Wednesday, March 16, 2016


MY BODY IS NOT working at its best, yet I have given my word. Regardless, I have to honor a walk in the woods today, June 28, 2015. This is the first hike that I would take after two Sundays where I gave myself a break. I needed to be back to the mountains right after convening the fifth edition of the Philippine Independence Bushcraft Camp that was hosted by the Municipality of Lilo-an, Cebu.

I wake up at exactly 05:00 and begin the process of transferring the things that I had arranged so well inside the Lifeguard USA rucksack into the bigger Silangan Predator Z tactical bag. I start to sweat as I was doing this although the morning is cooler than I had expected because of the early rain. Having settled that after almost an hour, I switch to the bathroom.

It was a quick shower and, I noticed, I am still sweating. Nevertheless, I change to my outdoor apparels and off I go into the street. I arrive at Guadalupe and I am glad to see familiar faces. They are all from the Camp Red Bushcraft and Survival Guild and four of them had just finished the PIBC. It is a good opportunity for the two of the four to see the environment reserved for bushcraft. The real world, I mean.

I also happen to see two new faces and three minors. My mind begins to calculate the risks of the route in relation to a child's view. It would be a long walk though but warmth would be out of the equation. I may have to slow my pace then and talk a lot of things that may catch interest to a child. It is a good idea to expose children more often in the woodlands instead of being wired to an electrical outlet.

The first route will be Bebut's Trail. We climb up a series of high steps to get there until we are onto a ridge that cant upwards towards Banawa Hills. This meant we have to pass by that dreadful “Heartbreak Ridge”, which is not dreadful at this moment since it is going to rain. I hear whispers of thunder from somewhere beyond the horizon and I see rain falling hard on Bohol Strait. It is very far but the southwest winds (Local name: habagat) is pushing it nearer to where I stood.

We walk past the power pylon and take a rest at the tunnel vent constructed by the Japanese during World War II. Those that visit here the first time wondered at the tunnel's presence and asked about its length. It is a piece of history and I hope that this abomination called Monterazzas de Cebu would not touch this place like those they recently done on the adjoining hills.

The steady climbing towards the crest of the hill gave in to the steady downhill into woodland which the first-timers have not thought of as existing. Everybody, especially the kids, are sweating hard. Along the way, I show different plants that are edible and those that are harmful and gave meaning of why they joined. The density of greens and the number of trees overwhelmed the young ones.

We stop by a small community to study the hosting of an outreach event. After ten minutes of talking with the locals, we proceed on to the road at Baksan. The road, which links the village of Sapangdaku to the villages of Pamutan, To-ong and Buhisan, is now concrete. We go up the road and somewhere up ahead we will bury into the forest again. The second route would be Lensa Trail.

The trail is good and a better improvement than the last time I was here, which was last March. That time, it was very warm and the vegetation had wilted but I did it twice. We follow a small stream, which turn out to be Creek Alpha. It now has running water and it leads to the old Camp Damazo, the site of the first PIBC. It starts to rain but not that strong. I guess the kids needs to rest and we stop to prepare our meal.

Rain had soaked dry wood and tinder. Finding dry ones under this condition is quite tricky but the guys know where to find dry ones. They learned that by joining the PIBC. Ernie Salomon, the veteran camp cook, takes charge of the cooking. He asks people help and, instantly, all lend their hands to assist him. A smoky fire begins to appear while the food ingredients are getting processed for cooking.

Another set of guys begin digging a waterhole. It is dug on the stream bed. The water go foggy but, in a little while, it will go clear. I line the insides with pebbles. We will use the water later on for washing. Meanwhile, boiled water is now ready for coffee. I get my cup and proceed on to enjoy my coffee. Coffee never tastes better to a man deprived of the urban comforts than in the outdoors. I wonder why coffee companies do not exploit outdoor conditions in their commercials? I am willing to model for them. Ha!

A tripod is raised and a pot is hanged over the fire. Rice. Conversations echo along the small stream as Ernie begins the preparations of making spring rolls. Cooking oil are extensively used to cook the rolls. Rain continues and people shield the cooking and the fire with banana leaves. Jhurds Neo, forage small stems of crawling bamboos (bokawe) and used these as skewers for sliced pork. I believe there will be pork barbecue. The sweet aroma of fatty oil teased my nostrils as it touched ember.

The light rain causes much difficulty on the cooking. A tarpaulin shelter is rigged to keep the young ones from the rain. By 14:00, lunch is now ready. Fried spring rolls and pork barbecue are doubly tasty when you eat it two hours after twelve noon. All partake of the meal evenly. The children eat silently as the light rain numbed the conversations to the background. It is typical jungle condition made bearable by a good hot meal.

Slowly, we clean up the place after packing all the gears that had been used. We left the water hole as it is. I pick up my water bottle half immersed in the stream. Water inside gets cooled and I drink some of it before stowing it back to my rucksack. We will take the rest of Lensa Trail and leave the old Camp Damazo. I lead them to this nice path that had not been seen by people outside of my sphere. But I doubt that.

A lot of people read this blog. They would love to be in my shoes. Who would not? I gave people inspiration by writing many articles where the readers felt as if they were the ones engaging on these activities themselves that I regularly wrote about. It wakes up the adventurers and the explorers in them that they have thought long ago that they are not capable of. I use my blog to compel people to visit the mountains, make children happy, initiate charity and incite locals to protect their environment.

However, as much as I would like people to engage in the trails and places that I always talked about, there are a few places that I wished they would not try to visit. One such place is the one I called as “the last wild place”. It has a name but I rather not mention it so people would not go in there and hurt themselves or despoil its environment, whichever. It does not mean that I do not trust your education and your morals. It is just not meant for recreation and I rather it stays that way.

We reach Creek Bravo and we rest. The boy and the two girls are affected by the rain and the humidity. The trail would be ascending after here. I will have to go slow and engage them in conversations to distract their feeling of discomforts. My conversations would always touch on the plants and the most common birdcalls. When we reach the top of a ridge, we rest. The kids are winded, tired and seemed to want this activity over quickly.

We follow the thickly-forested ridge to a hill and then another ridge to a much-wider hill. Camp Damazo at last! Of course, I did not tell the guests that it is. To those who started their love for bushcraft, like Jhurds and Dominik Sepe in 2012, it is always a sweet homecoming. Found this place in 2010, on the heels of a forced march to civilization after a day of exploration where I was to choose four trails running on four directions. I choose east...and here.

We rest here, sitting where it is inviting to our flesh. Someone brings out his alcohol stove and paired it with a pot of water. break! The magnet of interest has overtaken me and I make ready my stainless-steel cup. The rain had ceased but it invites live mosquitoes in its wake. One guy burns dry twigs and smoke begins to chase mosquitoes away. For a good thirty minutes, we just sat and talked and enjoyed our coffee.

Then it is time to move. The kids had recovered slightly but there is still a steep route that we need to climb at after crossing a small stream. It is not that hard anymore for the kids for others carried their things. All they do is to make sure that they do not slip. I did. My 5.11 Tactical shoes had already seen the start of its ending in a near future. I try to make do by timing my steps slowly on surfaces which I think are slippery.

We reach the road and the kids heave a sigh of relief. So it may be for others that I have not had the opportunity to observe. Well, the path across me is all downhill and so easy. Just make sure you do not get chased by dogs since there are settlements along the way. It is now 17:30 and Lanipao is just beyond.

Document done in LibreOffice 4.3 Writer

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