A Spiritual Camping in Bilar

Our tour in 2nd year college left an indelible mark in our hearts. So the following year, 1983, when we were in our 3rd year, we decided to go on an outing in the forest of Bilar.

The first time we asked permission, we used “camping” as a reason. But we were declined. So we brainstormed and thought hard to find a convincing reason. Days later, we approached our superior again and told him that we were going on a “spiritual camping” to discern our vocation. It was approved.

There were only seven of us in the batch, namely, Jeff, Junior, Gents, Chris, Mario, Soc and me.

So off we went to Bilar, specifically to Camp Magsaysay. There was an eerie feeling when we entered the narrow pathway leading to the camp. It was dark because of the foliage that covered the path. Dried leaves crackled under our feet. The air was moist and cold.

We carried a couple of air gun with us. I had my trusty tirador (slingshot) with me.

The place was so quiet; the birds nonchalant and unconcerned as we tried hard to shoot at them and missed.

We tried anything to entertain ourselves in the wilderness. We shouted as hard as we could. We explored the place. We made shooting targets out of beer cans. There were two Israeli tourists who visited the camp in the morning. We made friends with them, by inviting them to our makeshift shooting range. They were great shooters. We learned later that they both served in the military.

Later that day, Chris devised a lit-ag (trap) for the chicken that wondered in the vicinity. It was dusk when his trap caught a haw (iguana). Gents and Mario were our expert chefs. They cooked and served it for dinner. They said it tasted like chicken. For me, it looked like a giant lizard and must have tasted like lizard. So I didn’t partake of it.

We built a bonfire and gathered around it. We talked and drank beer. For coffee, Chris was again at his elements. He took an empty beer can, put rice inside, and placed it over the fire until the rice turned black. Then he poured water into it, heated it some more and--lo and behold--we had coffee for the night. The taste was wonderful even without sugar.

In Magsaysay camp, there was a Marcos-prefab building with chairs and tables. We settled in one of the rooms, using the tables for our bed. The night was bitterly cold. And we didn’t have blankets and mosquito nets to protect us from the cold and the insects. But we slept soundly nonetheless.

The following day we had to replenish our water jug. So we walked all the way to Tabel Store. But instead of filling it with water, we decided to fill it with beer. We stayed until afternoon until it was time to go home.

There was really nothing spiritual about the camping, except for the spirits we consumed. (nox arcamo)