Tuesday, October 22, 2013


SOMETIMES, YOU GOT TO get out of your comfort zone to know better your island. I am doing that today – June 23, 2013 – with some select members of Camp Red Bushcraft and Survival Guild for an outdoors jaunt in Lilo-an. Going with me are Jhurds Neo, Glenn Pestaño, Dominikus Sepe, Fulbert Navarro and Nyor Pino. We meet at Mandaue City at 6:00 AM before proceeding Lilo-an by public transport.

Aljew Frasco, Marc Lim, Christopher Maru, Allan Aguipo and Warren Señido are our hosts today. We arrive at Titay’s Lilo-an Rosquillos & Delicacies Store twenty minutes later and Christopher guide us to a house across it. Welcoming us is a World War II relic cleverly placed as part of a lawn garden. Around it are coffee tables, chairs, a Baringtonia tree, a tree house and empty whiskey bottles set as a fountain.

While waiting, Christopher brewed us a special kind of coffee, the kind that is not served at Starbucks or Bo’s. What could that be? Well, you be my guest and make a guess? Ha ha! Aside those, bread baked on old-school stone oven are paired with that rare, but tasty coffee. I ate four of those bread and two servings of coffee, the last one drank straight without sugar and cream! That suffice my breakfast.

It rained and we make light of the moment with stories of the recent Philippine Independence Bushcraft Camp that all – except Nyor – have participated. That event still stuck to the creases and ribs of everyone and it is great to mention it time and time again. When the rain stopped after an hour, I guess it is time to move among the hills.

We are eleven in all and Aljew drove a utility vehicle from his garage into a road which I have seen so many times before but did not have the opportunity to visit. This time, I will have that honor and the sights blur by from my seat. Lilo-an do have its secrets if you know your way around or know somebody who will take you to those places.

The road is winding and is slowly gaining in elevation. I see a river and I learn from Aljew that this is called Cotcot River and is the boundary between Lilo-an and Compostela. We pass by a place called Cabadiangan then Mulao. These two places shared area between the two towns and so there is a Cabadiangan and a Mulao of both Liloa-an and Compostela.

Cabadiangan, in Compostela side, is where most of the well-known Cebuanos and expatriates hid from the Japanese during World War II. One of those that used this as a hiding place is my grandfather and grandmother on my father’s side. My grandfather was the youngest son of Basque immigrant parents and, he feared, he might be mistaken as an American by the Japs just like his older brother so he made it as a hiding place. My own father was born there in 1943.

I did visit those places in Compostela in 1984 with friends. I didn’t get to see the features very well as we were travelling then in the night from one place to another on our way to Consolacion crossing over mountains and streams. I could not recollect anymore the landmarks as it was very dark. I could see in daytime that it is a wide flat valley in Compostela and becomes hilly in Lilo-an.

We reach the village of Mulao – Lilo-an side – and prepared ourselves for a downhill walk towards Cotcot River guided by a local named Epang. We reach a shady spot underneath an acacia tree where there is a thicket of spiny bamboos nearby. It is beside the river and rocks provide us places to sit on. It is a perfect area to prepare our meal during lunch, launch more conversations and to test our gears, especially knives.

I carry a rip-off of a Puffin Magnum knife which a benefactor provided me to test its weight, balance, sharpness and carriage. It comes with a brown leather sheath that could be worn ambidextrously, vertically or horizontal – scout carry. The blade is about six inches long, maybe more, but it could do the work of a bolo or any heavy blade and quite handy as it has a very long handle. Because of this, I did not bring my tomahawk for the first time.

Immediately, Aljew and me foraged green bamboo but the thick screen of thorns discouraged us both. We utilized dry poles lying on the ground and used it as a bridge to reach what we are after. Aljew, being lighter of weight, decide to climb the bridge and cut the green poles at the part where there are no thorns and managed to bring down one which I stripped of branches and divide two poles with two segments each.

Nyor proceed to make a fire by traditional means while I am busy opening up bamboos. Aljew and Marc boil water for coffee using a small alcohol burner on boulders beside the river. Jhurds, meanwhile, cut up chicken, pork and spices while Glenn starts talking about his scruples with an anonymous forum that Dom is embroiled also. Allan, Warren and Christopher listen to the tales and are as bewildered as I am.

Epang caught three river crabs by his bare hands and these are different crabs. These are bigger and have wider carapaces. I was totally engrossed in teaching Nyor and Dom how to cook milled corn and rice inside four segments that I missed foraging on the river. From time to time, I leave them to prepare dry bamboos for the firecraft session which I will start later in the day.

The bushcraft cooking took a longer time owing to the inexperience of both Nyor and Dom about cooking something inside bamboo poles and so I improvise by bringing it close to the open coals which Aljew and Marc started. Cooking of pork and chicken on sticks had already been started above the fire. This took time also since we make it sure that the flames would not touch the meat.

Meanwhile, Jhurds and Dom take charge of cooking some chicken and pork in oil. In between, I carve a dry bamboo and make a bow and an arrow minus the feather flight. Tested it at four meters from a target and it goes true. Tried again and again with good results. When we are quite satisfied of the results of our cooking, we eat a late lunch at 1:30 PM.

Epang, who left us a while ago, returned with a net which he strung out across the width of the river. Some youths who were taking a bath nearby, helped in scaring away fish towards the net and, instantly, four are caught. All are of three different kinds but one is a native of this river while the rest are introduced species. I forgot about the crabs caught by Epang and we had just finished lunch. That goes too with the caught fish.

Maybe, if we have time later we could cook it but I need to explore the river, especially upstream, where the big boulders enthrall me so much. I truly believe that my Basque grandfather, or possibly my own father at that, had taken bath on this same river 68 or so years ago. And I truly believe also that this is the same river I crossed some 19 years back.

Since I forgot to bring a pair of flip-flops, I decide to walk upstream with my own naked feet. Jhurds, Fulbert, Nyor and Dom came with me. I elect to take my chances walking and leaping among boulders and dry than fording the stream at its narrowest points and getting wet and, possibly, sliced by broken glass. The rock surface are hot and my soles could not stand the torture so I stop to cool down on grassy grounds.

Up ahead is a round rock called Malingin by the locals and I marvel at the sculpture done by nature. However, another attraction is waiting for me upstream. It took me some effort to reach the “Arko nga Bato” (English: Stone Ark), a huge rock snugly sitting on four points, looking as if it is a boat vomitted by the sea on a shore after a storm. How it got there, beats me.

Jhurds, Fulbert, Nyor and Dom are also exploring for stones. They found a square piece of shale and tested it with a blade which elicit a positive result. Since they are walking and crossing on the river itself, they are wet up to their knees. They decide to take a bath at the part where it is belly-deep and where the water run in turbulent currents like a jacuzzi. I join them when I thought that today is the Feast of Saint John.

We return to base when we have enough of the river and generous doses of boisterous laughs, loud enough to cause an avalanche of big rocks poised above the river. The going is not that demanding upon my feet as the sun start to slide on the horizon. The guys who were left behind have prepared their things inside their bags but they were expecting something out of our coming.

Sure enough, I retrieve pieces of dried bamboos and start cutting it down as friction tools. While I am at it, Fulbert takes time to teach Marc two basic knife-fighting techniques along the bank of Cotcot River. These are simple styles that could easily be remembered and perfected once you start on the groove.

I start the process of making fire with the bamboos but could only elicit smoke but never an ember. When I failed that for several times, Aljew and Fulbert take on the fight. It is a half hour of rubbing bamboo against one bamboo and the riverside camp reeked of burnt smell and wisps of smoke but, just like me, both failed to produce fire.

Nevertheless, we are just one step short and we could do that on another hot day, perhaps , but we have to leave as long shadows begin to appear on the hill sides. After cleaning our day camp, we pack our things and then return to the path where we came down some hours ago.

We reach the main village of Mulao after an exhausting uphill walk. We refresh ourselves with cold soda drinks before going back to the highway and the house which had provided us palm civet coffees early in the morning. Waiting for us is a Styrofoam box full of cold San Miguel Pale Pilsen with blocks of ice that have thawed and giving off cold vapor.

We take supper first with skewered chicken and fried shrimps which all help with several servings for themselves and then the cold beer are slowly getting decimated. Conversations and banter take off and come on from all angles as the juice of good camaraderie take its good course.

In the middle of it all, Aljew drag two boxes of his blade collections and the crowd begin its silent mode as the eyes begin to take their fill of the spectacle. Each hand seized every blade and sized the length, the texture, the balance and the edge and, I gotta say that all are superb blades which have no equal yet from our own. There are kukris, trackers, machetes, tantos, fighting knives, utility blades and some of the rarest folders I have ever seen.

The joyous company take on almost the whole night, the heavy rain preventing us from leaving early until it die down. We leave for Mandaue City at around 10:30 PM only to get snagged by floods and rain runoffs on the streets. We have to change PUJs when the one we rode first conked “midstream” and we have to wade to transfer to another amphibious-looking PUJ. I reach home carrying packs of rosquillos for the wifey and I see pouting lips curling into a smile.

Document done in LibreOffice 3.3 Writer

Thursday, October 17, 2013


LAST YEAR, THIS BLOGGER went up to Luzon to conduct a Bushcraft Camp for the benefit of members of the fledgling Mountain Climbers Alliance of the Philippines (MCAP), a national umbrella organization of individual mountaineers. It was held at the slopes of Mount Balagbag, amidst the boundaries of Rodriguez, Rizal and San Jose del Monte, Bulacan.

Eighteen local mountaineers attended that year’s wilderness skills orientation, with which program was patterned after the Philippine Independence Bushcraft Camp (PIBC). The PIBC is an outdoors seminar organized annually by the Warrior Pilgrimage Blog and teaches people about basic primitive-living techniques and survival skills. It is held every June in the jungles of the Babag Mountain Range, Cebu.

This coming October 18, 19 and 20, 2013, however, this blogger will again make another voyage to Luzon. This time, he will be teaching the Basic Wilderness Survival Course in the Spring of Life Adventure Campsite, Antipolo, Rizal. This will be his first time to teach this course. It is designed for mountaineers, specifically MCAP members, and it can be taught as well to hikers, backpackers and other outdoor enthusiasts.

This outdoors course aims to infuse to the participants of the basics of survival in a tropical mountain setting without disregarding the proper procedures that would ensure one’s chances of survival. Preparation for any survival situation should be given premium by anybody, regardless if the individual is an experienced mountaineer or not.

As we all know, the mountains present a very challenging terrain coupled by unpredictable weather conditions which hampers normal movement and creates an environment wherein it exposes people to very serious mistakes. Generally, this course teaches that a person can be an island on his own, contrary to the general idea, and thrusts to the belief that weight can be compensated anytime with knowledge about survival.

First day will be focused on the Introduction to Survival; The Survival Kit; and Knife Care and Safety. Second day will be about Survival Tool Making; Water; Shelters; and Foraging and Plant ID. The last day tackles about Firecraft; Cold Weather Survival; and Traditional Navigation. Except one, all chapters are compiled by this blogger basing on his experiences in the mountains as a recreational climber, as a free-lance guide and, later, as a bushcrafter.

This blogger founded the Camp Red Bushcraft and Survival Guild, the only outdoor club in the Philippines focusing mainly about primitive-living skills and survivalcraft. Later, he immersed himself in an Aeta village for one week during a made-for-TV video shoot and learned more survival skills from them. Below are clips of Native Instinct, directed by Matthew Everett of the UK, which this blogger co-hosted with Snakehawk Wilderness School partner, William Rhys-Davies:

MCAP believes that every mountaineer should be adequately equipped not only by what he carries on his back but also that which he carries inside his head which would quantify his survival in the event of mishaps and accidents. It subscribes to the concept of “old-school” mountaineering.

Presently, MCAP is composed of 2013-2014 officers: Rev. Reynold Boringot – President; Mr. Andrew Tarnate – Vice President; Ms. Louella Papa – Secretary; Ms. Kris Shiela Mingi – Treasurer; Ms. Jezzy Guab – Auditor; and Mr. Boyet Cristobal – PRO. Mr. Edwin Gatia, founder and organizer, sits as President Emeritus of the Alliance.

Document done in LibreOffice 3.3 Writer

Sunday, October 6, 2013


I CAME EARLY TODAY to send off the advance party for Camp Damazo. It is around 6:00 AM, June 10, 2013 and, six hours from now, the third Philippine Independence Bushcraft Camp will commence. I am at the parking lot of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish waiting for the advance guard.

One by one, they came: Jhurds Neo, Fulbert Navarro, Glenn Pestaño, Ernie Salomon and Boy Olmedo. All are products of PIBC 2011 and PIBC 2012 and they volunteered as camp staff and lecturers. Their bags are heavy and will be heavier still when the meat, the rice, the milled corn, the butane cans and other food ingredients will be added. All are members of Camp Red Bushcraft and Survival Guild except Boy who is with CEMS.

All leave at 9:00 AM when the first trickle of the earliest participants arrive. Marc Josef Lim of the group from Liloan came early and is formally introduced to the group. Mayo Leo Carillo (PIBC 2012), passed by for work to drop a load of ten (10) whistle-paracord bracelets as a parting gift for the new participants on the last day - June 12.

The rest of the participants came and they are Ric Caliolio (Filipino Survivalists) and Ariel Cercado (Adamson University Mountaineers) - both from Metro Manila; Yuri Postrero (COAT); Chad Bacolod and Johnas Obina (ECO/MCAP); Jamiz Combista (Bisdak Survivalist); Aljew Frasco, Warren Señido, Allan Aguipo and Christopher Maru - all of Liloan; Anthony Espinosa and Aaron Binoya (OH); Jack Janson of the Bureau of Fire Protection; and Camp Red applicants Patrick Henry Calzada and Antonette Bautista.

Eli Bryn Tambiga (2012) and JB Albano (2012) – both registered nurses - will be my assistants when we will do the discovery hike from the trailhead to the campsite. Conar Ortiz (2012) also went along. As planned, a bus from Barangay Guadalupe arrive to shuttle us to the jump-off area at Baksan and we leave at exactly 12:00 noon. It was a slow ride but, nevertheless, we reached our destination.

This blogger start the on-site briefing and introduced JB and Eli Bryn to the sixteen participants. Eli Bryn shall walk the rear with his camera and JB will control the pace in the middle while I will guide the party. I assure all that my pace will be controlled and slow and I advise everyone to stretch muscles first before taking the trail after me to prevent injuries.

The trailhead is located at Baksan and the teak trees are healthy and blooming after many days of rain. It is supposed to be a rainy day as forecast by a government meteorological agency. The report stated that a Low Pressure Area will enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility today with a low of 23ºC and a high of 29ºC but the sky is sunny with passing clouds to give us perfect weather.

The ground is wet but it is not slippery especially when we proceed to the first stream after negotiating a steep slope. Those that are not sure of their footing provided themselves with wooden staff which are abundant along the trail. The stream is full and robust although water have risen high last night as seen from the traces of mud and silt along river banks.

Ahead would be the old campsite. Although a good site, it could not accommodate anymore the increasing number of people joining the PIBC. We pass by it and follow Lensa Trail to the next stream. We all take a brief rest here. I prepared three water holes if ever our water needs from our water source near camp is inadequate.

Above the stream, I cut a single pole of a water bamboo (Local: butong) with my 3-5/8” long William Rodgers spear-point knife and cut it some more and divide it to two poles with three segments each. Two people volunteered to carry one pole each so I can carry a slender bamboo pole which I stashed last May 5 for use as my shelter ridge on the first and second day and as a flag pole on the third.

From the same stream we climb up towards a ridge and, from there, it was easy ascent. The long line of people were not bothered by the rattan palms growing along the trail to the campsite. Along the way, I point to the party the designated latrines and the “gate” of Camp Damazo. These are two stout trunks – still standing - of what used to be living trees growing alongside each other and would serve as posts if there indeed was a gate.

Upon the portal of Camp Damazo, I welcomed all the sixteen participants to pass through and choose their own sleeping quarters. The allocation of tent space would have been the job of Randell Savior, he being the Camp Ramrod, but he could not make it in time but will attend his duties once he arrive in late afternoon. I have foreseen this, so I instructed the advance party to set aside the choice spots for the participants, which they did, including the smoke screens to ward off mosquitoes and other insects.

Just when I found my own sleeping spot, rain fell but not heavy although the rest have already set up theirs. Most of the small fires prepared by Glenn and Fulbert were snuffed out except one where it would become the center of camp life. It actually sit on the old campfire site underneath a Moluccan ironwood tree (Local name: ipil) and is a perfect spot to gather people around it. Nearby is a stinging tree (Local name: alingatong) which everyone evade with dread.

I set up my simple shelter when the rain stopped. It is almost on the same spot as last year and employing the same system and material. A cheap tarpaulin is tied at the four ends with a cord to the ground, the ridge is a slender bamboo (instead of a rope) that I carried up from the stream. I use a recycled tarpaulin banner as my ground sheet and nothing else. My Apexus fly sheet will instead be used for the campsite galley.

Over where my head is located – which is north – I pierced three sticks eight inches to each other on the ground and tied two more sticks horizontally on these. From these two sticks, I tied broad palm leaves with thin vines to prevent draft from getting in. My shelter will shield me from rain but not from mosquitoes. The campsite location is on higher ground but it is shielded by a thick forest and would protect us from strong winds.

Randell arrived and is in a quandary of where to place his hammock and tarp as the places where vegetation is cleared are now used up. Nevertheless, he improvised by tying his hammock underneath another. Ernie cooked a good supper of a steaming local pasta with soup for the hungry people on the campsite which now total twenty-five!

Around the campfire, a 750ml bottle of Tanduay Rum slipped in silently and make its presence felt when a glass made its round on the half circle of outdoorsmen braving the few drops of rain that got tangled by leaves overhead. A yarn ensued when the strong liquid touched the lips of Fulbert. The night rang out with unending echoes of laughter goaded by rum, drank straight without ice or chaser.

Unfortunately, Glenn could not join this jolly commotion as he is tent-bound by flashes of hypertension which JB and Eli Bryn are quick to administer normal medications. Johnas too needed some care as his back lay on a spiny caterpillar causing skin to inflame and swell. A cream of Caladryl was applied to soothe the inflammation.

When the bottle that supplied this ruckus ran out its course, the night claimed its silence. It is about 10:00 PM when I gaze at my shelter and an inviting space bade me in. There will be a night watch and two people will do the honors of watching over the campfire and the campsite every hour. I will have my watch at 4:00 AM and so an early rest seem fitting.

I slip on my bonnet and my long-sleeved Umbro shirt when I hear the unmistakable hum of mosquitoes. I keep my Rohan pants and shoes on to protect me from them and from cold. As assurance against them mosquitoes, I spray myself with citronella. The smoke from the fire is too far away to be of much efficacy in protecting me. Then I cover myself with my sniper meshclothe.

My consciousness would have dipped to the sleepy realm when an army of these danged mosquitoes blast their danged humming upon my ears. Besides that, they crawled and pricked all over my clothes and everything were strip of skin is bared. It practically ignored my shield of citronella and made my night a horror. I tossed and rolled in my cramped space and I gave up at around 3:00 AM and joined the watch of Eli Bryn and Conar. However, a cup of coffee soothed my nerves and kept me awake beyond my watch hours.

Light came on the second day, June 11. I visit the camp galley and Ernie is up doing his thing with the stoves, the pans and the fire. I thought I heard a rooster crowing nearby and that is strange. I decide to follow the sound and it goes into an unexplored trail which I will reserve for a future activity. I come nearer and I notice that not only I hear a rooster crow but I also hear a coo-coo of a hen.

The sound becomes mechanical-like without the unmistakable flapping of wings which a rooster would execute before crowing. I stop in my tracks and I remembered that pythons imitate sounds of their prey. Fully-grown pythons are intelligent reptiles and they are active since new moon was observed last June 8. The unfamiliar track I followed becomes forked. The upper one, I believe, will link to a road and the lower one, I also believe, to a stream.

Breakfast served were pork adobo and mung bean soup. After this, the lecture will start. I opened the PIBC proper and pass on to Fulbert and Conar, assisted by Jack, the lectures about the chapter on Basic Knot Tying. This took on the whole morning as it also touched on abseiling a slope using an improvised harness and the much more technical single-rope technique using prussic knots.

Lunch was supposed to be served after that but I explained to all participants that, to feel about the hunger pangs of survival, all will have to fast until dusk after which I lectured them the chapter about Introduction to Bushcraft and Survival. It is a long chapter where I have to explain the psychology of survival; the survivor’s relation to his environment and his own sense of morality when in that situation; the difference of bushcraft as against survival; and the possible repercussions when surviving a disaster.

After that, I touched on the chapter about Basic Survival Tool-Making and showed them the simple but useful tools that you could manufacture from nature. To give myself a break, Glenn came next with his chapter about Everyday Carry or EDC. EDC is so important to one who is into bushcraft and survival that, without it, is like a cowboy without his hat and Glenn is the best person to explain this since his arsenal of EDC items are very impressive and the envy of everyone.

When Glenn finished his, I proceed on to the next chapter about Basic Knife Care and Safety. I tackled on the only law governing the carrying of knives in this country and its amended version so everyone will understand their rights and their responsibility; how to travel with it safely – with a sheath or without; proper knife ethics; sharpening methods; and how to give your best smile when passing through police checkpoints and security screens.

Following on is the chapter of Basic Foraging. This is one of the most important part of bushcraft and survival for this is the means by which you could sustain your existence. It teaches you to collect some items that will be useful for you and it instructs you when and where to hunt food. This chapter will complement all the other chapters because, without this, your tools and your fires will not materialize.

Basic Firecraft is the most popular chapter since this is where true survival is based upon. But I destroyed that notion that anything is possible with friction tools and firesteel when you could not even start a fire with a matchstick. I emphasize more on the kinds of tinder and the proper preparation of combustible material. I demonstrated the most efficient forms of friction tools: the bamboo saw and the bow drill.

The last chapter closed on Basic Outdoor Cooking where the bamboo I foraged from the stream becomes the cooking pot. I taught the participants the technique in creating one and the proper cutting angles. Rice was cooked afterward when Johnas and Ariel tried my technique in opening bamboos.

Gladly, the lecture ended early at around 3:30 PM and a lot of daylight hours left for personal conveniences. Obviously, they were all hungry and tormented by uncomfortable sleep, inconvenienced of spartan living conditions and made to stay awake for the lectures. They have had enough of the day and of yesterday’s hike and I signalled to Ernie to serve the very late lunch at 4:00 PM. Food prepared are braised pork and dried fish cooked in oil.

After the meal, everyone re-adjusted their respective fly sheets, ground sheets and hammocks to improve their rest later on. Marc carve a spoon and a fork with a piece of green bamboo while Johnas constructed a bamboo amplifier which he copied from Facebook. Dominic Sepe arrived together with my guests, Maria Iza Mahinay and Bernard Bodiao of MCAP. Both climbers just came from a Mount Canlaon climb and both decide to stay at Camp Damazo.

In a few hours, a nocturnal hunting activity will proceed and it would be a good idea if I do a recon on the stream which I have not seen before. When 7:00 PM came, I called everyone’s attention and divide it into two groups. Randell will lead one group to hunt for tree snails (Local: taklong, takdong or korakol) around the campsite while I will lead another to hunt for fresh-water crabs (Local: piyu) at a stream.

When I arrive, the river is teeming with crabs. With LED torches it is easy picking provided you know how to grab it from the water. Much as I would have liked a good hunt, I advised my group to take just enough for dinner and leave the smaller ones alone before we go back to camp. The fruits of our hunt will be our dinner which Ernie will prepare on his own special way.

It was served in the middle of a circle by a campfire on banana leaves. The snails were boiled first, shell and entrails separated from the meat, before being fried; while the crabs were boiled, sauteed and then cooked in coconut milk. I help them find their food in the dark with my LED torch and there was a great “boodle fight”. Such were the satisfaction felt by everyone knowing that they have tasted the fruits of their labor.

The campfire yarns and storytelling started after the meal and this night’s affair is much lively and more animated than last night’s as three 750ml bottles of Tanduay and a half liter of Royal Crown Whisky supplied the fuel. My sleepiness have gone for a while but I know it will come back to me when this din will have died down. I do claim my sleep at 2:00 AM when the campfire circle became silent and abandoned. This time, I sleep beside the fire, the smoke protecting me, at last, from those pesky mosquitoes.

I wake up on the early morning of June 12, the last day of the PIBC. While Ernie is doing his thing, I start the blade porn which is a valued tradition in bushcraft. Branded knives lay side-by-side with native blades, tomahawks and spin-offs. Multi-tool sets claim their spaces by baring all their teeth while a number of SAK folders lay subdued with only one function sticking out. An odd item – an improvised blowgun – joined the pageantry.

Then comes breakfast: Eggs – sunny side up – plus last night’s braised pork. When all have recovered their appetite, the Philippine Independence Day rites start with invocation by Fulbert. The singing of the National Anthem (Lupang Hinirang) follow through the beat of the hand of Maria Iza while the Oath of Allegiance (Panatang Makabayan) is recited by Glenn and repeated by all, line by line.

Breaking of camp ensue at 9:30 AM and all make a long beeline to another discovery hike towards Baksan Road led by Fulbert while Randell, JB and Dominic stay behind to dispose trash that have not been carried along. At 10:00 AM, we all hike down the direction of Lanipao Rainforest Resort where we will stay for the rest of the day for relaxation and to cleanse ourselves in its spring-fed pools.

Noontime came and chicken sinigang soup is served. Afterward, the distribution of the PIBC certificates are carried on and, later, freebies of stickers, courtesy of Camp Red and Warrior Pilgrimage, are given. Then Mayo’s whistle-paracord bracelets are drawn to lucky recipients as well as ferro rods, paracord bracelets and an empty Altoid can courtesy of Glenn.

We leave Lanipao for Napo at 4:00 PM and the bus that took us to the Baksan trailhead two days ago returned to pick us up as agreed. We were all ferried and dropped at Camp Red’s favorite watering hole, the Red Hours Convenience Store, and swapped stories and goodies until it is time to go. It was another PIBC worthy of telling and re-telling for next year and the succeeding years after it.

Document done in LibreOffice 3.3 Writer
Some photos courtesy of Eli Bryn Tambiga and Anthony Espinosa

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


THE SHIFT OF PLAYGROUND from the Babag Mountain Range to the south of Metro Cebu, particularly in Lower Sayaw, Sibonga last April, was a good experiment and presented good results. It was bushcraft at its best combining ageless primitive-living skills with new ideas at a place faraway from scrutiny of the ignoramus. It was a good venue to talk about real-life scenarios while polishing on real-life skills. It was good stuff and that was a perfect outlet for any gentleman of the outdoors.

Upon the invitation – again – of Glenn Pestaño I come down from my comfort zone and go meet him at the Cebu South Bus Terminal in the early morning of June 2, 2013. There he was, by his lonesome self, sitting on the lounge chair with a well-wrapped item by his side. He promised to bring his air-powered Benjamin caliber .177 rifle for an activity which we agreed to be held at Magsipit, Carcar in the south and that might be it.

The bulk on the wrapping shows that it concealed not just one but two rifles and that is heavy. Although we know that the COMELEC Gun Ban is still enforced, we both decide to risk the carrying and transporting of the rifles, for these, we believe, are “soft contraband”, not worth the trouble for any policeman to delve into unless the rifles cause severe harm and grave alarm.

So, there is no big deal about that and we ride a Ceres Liner bus bound for Carcar and, after an hour of seamless ride, we disembark at the crossroads of Awayan where Randell Savior was waiting for us. Randell have with him his motorcycle while Glenn decide to ride a tricycle and I, on the other hand, hop on another motorcycle which I hired on the spot. It was a short ride and I arrive at the place first where I shell out twenty pesos as fare.

I wait for Glenn and Randell and when they do arrive, Glenn introduced me to his friend, Cecilio. Cecilio is our host and he offer us his backyard for our activity. Stashed to the side of his home were two short poles of bamboo containing two segments each. Children were curious of my gear and I oblige their amusement by taking pictures of them. It is those little gestures that warm the heart of any kid and they give me a respectful distance.

I begin to work on the bamboo by cutting it open and make a crude pot so I could cook milled corn in it. As I was doing that, the children milled around me but I talked and taught them how it is done. I give them the idea that you can cook anything out of a bamboo and the best way is to teach them while they are young and I now build me a nation of bushcrafters. These little boys and girls would be handy someday.

Off to the side, Glenn is unwrapping the items inside and it reveal a Benjamin air rifle and another rifle that had been made and assembled locally. Both of these have scopes which Glenn expertly installed. Randell snatched the Benjamin and tried its balance and sight. Infront of my outdoor hearth is the target platform and I am in the line of fire. Excuse me! Not yet, you fools!

I gather all my wits and search for the promised beverage which Glenn prepared for me: a gallon of frothing coconut wine. Finding none along the naked vicinity of my vision, Glenn retrieved it from inside the house and there it is in its bubbly splendor. Haha...! Now I can see the beginnings of a good bushcrafting day.

Randell help me in stoking the fire to life with a good supply of chopped dry bamboos as I begin to make another crude pot of bamboo for the rice. You know what, I have my own way of cooking rice inside of a bamboo pole which is different from those done with modern pottery. This technique is also in contrast to methods utilized by the Aetas and other tribal peoples on the same bamboo.

I could cook anything on any kind of bamboo save frying something with oil which you could not do on any organic medium like a bamboo pole. When the rice is almost done, the fire becomes the property now of the fresh fish and pork meat. Over these glowing coals, the boys take over cooking grilled fish and pork. Glass after glass of fresh coconut wine becomes mine alone as no one accepted the challenge of this indigenous beverage.

When all the cooking were finished, the food are set on a table with banana leaves as table cover. Everyone milled around the table and partake of the food. My rice and milled corn, still in their bamboo vessels, are splayed on the line and becomes curiosity items which every local would want to add to their taste buds and gourmet memory. Anything cooked in bamboo exude a sweet aroma and it adds to a perfect appetite.

When the table is set aside, Glenn and Randell make ready the rifles, the carbon dioxide tanks, the .177 pellets and the targets. First target were the empty shells of what used to be tree snails. Glenn is so adept at his rifles and hit the shells one by one after two misses while Randell play catch up by hitting his first shell after a miss of six.

When both have hit target after target, they look sideways at me with my gallon and glass of coconut wine. They asked me to try and shoot some target. Honestly, in my life, I have never fired an air rifle but I have with different assault rifles spewing fire and lead. I declined at first but, since they were very annoying and very redundant in their request, I accepted the dare.

I heave the Benjamin and firmly place it on my left shoulder since I am a lefty. The center eye of the scope danced as my breathing is ragged. (Bless the coconut wine!) I could not make it still even when I release slowly my breathe. I shifted the butt again and locked it squarely on my shoulder joint while I locked my right arm on my body and slowly release my breathe.

Slowly the tension is gone and I squeeze the trigger lightly and I just got a beginner’s luck. The shell fell from where it is suspended, obviously, caused by a direct hit which a pellet bore a hole into and exiting behind it. I make it look so easy, to the unbelief of both Glenn and Randell, but it ain’t. In fact, I was straining hard and forcing my body to keep still. That’s all there is: Beginner’s luck!

So, from shells, the targets were changed into water bottle caps arrayed at the top platform and empty shells from 7.62mm ammunition line on the lower platform. Glenn and Randell were placing bets on who could hit as many targets as they can. I decide to change the rules by making the targets more confusing. I attach a blue plastic far behind the blue caps and pierce dry small bamboo poles behind the 7.2mm shells. Then I give them five minutes each to drop all ten targets.

Glenn dropped five blue caps and ran out of time. Randell brought down two caps and lost to time and his ten pesos to Glenn. Then both egg me to try my own rules on myself. I never hit a target even when I keep on shifting from left hand to right hand and back and, at one time, I have to stop the time to remove the telescopic sights so I could use the iron sights. All to no avail.

The air gun mechanism when loading a round on the breech is just too complicated for me and make me clumsy. That was why I have the scope sight removed so I could load a pellet quickly. I am not adept with air rifles but I could start and learn in belated fashion. I find it very interesting and fun. Maybe I could have Glenn make available his air rifles next time or maybe I could have one myself.

When the afternoon begin to cast long shadows, it was time to leave. At around 3:00 PM, we decide to end our session. I hopped behind Randell on his motorcycle for the highway while Glenn borrowed a motorcycle to escort us but he will stay for the night. Randell will also stay in Carcar and I will be the only one to go back to the big city. The coconut wine make the best of me and I slept in the bus only to be awakened at the terminal. Feeling refreshed, I proceed home and wished another compleat bushcraft session next time.

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