JUNGLE SURVIVAL in the Philippines

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 “Pamulaklakin” describes a place or thing that is blooming. The trail was indeed blooming with nature’s bounty. Nestled deep into the forest of tall canopy of trees, swift-running streams, and crisp forest air.

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The Pamulaklakin Trail was located within Binictican Height, a residential complex in Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SMBA). We arrived there by a Victory Liner (aircon bus), and then took a taxi to get there.

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Pamulaklakin Forest Trail covers 57 hectares of forest, filled with trees such as Kupang, Tangisan, Banaba, Dila-dila, and Lawaan. Its rivers, meanwhile, teem with tilapia, eel, and dalag. Since 1991, the Subic Aetas have volunteered in establishing Pamulaklakin Forest Trail as a tourist destination, which is now a livelihood project, where the natives are employed as jungle survival instructors, cultural dance performers, and forest guards. The natives are what we called “the Aetas tribe” or Negritos in English term. They are characteristically dark, small, and skillful hunter-gatherers. You are welcome to experience their indigenous way of life while exploring the forest’s dense landscape through four different activities such as camping, day/night trekking, learning the jungle survival skills and lastly, hunting. More than the promise of an interactive adventure, it offers a glimpse of the vibrant culture and survival genius of the Aetas.

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Our nature trek along Subic’s Pamulaklakin Trail was one of the more remarkable activities on my travels early this year. The pristine natural scenery was totally refreshing. We even had invited us to attend an “Aetas Tribe Wedding” in there village. We sat with them, eat food with them and had party with them. During our adventures activities, we even had breakfast/ lunch/ dinner and slept overnight in the forest beside a freely flowing spring. It was simply awesome!

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Jungle Survival Lessons…

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They teach us how to craft a spoon, fork, and a cup made from bamboo using his handy machete, cooking rice with a section of the bamboo stem, you’ll learn how each tree/plant serves a purpose that are first aid herbal medicines, which plant is drinkable, etc. And finally, they teach us how to make fire with only dried leaves, wood shavings, and friction from the bamboo. We drunk water in the spring by boiling it so that the bacterial kills it. Honestly, drinking water from the spring is refreshing!

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These jungle survival skills were most likely passed down to the new generations from the old tribe generations past. I felt lucky that we became recipients of a part of Aetas tradition.

Who knows, it might become handy someday when I get stranded in the woods, jungle or forest 🙂

From the curious to the adventurous, you may choose from taking a short 30-minute hike (P50/head- $1-2 USD), to spending a night in the heart of the forest (P500/head- $10 USD, bring your own tent). All packages combine a walking adventure and a cultural encounter. The trails feature easy to moderate routes with rugged ascents and descents, and shallow river crossings. These treks wind up at a clearing for demonstrations by the Aetas, including jungle survival techniques that use bamboo for fire-making and cooking; and tribal dance performance that present their hunting, fishing, and courting traditions.

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“Being a survivor doesn’t mean being strong – it’s telling people when you need a meal or a ride, company, whatever. It’s paying attention to heart wisdom, feelings, not living a role, but having a unique, authentic life, having something to contribute, finding time to love and laugh. All these things are qualities of survivors.”

-Bernie Siegel

 

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