Monday, July 1, 2013

NAPO TO BABAG TALES LXI: Bamboos & Nessmuk Trios

AS BUSHCRAFT AND SURVIVAL is slowly getting established in the Philippines, many people are now seriously interested in learning primitive skills and too few to teach it in a realistic hands-on manner. Wilderness skills are not a monopoly anymore for tribal peoples as a lot of people are extracting volumes of information in the Internet and on television programs while some enrolled themselves in expensive curricula to learn these skills.

This writer sees the need to impart and guide aspiring bushcraft camp instructors in the most correct manner as possible (by which they also teach others) through my series of teaching modules. Primitive-living techniques are universal skills which does not limit itself to geography or of an era. It moves through time and improves its process with the advent of new ideas and a good dose of life’s experiences.

My kind of training for bushcraft camp instructors is a by-product of the collective skills and ideas I have acquired through the years from my early beginnings as a boy learning woodcraft from my late grandfather, from the Boy Scout movement, from a very brief stint in the military, from tales of real survivors, from witnesses of survival incidents, from informative books and from experiential education – all these during the decades when there was no Internet yet.

Survival skills are taken for granted today replaced by our preference of things and processes that entail great convenience and less effort. Sadly, improvisation and adaptation which are learned from grassy backyards and unstructured outdoor plays are not given premium anymore by this present generation and result to over-reliance on technology and the electrical outlet. For that matter, instructions for the Bushcraft Camp Instructors Training Course should be done outdoors, through hard work and where time is not that important.



So last April 7, 2013, this blogger started training selected members of Camp Red Bushcraft & Survival Guild for the first module of this course titled BAMBOO AS A SURVIVAL TOOL at the foothills of the Babag Mountain Range, here in Cebu City. Included are knife safety and the Nessmuk trio. The participants are Glenn Pestaño, Jhurds Neo, Dominic Sepe, Fulbert Navarro and JB Albano. This training is free courtesy of Warrior Pilgrimage©.

The Philippines is fortunate to have vast stands of bamboo groves everywhere and most of these grow along streams and gullies and where water is abundant. Here in Cebu, different species of bamboos grow wild and poles can be harvested in any time of the year. I start the training by introducing the different names and distinguishing features of the different kinds of bamboo.



We retrieved one pole from the most common bamboo which we locally called as kagingkingon because it is protected by a screen of thorns at its base. I showed them the method of retrieving a pole over the thorns and the techniques in cutting a bamboo from the base. I cut the the part above the thorns after it fell and ended saving eighteen segments which would be divided among the participants. I also brought a dry pole lying on the ground for firecraft later in the day.

From our pole, with the correct manner of cutting angles and by baton, the participants were able to make their own jugs, spoons, chopsticks, plates and cooking pots. All brought their own version of the Nessmuk trio: the big knife for brute force like slashing and chopping; the medium knife for medium work like whittling and skinning; and the small knife for delicate jobs like scraping and carving. My version of the big knife is my tomahawk and Glenn has his own as well.



All tried their jugs by drinking coffee with it. Next activity is teaching them to cook anything on a bamboo pot over an earthen hearth. Two pots each were reserved for cooking milled corn and mixed vegetable soup and a single pot for rice while, nearby, pork meat is grilled on open coal. While waiting, the participants killed time by aiming a slingshot at a small target and throwing a tomahawk at a tree trunk until meal is served at 1:30 PM. Later, young coconuts are readied for dessert.

After lunch, the lecture concentrated on making fire by friction with two pieces of dry bamboo. But first, the essential elements have to be discussed like the fire triangle and showing them how to manufacture tinder and the poke stick; the carving of the trough and the shaping of the edge; and how to rub it against each other. Fulbert was able to work a small ember to life by blowing it alive and the flame flickered well in the hot afternoon. The irony of it is he is a firefighter.


Last activity are the bamboo traps and snares. Traps made from bamboo are quite effective and is designed to immobilize snakes, monitor lizards and fishes and could be settled on land and under water. Another trap with a different hole location is intended for monkeys. Snares work on the principle of spring and trigger mechanisms but they are all made of bamboo. JB gave a demo of a snare using a pressure trigger system.

The lecture ended early and we leave for Napo at 4:00 PM, retracing our route. Ultimately, we arrive at Guadalupe at 5:15 PM and proceed to EZ Mart for our post-activity discussions and socials where Wil Rhys-Davies of Snakehawk Wilderness Skills School and Boy Toledo of the Cebu Mountaineering Society joined us. The participants did a good showing and, I think, they are ready for the Philippine Independence Bushcraft Camp come June 10, 11 and 12, 2013 although they may have to finish the other four modules later to be certified as a BC Instructor.

Document done in LibreOffice 3.3 Writer

1 comment:

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