Wednesday, June 1, 2016
I MISSED THE ROBLE HOMESTEAD. It had been sometime that I and my wards from the Camp Red Bushcraft and Survival Guild had done dirt-time there. Dirt time is nothing more than dirtying the hands in a no-nonsense real outdoor activity. The place where the Roble family had lived is now abandoned after Fele was injured last July 3, 2015 by a gunshot wound caused by a neighbor, Timoteo Gabasan.
The suspect, who is still on the loose, threw out some threats of harm to hikers and friends of Fele. It is a cause for alarm to visitors, hikers and people and so I advised them to put off any outdoor activity, for the time being, at their place going to Mount Babag. They had listened and followed my advice. Despite that, I frequent the place on different occasions on other routes to test how true and real were the threats.
There really were threats and the suspect was even angry at how I am able to penetrate the place last week where he is believed to have been hiding. To test again that menace, I decide to visit again the Roble homestead and planned on to stay there the whole day with the bushmen of Camp Red for our dirt-time. We are not afraid of anybody and the Babag Mountain Range is not off-limits.
On the parking lot of Guadalupe church are people who will again defy that situation: Ernie Salomon, Glenn Pestaño, Dominik Sepe, the couple Mark and Mirasol Lepon, Nelson Tan, Mel Mesias, Jonathan and Justin Apurado, Locel Navarro, Bogs Belga, Nyor Pino, Fritz Bustamante and guest Ariel Lim. We leave at 07:40 for Napo, right after securing our food ingredients.
Sapangdaku Creek is clear, robust and at a fast current. The ground is wet and many parts muddy. I am at the head of the column with Glenn behind me. Glenn had not been seen outdoors lately and have missed many episodes of our dirt-time. He has a lot of ground to cover, especially with his physical conditioning. He is my responsibility and I would not want him out of my sight. I would love that he stays behind me and the rest will have to bear the slower pace.
We reach Lower Kahugan Spring and take a respite. So far so good for Glenn. I fill up my empty bottle and enjoy my first drink of water. I carry my Lifeguard USA rucksack and it is filled to the brim even though I carried light. My AJF Gahum is on my side happy to slap its weight on my left thigh. It is a weight that I welcome anytime any day or night on any place or weather. All carry their blades openly, including our ladies.
We resume after that well-deserved short rest. The path go a little steep and would challenge Glenn big time. I still insist that we hike on by his pace. Along the way, I forage the tender tops of turkey berry (Local name: talong-talong) which I would mix with the rest of the food ingredients we bought at Guadalupe. That is the part of the wild shrub which is considered edible.
Surprisingly, even at Glenn's pace, we reach the old homestead at 10:00. Earlier, I feared that we would arrive later than that, at the most, at 11:00. Immediately, a few of us begun to forage firewood. The first order of things is building a fire intended to boil water for coffee. Coffee is legendary outdoors, regardless if it is brewed or just an instant one. I do not mind; just as it looks, smells and tastes like coffee!
Ernie begins to claim an abandoned table and starts his preparation of our food. Locel, Mirasol and Nyor assists him in slicing the ingredients while Bogs, Fritz and Ariel keep feeding the fire with more wood. Jhurds, Dom, Nelson, Mel and Mark are in a conspiracy of eliciting Chuck Norris tales from Glenn and wishing he would part some of his stash of prized folders.
Fele's brothers, Zene and Roger joined us for a talk and how I am glad that their concerns about their own lives have lessened. They do not take chances and be complacent. They are still monitoring the suspect's whereabouts, whose choices of travel are now confined to Kalunasan, in Bocawe and on the other side of the mountain down to Bonbon. I liked that the suspect is pestered by his own shadow. One of these days, the long arm of the law will catch up with him.
Lunch got served at exactly 12:00 and we make it as feast-ful as possible with soup that was made from ingredients coming from the streetside market and from what we picked up along the way. Grilled pork makes it more feasty plus Ernie’s signature side dish of raw cucumber-and-tomato mix in vinegar. Since there were more food than we can consume, we shared some of it to Roger, Zene and son, Jerome.
After cleaning up the dishes and dirty pots, I suggest to everyone to make fire by friction by any means. I am preparing the guys their worthiness if ever I tap each one of them to be my assistants should there be bushcraft and survival trainings given out to institutions or group of individuals just like I did recently at the Philippine Independence Bushcraft Camp, to volunteer responders of the Archdiocese of Capiz and the DRRMO elements of the Municipality of Lilo-an (Cebu). They should prove their worth.
Teaching bushcraft is never easy. You talk and you give demonstrations. In between, you have to prepare meals, make fire, cook, fetch water, drink, walk, check camp safety, make a latrine, source materials for your lectures and a little time for yourself. I cannot do all these things all at the same time and so I need guys who are flexible. I can promise them a little something for them in return if ever I am requested to teach again in the near future.
The guys begin work. They find dry bamboo poles and some pieces of soft wood. For the bamboos, they split it into pieces where it can be rubbed against each other. Three sets of two individuals each are on to it. Mirasol and Mark and Nelson and Mel are doing the planer rub while Nyor and Justin does the saw method. A bowdrill set was fashioned from out of the soft wood and Dom and Jonathan pushes their effort on it.
Smoke emit from all methods but only the bowdrill was able to light a fire. It is indeed an amazing afternoon of perspiration and burnt smoke. I am satisfied but I wish they would be better than today. Practice is wanting and I wish they would also find time for that. It is expected that paying clients demand such results to justify the worth of what they pay you to teach them.
I prepare myself for future trainings by cutting two pieces of soft wood with the folding saw of my Victorinox SAK Trailmaster. The wood is about 2 inches thick by 4 inches wide but the superior design of the small saw make short work of it. I would carry home the wood and it shall become part of the things when I travel to do trainings.
We wrap up our activity at 15:00 and say goodbye to Roger, Zene and Jerome. We waited for the threat-maker to crawl to us but he never came. We were ready to bash his head open. It would have been the least we could do to him. Anyway, we take the same route and reach Napo at 16:30. It is too early to call it a day and so we spend it at the Red Hours Convenience Store.
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