Monday, February 1, 2016
THE PHILIPPINE INDEPENDENCE Bushcraft Camp is fast approaching and I have to determine the ownership of the lot where the campsite will be. This is a bigger PIBC since there are many participants. Good thing that Aljew Frasco is available for today, May 23, 2015, to help me on this. Good thing also that Jhurds Neo and Dominik Sepe will be coming along also for this trip.
Earlier, Jhurds, who was with Dom, came with his Suzuki Scrum Van and whisked me from a street corner where I waited and we proceed to Lilo-an, Cebu where Aljew will be waiting. They both came on time and I believe we will cover a lot of ground. The campsite had already been chosen on my previous visit last April 11 with Jhurds and today we will do a courtesy call on the village chairman of Mulao.
The campsite is found beside the Cotcot River and can be accessed from the village of Mulao. Going to Mulao from the town center of Lilo-an is a bit of complicated since, according to someone whom Aljew had talked with, it is lined with low hanging branches of mango trees that a bus cannot pass. Mangoes are considered treasure chests here and cutting even one twig would elicit you a subpoena for malicious mischief.
We arrive at Lilo-an at 08:00 and into a gated residence the van parked. Big Mao, a fat Chow Chow dog sniffed us closely and released a single bark. Aljew served us brewed coffee and filled bread from Titay’s Bakery as he prepares himself to go with us. After a lengthy conversation, we proceed at around 9:30 for Mulao. We load up inside a KIA Picanto driven by Aljew.
We go past Cabadiangan and approach the spillway where the road begins to go steep. This is where mango branches sag so low but we found not a single branch hampering the passage of even the biggest bus. The Municipality of Lilo-an will offer us use of one their buses and I suspect that information about the mangoes could have been made by the bus driver himself. Either he does not have the gall to drive by that place or he is somewhere else.
Anyway, we proceed on and pass by an ongoing road concreting project. This is a narrow road where only one vehicle could pass in order to reach the village of Mulao. It is made narrower still when one-half of the lane is closed, nevertheless, the smaller Picanto maneuvered through between the curb and the row of stones placed as barriers to the concreting work.
We reach the village and immediately we walk a short distance to seek audience with the village chairman. We stated our purpose and our intent to stay for three days on a campsite which is on private land. The chairman assured us that he will be the ones to ask permission on our behalf and we could not be more than happy with this unexpected event. It is now almost noon and we have to make a 30-minute walk to the campsite where we will cook our meal.
The Cotcot River still has running water although it has leveled low. The swimming area near the acacia tree is now on mid-thigh level now and the bare boulders reflect heat from the noontime sun into our bodies and placed so much glare upon our eyes. The hot surface of the boulders are felt in my feet soles and more of it by my bare hands. Age and bulk caused me cumbersome and embarrassing moments hopping and balancing among smoothed rocks but it was really something else.
Fungus growing under the toenail of my right big toe had caused so much pain and limited my movements. The toenail had thickened and grown long, warping inward where it pierced flesh on the upper reaches of the nail. I had remedied it long ago by cutting the nail with a steel saw when it grew long. Then I applied Vicks Vaporub over the nail for several nights and the fungus disappeared. Lately, it returned with a vengeance.
I have to take it easy so toenail would not bump the insides of my shoe, especially during forced jumps, or when the rest of the toes pressure against it as when I lodge foot in rock crevices. Watery eyes betray the pain I hid with a red-and-white krama and it added to the misery of the eyes straining against the oppressive glare. I begin to feel the tell-tale sign of irritated eyes which hounded me during my lenten hike last April.
Epang, a local whom the village chairman had requested to accompany us, arrived together with his nephew. Together we fix the natural spring by placing a new bamboo trough. The mature bamboo was hard but it gave in to the sharp edge of the AJF Puygo knife that I had borrowed from Jhurds. But I liked better the performance of my AJF Gahum, which I did not brought along. I open carry a smaller knife instead – a deer-antler-handled Fame knife from Sheffield, England given to me by Alan Poole.
We reach the campsite. It is really wide upon second inspection. Although near the edge of the river, it is about three meters high from the level of the river bed and I see no signs of debris brought by an overflowing water. The ankle-high shrubs have wilted before the onslaught of warm days brought by a mild El Niño weather and it effectively became great cushion for ground sheets. Sleeping on the ground then becomes much comfortable with it, I suppose.
Immediately, as it is now 13:40, we prepare our meal. From my vintage-looking Lifeguard USA rucksack, I retrieve cook pots, pork meat and the AJF Folding Trivet. Jhurds and Epang forage firewood while Aljew starts a fire with twigs by the unfolded trivet. Dom starts slicing onions, garlic, green pepper, potatoes and meat with a Humvarnet. I filled my bigger pot with rice and water and Aljew took care of that on the fire.
When the rice got cooked, Dom take his turn with the fireplace. We do not have cooking oil but I got soy sauce and he improvised. We got braised pork with potatoes as viand and we eat our very late lunch at 15:00 together with Epang and his nephew. After the meal, I revive the fire and dispose all man-made garbage by burning. Organic garbage are spread over the vegetation. Fire burned down until it dies. I left my pots unwashed and proceed to stow it back to my rucksack with plastic.
We go back from where we had came and that means downstream. That also meant that I have to pass again the narrow ledge where I have to kiss the rock wall and, once again, to a difficult obstacle. Despite my qualms, it was easier if done in reverse but the pain on one foot remains. Biting the bullet, that is. We give thanks to Epang and nephew and go on our way back to the highway. We passed by the same road where there is a constructed stretch and, thank God, the road concreting had just been finished!
We pass by first at Barrufol Resort, to examine the place. This is where the participants will cool down after three days in a humid camp. It hosts a swimming pool, several cottages, a bar and beachfront. Satisfied with our inspection, we end our day with a post-activity discussion over cold beer. And when you are at Aljew’s, the blades are the main topic.
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