Friday, January 1, 2016

THE RONIN'S WAY (A Warrior's Pilgrimage)

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL! As we all know, a new year brings forth another new year's resolution. A change from the usual things we do in the past. An improvement for ourselves. For some, they refine themselves to keep them in stead to the demands of their job, their business and their relations. For those approaching middle age, re-inventing themselves to suck in fresher air or munching greener grass. For me, it is another landscape.

Starting today, January 1, 2016, I am jobless. I will be riding again on the waves of uncertainty. A situation that does not offer me a promising future. But, I will not be seeing unsmiling faces anymore that you always find in board meetings which makes your stomach curl with sickness. Also, I will be free from conventional timekeeping designed for a corporate world that leaves people married to their work in behalf of their masters, even to the ends of the earth, and losing their souls in the process. I am now free to do as I like with my free time. I am FREE!

This feeling is so liberating. To make this more significant, I am using a different font for this article called Liberation Sans. I am now master of my own fate. I do not know how long will this take but I am quite sure that it would take more than the best of me to breathe above water. I will not beg, of course. I am too proud for that. Instead, I would engage on my livelihood through what I do best: teaching people good old common sense and leading them to that place called “freedom of the hills”.

The lure of the outdoors had always beckoned me ever since the time after my grandfather had brought me to the woods at a tender age to learn the crafts that, someday, I would teach others. These skills had lain idle for sometime until I found it again useful. It had not been used extensively in the past as it did during the last seven years. As always, this passion ran in conflict with my day job. I was a security professional until yesterday.

I am on my own now. I will begin life as a contractor. A freelancer. A masterless ronin. I sell my services to anybody or to any entity at a price. It is better that way than being at the end of a leash where somebody else controls how I spend my time. I repeat, I will be master of my own time. I have no regrets about severing myself from my employer. With all due respect, my former employer had given me the means to feed me and my family for eight years before we decide that it is time to move from each other.

It is hard and I know what it means to scrape the hard end of a barrel. Been there before. God willing, windows of opportunity would be opened for me again. I just hope and pray that it will! It had been knocking on me for sometime but I had not been courageous enough to let go of a conventional way of earning a living as a mere employee. Until today! I think, it is now ripe for the taking. I hope I am not wrong this time.

I have always entertained the thought of roaming the land unimpeded and living off it for days or weeks or even months. This idea is now realistic to me since I am in a situation where I have complete control of my time. It may sound absurd if you think that modern living have removed all vestige of wilderness that the hills have afforded to people a hundred years back. Think again. I have been privileged to see it all during my outdoor sorties even at limited opportunities back then.

In the far shallows of my life, right after midstream, I change careers once more. I will be explorer, bushcraft teacher and writer all rolled into one. I will pursue my livelihood in an unconventional manner with the shape and terrain of Cebu as my arena of opportunity. This masterless ronin has now the time and his sole attention to lead you on a journey to a world that he had already created for you. I am in the best of my health and possess the faculties and confidence to bring people to this environment called adventure.

What I can offer you is the learning of real-world skills, personally from me, at close quarters, while in the pursuit of a part of the Cebu Highlands Trail as a “grasshopper”. It is a quest that nearly equates with old-time frontier travel – a warrior's pilgrimage – at almost the whole length of its southern route, and terminating in Cebu City. Twelve days of walking close to 150 kilometers at your own pace and eleven nights of sleeping under the stars. You will earn a special patch and a certificate of training.

Along the way, you will learn a lot of things that you do not learn in a controlled environment. It is bushcraft at its best, learned as it should be learned, in a journey with a teacher. You will engage in survival hiking on a route that does not offer a “sea of clouds” and mild weather. You will yearn water and the first shade you would find along the route under the brunt of a tenacious sun at its highest orbit. The southern half of the Cebu Highlands Trail is already a great challenge but your greatest will be against yourself.

This is a radical approach of learning that veers away from the usual. You add a long hike of many days and it becomes an adventure worth telling. Twelve days of quality time from the only person who has the capacity to do this on foot in an environment where you have almost no total control of. Frankly speaking, this has no parallel elsewhere and I am sure you will have great tales to tell after you have reached the trailend of your journey. If you only have the time and the daring.

With a lot of time in my hands, I could also finish the rest of the Cebu Highlands Trail this year at the earliest time possible. There is still Segment VI and Segment VII to the north and Segment VIII to the south. I am hoping to open this 260+ kilometers route in 2017. Maybe, much earlier. Once completed, you could walk through the island of Cebu from north to south or reverse at its most rugged mountains found in the middle in 15 to 30 days. Since its blueprint is still in my head, this is exclusive to just me and those that are chosen to walk with me.

The Cebu Highlands Trail thru-hike, which I would soon change name anyway, is a different adventure from the “grasshopper” walk. This is just a longer trek from the first and more of fulfilling the physical aspect of the hiker. For this, you will also receive a certificate of completion and a special patch if you complete the whole route. For those engaging in segment hikes, you would receive a certificate.

I have now time for everything. I will still be doing the rounds of teaching all interested individuals – from emergency responders to outdoorsmen – about bushcraft and wilderness survival in standard 3-day campouts to 10-day advanced cross-country courses. I can also do a tour of public lectures and motivational talks to the corporate world, the professionals and others about prepping, urban survival techniques, my explorations and articles I authored. I can also serve as guide for people who do trips in the mountains and the backcountry.

Lastly, I will be focusing on my other passion: Writing. Adventurers who write are a rare breed and I thank God I am both. Yes, I will still be maintaining this blog. It is a good blog for its niche and it is without a local peer. However, writing good non-fiction books and adventure novels will be my thrust once I settled on a good spot with a desk, a PC, a good landscape and a good wine. I am almost finished with my first book – ETHICAL BUSHCRAFT. Once I am done with the graphic illustrations, I will look for a publisher.

There are no financial rewards for an explorer. He might snare accolade and renown but he will live in poverty unless he has sponsorship backings by big names from different industries, where he might gain something through speaking engagements. On the other hand, sales from books you authored does not ensure you a decent source of living. You only get so little with the big percentage shared by the publisher and your agent unless you are a regular bestseller, which is still unheard of for a Filipino.

Surprisingly, as a teacher of bushcraft and survival, I can turn the wheel around for as long as I want but there are others following in my wake who would also want to share in the fruits of what I pioneered. It is a free country and anybody could do his own business but it would be to the discernment and judgment of the student or the client to choose from whom to give them quality learning. I have taught many and only a few became rare jewels. I give my blessings of those who asked and none for those who did not.

I will be experiencing the real world in the coming days soon and it will be a long journey ahead. Very long. Forecast is somewhat gloomy. Chances are 51%. Just a slight edge for me. However, I would not want it in any other way. But I am hoping my independence from the conventional would elicit sponsorships from the very world that I am trying to shy away from. It is a strange world indeed.

Photo courtesy of Justin Apurado
Patch concept designs by Mark Lepon
Document done in LibreOffice 4.3 Writer

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