Friday, July 1, 2016


WHEN YOU ARE WITH the Camp Red Bushcraft and Survival Guild, everything is interesting on any given Sunday.  Their saga continues on and they could go anywhere they wished to and indulge in their favorite past time, which they called as “dirt time”. They love to work with their blades to make survival tools, to prepare their meals and to talk about its qualities which is just about infinite.  Then they cook feasts, which is the best part of their day.

Coming with them for the fourth time straight is the Colonel himself – Thomas Moore. Pathfinder Tom is one of the stars of the high-rating Discovery Channel survival TV show, Dude You’re Screwed, which was shown in Asia as Survive That. He is in Cebu to organize the team for Expedition Philippines, another survival reality show that he is planning to direct and participate in in one of the eight episodes.

I am with them today, October 11, 2015.  We all wished to spend the day at Camp Xi, a nice piece of flat land beside the meandering Sapangdaku Creek, which is perfect for big outdoor activities. After securing our food ingredients at Guadalupe, we proceed to Napo and walk the short distance to Camp Xi.  Jhurds Neo is leading the guys, totally comfortable on the idea of a happy walk and a very enjoyable day.

Coming along are Ernie Salomon, Aljew Frasco, Bona Canga, Jonathan Apurado, Justin Apurado, Locel Navarro, Christopher Ngosiok, Angel Villaganas, Niño Paul Beriales, Nelson Tan, Cleos Navarro and the Quijano Family of Richie, Francelyn and 7-year old Legend. With us, as guests, are Peter Tortusa and his Japanese lady friend, Kaoru. They all would be glad to spend the day with Pathfinder Tom.

We will spend another Sunday cooking up another feast.  All unsheathed their blades and begins the process of extracting useful firewood from debris.  A spark from a ferro rod gives life to a fire and water is boiled, presumably for coffee. Coffee. Oh, coffee. Where art thou? It came in a short while.  Why would people disdain coffee? Do they not know what it gives to a thirsty bushman?  A ton of inspiration.

With my William Rodgers bushcraft knife, I go down the river bank and look for bananas. No, I am not looking for the fruit or its blooming heart but I need the trunk for food. I rejoin the rest when I have a banana trunk with me, all quite perplexed when they learned that I am going to cook it.  They watch and they ask a lot of questions which is good because bushcraft cannot progress if your curiosity is confined to your eyes only.

Meanwhile, others proceed on to what they do best. Ernie has his grub wagon open and Jonathan is a willing subaltern. Angel and Locel blow some life into a fledgling flame for what I believe a grill session.  Aljew kept those coffee in good stead with his improvised billy can suspended by a tripod.  Francelyn just fried an amorous mix of spices on a small pot.  Christopher is everywhere, clicking on the shutter of his camera as if it is an assault rifle. Click click.

Tom and Jhurds joins Aljew and Bona in a little chit chat.  Somebody just got mentioned and laughter roared as if a gang of hyena suddenly got transported from the Okuvango and wandered here. Peter watch the separate actions and unleashed his knife to make the best of the moment while Kaoru is in a daze, witnessing a new experience. A little while she begins to blend in by throwing a few pebbles to a faraway target with a slingshot.

Oh, I forgot about little Legend. He is watching his dad making a bamboo bow and arrow. Cleos and Justin are also in that observation platform.  When it was done, Legend begins to shoot at imaginary targets.  Her mother, meanwhile, is cooking soup from a dehydrated kelp which immediately got Kaoru’s attention.  Cultural gaps are better bridged by food and, once the connection is established, understanding and pleasant conversations follow.

Lunchtime ultimately came and the food is served. Ernie had cooked a local pasta (Local: pansit bihon) which he paired with pickled raw cucumber. The rice is neatly spread on frayed banana leaves to imitate a popular military style of meal, the “boodle fight”. Grilled pork are placed above the rice.  Seaweed soup is in its pot while my banana core adobo is in another. Game time!

After the meal, I organize all the ladies into one group and tour them around Camp Xi for a lecture of plant identification. This is in response to Tom who sees a need to involve a contemporary Filipina in one of the episodes of EP.  There will be auditions for that slot and, before that, I will train prospective lady applicants into advanced wilderness skills and that includes a plant ID tour.

What I am doing is just an eye opener since not all qualify as an applicant for they lacked the basic training in bushcraft and survival which is a prerequisite.  The show do not need actors but real bushcraft and survival practitioners.  We approach a colony of taros. There are purple taros, white taros, giant taros and giant wild taros. From among these, there are edibles and there are the toxic ones.  Identifying which from which is mind boggling since they almost look the same.

We transfer to a bunch of bananas.  I point to them the edible parts like the blossom and the fruit. I also reminded them of the trunk which I just cooked which came from here. On a stump of banana which I just cut, I carved a hole in the middle and, a few minutes after, water slowly filled the cavity.  They looked at the blade of my AJF Gahum which have stained after contact with the banana.  Do not worry. It is called a patina. It is good for the blade.

We cross the stream and climb up a path to another level ground.  I look around and I tow them to a tree which bear several strings of round green fruits.  That is a lanzones. Unbelief. I pluck a yellowish one and opened the skin.  Lanzones.  I eat a part and pass the rest to the ladies.  LANZONES! And they wanted more. I climb the tree and found a few half-ripe fruit which the ladies gorge among themselves.

I move to a thick growth of birds-of-paradise.  Too dangerous to be near.  We do not know what is behind that thick curtain of stems which have grown so close to each other, but I know there is water and, where there is water, there could be a predator or there could be food.  I stood on a rock and gaze down below.  Some ferns grow and another smaller fern variety which is very familiar because it is edible (Local name: paku) is also in this mix-up.

We cross the stream again and the guys are waiting for us.  It is now 14:10 and just about right to pack our things and go back the way we have started in the morning. Just about right, is it? How about the part that ends all activities?  The knife porn? Indeed, all the blades has its 15 minutes of fame.  A log becomes home to some of the blades but it ran out of space, necessitating for another log to accept more blades. Very impressive!

At 15:00, we leave Camp Xi for Napo and, from there, for Guadalupe and to Red Hours. Tom and I opt for big bottles of the coldest San Miguel Pale Pilsen to ourselves without drinking glasses. The rest choose to drink it with glasses. It was a fine occassion to toast good health and fortune to little Woodlore, the newly-born son of Nelson, who arrive with her mother.  Tom carried Woody in his arms and the little guy did not let out a whimper.

To good health and fortune Woodlore!

Document done in LibreOffice 4.4 Writer

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