He flips the bamboo, scratches off thin strips off its outer skin using his sharp jungle bolo then clumps them together and starts vigorously rotating a small piece of wood over it. Seconds later a puff of white smoke emits from his work and fire eventually flare all over the bamboo strips.
Meet Kasuy, an Aeta jungle guide at Subic Bay Freeport’s forest, he’s gonna be our survival instructor inside the Pamulaklakin Forest Trail. He has been teaching American G.I.’s how to survive inside jungles before and he’s gonna be teaching those same things to us.
Kasuy is quite the character; dressed in his native garb, he spats out funny anecdotes and jokes as well as he manipulates his bolo to transform a single trunk of bamboo from a water cup, a rice cooker, a fire-maker, a spoon and fork (or a chopstick if you’re Japanese) and finally a toothpick. Producing a whole kitchen with a single trunk of bamboo is one mean feat.
After his cooking demo, he led us into the jungles of Subic; passing a mini bridge and into a trail. Thirsty? He began chopping a tree branch and lo and behold, drinkable water! Droplets of water that is, but I bet your ass you’d be more than happy to have that if you happen to get stuck in a forest with no Gatorades in your backpack.
He then directs us to plants that can be used as medicines and went on to demonstrate traps that can be used for monkeys. All these he did with such gusto and comic that you can’t help but be convinced that he really enjoys what he’s doing.
I had my misgivings at first regarding the show that they’re putting on. At first glance it looks as though their being Aetas is somewhat being exploited for show, making an entertainment industry of the country’s indigenous tribes. But after reading H’s take on this, I began to realize that this may be one of the few ways that they can still retain and share their culture with city dwellers like us.The short hike ended at a clearing laid with a buffet of traditional Filipino dishes; ensaladang talong with ampalaya, crispy tilapia, chicken barbeque, sinigang na hipon and kalderetang baka. Paired with rice cooked in bamboo, who could ask for more, really.There were tables and chairs set up along the banks of a small stream and I hurriedly saved a seat near the water, washed my hand and didn’t bother to use a spoon and fork; there’s nothing like eating Filipino dishes with your bare hands. I dig the chicken barbeque and the crispy tilapia so much! Our refreshments were of course served in bamboo, similar to what Kasuy made earlier in his demo.
A lesson in survival, a trek through tangled growths mixed with lots of laughter in between and an excellent lunch afterwards; when we’ve already seen quite a lot of what North Luzon has to offer during the pass few days, it’s not a bad way to start the seventh day of Lakbay Norte.
Subic Jungle Survival Training
Binictican Heights, Subic Bay Freeport
Telephone: (047) 252-4242 | (047) 252-4123 | (047) 252-4032
GPS Coordinates: 14.805722,120.330162 | Click to view location on Google Maps
Rates & Fees:
Sightseeing (with Guide) - Php50.00
30-Minute Mini Jungle Tour (with Guide) - Php50.00
2-Hour Ecology Tour (with Guide) - Php250.00
Overnight Jungle Tour - Php500.00 + Php50.00 every succeeding night
Picnic - Php50.00
Picnic Table - Php150.00