel and cook set. I remember us buying sachets of instant coffee from a store and so we boil water for that. After the coffee break, the participants took readings of our present location as a bonus. It seems to me that they are hard to stop when they start on to something.

We leave the place at 1:30 PM, the participants fully assured that they have complied with my map reading requirements. There is one more task to do and it will commence an hour from now. We walk down the road from Baksan to Sapangdaku crossing by a river spillway then on to Guadalupe. 

We transfer to the Red Hours Convenience Store in M. Velez Street, just across the old DA Compound, where I conduct critique and review of the participants’ test maps over glasses of ice-cold beer. Over these same glasses, I teach them how to plot and connect each position and how to read their grid coordinates. At the end of the day, my Grassroots Bushcraft Teaching Series about Map Reading navigate itself to good waters.

Document done in LibreOffice 3.3