Monday, February 23, 2015
IT IS AN UNUSUALLY COOL morning of June 22, 2014. For several months now, Cebu had been experiencing a hot spell. Officially, this month is supposed to be the start of the rainy season but climate analysts are forecasting an El Niño weather pattern, which may last up to November. So, for now, it is not warm.
The ground is wet as I follow Bogs Belga and Mayo Leo Carillo. The Sapangdaku Creek is clear and flowing brought on by last night’s rain. Behind me are Justin Apurado, Jhurds Neo, Ernie Salomon and Jingaling Campomanes. This would be the first time for Justin to join an official Camp Red Bushcraft and Survival Guild activity. He just attended the Philippine Independence Bushcraft Camp more than a week ago in Sibonga.
I am carrying a smaller backpack. It is an old-school canvass rucksack with a Lifeguard USA label. I open carry a Puffin Magnum knife ripoff dangling inside its handsome leather sheath. We walk non-stop until we reach Lower Kahugan Spring. The sun begins to show up so I don my desert camo sniper’s veil on the head with a black cord holding it from falling down – Arab man style. I am expecting a very warm morning.
After we had filled our water bottles, we proceed on. The Roble homestead is our destination. As always, by our desire to eat food fresh from the cooking fire, we will cook our meal there. Jhurds had promised to bring shrimps and salmon strips. We complemented it by procuring rice and pork belly bought from the roadside market in Guadalupe.
We take a short cut to the place and arrive at about 09:30. Some hikers are already there sitting on a bench underneath a mango tree but leaving the visitor shed vacant. We occupy the shed. Meanwhile, I forage three sticks and lash it with a cord so it could stand as a tripod from where our pots would be hanged. Fele Roble and son, Manwel, offered to share their dry firewood for us.
I split bigger firewood with my Puffin Magnum while I make small ones with my William Rodgers bushcraft knife. Bogs shaved a feather stick with his Mora to add to my retinue of tinder and kindling from my fire kit. Firewood is arranged while a dried Spanish moss burned underneath, the wood catching the flame and giving the impression that our meal is feasible.
Justin watch the fire while I prepare the bigger of my two pots for the rice. Once it is suspended above the fire, I talk with Jhurds about my project, Survival Day. It is a practical test of endurance and resourcefulness for members of Camp Red. Two members would be selected each weekend to undergo this overnight activity, which has an escape and evasion element.
The pair would be equipped between themselves with only one knife, a fire-making device of their own choice, a metal cup and a simple shelter, also of their own choice. They would have to source their own food and water while in the mountains and the setting up of a camp that would blend well with the surroundings. A third member would accompany them to document and observe. The third man will be their lifeline should things go wrong and the umpire should they cheat.
Three places in the Babag Mountain Range – the Buhisan Watershed, Tagaytay Ridge and Kalunasan Valley – will be the pilot places for the pairs to engage in their craft. A pair could only choose one place and they have the option to repeat it on the other two places if they so desire. The pairs would be graded according to their performance based on the documentations and the giving of recognitions or badges for their effort is well considered. Perhaps.
Everyone are mesmerized by this conversation that they abandoned their chores to involve themselves in the talk and at Survival Day itself. Everyone laud this project but safeguards would have to be set up once it starts. There has to be a medical team on standby along the route and radio communications have to be set up. Survival Day would start on July 5 and would end on December 31.
When that conversation was wrapped up, Mayo returned to his place and cook the pieces of pork belly on an iron grill and charcoal. Bogs set up three stones and give life to a fire in the middle of it and a large frying pan with oil is heated. Ernie prepared the ingredients while Jingaling helped in the slicing of vegetables. Jhurds unleashed his shrimps and salmon strips. He went on to clean the salmon of its scales.
And so it happens that Ernie is present, we gave him the ladle and a wide berth at his “office”. There are a few individuals who could dish out a number of good menu in an outdoor setting and old Ernie is one of those. Well, he start with the swamp radish and diced pork and saute it with soy sauce. Then he begins with the shrimp soup, adding pieces of eggplant, radish and iba (Sp. Averrhoa bilimbi), to achieve that tamarind-like taste which in local parlance is known as “sinigang”.
As if that is not enough, Ernie converted the salmon strips into a thick and spicy concoction. Jingaling prepared raw cucumber, tomatoes and onions in sweetened vinegar as our dessert. All the blades where used including Jingaling’s new Seseblades NCO knife. People are now beginning to feel hunger pangs even though we had blunted it for a while with hot coffee.
After lunch, we talk on more about Survival Day, about knives, ideas and the recent PIBC. It is the usual conversations which people at Camp Red are known to indulge in. Mayo is excited and decides to volunteer for Survival Day but he is not familiar with the places where it will be engaged in but he is curious about Tagaytay Ridge. I invited him instead to go with me to Tagaytay next week (June 29) to do a survey which he would. Good.
We left the Roble homestead at 15:00 back to Napo. It is a beautiful afternoon for a walk. I pass again the place where I saw some week ago of a flowering durian tree and a flowering marang tree (English: johey oak). Many people thought these trees do not grow and bear fruit here in Cebu. I do not think so. I always believed that what grows in Mindanao or, for that matter, in the tropics, grows also here. I just saw healthy fruits of both trees and I envy the person who planted these.
We reach Napo and then Guadalupe. We proceed immediately to our watering hole in M. Velez Street to talk about the just-finished activity and about Survival Day over a few munches of pizza and cold beer. Jhurds decides to partner with Mayo for Survival Day on July and I advised them to expect for my briefing after next week’s recon hike.
For myself, I am also excited since this activity had never been done by any outdoors group here in the Philippines and Camp Red would be a pioneering club that would indulge on this. Why is it different? First, this is done by only two people sharing a knife, a match, a simple shelter and a cup between themselves. Second, aside from sourcing their own water and food, they have to blend with their environment. And, last, they have to navigate on unfamiliar terrain under pressure by time.
If, later, both Mayo and Jhurds should find the activity too daunting for their own comfort, I could choose another pair or, possibly, try this myself – alone. I have a good reason for the latter possibility since this is my idea. Maybe they could follow my gist and wisen up.
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Thursday, February 12, 2015
FOR THE FIRST TIME, the 2014 Philippine Independence Bushcraft Camp will be done at Lower Sayao, Sibonga, Cebu. For the last three years, it had been held at Camp Damazo, a very secluded nook of the Babag Mountain Range, Cebu City. Camp Damazo had hosted forty-seven individuals, on three occasions of the PIBC, to learn bushcraft and survival from this blogger.
The old camp had increased in size brought on by a yearly occupancy and this blogger looked for other places which does not necessarily be a jungle environment. The campsite would have to could accommodate a good number of people and be able to absorb the impacts of campfire cooking. So on June 10, 11 and 12, 2014, the PIBC migrated to a new location.
Sibonga, a town located 56 kilometers south of Cebu City will host the new campsite on a hilly village which can be accessible from its village in Candaguit or from Ocaña, Carcar. The good thing about the new campsite is that it has a very reliable source of clean potable water, a healthy relationship with the local community, a very secure location and an ever-present cool breeze coming in from Bohol Strait.
We all assemble at the 7Eleven Convenience Store, across the Cebu South Bus Terminal, early morning of June 10. An aircon bus loaned from the Municipality of Liloan left at 07:40 and ferried all to the base of the campsite. All begin the short trek afterward to the top of a hill where mango trees grow. It is a very warm day but the possibility of rain is not discounted. The campsite is open terrain but there are shady areas.
The PIBC is a very limited affair and those who counted themselves in to learn the basic training on tropical bushcraft and survival are Jerome Tibon, Nelson Orozco, Maria Mahinay, Justin Ianne Abella, Jillian Ann Yap-Binoya, Justin Apurado, Jon Daniel Apurado and Gerald Ortiz. Some of them had been joining the activities of Camp Red Bushcraft and Survival Guild and their participation would solidify their entry as full members.
Coming along are previous products of the PIBC like Jhurds Neo (2012), Dominic Sepe (2012), JB Albano (2012), Eli Bryn Tambiga (2012), Fulbert Navarro (2012), Conar Ortiz (2012), Aljew Frasco (2013), Christopher Maru (2013), Johnas Obina (2013), Allan Aguipo (2013) and Patrick Calzada (2013). Jhurds and Dominic will both administer the campsite; Eli Bryn would document the whole event with his camera; while Fulbert, Conar and Aljew would discuss different chapters. The rest would function as handymen.
This year’s theme is MAKING A DIFFERENCE. It is inspired by the resolute spirit of the Filipino people in spite of the challenges and difficulties it faced right after the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Bohol and the post-Typhoon Haiyan devastation in Leyte and North Cebu. I am convinced that with the proper set of survival skills and knowledge, any calamity can be overcome and the PIBC could provide these.
On the campsite, majority of the participants and staff preferred the simple taffeta or a laminated-nylon sheet as shelters which they either paired with a hammock or with a ground sheet. The rest of the morning are dedicated to foraging firewood, inspecting the latrines that the organizers had prepared last June 1 and fetching of water for drinking and cooking. Additionally, I cut a single pole of bamboo for training aid later.
After lunch, this blogger opened the PIBC and proceed on to the first chapter, which is about Introduction to Bushcraft and Survival. It rained but it never interrupted the outdoor lessons. When I had finished this section, Aljew proceed to talk about the chapter on Knife Care and Safety. It is still raining but Aljew is very persistent, nonetheless, and refused to be bothered by it. The rain had slackened when I begin the lesson on Survival Tool-Making.
The long bamboo pole gets dismembered as the participants practice their dexterity with the knife by carving drinking jugs and spoons. They were taught the proper way to cut and safe handling of the knife. After dinner, a small fire becomes the center of the PIBC socials where a bushcraft tradition of Campfire Yarns and Storytelling will entertain all. Liquor is encouraged to provide animation to the tales but it is drank in moderation. This caps the first day yet there is a nightwatch alternately done by two camp staffs every two hours.
The second day – June 11 – starts with a breakfast. After this, the participants and staff would spend the whole day without food to simulate the hunger pangs associated with survival. Conar and Fulbert jointly hold the lessons on Basic Knot Tying. This was supposed to be discussed on the first day but delay caused it to be rescheduled. It is another warm day but droplets of rain threaten the training but we were not about to be bothered.
Firecraft is the next chapter, which I discussed, with Aljew lending his time to demonstrate how to make fire with a bow drill and Fulbert with the bamboo saw. Glenn Pestaño (2011) and Ernie Salomon (2011) arrive to provide support to the staff. Glenn will take charge of additional logistics while Ernie will fix the meals for tonight and tomorrow. I proceed on the next chapter, which is about Shelters. Then comes the long chapter on Foraging and Plant Identification.
In the middle of the afternoon, I lead all to a high hill where the village chief reside for the Plant ID/Prepper Lab Tour. We pass by a small community, secluded farms, a small lake and a cave before entering a large compound. It has vegetable gardens, several water sources, fruit-bearing trees, livestock, a fishpond, a private chapel, a small blacksmith shop, a ham radio station and several layers of defensible spots. It is the center of a self-sustaining community.
When we go down to our campsite, I discuss the new chapter on Prepping and mentions the residence we visited a while ago as a perfect example of a homestead where the owner’s mindset worked on the manner of a prepper. Last chapter is Outdoor Cooking, which I finished at dusk. Patrick and JB demonstrate how to cook rice and milled corn on separate chambers of a single piece of bamboo. Ernie goes to work on a beef stew by sheer creativeness.
After dinner, we get ready for another highly-valued bushcraft activity, Nocturnal Hunting. A small stream teeming with fresh-water crabs is the training ground for the participants. It is raining but it does not matter since all will be wet anyway walking on the stream. The route starts from a rice paddy below camp and ends into another rice paddy where there is a natural spring. In between is the stream itself, a forest, a deep pond and a waterfall.
The participants collected mature crabs only which Ernie saute in oil before cooking it with coconut milk. Another session of the Campfire Yarns and Storytelling follow where the jolly circle is aptly supplied by local moonshine – fresh coconut wines. The rain had stopped by then and the activity went on into the wee hours of the night and that caps the second day. As usual, the nightwatch take their posts.
The last day – June 12 – is a day reserved for the Philippine colors but our tradition of the Blade Porn is scheduled early. So, after a light breakfast, the blades gets the spotlight first. Eighty-one blades owned by twenty-two individuals are spread on two tarps! Then the flag is raised full on a bamboo pole and everyone sang to the beat of Maria’s hands the Philippine national anthem - Lupang Hinirang. Then comes the oath of allegiance to flag and country – the Panatang Makabayan - which everyone repeated line by line thru the instance of Glenn.
We break camp after a very delicious lunch of free-rein chicken soup, which Ernie splendidly cooked, and dried fish. The meal is spread on banana leaves akin to a “boodle-fight” which the military popularized. We leave the campsite for the place where we got dropped off by our transport. The bus arrived at at 13:30 and whisk us off from Sibonga bound for Lilo-an. In a private beach, we celebrate the conclusion of PIBC MMXIV with rounds of brandy to spur on good conversations of past and present PIBCs.
Mayo Leo Carillo (2012) join us and gave away whistle-paracord bracelets to the participants. Free side pouches were also given to the participants courtesy of Silangan Outdoor Equipment. Three woodlore knives made by The Knifemaker were raffled off to the participants; as well as lady paracord bracelets, small LED lights and a compass donated by Glenn; three straw filters provided by Jerome; and emergency coolers from Sea Olympus Marketing.
Certificates are distributed to the participants recognizing their finishing of the basic course on Tropical Bushcraft and Survival. Likewise, new Camp Red stickers are distributed to everyone who attended the PIBC. Before ending, Aljew treat everyone to a free dinner. This present PIBC metamorphosed into the realm of prepping and homesteading brought on by the special quality of the place in Sibonga which this blogger took advantaged of and in consideration of the succeeding disasters which have struck the country.
There is a possibility, however, that the PIBC will not just be confined to Cebu. A different province or city could host it, provided it falls on June 10 to 12. The PIBC is a unique event since it focuses more on the introduction of learning real-world survival skills to anybody. These skills would gather dust if not used or practiced regularly but can be retrieved anytime when the situation demands. PIBC is just like this: You just knock only once and all things will unravel before you.
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Some photos courtesy of Eli Bryn Tambiga
Saturday, February 7, 2015
I HAVE COME TO NOTICE that activities organized informally by any outdoor group tend to start or proceed to their destinations late. Lucky are a few who may start 30 minutes later or less but starting late an hour or more are becoming so common that it had become an annoying fad. It destroys a well-prepared itinerary. Why is that?
Miscommunication? No way. You have the mobile phones and those touted smart phones. Communicating with each other have never been so easier, so convenient and so fast now compared to more than twenty years ago where the only way to communicate fast was by the analog telephone and by word of mouth, provided you are neighbors or workmates or classmates or lovers or whatever.
How about attitude? Yes, that is always the main problem. There are just some people who take for granted the value of word of honor and of punctuality. These people holds hostage the activities they are intending to join by coming in late all the time. Then the band starts playing and off they go very late.
What causes this?
Number 1. These people work at night. A lot of people who joined outdoor activities work in business process outsourcing companies and their working hours are tailored-fit to the different time zones that people in the United States do business – which is day time.
Number 2. These people sleep late. Some parties and get-together with families and friends demand that you stay late. These are just on a few occasions but some kept it regular and still insists to be part of a day activity.
Number 3. These people got stuck in traffic. Rain causes traffic jams because the streets would be flooded. Following a religious procession, a hearse for the dead, a street parade or a road race causes you so much anxiety about your schedule but, most often, routes for public transports are re-routed by authorities.
Number 4. These people lived far away. Distance eats time and I know of people who take three to four rides to the assembly areas either beating the clock or going beyond the time.
Number 5. These people live in a house with many people and one bathroom. This is a very unique situation but very common in cheap lodging houses. You cannot start your day until you get your turn.
Number 6. These people suffered minor memory lapses. Normally this was applicable only to the senior citizens among us but younger people now experienced this because of the advent of multi-taskings, as some things get buried under layers of doing other new things all at the same time.
Number 7. These people are habitual latecomers. We cannot do about this except hope that they do not join or they get tired of people evading them.
During our formative years, we were taught to attend flag raising ceremonies on time everyday of every school year from elementary (no, make that kindergarten) to the end of high school. Although this is purely a patriotic affair to affirm our being citizens of and members of a republic, in this case, the Philippines, but, unknown to you, it is an exercise that emphasizes the value of punctuality and honoring appointments.
In the old days when there were no cellular phones and the Internet, people were very prompt and honored their commitments. Two or more minds would agree to a place, date and time in one setting or in a simple system of message delivery and all appear in clock-work precision. Those that would be late or cannot come made it sure that everybody knows. It was such an amazing development if you compare it with our present age, where advanced technology is supposed to ensure the speedy delivery of messages.
Because of our habitual tendency to start late, the word “Filipino Time” was coined. It does not speak well of us as a people. We might have been influenced by our former colonizer who had overstayed here for 333 years along with their infatuation to eat their lunch in late afternoons and using the word mañana when they do not feel like doing things immediately although another colonizer taught us to be on time all the time.
All things considered, private businesses demand their employees to be always on time to increase production. Management takes note of tardiness and these does not augur well for those whose salaries had become smaller than usual due to frequent deductions stemming from arriving late or by administrative sanctions like fines or suspensions as a result of being an unrepentant recidivist.
A good work ethic is being on time (or early) at your work. When you are late you suffer for that. That is the bottom line in private establishments and in some government offices. When you are late for a job interview, you suffer for that. That is the norm of human resource managers. Because being an unpunctual person is never accepted anywhere for they lack the tools to function as a respectful citizen.
While you are punctual in your classes, in your work, in your job interviews, in your dinner dates, in your reply of your messages, in your visit to the wash rooms and in your thousand other necessities in Facebook, why cannot you be punctual in an informal outdoor activity? What is the difference?
Have you considered the special preparation by the organizer to relinquish their valued family time so the likes of you could be accommodated in an activity where they do not stand to gain an income and you come late for more than an hour? Is it not unfair for the organizer and the other participants who came early? Who would they blame? YOU.
Conversely, would you be so happy to be left out after you already have paid a registration fee in a commercialized outdoor activity where the organizers and participants are nowhere in the place where they were supposed to be because you were late at the appointed time? Is it not unfair to you? Who would you blame? YOU.
How do you lessen this tardiness? I am no expert and I am sure that there are a lot of articles written by experts in human behaviour tackling this problem in the Internet and I do not know if you had read about it. Neither do I. Where would we start then?
TIME MANAGEMENT. If you live far then you wake up very early. If you expect traffic then you start early. Give a big time allowance, por Dios mio! If there is only one bathroom for twenty people or more where you live then you rise at a time where nobody is expected to use it and go back to bed after that. Use the alarm feature of your mobile phones to see to it that you would awaken at the pre-arranged time.
BE PREPARED. Know the assembly area and the quickest way to get there. You have all the tools you need. Call a peer. Message them in their emails or in their Facebook accounts. Use Google Map. If you work at night or stay late, make sure that you have already packed the things you need and snatch it quick when it is time to go.
GIVE FEEDBACK. If you would be late, do not leave people in the dark. Much more so when you cannot make it. Use your mobile phones and let them know. If you received a message or somebody calls you by cellphone, please acknowledge and answer. Ignoring same would upset the organizer and some participants.
BE RESPONSIBLE. The activity would push on regardless if you arrive or not. The only thing why the activity did not start as was scheduled is because they considered your presence as important. They value your participation and would sacrifice departure time for that but do not get this into your head. Do not act like a prima donna.
SELF-DISCIPLINE. If you work at night or stay late, you should know you would be surrendering your rest time. If you think it is not feasible to go, do not pursue it but you have to inform the organizer by all means. If you would be late, you are obliged to inform same. People would understand that except when you are late all the time and causes activities to be delayed all the time.
For those who do not know me fully well, I am no Superman nor saint. I also got late many times in the past and I learned some painful lessons. This was aggravated by the appearance of cellphones. Because of cellphones, you could concoct excuses and the other end would be obliged to wait. I still come late now, but these are very very few and far between and excuses are for real.
As an organizer, I would like to be first at the assembly area no matter if I work or stay up late, or I am harangued by rain, or even if there is an unexpected traffic jam. I would lead people by example by going early because that is the only proper way.
What people do not like is when you are already VERY LATE and the rest are waiting for your arrival and then, all of a sudden, someone received a message that you cannot make it. You backed out at the LAST MINUTE in an already borrowed time. That is a cardinal sin and you deserve LONELINESS. A possibility where people would leave you out in the dark all the time until the end of time.
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Sunday, February 1, 2015
THE PHILIPPINE INDEPENDENCE Bushcraft Camp is fast approaching. Nine days to be exact. Today, June 1, 2014, I decide to visit the campsite at Lower Sayao, Sibonga, Cebu to secure the firewood that I had prepared the last time I came here. I also aim to work on the latrines for both genders, see the condition of the water source and to elicit updates from the property owner.
The good thing is that I am not alone unlike last year in Camp Damazo. This time the alumni of PIBC 2011, 2012 and 2013, like Glenn Pestaño, Jhurds Neo, Mayo Leo Carillo, Aljew Frasco and Christopher Maru are coming with me. All are main bulwarks of the Camp Red Bushcraft and Survival Guild. Also coming to help are the rough cuts – Justin Ianne Abella, Faith Gomez and Nelson Orozco.
We all meet first (except for Jhurds and Glenn) at the Cebu South Bus Terminal in Cebu City before proceeding to the south by 07:00 on board Aljew’s red Toyota pick-up. We pass by Talisay City to pick up Jhurds so he would know his tasks during the PIBC since he is the camp ramrod. In layman’s term, that is “camp administrator” for you.
We stop first at Ocaña, Carcar to buy rice, coffee and spices. We did not buy meat or vegetables since Glenn had promised to provide pork to grill there for a very belated birthday celebration. We continue on and take a right turn at Candaguit, Sibonga. The road is good until it gets past Mangyan. This road is also under our scrutiny as the PIBC participants and staff will be ferried by a small bus during the first and last day.
The pickup did not stop at the usual place where the road is still considered gentle. There is a very rough road that had been recently worked on and flattened but it is so steep and the lime soil on top is soft. The rear wheels dig for a hold and we have to go down and push the pickup so it could move forward. After a very hard effort, it go past the soft stretches and into the campsite itself. The pickup looked out of place.
We visit Rufino Ramos and his family and give his kids sets of school supplies which we had kept for them. Aside that, Jhurds also give food from last night’s fiesta held at his wife’s place. Rufino owns the property where the PIBC would be held. The campsite grounds are broken up by a plow and is now ready for planting of corn but Rufino decide to postpone it after the PIBC instead. A copse of mangoes provide shade and branches to hold hammocks and tarp sheets.
I leave the rest so I could fetch water. Coming along are Nelson and Jhurds. Water is very vital in any undertaking, especially for an outdoor activity. I check on the flow of the natural spring and it had not been affected by this extremely warm summer. The small rice paddies are dry yet the small stream is flowing. This stream would be the site of the nocturnal hunting on the second night of the PIBC. We go back when we had our water.
While everyone are foraging firewood, I go down the hill and looked for the trunks I cut last March 30. The trunks I chose then were the introduced species like mahogany, white leadtree (Local name: ipil-ipil) and Indian mulberry (bangkoro) and all are now very dry since I kept all these above the ground. I cut the branches from the trunks so I could stow these and keep it from rain.
As I am doing all these, I search for a good place to set up the latrines. I see some young trees that had been felled down recently by firewood gatherers and I look for some straight poles that I could use as digging sticks. I found two lying on the ground and I immediately sharpen their ends. I go back and bring three branches that I also picked up off the ground for our cooking tripod.
Mayo had already set up his “old-world” hammock and his old tarp sheet while Jhurds lashed his taffeta sheet to the mango tree. I also brought my newly-acquired Silangan “stealth” hammock so I could test its flexibility of use. When the tripod is set, a black pot containing water is hanged over a roaring fire that Aljew gave life to. Soon we will have coffee and what a good day to have one!
The tripod are lashed with dried fiber from banana trunks. This same fiber is used to hang the pot filled with water (and later with rice) above a fire. While waiting for coffee, Nelson and Christopher refresh their knowledge about making palm balls where rice is kept and cooked (pusò). When they had remembered, they share this knowledge to the rest.
I test making fire out of a hand drill. Spindle is a dry driftwood, thick and not straight, while the fireboard is gmelina. Punks – fine sawdust – begins to appear; signs of smoke suspect; the tip of the spindle is hot, but no fire. Only sweat on my brows. Glenn, meanwhile, is busy with his Benjamin CO2 rifle, plinking a target at forty meters. Justine and Faith fire rounds too from the same rifle.
Aljew try another hand drill made of China berry (Local: bagalnga) wood. Spindle is long and slender and straight; turning it back and forth is intense until one palm popped. Aljew gave up. Tried again with the China berry pair. Smoke appeared but the intensity is lessening. I lose the battle. It was a good try and both me and Aljew gain more wisdom on how it would be done next time.
When we had coffee, we all go down the hill to work on the latrines. We work first for the males. Ninety percent of the campers would be male and we dig a hole four feet long, six inches wide and eight inches deep. That should be enough, for now. We may make another on the event itself should we find it inadequate.
Now, we transfer to another location and dig a hole for the ladies. It is a smaller hole but we may have to secure it with a laminated nylon sheet to preserve their (and the men’s too) privacy. We may attach the sheets later during the PIBC. All the guys take turns in digging the two holes with the digging sticks; clearing the dirt with coconut shells and trowels made from bamboos. Hand gloves were provided to protect the hands from injury.
It is almost 12:00 when we return to the main camp and we begin to rekindle the flame, cook the rice and drink more coffee. When the flames turned to embers, the pork is placed above an iron grill, the hunger in us begins to manifest as the smoke wafted thru the air. Sticky fingers break off some small portions of the cooked ones to nibble and stave off the urge.
When the meal gets served on banana leaves, all get serious. The knees do not mind kissing dirt as the hands grab fistfuls of rice and pieces of grilled pork and transfer it into impromptu plates like pot covers and empty Tupperware. It is a well-deserved lunch for a bunch of guys who loved to stay close to the earth. It was a very satisfying meal.
Rufino arrive with two gallons of coconut wine (tuba). Fine timing! We slowly drink the native concoction, using it to spice up our conversations. As always, the blades are the main topic. Camp Red activities encourage you to carry and use your knife whenever and wherever it is needed. More outdoor clubs, especially in Luzon, begins to see the importance of real knives in their activities.
It was not like that until I taught people how and why in subsequent PIBCs and they begin to see the light. Now, Camp Red is composed of the best knife connoisseurs in Cebu, perhaps in the Philippines, which is unprecedented, because they do not keep these inside boxes like old collectors do, but they use it like any ordinary tool. Their prized knives are exposed to all the wear and tear associated with the demands of the outdoors.
As the afternoon wears on, we begin to pack our things and get ready with the business of going home. The red pick-up is filled full of people and, one by one, we set off on home territory.
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