Tuesday, April 7, 2015


I AM STILL NURSING a fever borne out of a motorcycle accident that I got into on the night of July 29, 2014. My left chest is in pain, probably a slipped cartilage, and breathing is quite stiff. I also have a pulsating headache, a runny nose and an itchy throat. Yet, despite those, I am game enough to lend my presence, my time and my knowledge before outdoors enthusiasts today, August 2, 2014, at the Green Habitat Resort in the hills of Sibonga, Cebu.

When I gave my commitment to Barry Paracuelles a week ago, I will pursue it, no matter what. Like today. I was even getting too restless to look forward to this day that I am deprived of a good sleep the night before. I am excited to work with my local peers of the Mountain Climbers Alliance of the Philippines Inc. (MCAP), who included me as resource person for a Basic Mountaineering Course. Barry had designed the program of this BMC and this is, I think, a different kind of BMC.

I woke up at 04:15 and out of my home after a cold shower. The participants will converge at the 7Eleven across the Cebu South Bus Terminal while Barry had designated the office of Primary Structures Corp. in V. Rama Avenue as the meeting place for the organizers. By 05:00, I am already at the place. Since Barry had not arrived yet, I decide to enjoy coffee and bread at Pan de Manila at the nearby M. Velez Street and buy ingredients for my meal at the Guadalupe Public Market.

We leave at 07:00 for Sibonga. Primary Structures, where Barry worked, provided us free transportation. Some of those that will take the BMC are employees of Primary Structures. Got to hand it to Barry for organizing this event more than what I had expected it to be even to the extent of involving the company where he is working along with his co-workers. I believe that the main body of participants had left the assembly area as well in a bus.

When we arrive at the Green Habitat Resort, some of the participants were already there. I examined the place and it is a resort alright with five pools, a camping ground, a stage, several cottages while a creek runs beside it. The ground had been leveled off including the part where it once was a slope. I take a seat at the farthest kiosk where I am joined by Neil Mabini, Chad Bacolod and Xerxes Alcordo.

Barry immediately led the setting up of the sound system and the projector on the stage. I offered my Apexus tarpaulin sheet as an improvised projector screen. As everyone settled in among the PVC chairs, Barry started the BMC. The projector throw images from the laptop to the tarp sheet but daylight defeated the purpose. Nevertheless, Barry explained every detail of each chapter until such time when lunch break came.

After the meal, the lecture transferred to one of the cottages and the discussion of the BMC by Barry continues. By 15:00, my turn came. My topics are The Survival Kit, Water and Cold-Weather Survival. Some of the participants are a bit bored and sleepy so I decide to let them stand up and asked them to give 15 seconds of silence to the memory of Aldrin Cerba, who died during a canyoning accident at Canlaob Canyon in Alegria.

The first topic, The Survival Kit, cannot be discussed without a real survival kit. Of course. It is a very complex subject that would involve the exhibition of all the items found in a survival kit plus the WHYS and the HOWS of why it is part of the kit. The delivery of the lecture fluctuate between the hilarious, the serious, the scientific and the interesting. At least, I get the attention of the participants, most of whom are still new to the outdoors.

The survival kit, I explained to all, also consists of the different sub-kits like the first aid kit, the repair kit and the replenishment pouch plus a good knife. The knife could either be a fixed blade but very light like the Mora or the different versions of the Swiss Army Knife, especially with one that has a folding saw. One of the very important components of your survival kit is the thermal blanket, which you should have since you tend to visit higher altitudes, and fire tools, the redundancy of which ensures your overall security.

My next subject matter is Water. Water, I inform to all, are very abundant here in the tropics but is a commodity that had caused conflict in other places. Outdoor activities like those done in mountains demand water so much because dehydration is a natural process of the human body. You cannot remedy loss of body moisture except rehydrating several times as you can and filling up bottles whenever you can. Taught them of the places where to source water and what methods of treating water before drinking.

Last is Cold-Weather Survival. Since mountaineering is a high-altitude activity where exposure to cold is high, the best way to prevent hypothermia is to know the five mechanisms that steal heat away from your body: Respiration, Conduction, Convection, Evaporation and Radiation. For every natural heat-loss process, there are remedies for that which I clearly explained. When I thought I have reached the end of my lecture, I let them examine all the items of my survival kit.

Neil came in next with Technical Climbing. He discussed about the different ropes, its usage, care and storage. Apart from that, he showed and discussed the safety gears that are used with the rope during technical climbing like the harness, carabiners, descenders, flat webbing and cords, mechanical ascenders, chocks, etc. Other accessories like the safety helmet, rock shoes and chalk bag are properly explained according to its purpose.

When ropes and cords are involved, surely there would always be knots. Lots and lots of tying around. Ropesmanship is another topic that Neil is discussing to all participants for the rest of the afternoon. He taught the basics of knot-tying and the most common knots used in mountaineering like the square knot, the bowline, the figure-of-eight, the double bowline, the double figure 8, the Prussik knot, the munter hitch, the Kleimheist, etc.

The knots and all the equipment are then used for the Single-Rope Technique, a method of traversing up and down vertical places using the rope instead of a ladder. Neil showed everyone how to use the ascender and how to devise the cord to work with the ascender and your harness to gain altitude. He shows the technique in how to uncouple the ascender and transfer to a descender when he needs to go down. A belay is used to increase safety for the first timers.

When dusk came, everyone settled to their respective groups. There are several informal outdoor groups which carry funny names like Tribu Batig Nawong (literally, ugly faces), Yabag (unmelodious voice) and Orcs (they are not from the Lords of the Ring); and the serious ones like the Enthusiasts of Cebu Outdoors, Visayan Trekkers Forum and RECON MACE 7.

When I had ended my lectures, I set up my Silangan “stealth hammock” between two midget coconut palms. Overhead cover is my Apexus sheet which is anchored at its edges by sharpened wooden stakes. That would be my resting place for the night which, I believed, would be long. When fixing my shelter was finished, I start preparing my dinner. For this occasion, I brought my almost-forgotten butane stove.

After the SRT session, everybody gets busy preparing their own food. Each group has its own concoction and I thought I saw a bottle of hard spirits but I declined an offer of a drink. I believe the gut needs a filling first and it is still too early. A spoon rapped on a pot lid signaled the start of dinner. In a flurry of refills after refills, the food gets decimated and everyone are too bloated to make crazy somersaults on the swimming pools.

The groups are to each his own now and I carefully evaded the attention of the ones holding the bottles until I get to enter an open cottage and I got trapped with a group who knows my son very well as they are working in the same company. They are with a little-known business process outsourcing company located at the Cebu IT Park called Microsourcing.

They are now serious outdoorsmen and they asked me everything about “Mag-ne” and why I hid my face with different books on my Facebook profiles? I give them funny answers that tickled them to the bones especially now that the spirits in the glass begins to work on all of us. The rounds of the glass becomes tighter and faster and the laughter begins to get boisterous. Outside is pandemonium as some of the participants begins to make the pools work for their enjoyment.

When I thought I have enough, I work my way into my sleeping quarter. Fortunately, it is empty of stragglers. This would be my first night on my Silangan hammock and I am trying this for the very first time as a half-conscious occupant of a few hours. A built-in mosquito net protects me from those noisy insects and that gives me an assurance of a good night’s sleep, a peace of mind. The hammock is quite spacious which I had not experienced with old hammocks that I used before.

Indeed, the hammock worked wonders as I see daylight of the next day, August 3. Coffee are available everywhere but I kept to myself with my own supply which I get to share when someone overshoots his orbit. The rappel session starts early under the direction of Neil while I assist him with the belays. When it was over, the whole BMC class with their certificates takes a pose for the cameras. After that, everyone gets to relax and takes another dip in the pool as the bags are packed ready for departure.

BMC classes are now very common that it is now given free. This BMC, to keep abreast of the times, is given en gratis and would be a first in the annals of MCAP to be held outside of Luzon. However, Barry choose to involve topics which had not been discussed before in any level of any BMC to equip better the participants by its practical applications in the enjoyment of their interests among our mountains.

Because of that, I was moved, at the instance of Barry, to make better mountaineers and better individuals of the participants. I could not have been more happy than to become a catalyst of increasing their safety in the outdoors and of their survivability as well.

Document done in LibreOffice 3.3 Writer

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