Wednesday, February 1, 2017

NAPO TO BABAG TALES CXVIII: A Small Homestead Feast

THE LAST GOAT HAS TO GO! It belonged to Ramon Corro. Yes, there were many when Fele and Tonia Roble were still there, along with their children Manwel, Juliet and Josel. Actually, there were fourteen which Boy Toledo, Boy Olmedo and the Roble Family were also part owners. The Roble Family had left the place more than a year ago when Nonoy Gabisan shot Fele in the abdomen and burned their house afterwards. This same criminal killed three of my young turkeys.

All the goats, except Ramon’s, had been sold to shoulder the Roble Family’s relocation to a safe place. Fele survived that attack on his life and is living with one kidney after a successful operation. The lone goat in question is a male, had aged beyond its productive life and incapacitates it to breed and produce offspring while its meat does not have good market value anymore. It is in the care of Roger, Fele’s younger brother. He is busy with his farm and his small business trips and cannot watch over the goat anymore.

There is only one option left: Food. After a long wait, Ramon decides to have it butchered, cook the meat and celebrate a feast. Ramon called me, Boy O and Ernie Salomon that he would like to spend a night at the former place of Fele Roble and feast on his goat the following day. I was more than happy for I have facilitated this outcome, which took a long time to reap. We were all worried too – Ramon, Roger and I – about the goat being stolen and becomes a feast of another person.



Ramon, Boy O, Ernie and I met at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in the afternoon of October 15, 2016. We put money on the box first to procure ingredients for dinner, breakfast and for the caldereta menu, rice, bread, 3-in-1 coffee and firewater. We start our hike immediately when we arrived at Napo at 15:30. Only a few hours of daylight left and we hastened our pace overtaking a group of three Girl Scouts still in their uniforms. After 45 minutes, we were already at Lower Kahugan Spring.

The route to the old Roble Homestead is a little steep and we have to race with the night. Remember, we do not sit down when we arrive there. We have to pitch our shelters and prepare dinner. We need to be there in daylight, even if it is just a few minutes of it. I took the lead and got there in 25 minutes. Jerome, son of Zene Roble, came down to meet me. After five minutes of waiting, I decide to tie my Tingguian Tribe Sierra hammock between two trees. Jerome decides to look for the rest.

I had already rigged an overhead canopy when they came. My place is a hundred meters uphill of where they intend to pitch their shelters. There is raincloud and soon it would rain. Wisps of moisture came but I need not worry. What I worry most is the cold wind. When you are in a hammock, wind chill hits your back and vertebrae as if death’s fingers tickle you to a morbid sleep. I brought one side of my canopy low to the ground to block the wind but some found its way.

Jerome used my canopy to rig his hammock beside mine. Good initiative. Ernie cooked a local pasta (pansit) for dinner. The warm food made me feel better. The local brandy that is now starting to orbit around in a cup made me sick. I still have a hangover of last night. I pass the offer this time. I am not in a good equilibrium and I would rest early. Roger and Zene came and they got Ramon’s go signal. Time for me to hit the hammock.

I woke up early the following day – October 16 – and went down to where the aroma of coffee is. I had my slurp and more. Breakfast were chorizo, spiced corned beef and canned tuna. I would not touch the latter. I just want the first two and more of coffee, of course. I am still feeling the sting of the hangover of two nights ago. Even when the sun begins to make a show on the horizon, the hammock seems more inviting than packing so I slept again.

Ramon, Ernie and Boy O had already broke camp and are going uphill with their backpacks to Roger’s place where the goat was butchered last night. Ernie will do wonders of it, I am sure of that. A few minutes later, a lone female hiker passed by as I was in the act of dismantling my wonderful sleeping spot. The guys from Camp Red Bushcraft and Survival Guild would be coming here soon and I will wait for them in ambush.


While waiting, a group of seven hikers came and went on their way to Mount Babag. One of them happily informed me that he reads my articles in this blog and he enjoyed it so much because it is full of useful information. He loved the first-person narratives that he felt that he was in the story. When they left, another group of six came. One of them recognized me and told me that he followed my blog updates.

It took me long to realize that I am a celebrity of sort in my own little monkey kingdom, not because I am a blogger but because people see me doing things they would love to do but cannot or wished to be in my shoes. What you see of me you later read. I walk the talk. I am real. I am not a product of hype. People love that and they can relate with me and that is where it ended. It does not go to my head. I opt to stay grounded.

Even as I deny it, this blog Warrior Pilgrimage was considered for the top spot in the Sports and Recreation Category in the Bloggys 2015 Philippine Blogging Awards and eventually lost to a professional blog with an own domain name. This blog made it to the finals besting more than 60 other blogs even if it is just riding on a free-platform scheme as one of the “People’s Choice”. Ramon Jorge represented me during the awarding in Taguig City last November 2015. It brought me honor and this blog the recognition it deserve.

What do I really blog? Well, I write the activities that had not been done in the Philippines before: Bushcraft and Survival. How many people, do you think, do that seven years ago? None. People are now aware of Philippine-style bushcraft and how it is done because of this blog. People who despise bushcraft before begins to see its better values and made a paradigm shift. More people want to learn and acquire real-world skills that benefit them. Blame this blog for the Philippine Independence Bushcraft Camp.

I also write mainstream interests like mountain climbing, backpacking and small-scale explorations which I enlarged into the Cebu Highlands Trail Project. I sometimes blog my home life, my commentaries and my memories here. Some gears get reviewed and people gets mentioned, friend or fiend. Even my boring poems, it has its space here. Some stories has sequels like the Man-Sized Hikes, Bushcraft Buhisan, Compleat Bushcraft, Bebut’s Trail and, of course, the Napo to Babag Tales which is now in its 118th episode.

Whoa! I talk too much. I forgot that this article is about the last goat of Ramon. Jerome gets hold of my Mora Companion knife and begins to carve a forked branch into a catapult handle. How wonderful to see Jerome doing that with so much ease and I pity those urban-smart children missing this kind of skills which their grandfathers used to do in their younger days. Blame that to overprotective parents who liked to imitate Western society.



Fourteen hikers came and five of them knew me. They are all friends. I just sat and smiled and nod while they carry on to the next level. They were on training for an out-of-town climb. They choose the best place to train and I appreciate that. The next people coming after them were from the Camp Red Bushcraft and Survival Guild. Good to see Jhurds Neo, Aljew Frasco, Jonathan Apurado and roughcut Jenmar de Leon with guest.

We begin the ascent to Roger’s place where Ramon, Boy and Ernie are now. I am hungry. Along the way, we meet 21 hikers going down the other way. It is a long procession, slow in pace, as the trail is loose and most do not have proper footwear. Once it was our turn to use the trail, there was no looking back. There, inside a big cauldron, is or what used to be Ramon’s last goat. It is now ready for the feast and I am more ready to partake of that. After a prayer before a meal, we commenced.

It was reminiscent of the times at the remote place of Fele and Tonia when we at the Camp Red Bushcraft and Survival Guild made it festive every Sunday. The family was more than happy to host us as our presence alone would earn them a little money for the sale of green coconuts, firewood and our disturbance of their solitude. Sadly, unwelcome circumstances caused painful changes. The newly-constructed house bears testimony of how their neighbors envy them of their fortune.

I just hope that what joy we brought to Fele and his family may also be experienced by both Roger and Zene, with or without goats. They persevered on their respective places despite the threats of Nonoy Gabisan and the adverse comments of their neighbors who considered them outsiders. The Roble brood are not original residents here and came to reside here due to the opportunity of earning income picking mangoes and farming on the side.

They were impoverished before but their fortune picked up because the trail to Mt. Babag passed by their places. Hikers found their places as a strategic location to rest and rehydrate. Jerome is in a very happy state, so happy to see me and Jhurds and Ernie. He remembered the fun times he had with Josel when we frequent the latter’s place more than a year ago. I let him use my camera until the battery conked out. It is okay. I loved it because it placed Jerome to tinker with technology.



I have plate after plate of caldereta and rice and how I wished someone brought a strong liquid to aid in digestion. The rest of the meat is divided between Roger and Zene and so was the rest of the food. The useful administration of the goat had left a peace of mind in Roger, Ramon and, to a lesser degree, me. We talked the minutes away until it is time to leave. Jerome will miss us again and he will know not when we will come back. I secretly slipped a hundred peso bill into his hands and it made him forget our leaving for a while.

I will be back, of course, but it will not be in a dizzying recurrence as before. It will now be few and far in between. It would still be one of my playgrounds. I am thinking of reviving the now-unused Ernie’s Trail but to a limited extent concentrating more on bushcraft. Wild and remote places is what I need and so would my adherents. Jerome would be a good guide and I would develop him into a very good one.

Document done in LibreOffice 5.2 Writer

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