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.

Document done in LibreOffice 3.3 Writer

Some photos courtesy of Eli Bryn Tambiga

1 comment:

Blogger said...

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