Tuesday, November 25, 2014
IT IS A BRIGHT SUNNY DAY. Jerome Tibon drove his KIA Rio on the South Road bound for Sibonga. I sat beside him while Nelson Orozco and Jhurds Neo sat at the back. When we passed by Pardo, Fulbert Navarro joined us. It is just another regular dirt time for us members of the Camp Red Bushcraft and Survival Guild. Today is March 30, 2014 and, an hour from now, we would be at our campsite.
We arrived at 10:00 but we walked another 200 meters to reach the camp, which is located up a hill. The breeze is steady and you could feel its coolness when you are under the shade of a tree. I came here last time in November 2013 during a Spoon Carving session. Today we are on a Notching class. Notching, is a bushcraft activity by which you nick a piece of wood to accommodate a cord, a rope or another piece of wood.
There is nothing difficult about it once you pay attention to the instructor, in this case – Glenn Pestaño, and watch how he uses the knife to achieve a notch. To recall, Notching had been taught first by another of Camp Red’s – Aljew Frasco – by the banks of the Cotcot River, in Lilo-an, last March 9. Jhurds, Fulbert, Jerome and Nelson were not there the last time and this is the perfect occasion to teach them about Notching.
When we arrive at the campsite, we make a courtesy call to Rufing Ramos and his family. There, Jhurds unloaded his little gifts for the children while I tour Jerome and Nelson of the herbal plants grown by Rufing on his little garden. Rufing promised Jerome and Jhurds that he will part some of his Hawaiian green tea to them. I understand Glenn had procured the free-rein chicken he promised and it is now over the fire for softening.
We proceed back to the campsite and I volunteered to fetch water for the group. Jhurds, meanwhile, forage three mature slender bamboos for our cooking tripod and a single segment from a bamboo pole for cooking rice inside. He is testing his Spyderco Forester knife. When I returned, the fire had already been started while the tripod is now standing above it. The fire had been made from flint and steel and charclothe.
We immediately filled one blackened pot with rice and another one with milled corn. These pots are hanged over the fire while the bamboo is propped in between two stones. We also boiled water for coffee and just let the pot stand near the fire. While the cooking had been going on, Fulbert and Jhurds started another fire nearby so Jerome’s dried rabbitfish (Local name: danggit) would be fried in oil on a military-issued food tray.
I left them so I could start the cooking of the free-rein chicken. I retrieved the now-softened meat and transferred it to a large fry pan where cooking oil had now been seasoned with garlic and onions. When the meat was brownish looking, I pour a little water then the pure coconut milk. After I bury a lemon grass (tanglad) in the soup, I settled the taste with only a few pinches of salt. Hmm...delicious! No MSG please, because it would not help your outdoor culinary skills a lot.
After I had parted a share to the Ramos family, I brought the rest to the hungry guys underneath a mango tree. All the rice and the milled corn and the fried fish had been cooked while pork meat in barbecue sticks are now in its final stages of cooking. I foraged a large banana leaf from a small valley and frayed it over a fire. The rice, the milled corn, the fried fish and the pork are piled over the leaf for a preview of a “boodle fight”. The chicken soup remained inside its plastic container.
However, before a meal, even how hungry people are, the Camp Red tradition of the blade porn takes precedence. It is unbelievable how six bushmen could produce twenty-three different blades in a single setting. I contributed my tomahawk, my William Rodgers bushcraft knife, my AJF Gahum heavy-duty knife, my Buck 112 folding knife, my Victorinox SAK Trailmaster and a local knife that was made in Tobaco, Albay to the fray.
After the meal, Rufing brought a gallon of pure coconut wine (tuba). It is not frothing and bubbly but it is white and sweet. This native wine is traditionally mixed with the bark of a mangrove tree (bakhaw) which gave it an orange color but, on this day, it had not. I drank glass after glass of it but I did not lower my guard. I have had a colorful history of the wine’s effect while vacationing on an islet off Masbate in 1983.
Glenn started the lecture about Notching. He explains to all that notching is actually a very good exercise to hone your dexterity with a knife. The knife is (as had been for centuries) a companion of a bushcrafter. It is a very useful tool, without which, it would be very difficult to achieve work in the furtherance of day-to-day survival. There are many different ways to notch a wood but Glenn would rather tackle the ones that had been effectively taught the last time by Aljew.
The Half Notch can be achieved by cutting a straight angle and then cutting another inclined angle on another point which intersect with the first. This is used to accommodate a cord or a rope especially when tying to a ground peg or part of a snare mechanism. The Square Notch is cutting two straight angles on different points and clearing away unwanted wood in between. This is also used like the Half Notch and it is used, as well, to fit in with another piece of wood.
The Hook Notch is used to hang items like cooking pots. It can be made by cutting a straight angle on one part and cutting another at an inward angle as if imitating a hook. The Cross Notch is cutting two straight angles where it crossed each other like an X and clearing away wood at the extremes to fit in another wood which also has a crossed notch. The Clasp Notch is used to hold an object and two cuts are chopped down from the end of a stick and wood is cleared in between.
All begin to apply of what they just learned from Glenn on their separate sticks. The minutes drag on as all the blades are now used to cut and notch the sticks. Jhurds, Fulbert, Jerome and Nelson were able to accomplish these simple tasks and, once done, are now forever ingrained as woodlore knowledge. Bushcraft is a different lifestyle. It teaches you skills which can make a big difference when SHTF comes.
As all are quick learners, Fulbert make use of the time to teach Glenn, Jhurds, Jerome and Nelson of basic knots. These are just simple knots that are applicable in bushcraft like stoppers, splicers, hitches and loops. Some examples of stoppers are the overhand knot, the slip knot and the figure-of-eight knot. For the splicers, the examples are the square knot, the double sheetbend and the double fisherman’s knot.
Meanwhile, the few good examples that Fulbert taught of the loops were the double figure-of-eight and the bowline. Same with the hitches, whose best examples are the timber hitch, the cow hitch, the tautline and the Prussik knot. Fulbert will be one of the resource speakers of the oncoming Philippine Independence Bushcraft Camp this June. He will discuss Basic Knots and will do a demonstration of the bamboo-saw method for Firecraft.
I decide to go down the hill to cut some tree trunks. I need to prepare firewood for the PIBC which would be hosted on this place on June 10 to 12, 2014. I look for certain tree species that are not native of this place like mahogany, white leadtree (ipil-ipil) and Indian mulberry (bangkoro) and are not that thick or mature. I cut it above belly height so it would recover quickly and more healthy. I also cut a single pole of a spiny bamboo (kagingkingon). I make it sure that all the trunks do not touch the ground.
When we think that it is now a late afternoon, we packed our things and say adios to the Ramos family. We walked back to where the KIA is parked in the morning, only, this time, Glenn is the additional passenger. Since some part of the road are not level, me, Jhurds and Glenn had to get out of the car so it could navigate easily. It was dark when we reach the city and, slowly, one by one, we all go home. I am the last to go and I gave my thanks to Jerome, who needs to cross the Mactan Channel by a bridge to get home.
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