Friday, October 22, 2021

2021-041 | ADRENALINE ADVENTURE HIKE: SEGMENT III

BOUYED UP BY THEIR SUCCESS of Segment I in February 2018 and Segment II in May 2018, Team Adrenaline Romance and Friends is on the right track to making their bucket wish of the Cebu Highlands Trail doable. They are now ready to snare the third pennant – Segment III – this August 18 and 19, 2018. It had become a commitment. A concrete undertaking which they now have the feel and the grasp. 

We started from the Cebu South Bus Terminal at 05:30 bound for Mantalongon, Barili; the terminus of Segment II. The blogging couple, Gian Carlo and Sheila Mei, were excited of another opportunity of another outdoor exercise and witness the other side of Cebu that have been denied them. With them were Apol and Kier and both are multi-disciplined outdoors enthusiasts just like the couple.

 

The bus dropped us off at the Mantalongon Public Market at 07:40 and we immediately searched the place for something to fill our tummies. We found one small family-run eatery, still closed, but through our urgings, opened prematurely to accommodate us. We ordered a breakfast of steamy fish soup, local noodles, omelet with bitter gourd and rice. 

Segment III starts from Mantalongon, Barili and goes south to Mantalongon, Dalaguete. Normally, this walk would have taken me three days but, Team Adrenaline Romance decided to lengthen the mileage on the second day to compensate for waiving out the third day and reserved this activity for two days instead. That was the plan. 

We started at 08:25, going by way on a path at the back of the market which led to a low range of hills which barely had tall trees. The sun was very warm at that hour but, looking back to where we had come from, the valleys beyond Mantalongon were still shrouded in mists. We arrived at a dirt basketball court for it was shady and stopped here for a while to munch on iced candies. 

After 15 minutes, we continued and arrived at Hunob Elementary School at 09:45. We were in Guadalupe, Carcar City and, where the unpaved road meet an asphalted one, we would be walking all the way through on the “Vegetable Highway”, a provincial road constructed in the ‘90s designed to open up a corridor where produce from mountain farms can now be transported and sold.

When we walked for about thirty meters on the road, we were overtaken by a team of police personnel on motorcycles. They were from the Carcar City Police Station and they were commanded by their superior to escort us along the way. We were embarrassed about such kindness and special attention on our cause. We tried to free them of such responsibilities but they were adamant. 

When we were walking for about five minutes, a police patrol vehicle arrived with armed policemen and what seemed to be four more full-packed soldiers. They were from the Barili Police Station and they were here on the same purpose as that of the Carcar policemen. They came to reconnoiter our presence and, once satisfied, they went back their way and will wait for us once we cross the border in Barili. 

Could their sudden presence somehow connected to a suspected Abu Sayyaf member recently apprehended in Carcar City for keeping a cache of firearms and explosives? I doubt that they were profiling us because of that. Anyway, I never walk among the hinterlands, much less guide people, without making courtesy calls on Capitol and the Cebu Police Provincial Office. These are my cornerstones of safety. 

Anyway, the cops from Carcar would sprint away on their motorcycles ahead and leave us to our own company. The “vegetable highway” is so beautiful on a stretch where it goes into a small valley and up in Napo, Carcar City. On the roadsides are fruits from the milla milla vine which sustained us and relieved our parched throats caused by our physical activity, heavy loads and by the warmth of day.

 

When we arrived at 10:30 in a place called Lamac, in Mayana, Barili, the cops and soldiers from Barili took over from where the Carcar policemen left off. We plead with our new escorts to rid us of their duties but, just like the previous team, they insisted and even invited us to ride while, they, would walk. We gave up. We invited them, instead to lunch in a corner store where there is a videoke. 

When we started to move out at 11:30, after our siesta, we discovered that the police patrol was gone. At last, we can walk freely. No sooner have we gone for a few minutes than another police vehicle arrived with flashing blue-and-red lights. They were from the Sibonga Police Station. Again, we pleaded to them to rid us off their watch and, again, they swore to protect us as best as they could.

We dropped that idea of walking in solitude as the police patrol followed behind us in a crawling pace. We were obliged to move faster. The secret to the success of walking the Cebu Highlands Trail was not about brisk walking and having the strength to withstand the rigors of terrain difficulty and distances. It was leisurely walking. I designed the CHT for the average hiker and for practicality’s sense.

 

Since the first hour, we applied pressure on our pace due to the presence of policemen up ahead waiting for us or crawling behind you. When you are in that state, increasing the pace, you are bound to injure a muscle or a leg joint, you rest sparingly, arrive early on the first few hours and, mysteriously, an event which I could not explain, you would lag behind your itinerary as the day wears on.

In Segment I, we were ahead of schedule from 30 minutes to even as early as 90 minutes because, well, we walked slowly. In Segment II, we were behind by 30 minutes most of the time on the first day due to a late start but we maintained it without thinking so much about our delay and rewarded for it by enjoying the views, lots of rests and evened the day at the last hour without being stressed. 

Haste makes waste and causes grief to so many. I am always guided by this. Although we arrived at Lamac and enjoyed our lunch earlier by 30 minutes, it was caused by pressure. Such abnormal conditions on our pace would take effect later in the day or, perhaps, the next day on the weakest among us. We arrived at Basak, Sibonga at 12:30 and we were entertained by village officials with cold soda drinks.

 

We overextended our rest time to 30 minutes and have to resume our journey. We arrived in Libo, Sibonga at 13:50 and we stopped for a while to let Team Adrenaline Romance study the terrain before them. What they saw was a wide valley and a peak in the distance. I told them that we would arrive on the foothills of that mountain before dusk. They were in a state of unbelief for it was very far. 

We crossed a highway and were now in Papan, Sibonga, following the same “vegetable highway”. This time it is unpaved and it relieved our feet from walking to so many hours of asphalt pavement. We get to enjoy the scenery of picturesque farms and the rural communities, notwithstanding the company of our police escort. At 15:00, we were now in Bae, Sibonga and, not far, would be Argao.

We arrived at another highway, crossed it, and we were now in Mompeller, Argao. It is 15:45. Our kind and patient policemen from Sibonga Police Station passed their responsibilities to their counterparts of Argao Police Station and the 7th Regional Mobile Battalion, who all were waiting. We were placed in such an awkward moment with this lavish show of force and concern accorded on us. 

The village council of Mompeller had been expecting us and we were welcomed to stay at their multi-purpose building. The cops from the 7RMB soon left on their 6-by-6 truck when they saw that we are now secure and safe while the Argao policemen would stay and sleep with us. Meanwhile, I secured a 5-gallon bottled water from nearby for our cooking and drinking.

The building is an unfinished structure but it is big enough to accommodate the tents of Gian Carlo and Kier. Apol would opt to hang in her beloved hammock on the posts near the tents. I chose my spot on the farthest end where a narrow space is found between fence and the health center. The cops has their hammocks too and would crowd next to mine later. 

When everyone settled down, it was time to prepare the food for our dinner. I met and had a talk with the new village head and the few people that I have befriended while I passed by here. I slept here during my route exploration in February 2015 and during my seventh day of my Thruhike in January 2017. We ate at 19:00 and slept late due to unexpected visits by locals who were curious of our presence. 

We woke to a fiery-red sunrise on our second day, August 19. Immediately, the tents were dismantled to give space for cooking our breakfast and for our packed lunch. We left Mompeller at 07:30, thanking the village officials for their hospitality. Only the two cops from Argao would go with us. I advised them not to follow us but move on ahead and wait to save on fuel which they did. 

This arrangement would be advantageous to us since we would not be pressured by somebody “minding” behind you. Anyway, yesterday’s condition, as expected, took its toll on Sheila Mei, who suffered from muscle cramps. The availability of the Willys patrol vehicle allowed her to transfer her bag there and she walked on bravely without a load on concrete road.

Along the way, as we approach Tulang, Argao, she could not force herself forward for it was very painful. Just in time, the Jeep passed by and she has to submit to the will of her physical condition and left Gian Carlo and company. After 15 minutes, we were reunited with her in Tulang where there were locals cooking just-harvested corn on embers and we joined them in the humble feast eating corn. 

After 20 minutes of rest, we continued on our journey while Sheila Mei remained as passenger of the police patrol jeep. We still have a long way to go. We increased our pace as if the police were right behind us. Apol and Kier would not mind. They are used to it. Gian Carlo probably would adjust easily since he does not worry about Sheila Mei. 

We arrived early at Alambijud, Argao at 09:15 but it is just a drop in the bucket for this day. We could only shave a few minutes from an expected hike which would last through near midnight. When your mind is focused on one thing you tend to ignore the scenery or appreciate it half-heartedly. At 11:00, we were now ahead of the itinerary by 30 minutes and took an early lunch at a public market of Bayabas, in Cansuje, Argao. 

Despite the stressful thought of an extended walk, I insisted that we enjoy a full hour of rest. By 12:00, we were raring to cross to Dalaguete before dusk but we still have a long way to go. For as long as Sheila Mei recuperates in the police jeep, we have a chance we would reach Mantalongon, Dalaguete at around 20:00. We were now in Butong at 13:15 and stopped to rest at a heritage tree. 

Next was Linut-od, Argao which we copped at 14:15; then Bala-as, Argao at 15:15. Here, we rested for a full 30 minutes to prepare ourselves for the nocturnal hike by eating bread and dousing ourselves with cold soda drinks. This time, Sheila Mei would be joining us. At 15:40 we crossed over to Manlapay, Dalaguete and a lone policeman from the Dalaguete Police Station would be our escort.

We passed by Maloray, Dalaguete at 16:30 and Ablayan, Dalaguete at 17:45. The hard pavements, walked since morning, began to take its toll on our feet. Apol and Kier, used to foot racing, ran ahead to lessen the pain. Sheila Mei cannot keep up with the pace as her cramps recurred every now and then. Gian Carlo and I had to rest when she stops. 

After a very brave effort, Sheila Mei with Gian Carlo and I arrived at Mantalongon at 20:30 or an hour-and-a-half behind schedule. We were all tired and we decided not to pursue our plan of going home to Cebu City tonight. We asked the village officials if we could spend a night at their village center which they consented. Immediately, we prepared food for dinner and ate it at a late hour of 21:30. 

At 04:00 the next day, August 20, we left Mantalongon and rode a bus bound for Cebu. We arrived at 08:30 and, I know, all of them would time in for work later and I could just imagine how they would manage to retain their balance and composure as they try to focus on their work with all those pain they incurred hiking Segment III.

I have mentioned the commitment of Team Adrenaline Romance of their wish to harvest the CHT this year or the next and they now are now beginning to assemble their own map of where their direction as adventure bloggers go. Segment III is not for the weak of tenacity and determination. The couple have it, exemplified by Sheila Mei who never wavered in her resolve to end this segment, with injury or not. 

Team Adrenaline Romance have proven that they are as tough as anybody else on any given weekend. Segment I, Segment II and Segment III were one hell of a route. If you combine the three and clinched it in your belt, you could make it with the rest of the CHT. They now have amassed a total of 166.56 kilometers or 37.5 percent of the CHT and expect them to finish the year 2019 with Segment IV. Hopefully.   

Let me then give this space my sincerest thanks to the special attention heaped upon our event like Hon. Governor Hilario Davide III; to Police Colonel Edgar Allan Okubo of the CPPO; to the chiefs of police and their men coming from Carcar City, Barili, Sibonga, Argao and the 7RMB. The same goes to the officials and residents of Basak, Sibonga; Mompeller, Argao; and Mantalongon, Dalaguete; for their Cebuano brand of hospitality which is second to none.  

Gian Carlo and Sheila Mei wrote about their Segment III experience on the Adrenaline Romance Blog under two installments: 

Cebu Highlands Trail Segment III: Barili to Mompeller.

Cebu Highlands Trail Segment III: Mompeller to Mantalongon.

Friday, October 15, 2021

2021-040 | SITUATIONAL AWARENESS & A FREE HAND

OUTSMARTING THE STREET SMART: Not all people react quickly to a very fluid situation, especially of a direct threat harboring on life and death, but if your hands are empty, you have a better chance than of someone holding something that has nothing to offer for self-defense. Keep your hands free or, at least, one of your hands, especially the strong hand or the ones you trained to hold a weapon.

 

First seen in Facebook

December 12, 2019

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An attacker studies his target carefully before he proceeds with his purpose and the first thing he would like know is the individual’s favored hand. It would be easy for him to know judging by the location of a wristwatch or a bracelet and the preference of a hand that hold or use things. In short, the body language of a person will tell him. 

To avoid being profiled, deception is very important in your everyday life. The body language you project could change a situation quickly in your favor, if you are always alert, aware and prepared; or to them, if you are beholden to your smartphone forever. Some people are smart enough to use deception as part of their defense mechanism.

 

The idea really is to keep your attacker overly guessing the wrong avenue of attack with yourself having a free hand or hands that could react quickly to a sudden threat. While it may be empty, it could grab something for defense or for a counterattack. It could also immediately parry an attack or use it to offset the aggressor’s weight and force.

For a law-abiding citizen, it is not possible nor do we enjoy that privilege of carrying a weapon in public on foot. Not here in the Philippines. Maybe inside your car and that is it. The most you could do is carry an umbrella or hold a glass bottle which could already be comforting. Carrying a folding knife in stealth may have its good use but it also limits your freedom of movement.

 

Learn to drink then in public with the weak hand holding a bottle or a glass. Learn to eat in public with the weak hand holding the spoon while leaving the fork unused. Learn to sing in public with the microphone in your weak hand. Learn to open doors in full view with the weak hand. Make an observer believe you are left-handed or otherwise. 

That goes so too where you would wear a wristwatch or place things that say you are either a lefty or an orthodox. These are small things that do not need a big overhaul of your appearance nor entail a big expense. But these small practices may well give you a few seconds of thought processing, if this is now part of your mindset, to react to an attack.

To a law enforcement officer, an empty strong hand is one sure way of keeping himself alive day after day. When I was with the force, I made it sure that my gunhand is free all the time. I make it sure that I am seen using the other hand, to include eating, while the strong hand ever so close to my weapon for a very short trip to a quick draw.

Presently, as an aging civilian, I do not have the privilege of owning nor the carrying of a firearm, but this mindset of outward deception developed through the years, is now more useful than ever. That is my only advantage – a few seconds – but it is enough for me. Should the element of surprise fail because of the deception, at least, I have another chance of staving off the next stage.    

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WARRIOR PILGRIMAGE BLOG is not just about the Outdoors and Bushcraft. It also encompasses Urban Survival, because providing information on Safety and Security is its paramount obligation to an individual living and travelling in a constantly-changing world. Situational Awareness is its bedrock value to yank an individual out from depending too much on technology.   

Through tutorship, experience, folk knowledge and good old common sense, this writer was able to collect useful information which he is currently documenting in a training syllabus titled, URBAN SUBURBAN SURVIVAL BASICS. He shares some of this information and knowledge in his training sessions; in his social-media account; and in this blog.

Photo Nr 1 credits Cultivated Culture.

Photos Nr 2 and 3 credits Town & Country Magazine.