Wednesday, May 13, 2015
WHEN GLENN PESTAÑO OFFERED to provide a free-rein chicken for a meal if we come to Sayao, Sibonga, Cebu on Sunday, September 21, 2014, I did not hesitate. I volunteered to come and I do not care if I am just alone or with a thousand. I will come on my own free accord, of course, with that promise of a delicious meal.
I arrive at the 7Eleven store across the Cebu South Bus Terminal and was in the middle of my light breakfast of fig pies when Mark Lepon arrive. Mark had been very consistent with his appearance and participation upon the activities of the Camp Red Bushcraft and Survival Guild. For three straight times, he was there and now, the fourth.
We board a Ceres Bus bound for the south. It left the terminal at 07:00 and we disembark at 08:40 when the bus reach Ocaña, Carcar. We chip in money between ourselves and bought a kilo of rice, some vegetables, cooking oil and vinegar. From there we transfer to Napo, where we cross a stream and walk towards Sayao by way of an unpaved road that ascend and wind into hilly terrain.
It is a warm morning but I am used to this situation. My body and my mindset had adapted well to this weekend hiking regimen among rugged woodlands in sunny and rainy weather. Gone are the painful muscle pains that had hounded me days after such walks in the outdoors. I believed I had achieved my goal of equaling my fitness of 25 summers ago, maybe even more. Before gaining that, it took me five years of hard work going back to square one.
Although I do not indulge anymore in non-stopping trail runs but I had regained my burst of speeds on short distances, my endurance, my wind and my second wind. Aside that, I had gained a lot of insight and wisdom. So to speak, I am in the best years of my life, or, for that matter, health, enjoying what I do, albeit in my middle years. Age does not matter, I just shifted my paradigm. It takes sparks of creativity to enjoy life more.
I am under the sparse shade of a coconut tree, waiting for Mark who had been struggling under the heat of the sun and with the weight of his bag. His water bottle is very accessible and he could rehydrate himself anytime. My bottle is inside my Silangan Predator Z backpack and my idea of rehydration are done in small sips, very few and far between. Water discipline is an art. I had learned it young under the aegis of my grandpa.
The AJF Gahum heavy-duty knife danced proudly by my side for every stride of my leg. It is open carried, its weight a safe assurance for an equally proud owner. Mark, presently, a rough cut, but, soon, a rare jewel, carried openly his Seseblades NCO knife. We, at Camp Red, prefer local blades because, we know, it could perform better in the tropics than imported ones.
We pass by a community and I saw Glenn and our host, Rufino Ramos. Both were there to acquire that promised free-rein chicken and another desirable treat – an unadulterated white coconut wine (Local: tuba). When we had the items, we resumed our walk towards the hill. Glenn is carrying an air-powered rifle. He says he is celebrating his promotion in his work and this simple offer of free-rein chicken meal is his own version of thanksgiving.
We stop by a shady place underneath two large mango trees. Instantly, I retrieve my AJF Folding Trivet and my black-bottomed pots and set up a fireplace. We need to enjoy coffee. I forage dry tinder and firewood while Mark uses his stash of charclothe to start a fire with a ferro rod from Glenn. While waiting for the water to boil, Glenn fine-tuned his air rifle and set up his sight on an empty vitamin container. Mark test the feel of the rifle and fired shot after shot. Then the coffee is ready.
Rufino took charge of cooking the chicken while I will cook the kilo of rice. Mark has a newly-acquired Victorinox SAK Officer and he had been asking me about its authenticity during our hike. While it looked authentic enough, I advised him to get a second opinion from Glenn. Glenn is a knife collector, especially branded ones. One of those he collects is the Swiss Army Knife. Mark got a real deal indeed!
The coconut wine is very sweet and I could not say no to several successive shots in a few minute intervals. I cook our rice on my biggest pot, then I start to make bamboo pop guns (Local: lut-hang) for my grandsons. I cut the small bamboo tubes with the folding saw of my Victorinox SAK Trailmaster. The saw design of the SAK is superb, as always, and made short work of the two-week old bamboos, which are now beginning to harden. The bamboo rods used to pop out “bullets”, I shape with my AJF Gahum knife.
When I had finished, our simple meal of chicken soup commenced. Since we are just four people, we eat to our heart’s desire. The soup, always so distinctly-flavored and very much savored when native chicken is the dish. The meat is succulently seasoned to the taste buds when its tenderness are just enough and not much. You do not need any taste enhancers when you cook soup on a native variety, believe me.
A branch of a mango stray low and I punch my AJF Gahum tip down, then my William Rodgers bushcraft knife, my Trailmaster, my Trailhawk cleaver and my Buck 112 folding knife. Glenn did likewise with his own array of knives and a blade porn begins. Mark joined the fray with his own and then cameras get busy. Rufino decides to show me wild plants which they used as home remedies for common ailments.
Glenn, Rufino and Mark take a route going somewhere to shoot targets while I stayed to enjoy little pleasures with the native wine. The afternoon hours drag slowly underneath the place of the shady mango tree. The place is just perfect to spend a Sunday, a good spot to release all the stress accumulated from being a slave to time, money and from people that we called as our “boss”.
By 15:00, Mark and I leave Sayao. Rufino and Glenn accompany us to a trail leading to Calangyawon. It pass by farms and individual thatched houses, a cotton shrub, groves of bamboo, dry brooks and a small community. From a distance, I could see a small lake, perfectly covered by trees all around. Motorcycles for hire are waiting for passengers when we arrive. Me and Mark hop on separate motorcycles and it goes down to Ocaña.
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