Friday, January 25, 2013


THIS BLOGGER RECENTLY conducted a lecture and demonstration about everyday carry or EDC on November 24, 2012 at Sky Rise 4 Building, Asiatown IT Park, Cebu City. This short seminar is designed for people tasked to oversee the security of properties and persons. These people are the security officers, the security guards and corporate officers whose other functions are supervising security personnel and dealing in security procedures.

My discourse was aimed at introducing the participants about this very specialized seminar and arouse their involvement into this domain. This interest had found appeal among survivalists and preppers in the United States and is not yet taught as part of curricula in training institutions here but it had been introduced and emphasized to our local paramedics. Preparation for an unforeseen future is an exercise that must be nurtured and the more people acquiring awareness of this interest the better the chances of their survival.

The main focus of the lecture is the EDC Kit. The participants are taught how to select, develop and start their own EDC kits to keep them prepared in the event of the breakdown of order resulting from small incidents to natural and man-made catastrophe. The EDC kit will sustain the individual or group for a few hours to a few days until such time when solutions, help or rescue will arrive.

By the very nature of their jobs, the participants are reminded (and induced) to rediscover the importance of the everyday items which they possess being part of their equipment or uniforms like the firearm, ammunition, radio set, documents, flashlight, whistle, nightstick, lanyard, pistol belt, garrison belt, handcuff, lanyard and medicine kit as the very fine examples of what is an EDC. They are instructed to take advantage of these and add some relevant items to make their emerging EDCs thorough and relevant.

These everyday items can be used in a very rapid way if you can develop a systematic approach to its use. Take for example the medicine kit. The items inside the medkit can be retrieved in seconds and in an orderly fashion if you use a plastic container (ex. Tupperware) to house it all instead of just placing all the items under the flap of the kit. Besides, it protects your items from being exposed to germs.

The participants, on the other hand, had been taught how to identify and recognize certain EDC items which are not applicable in their working environment by virtue of strict company policies. Environments vary from ports of entry, financial institutions, IT centers, industrial zones, schools of learning, etc. These EDC items which are mostly carried by hobbyists, who are very educated and highly sophisticated, are well-camouflaged and well-hidden and constantly fool security screens where this lecture greatly aid the participants to that facet.

This writer maintains his own EDC kit which is sub-divided into the gear kit and the first aid kit. This kit was used as visual aid for the eighteen participants, to include one security officer. A representative of Sky Rise Realty Development Corp. came to observe the lecture and, in the process, understood plainly what this is all about.

Yours truly, through this blog, conduct regular bushcraft and survival camps in the Philippines where EDC is one of the subjects taught. The introduction of EDC had been embraced wholeheartedly among the camp participants and a different interest sprung up due to this. More and more people here are now becoming aware about survival and the EDC Kit which creates a very positive environment.

Spreading this amongst people working in the private security industry is a good step in the right direction. They are there at the frontline of any establishment to screen people getting inside and out. A security guard with a good knowledge about EDC is an effective guard, much more so, if he or she happens to be an EDC hobbyist.

Document done in LibreOffice 3.3 Writer

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


IF YOU RUN WITH the stripe of tigers at Camp Red, you gotta go where no one yet dared go. Most often, bold and resolute guys stake that claim in the real world. When you are determined, somebody faint-hearted will tag you as a bad ass. Being “bad” is like a badge of honor and, the more self-righteous ones put us in that image, the more we exult in it.

Take the case of nocturnal hunting. Nobody is doing this among outdoor groups and only Camp Red has the capacity and the daring to indulge in this and that alone raise a lot of eyebrows among Leave No Trace advocates. We could do this anytime anywhere because we are not mountaineers and we are not beholden to any LNT whatever. You may call us “bad” for that for all you care.

Bad are the days of November 10 and 11, 2012 when this blogger again show people how to forage food in the night under his Grassroots Bushcraft Teaching Series. It is an overnight activity participated in by Randell Savior, Ernie Salomon, Dominikus Sepe, Fulbert Navarro, JB Albano, Aaron James Aragon, Boy Olmedo and Boy Toledo. Also coming along is the father-daughter tandem of Benjie and Raji Echavez; balikbayan John Sevilla; and first-timers Jamiz Combista and Raffy.

We start from Guadalupe at 3:00 PM and hike our way towards a hidden part of the Babag Mountain Range. The area is not the usual haunt of conventional campers for it is a wild place. I advise everyone to get hold of walking sticks for it will be steep going down to the campsite and it would be dark soon. We reach the place at 6:00 PM after a short night navigation over a very faint trail inside of a jungle.

After a brief assessment of the terrain in the dark, seven tents are set up while two hammocks claim the trees in between under makeshift awnings. Divided by a stream and across them, I cast a big Apexus tarpaulin shelter over my sleeping ground. The sheet is a gift of Pastor Reynold Boringot during the MCAP Bushcraft Camp at Mount Balagbag, Rodriguez, Rizal held last month.

Preparation of dinner comes next. Ernie start to prepare and cook pork meat in adobo style and cream of mushroom soup with eggs. He also prepared a side dish of raw cucumber and tomatoes mixed in spiced vinegar while JB and Randell take charge of the milled corn. Fulbert and Boy O, meanwhile help dig two water holes on the stream bed.

On the other hand, I borrow Dom’s locally-made Tom Brown tracker knife to use it for gathering of firewood which I will use later for our campfire. A campfire is the center of this bushcraft camp’s social life and it will come alive soon. Besides that, woodsmoke will discourage pesky insects such as ants and crickets and varmints like recluse spiders and scorpions. There are a lot of dead branches and debris along the stream and these soon will be fodder for our fire.

When dinner is done, I immediately start the fire and Fulbert help feed the flame until it grow into a robust one. I see a big spider on a tree trunk and everywhere among the dark corners; their eyes give off an eerie glow when torch lights cast upon them. But I’m not worried and I assure the rest that these insects will soon disappear once the fire start burning the half-dry wood and grass.

It is 8:00 PM when the first signs of river life start to appear and then we kickoff our stream hunt. Our focus would be the fresh-water crabs, locally known as “piyu”. These are very numerous here and not a threatened species and quite tasty if you know how to prepare these for cooking. By the way, the crabs are the easiest to cook but I prefer it cooked southern Cebu style.

Before we embark on this, I remind everyone that nocturnal hunting is a dangerous activity. The stream is where most predators converge and hunt. Since the new moon will be on the fourteenth, expect pythons and other snakes to be very active in the dark. Aside that, other foragers like palm civets and monitor lizards will also be on the prowl. The big lizards are known to use their tails like a whip and the civets attack humans when their pups are threatened.

The crabs bite with their claws and it is painful. You pin them down with your thumb or shoe to immobilize them and hold it from behind with thumb and two fingers and lift it quickly to your catch bin. Usually, crabs scurry and hide behind debris or below rocks and it is not easy to see into the water when silt is disturbed. You have to draw them out of the water and into dry land and push their back with a stick and snatch it quickly from behind and throw it in the bin.

It is easy to catch the fresh-water crabs and it is also very easy to master it. Some people use bait to lure them but I find it impractical. It is just natural for them to forage and go “naked” in the night. Along the stream there are also frogs. They leap into the water once they see us coming. These are the edible kind but preparing these as food are much complicated and we could do this in the next hunting episode.

After a half-hour, we are able to catch eleven individuals. JB, Jamiz and Doms tried their best and got bitten in the process. I also got bitten but it’s okay since it’s part of the activity or experience. I insist to have this cooked with coconut milk, with which grated meat I personally brought along. As we return to the camp, the rum and juice had already been mixed and ready for serving. Perfect!

Ernie starts to do his thing following my preference of cooking, of course. The wine glass take its course of action and the campfire yarns and storytelling begin to take shape. The campfire is located close to the river bank and the heat bounced off to us as we sit amongst rocks. The sky is dark with a few specks of stars seen through the heavy foliage. One long-necked bottle is down and another round starts to take place.

The stories are getting animated as the intestines begin to crave the milked crabs which emit a pleasant aroma. When these gets served, each gets a good piece for himself plus the soup which is nicely done. The left-over milled corn from the earlier meal gets wiped off clean to the bottom as the natural juices of the crabs and coconut milk work its way into the taste buds.

Another bottle gets opened and another until the clock strike 1:00 AM and we all agreed to call it a night. The rain start to fall slowly as we were already settled in our sleeping spaces. I wake up at 5:00 AM but the main camp is still asleep so I catch a few minutes of sleep until I hear activity on the other side. Ernie is boiling water for coffee while the others plod around to find a private place. I try to sleep but I shiver from the cold of early morning shower.

I join the others to sip a hot coffee and, maybe, find myself a private place too but, too late, Ernie is serving breakfast. Food is pork with mixed-vegetable soup and fried eggs. The rain at dawn have raised the stream by a few inches and the current is fast but clear. It is a wet morning and we may have to break camp under a slight shower. It is 8:30 AM.

I found out that everyone save for Dom, Randell, JB and me did not have a good night’s sleep. Rain water seeped into the other tents and shelters due to poor rainfly setting or their tents are placed where water pass. My Apexus tarp protected me even when I am half exposed while the Silangan REV 20 of both Dom and JB give another good performance. I have seen these REV 20s shielding their occupants dry and in sheer comfort during the bushcraft camps I organized here in Cebu and in Luzon.

In Mt. Balagbag, for example, the REV 20 of one participant outperformed all branded tents local and imported during two days and two nights of unfavorable weather. And to think, that this tent is made locally in Talisay City, Cebu by a small start-up company called Silangan Outdoor Equipment. This is a good outdoor product and this writer recommend it to all the outdoor minions who are out there toiling in the rugged landscapes.

Meanwhile, Ernie and Randell debated which way to go and I break the impasse to follow, instead, the original itinerary. So we climb ridges and peaks and work our way within the jungle trails, stopping to recover our breath or to rehydrate. This wild place is one of the last forested areas of the Babag Mountain Range and only Camp Red made this as home.

We reach the Lanipao Rainforest Resort at 11:00 AM and walk a few meters to a small store down the road. We ingratiate ourselves with either cold soda drinks or cold beer. I prefer the latter and so are Boy T, Ernie, Fulbert and Jamiz. It is raining hard and so we stay for an hour-and-a-half killing time over tales and jokes.

Once the rain stopped, we walk on and cross Sapangdaku Creek and reach Napo. From Napo, we walk once more on the road down to Guadalupe which we reach at 3:30 PM. It was a complete activity last night and Ernie, Boy T and I toast to its success at another watering hole along V. Rama Avenue.

Document done in LibreOffice 3.3 Writer

Saturday, January 12, 2013

WARRIOR REVIEW: Habagat Viajero

I RECEIVED A Habagat Viajero from a first cousin on April 6, 2009. Her husband bought it brand-new in 2002 during his evangelization travels in the provinces and it has a classic three-tone color of blue, green and black which the latter dominate the color of hardware, backside and straps. I first saw this product in 1994 when the Habagat Outdoor Shop opened a branch in SM City in Cebu.

This bag is made for the outdoorsy type of business travelers by the look of its design. The main compartment has a 40-liter storage space and a big rectangular front pocket. The large compartment can be opened by big handy dual metal zippers. It is sturdy enough to accommodate the weight of five laptops and other heavier small items.

It has a detachable single shoulder sling that can be adjusted in length and can also be hand carried like an attaché case with a stitched carry handle. A pair of padded shoulder straps are added and can be stowed back and secured by a zippered flap. Slip pockets are located on both sides while two compression straps are found on either side.

Two flat aluminum support bars are placed well hidden inside the bag to give it rigidity. Breathable mesh fabric are incorporated at the back to wick away moisture and sweat while a built-in padded back support and padded hip straps are added to give comfort to the bearer. High-density plastic ladder locks and clips complement the Viajero's overall look.

I kind of liked the design of the Viajero as it can be converted either in formal carry or in rugged outfit doing away the idea of buying two bags for two different occasions. Hmm. Sometimes, I travel in a semi-formal attire and I couldn't wait to use it the next time I set sail on a trip. But that would wait. I have to test the Viajero on a rugged mountain trail and use the shoulder straps instead and find out how it can perform there.

So, on the night of April 25, 2009, together with Boy Toledo and Ernie Salomon, we embarked in a night navigation training along the trails from Napo to Mount Babag – the city's highest peak at 752 meters. We employ and use only one headlight for this trek with me leading the pack. I placed a torrid pace and there was no moon in the sky and what lights available, aside from the headlight, came from the stars.

In the darkness illuminated by very faint starlight the trail was barely discernible and I never encountered difficulty following it except, perhaps, when crossing a dry gully and on uneven surfaces. It was in this latter condition of the trail that I find the Viajero unstable swinging side to side causing me off-balanced several times even when I adjusted the straps closer to my torso.

Inside of the bag were my wool sleeping bag, tent, a liter of water, clothes, a flat bottle of rum and other items and I stowed these all evenly. The big metal zippers snapped shut all these items safely inside and I have trust on those zips. The shoulder and hip straps together with their HDPE hardware did all right and ably supported the whole weight of the cargo.

The design of the bag tend to place the center of gravity outward as it has the tendency to sag making the whole gear swing side to side in a wide arc. Although the gear's material composition is without question, the Viajero is not suited for very rugged travel by foot on long distances due to its unstable fulcrum.

However, it is most suited for short walks, day hikes and island hopping if you insist on using the bag's shoulder straps, but it is most perfect and chic when using the shoulder sling and travel business class in a plane.

Document done in OpenOffice 2.1 Writer.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

MAN-SIZED HIKE VII: Mount Manunggal to Guadalupe

I AM WITH SIX OTHER people going to Mount Manunggal, Balamban this day, October 27, 2012. There is a mountaineering event there but I don’t want to be part of that. My friends are not mountaineers and we are just passing through. We are with the Camp Red Bushcraft and Survival Guild.

I have a goal to seek and I am going to walk from Mt. Manunggal to Mount Babag in Cebu City with my party then go down to Napo and Guadalupe the following day. A distance of 28 to 30 kilometers of two days walk. It had never been done before but it is possible and quite achievable. This is the other half of Segment One of the Cebu Highlands Trail Project which the latter I aim to complete in 2015.

The Cebu Highlands Trail is a very ambitious project that I am undertaking on my own under my Warrior Pilgrimage blog. I will look for and establish routes in segments from north to south of Cebu Island and link these as one whole route that would be patterned after the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Rim Trail of the United States. Once done, Cebu would attract multi-day backpackers, thruhikers and segment walkers from all over the world.

The Mt. Manunggal to Guadalupe cross-country hike would complete Segment One which start (and was done four times) from Lutopan, Toledo City to Guadalupe. Segment Two had already been accomplished last March 2012 that brought me and my team from Lutopan to Campangga, Barili. Segment 1 would link with Segment 2 and would accumulate between 100 to 110 kilometers distance in six to seven days walk.

The Cebu Highlands Trail Project is in need of donations from kind-hearted donors and sponsors to outfit the expedition teams that I am organizing. The present expedition team for this traverse hike are Raymund Panganiban – photographer; Ernie Salomon – cook; Eli Bryn Tambiga – medic; and members James Cabajar, Nyor Pino and John Sevilla. Another member – Dominikus Sepe – will act as base support and would update the rest of Camp Red at Facebook through live SMS feeds.

We all meet at JY Square in Lahug in the early morning of October 27 and proceed to Mt. Manunggal at 6:45 AM through the Transcentral Highway on board a hired public jitney after procuring our ingredients for lunch. Going to Mt. Manunggal entail a huge budget for transportation back and forth. The motorcycle drivers bleed you dry when they think they could gain more from what you usually pay them. I will solve half of that predicament by walking back to Cebu City instead.

I am the organizer, expedition leader, guide, safety officer and navigator of this man-sized hike and I will make this as simple as possible. We arrive at Mt. Manunggal at 8:00 AM and leave the mountain thirty minutes later after giving last-minute briefing and instructions to my team. I found a mass of people on the mountain where an LNT signage is found. Quite interesting.

I lead and we go down the trail that goes to a saddle where the Transcentral Highway pass. That place is called Inalad. The weather is hot and humid and so perfect. That usually happens after a passing of a tropical typhoon. The ground is wet caused by high-altitude moisture but it does not bother our pace. We cross brooklets and open spaces; cleaves and ridges; and the Bangbang River.

John and Raymund suffered leg cramps. I administer emergency relief techniques to loosen the muscles. At this instance, I slow down my walk to allow John and Raymund to recover. Eli and James share a cacao fruit to all while I steal a ripe guava along a route. The rest of the team keep an eye on John and Raymund as I concentrate in understanding the details of the trail and the terrain.

I passed by this trail only once in March 2009 and this is a beautiful path; long and winding. I see a sign left by a monkey and yonder, beyond my sight, is a sound of a boar burrowing rootcrops. Wildlife still abound in the Central Cebu Mountain Range. There are a lot of them monkeys hidden from sight and you may catch one if you are persistent. Cebu’s last wild boar was reported caught in 2000 but I don’t believe that it was the last one. Overhead me, a hawk glide by and disappear as it cross my path into a hill.

We reach Inalad at 12:30 noon and we immediately unpack our food ingredients from our backpacks. I cook a kilo of milled corn on conventional camp stove while Ernie make himself busy slicing the pork meat and cooking it adobao-style. Side dish is raw cucumber mixed with tomatoes, all sliced and dipped in spiced vinegar. Nyor added dried fish fried in oil. We take our lunch at 2:00 PM.

It is 2:45 PM by the time we leave Inalad and I cross over the Transcentral Highway into the other side. Now, we’re on the territory of Toledo City. I follow a trail that vanish as soon as I begin to climb a knoll. A hundred meters below me is a stream and some 300 meters away is a dirt road that had just been opened and graded. Need to follow it so I go down to the stream and climb over a farm to reach it.

The road lead to Tongkay, a mountain hamlet nestled in a valley within mountain ranges all around. I did not explore further the place and, I think, the road ends in a cul-de-sac after reaching it at 4:00 PM. We cross a river and climb up a steep trail to an unnamed high mountain. I name it Mount Tongkay and it could be above 750 meters above sea level.

It is almost dusk and I am still nowhere of my objective which is the halfway point on Sinsin Ridge. We lost a lot of time to rests and it is pointless to go on at dusk in unfamiliar territory. We set up camp instead on a good piece of flat ground that is very vegetated. It is a very good campsite, not exposed to the elements yet it could catch warm air as it rise up from the valley floor.

Four tents were set up while three use tarpaulin shelters. Of this three, Raymund and Nyor hitch their hammocks underneath while I chose to sleep on the ground. Mine is an Apexus tarp given to me by Pastor Reynold Boringot during the MCAP Bushcraft Camp at Mt. Balagbag in Rodriguez, Rizal early this month. It is the first time that I am using this and I will give a product review of this camping gear later.

We ration our water to focus only on cooking and drinking. We have brought some Indian rhododendron leaves from Mt. Manunggal and we used this to wipe clean the insides of our cooking pots and spoons from grease. We cook a half-kilo of milled corn, a soup of mixed vegetables and pork adobao. The hot food is reassuring and it gives back our depleted strength and provide us body warmth.

I sleep early as I was tired of doing a lot of reconnoitering during the daylight hours. The moon is full and it is bright. At around 2:00 AM, it started to rain and I wake up and listen to the night sounds. I hear a roosting wild cock being disturbed by something. Later, I hear a creature making a slight sound as it pass by near my shelter. By now, the warm air had been displaced by rain and I find myself trying hard to sleep back. I wait for light.

I did sleep and got startled to find the sky showing traces of light. I decide to explore the bushes around the camp. The early hours of morning are the best time to commune with nature. I remember grandpa teaching me the ways of the forest when I was small and it is wonderful to be still and listen to the birds and unseen creatures thanking the Creator.

We break camp at 8:00 AM after a dry breakfast. The trail of yesterday which went missing is still missing today. But this is what I love best, reading terrain by traditional means. The early morning sun is a blessing and I follow where the path ended and guessed the route where it would likely pass or go. I was not disappointed and caught it again on a wide ridge where there is a treeline.

I decide we stay for a quick moment so the rest could recover their breathing while I could test the folding saw of my Victorinox Swiss Army Knife. This black tactical-looking SAK was given to me by Jay Z Jorge during the same MCAP Bushcraft Camp in Luzon. I have owned SAKs before but it never stayed more than a week in my hands. But this one is different. I begin to love it. I cut a half-dry guava branch so easily and I now have a slingshot fork!

Time to climb up the ridge where the peak is found and reach it at 8:45 AM. I found a sinkhole at the top of Mt. Tongkay and it looks like a small volcano minus the sulfur fumes. The mountain is linked to Sinsin Ridge by another ridge which passes by Mt. Marag. Marag is much higher and I decide to evade the peak by following a downward trail which led to a small community which the locals called Itwe.

The boys are happy to replenish their dwindling supply of drinking water provided by a cool spring below. After a brief rest, we follow a moderately rolling path amidst farms and reach the Sinsin-Cantipla Road at 9:45 AM, which is actually our halfway point. Yesterday’s cramps that hounded the expedition crew and late starts cost us precious time and denied us to camp on this place last night.

Anyway, the guys love to see a road and some small stores selling cold soda drinks. Going north would be Cantipla and the Transcentral Highway and south would be Sudlon II, Sudlon I, Sinsin and Manipis Road. I choose the south way to Sudlon II and I believe there is a road there that goes to Bonbon. I have not been to Sudlon II but I have been to Bonbon some years back and I hope to fill the blank spaces in between.

At 11:00 AM, I see a barrio eatery. At the back of it are two locals butchering a pig. I insist that we stay at the place and take advantage of that by ordering a kilo of pork. We will cook our meal there on an open fire. We could also procure milled corn and cook it on the same fire pit. I reward myself by taking off my shoes and socks and dry it. After an hour we partake of lunch.

We resume our journey at 12:35 noon. I have found the road to Bonbon and I follow it winding down among hills into a wide valley. It is very hot and concrete pavement is unkind to the feet. I now begin to feel the tell-tale sign of a muscle cramp on my upper thigh. Keeping a tight ration of water on myself, I decide to take good swallows of it and some quick rests too, to overcome the nagging pain.

I reach Bonbon at 3:30 PM and waited for the others at the bridge. We will cross this bridge all at the same time. I avail myself of cold soda drink when the others arrive and drown out their thirst with it. We cross Bonbon River and follow the road upward to the Transcentral Highway. We reach the road at 5:15 PM but leave it at once for Babag Ridge.

Dusk have overtaken me as I climb on the darkened road for the ridge that have blocked my view of Metro Cebu and the sea. I reach Babag Ridge at 6:30 PM and I go to a store that had been my watering hole in past hikes and, immediately, we prepare our last meal with whatever we have carried. I opt to drink a bottle of cold beer while the rest sipped noodles bought from this store.

The moon wax its full shine and I believe I don’t need my flashlight to walk the trail down to Napo. I will use my night vision instead as I leave the ridge at 8:00 PM. Others follow with their headlights but I leave them a distance away so my eyesight, now accustomed to the dark, will not be irritated by all those shifting shadows caused by the lights of their moving heads.

I pass by the Roble homestead at 9:30 PM and I decide we take another brief rest here. Manwel, my young friend, is having a fever and so is his sister, Juliet. Eli and Raymund provide analgesic tablets to keep them in good health. After that, we continue on through the rest of the night and finally reach Napo at 11:11 PM.

This route had never been taken by a group of present-day recreation hikers. This may have been a regular path in the past of several groups of people when the Transcentral Highway have not yet been constructed like upland dwellers who take their farm produce to Carbon Market; by local Katipuneros during the last years of the Spanish regime and the early years of American colonization; by guerillas of the Cebu Area Command during World War II; and, perhaps, by members of a local liberation front.

Segment One is thus completed but the real route will be determined and finalized by this writer upon after a Trail Assessment Report. When we all reach Guadalupe, I personally congratulated each and every one for their achievement. They have all been very patient with my unrelenting pace and very persistent to reach and finish our objective. All told of the great deprivation and pain they have during the trek yet they were made of stern stuff that only a badass could accomplish.

Document done in LibreOffice 3.3 Writer
Some photos courtesy of Raymund Panganiban