Tuesday, March 25, 2014



1.     How would you describe yourself as an individual, and as a leader?

I am really a shy person and would like to do things away from the limelight if that would only be possible.  I know I would sound like a hypocrite here considering that I bask myself in the glare of Facebook updates.  I wished I could turn it off but I have a personal mission. My being shy does not mean I am aloof but it grooves more of my being a very independent person; doing things my own way by my lonesome self, risks included.  Yes, I am comfortable working alone and I have proven that many times in the past as a solo operator.   

As a leader, I have my own faults.  I am human and subject to social and environmental interference.  I would rather watch from the sidelines than leading people.  On that manner, I could ascertain my own path for my upkeep.

2.    How would you describe Cebu City as your birthplace and as your playground?

Cebu City is just a small place sharing the biggest plain of an island with two other cities.  It has four creeks draining to the Mactan Channel, one of which is my childhood playground.  It has all the amenities and conveniences that you would likely find in Metro Manila, only you could secure or reach it in less travel time or even walk it in between.  It is protected from the east by Mactan Island and from the west by the Babag Mountain Range and from the north and south and above its air space, by our beloved Señor Santo Niño.  We speak Cebuano, of course, but the original residents here would rather read newspapers and watch movies in English.  The city had lost most of its character brought on by brisk business activity and the influx of tourists and people from other provinces which made it more crowded, polluted, increased index crimes and what have you that are also common in Manila and other big cities of this country.          

3.    What memory can you share about your childhood and your basic education?

Early in my life, I was doted on by my grandparents and became so close to them as if I am living separate from the rest of my family although we all live in the same house.  I have literally been in a school of hard knocks during my elementary and a day would not pass without bruises, black eyes and head bumps.  During that time, I have learned to earn my own money by my own wits when asking it was too taxing for my parents and elders since their values ran contrary to what tantamount to as begging.  In my freshman year in a Catholic high school, I am a weekly visitor in the principal’s office due to disciplinary actions and I was kicked out after my third year when the friars thought I am a very subversive youth.

4.    Why did you take up BS Commerce, Computer Science and Vocational Courses?  Are they your interest?  Who or what influenced you to enroll in the mentioned courses?

I shift to Commerce because I thought it is easy than Engineering but my preference to be always with my peers caused me to drop out and I was forced to take up vocational courses instead to appease my father and to keep me busy for four years.  Later, I took up Computer Science when I was in the police force for my career advancement.  If I had not taken subjects in Computer Science I would have been a dinosaur until now.   

5.    Describe your fears as you begin your first job?

The only fear I had felt then was that if my employer would discover my true age and that was the time when I was hired as a warehouse helper in a big national supermarket chain in 1980 because I was 17 then and I passed myself off as 18.  I did not last long with my first job because I was a wild youth.

6.    Why have you decided to work in a private company from being a police officer?

When I got myself separated from the force, I have no other option to feed my family except to get a job from the private sector.  I screened out several times as a call center agent and there was a time that I worked as a gardener for six months for a cousin.  Fortunately for me, a private security agency was in need of someone to oversee their operations and I felt my knowledge and experience are adequate enough for that job.     

7.    Why have you selected to become a self-reliance and primitive-living skills instructor?

After I heard from my mountaineer-friends talking about a famous TV survivalist, I instantly surmised that he was not doing those things the proper way.  Since I knew a lot of survivalcraft from my late grandfather, I begun to entertain the idea of teaching it properly to people and discuss the wisdom behind each aspect whereby it lead to a great understanding about what this guy was really doing.

8.    Are your kids also into bushcraft?  If yes, can you share how they became interested?  What is your most unforgettable experience with them?

No.  I wished they would but I will not force them.  I am just waiting for the right time when they get tired of their dependence with the electrical outlet.  Watching them grow up every day is an amazing experience.

9.    What does “teamwork” mean to you?

Teamwork is doing things in clockwork precision with all the individuals in a team.  Each one has his/her own role or functions and, whatever the outcome, as long as there is cohesiveness, the objective of teamwork is thus achieved.  Of course, I know this, being once a basketball player but it is not confined to a certain sport and it can also be adopted inside of a corporation, a home or even running an event.

10.  Would you describe yourself as a team player or an individual achiever?

Either.  I could organize and direct a team in an easy manner as much as I could bank on myself to come up with good results singlehandedly.  Most often, I just watch from the sidelines and make myself relevant when I thought I have the answers.

11.  What kind of people do you find difficult to work with and why?

People with bloated egos and the know-it-alls.  They have their own convoluted benchmarks and they are quite critical of other people who, they think, are not at their superfluous level.  And there are persons who have inferior qualities but who make up to it by projecting themselves as someone who is superior.  Trolls make up this last type.

12. What experience have you had with students from culturally diverse backgrounds?

It is always a good opportunity to learn from other people with different cultural backgrounds.  I treat each one as an equal with utmost respect and understanding.

Monday, March 17, 2014


MY LIFE WAS RECENTLY part of a study requirement by a student of a state university in Metro Manila and one of the questions asked of me is about what I see in the bushcrafters of today? Frankly, there are, I replied, only a few non-indigenous Filipinos who practice bushcraft and I consider them as precious jewels. Although I see this number gaining ground every year, thanks to social networking sites, but, deep inside, I just want them to be as few as possible.

Yes, these local bushcrafters are so few yet their knowledge about real-life survival skills are irreplaceable. They are misunderstood and disdained by the mainstream outdoor crowd because of their propensity to carry real knives (instead of the closet kind) and their seemingly audacious methods which ran contrary to the principles of the Leave No Trace which everybody seems to know by heart but never understanding the very spirit by which it was created.

Bushcrafters do not come to a mountain to eat pre-cooked food and they are not in a hurry either. Time is of no measure to them and their day goes on its course without having to push themselves hard and be at places dictated by a piece of paper. They stay low and see a lot of nature that conventional backpackers do not know about. Yes, these bushcrafters appreciate nature as much as you do but they embrace it with much reverence and not by spur-of-the-moment realizations exhibited by tourists.

They go to the same places over and over again and does not mind the familiarity or the tedium of it. They only take what they need and polish off their skills to perfection with what few things they have. They absorb every lore of these places and they relish at the prospect of a companionship with the campfire if night comes and a kettle of hot coffee by the side. It is always a pleasure for them to just be by themselves or with just the right people.

I am a bushcrafter and I am with another of my kind, Glenn Pestaño, and we are at the very place where the recent Outlaw Bushcraft Gathering was held two weeks ago. Today is September 15, 2013 and it is a hot day in Sayao, Sibonga, Cebu. Two novices – Justine and Faith – also came and they hiked the route with me from Napo, Carcar just like the last time. Today, we will just be polishing off our skills, testing knives and the two beginners will learn from us.

I carry a prototype model of an AJF Gahum knife to test its versatility and handling. It is hand-made by a gentleman from Lilo-an and he choose me to do all the torture on his creation except shooting it insanely to drive a point. Aside that, Glenn had been dangling a Seseblade Sinalung knife for me – a gift coming from Dr. Arvin Sese himself – urging me to make me come and get it. I will have that soon once I will arrive at the camp along with another of Doc Sese’s gift – a money belt. I did arrive, sweat and all, and I claimed the gifts. Hmmm...lovely!

When I have recovered from my euphoria, I go down a small valley and harvest a pole of water bamboo. I will need it to teach Faith and Justine how to chop a piece of bamboo and how to make cooking pots. From these natural pots, I will teach them the technique of cooking rice in it. Aside that, I will show them what fire tinder to collect and how to arrange firewood before starting a fire by conventional means.

I use the full force of the AJF Gahum on a mature bamboo pole and carry the best part up the campsite and go back again to the bamboo grove to collect dried pieces of bamboo for my fire. Glenn, meanwhile, devised a cooking set-up using three sticks of bamboo and some stakes. The bigger stick is used to hang a pot over a fire.

After I had done my lessons with Faith and Justine, both went with Glenn for another lesson about how to dress a chicken. I tended the fires for two conjoined segments of bamboo which I made as cooking vessels and cook simultaneously both with rice. I also cook rice on a conventional pot hanged from Glenn’s tripod for insurance since, I believe, we all will be having a good appetite owing to the promise of eating free-rein chicken!

After finishing my cooking, I went to see how all are doing with their chicken. It is already 1:00 PM and, I think, they may be in the final touches of the chicken soup. When I arrive, they have not yet started the cooking. I take over by partitioning evenly some chicken parts and retrieve the head, the feet and the food sac, which were condemned as wastes, and cleaned it thoroughly before mixing it with the rest.

Since we don’t have the luxury of many ingredients, I use all to the limit like the cooking oil, garlic, the lower half of spring onions and green pepper. Then I put the pieces of chicken and let it roll back and forth in the scant oil during frying and, as it becomes brownish, I pour a quart of water and let it boil. I add lemon grass, spring onion leaves and pieces of ginger. For flavor, I shake some white pepper powder on the soup and two teaspoons of salt. No MSG. Cooking tasteful food outdoors is done with a right frame of mind and not by artificial means.

Anyway, there was a lot of food for everyone and we even shared it with a family living nearby in “boodle-fight” fashion. We deserve that dining style because we are bushcrafters and not some staged activity of conventional backpackers whose instincts follow an almost corporate flavor. I go for the head, the de-scaled feet, the opened food sac, a part of a liver and a good piece of a thigh to reward myself of the effort and energy lost to the morning hike, the foraging of bamboo and the cooking.

The rest of the afternoon are spent on conversations aided by the juice of a fermented coconut wine. We wind down the activity by checking on our blades. I am smiling because I have done well with my test of the AJF Gahum and found out that it needs some brushing up. Well, this piece would likely go back to its owner who will study its improvements based on my findings and recommendations. I am also smiling because I have a Seseblade. This, too, will be subject to my own brand of torture.

We leave Sayao for Napo following the morning route and transfer to a tricycle for Ocaña where the national highway is found. We doused our thirsty throats with cold soda drinks from a store and waited for a Ceres Liner bus. Two full ones passed by but the third accommodated all five of us inside on the seats. It was another quality day that only hard-to-the-core gentlemen of the outdoors would understand and relish. Not only that, the newcomers learned a lot with which knowledge would be second nature when SHTF comes.

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Saturday, March 8, 2014


AFTER TROPICAL CYCLONE HAIYAN pummelled the Philippine Islands last November 8, 2013, the Death Valley Magazine, through their Death Valley Expeditionary Corps, came to Cebu to engage in a humanitarian mission. Also known as Typhoon Yolanda, Haiyan was the strongest storm that the world had ever experienced in its entire modern climatic history with wind strength at 215 KPH and above. The islands of Samar and Leyte bore the full brunt of the storm as well as Northern Cebu and some parts of the Visayas.

DVM is an online magazine about professional adventurers and interesting people while the DV Expeditionary Corps is its humanitarian arm. It gets its crew from the very places where they go to execute their relief missions and expeditions just like they did at Guintarcan Island on November 23 and 24. Their Philippine contacts were from the Camp Red Bushcraft and Survival Guild, a Cebu-based club of outdoorsmen who are passionate about primitive-living skills and knives.

James Price, founder of DVM, decided to continue with what he started in Guintarcan by pushing for more aid for the island residents and so the DV Expeditionary Corps executed OPERATION GREENE. It is a much bigger relief operation and much more organized with the involvement of two trucks, a good-sized motorboat, a chainsaw, carpentry tools, 20 gallons of gasoline, five kerosene lamps, a stove set and more manpower. Crews coming from Camp Red (with support from the Don Bosco Technical High School Batch ‘94) assisted Operation Greene that targetted the small communities of Pasil and Dapdap in Guintarcan Island.

The DV Expeditionary Corps left Cebu City for Medellin on November 30 in a convoy of four vehicles provided for by DBTHS ‘94 with cargo of locally-sourced goods like old billboard tarpaulins, laminated nylon sheets, mushroom nails, GI wires, roof sealants, biscuits, candies and a ton of bottled water which were transferred from shore to shore over the Bantayan Channel.

Operation Greene is named after American philanthropist, Brett Greene, who gave the bulk of the funds which the people of the United States of America provided for this second segment of the Typhoon Haiyan Humanitarian Mission. Moreover, Operation Greene assisted and donated cash to one household to rebuild a damaged motorboat and on another household to put roof over a battered house.

The crew returned to mainland Cebu on the evening of the following day, December 1, after a very successful aid mission. Camp Red crews who participated were Jing de Egurrola, Ernie Salomon, Glenn Pestaño and Justine Ianne Abella with Jhurds Neo as base support. The succeeding montage of images told of the two days that Operation Greene undertook:

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Saturday, March 1, 2014


SURVIVAL-THEMED SHOWS on TV are now the most watched programs anywhere in the world and it opened the eyes of the viewer of the different scenarios when society or even a single individual is threatened by events or by forces caused by nature or by humans. It also shows primitive-living techniques, woodlore and culture of native peoples which had never been seen before on the boob tube.

Survival TV produced illustrious names like Les Stroud, Ray Mears, Bear Grylls, Mykel Hawke, Cody Lundin, Dave Canterbury and others and have spurred reality-TV shows like the highly-rated Survivor®. As if that is not enough, there are many survival videos produced professionally that are uploaded on YouTube, Vimeo and other dedicated sites which command a good following.

Matthew Everett, an independent film maker and a product of Bridgewater College in England, decided to organize his own production outfit in Southeast Asia where he was able to produce and direct indie short documentaries about Philippine culture. When not filming, he goes back home each winter to work in a power plant to raise the money he needs for his film projects.

Taking it a step further, he began mulling of a survival-cultural-adventure made-for-TV series. When Everett met Wil Rhys-Davies and Jing de Egurrola of Snakehawk Wilderness School, he felt he is catching on to that dream and named this project as “Native Instinct”. He explains that it is a bit like a survival show but it demonstrates cultural differences between the lead casts with some humour in it.

In fact, he had already made two test shoots at Guintarcan Island in Cebu and in an Aeta village of Bataan. This reality TV show aims to educate its viewers on survival techniques along with Philippine culture in an exciting and fun way. It will follow Rhys-Davies and De Egurrola, both wilderness instructors, as they travel through the islands, dealing with different survival situations and learning new skills.

What makes it different from the rest of the survival TV genre is that both Rhys-Davies and De Egurrola have good chemistry since both are good friends for years. Both enjoy poking fun at each other, on and off the camera, and it is this playful banter that will set it apart from the rest.


Rhys-Davies is raised on the periphery of the rugged Brecon Beacon Mountains in Wales and have wandered considerably the local woodlands of his childhood, it just seems natural that, one day, he would be an outdoorsman and wilderness traveler. He spent ten years with the British Armed Forces serving in a variety of environments, at home and abroad.

A trained mountain leader, wilderness medic, Outward Bound instructor and avid wilderness traveler; has travelled and worked in a multitude of environments in many countries, such as deserts, jungles, high mountain ranges; and in all seasons as a backpacking guide, climbing instructor, desert survival technical consultant, mountain biker, adventure-cycle tourer, and canyoneer.

He has worked with various clientele, from gang members, wealthy clients, drug and alcohol rehabilitation patients, and individuals who seek his knowledge. He is especially fond of the Aeta people of Zambales, the Philippines, whom he describes as amazingly friendly and one of the best jungle people he has met.

He is always passionate to see young people challenge themselves through outdoor activities. He is currently working on a multi-discipline adventure trip for 2014. Currently residing in the Philippines, he works with Snakehawk Wilderness School and consults with Silangan Outdoor Products.


The other cast is a Filipino and is a native of Cebu. He is a former SWAT operative and police investigator and had been taught woodcraft by his grandfather as a child. He used to be a recreational climber and free-lance mountain guide before shifting to bushcraft and survival and teaches these to aspiring woodsmen during weekends as well as urban survival techniques for corporate functionaries.

He uses the jungles and woodlands of the Babag Mountain Range as his playground and as location of the annual Philippine Independence Bushcraft Camp of which he is the convenor and main instructor. Apart from that, he organized and founded the first and only bushcraft and survival guild in the Philippines called Camp Red.

He is now working for the completion of the Cebu Highlands Trail in 2015, a project patterned after the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail of the United States and is also engrossed in outreach projects that benefit the children of the mountains and of the environment. He is married for 24 years now and a father to two adult sons.

He is presently managing a top-rate private security agency in Cebu and is the partner of Rhys-Davies at Snakehawk Wilderness School. He is a product endorser of Silangan Outdoor Equipment, Bamboo Military Shoes, Seseblades and AJF Knives. He tests gears and equipment which are then given review on his blog. He maintains a free-platform blog named Warrior Pilgrimage. (Click on this address: www.pinoyapache.blogspot.com)


Native Instinct is programmed to be filmed as a TV series but lack of funds hampered its shooting and is presently campaigning in Indiegogo.com to raise £2,000 to propel it into finishing the first six episodes, which would include a re-shoot of the island escapade and the Aeta cultural immersion. The money would be spent for travel, equipment and production expenses.

Prospective investors will be able to choose their perks according to the various donation packages indicated at its Indiegogo.com project page. As you read this, the Native Instinct production staff are asking you to please help this show by supporting for the completion of this in the form of donating any amount at its Indiegogo.com page.

Below are some video clips of Native Instinct under the “Jungle Survival with the Aetas” episode. It is like Dual Survival® of Cody Lundin and Joe Teti but with a different twist. What would that be? It is for you to distinguish! Please enjoy - - -

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