Friday, March 22, 2013
WIL RHYS-DAVIES AND I had been meeting regularly many times since October when Wil broached the idea of establishing a wilderness skills school here in Cebu, Philippines. This is unfamiliar territory for me but Wil assured me that the playing field now have never been more healthy and very much favorable for us. We, he proceeded on, have wide years of experience together and possess the special skills to make this a reality.
Wil, by the way, is from Wales and had been making a living for forty or more years as an outdoors guide and teacher in the USA, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and here in the Philippines. He has travelled extensively for most of his life through deserts and mountains; jungles and cities; and in cold and desolate places. He loved to visit places astride his touring bike which he referred to as his “asawa” (translation: wife).
I, on the other hand, had been exposed to the outdoors life for the past twenty years as a recreational climber and, recently, as a bushcraft and survival instructor and designing wilderness programs and events. Like Wil, I cut my teeth early in adult life in the mil and had been privileged to have been taught by a veteran grandfather as a little boy and put these to good use to teach people about survival and primitive-living skills.
In the course of those meetings, we were looking for the proper name to carry that wilderness school in the market. I settled for “snakehawk” for a very special reason: When I was teaching in a bushcraft camp in Mount Balagbag, Rizal from September 29 to October 1, 2012, two adult serpent hawks appeared on the second day circling above me and I consider this a really really good omen.
Wil seemed to be happy about the name on the position that he is born under the year of the snake. I have worked under Wil in 2011 for Go Wild Adventures and he is so pleased to offer me a partnership for Snakehawk Wilderness Skills School. My partner will market our school and our offered courses to prospective clients, help me in the design of the training programs through research and do the actual instructions himself.
I, on the other hand, would put on all the necessary contents for the website; create and design the training courses; record and make financial statements; provide graphic designs for presentation slides and give hands-on instructions in the field. Aside that, I would identify and arrange the locations of the bushcraft camps, training facilities and contact persons plus the necessary itineraries and projected expenses.
Snakehawk Wilderness Skills School emerged from the drawing table and offered its first offering to the outdoors community: Basic Jungle Survival Course. The campsite is Camp Damazo and scheduled on January 21, 22 and 23, 2013. Two overseas clients enrolled for this initial training and they were Jon Green of the UK and Chris Perkins from the USA.
The campsite is located in a hidden nook of the Babag Mountain Range in Cebu City and is a small tongue of flat ground wedged amid two small mountain streams with thick jungle all around. Two water holes are dug on the stream bed for our water needs. The area has an abundance of dry wood and these soon will be fodder for our campfire.
First day was used up for discovery hike from trailhead to camp; campsite selection; tents and hammocks; knife safety; camp and personal hygiene; survival psychology; practical fire making and fire safety. Meals were cooked on conventional camp stove and on coals. Taps was at 12:00 midnight after a long fireside conversation.
Second day was another discovery hike into a foraging site and back; plant ID; foraging; survival tool-making; cooking and dining implements from bamboo; fire tinder; bow drill practice; bushcraft cooking techniques; agave plant use demo; snares; water sanitation; trip planning; route cards; and nocturnal hunting. Taps was observed at 9:00 PM.
Third day was a forced evacuation scenario; forced hike from camp to evacuation area; discovery hike from evac to Lanipao; plant ID; cultural introduction; post-activity discussion; and socials.
Jon and Chris had never been in a jungle environment and had never ridden a motorcycle taxi and a public utility jitney. In the course of their learning from Snakehawk, they have learned to appreciate the environment.
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