When I was granted by my boss to spend a short leave during the holy week, I began thinking of a few options on how to spend the few days 'fruitfully'.
I thought of hitting the beach with my family somewhere in Batangas. I have learned to appreciate the beautiful corals there.
I also considered visiting the beautiful island of Batanes. I love to photograph the scenic landscape there.
But wait, I have a small problem. I couldn't tag along my wife who is still recuperating from her latest eye surgery.
The good thing is that she is willing to allow us to leave for an 'for the boys only' trip somewhere. Kunsintedora but loving Mom!
So, the idea of a hunting trip in the forests of Central Luzon suddenly emerged. Honestly, I have missed my Scout Ranger days during which I patrolled the jungle lair of terrorists and bandits in southern Mindanao.
I also have another 'hidden agenda' of spending time with my son. I would make it an opportunity to bond with him in a memorable activity that we both like. This will be my chance to teach him how to survive in the woods. Whoa!
When I asked him if he like to go hunting in the wild, I heard a big 'yes!'. To me, that is quite encouraging. I don't want to force him into something that he does not like. I normally sell an idea to him and the decision is his to make.
Why go hunting?
You might ask me an intriguing question, "Why hunting?".
I can offer you a lot of reasons. First, I wanted to introduce my son into my childhood life in the province of Bukidnon.
I had always been fascinated by a 'primitive' way of life. I can vividly remember that I was as young as a 12-year old boy, when I first experienced staying alone at our farm house with my brother. At that young age, I can already cook, wash the dishes and possibly defend ourselves with our Cal. 22 rifle.
Unlike my son, I was already given by my father challenging chores such as taking care of our farm animals that include cows, carabaos and horses. And, we also help clear the grasses in our farm, my usual assignment during vacation. Ay, bakasyon na naman.
As a growing boy, I loved hunting birds with my sling shot and 'de bomba' (air gun) that my uncle would lent me. It was the first time I discovered that I was a crack shot.
Through hunting expeditions, I can go back to my old life full circle and be able to share something valuable to my son who grew in the urban jungles of Metro Manila.
Second, I can share to him a part of my life as a soldier. I can teach him how to navigate in the forest, identify animals, insects, root crops and fruits that are edible, and how to sense and evade some dangers.
In short, I can let him experience how to survive in the wild like the primitive man such as the ancestors of the Batak tribe in Palawan or the Aetas of Zambales. For a Manila boy like Harvey, that is a daunting challenge!
To accomplish my mission, I selected the forest hills of Mt. Mariveles in Bataan as my area of operation (AO). I wanted him to tread the same paths taken by the Filipino warriors who fought for the Philippines in a 4-month fierce battles with the advancing Japanese forces from January 6-April 9, 1942.
The area is a mountainous terrain that is still covered with forest and undergrowth. Most areas near the foot of the mountain have become farmlands but farm owners opted to retain much of the thick vegetation.
With a temperature topping around 40 degrees Celsius, even a Scout Ranger like me is challenged by the intense heat at midday. It is therefore a perfect place to train my son how to experience the life of a warrior in this historic 'playground'.
Shown are the photos of our recent adventures:
Since his elementary days, I have taught Harvey the fundamentals of marksmanship. He can shoot both pistols and rifles, whether iron sights or telescopic sights. I let him zero the Cal .22 rifle that was lent to us by my friend.
I zeroed all the weapons of World War II that were presented to me. Oh, these guns can still down any armed threats!
We started our uphill climb from this point. Harvey carried the 6.5mm Grendel Rifle with 3.5-10x Mk 4 Leupold Scope. I required him to be in 'low-ready' position while scanning the area for any prey.
We found some logging trails which were probably taken by Filipino guerrillas who continuously fought the Japanese after the fall of Bataan in April 1942.
For the first time, Harvey experienced crossing a small creek. The water was so clear that you can directly drink from the stream.
For the first time, he was bitten by big ants that are locally known as 'Hantik'. He saw some birds hovering above us. We didn't find any 'bato-bato' or any of the 'labuyo' chickens which roam the place. They might have known that the Manila-boy hunter was coming for them.
During this trip, we caught nothing but only pleasant surprises. We shot nothing but memorable pictures.
Definitely, we will come back and try again!