When the Wilds Roamed the Caraballo Mountain
Many of us may have seen a live deer (usa) or wild boar (alingo/baboy damo). Of course we have visited various zoos and wildlife parks in Manila, QC or Malabon and farther in the south the famous Calawit Island of the Marcos era.
Deers of different species are a common sight in zoos, but the wild boar is very hard to find and it looks like in the list of endangered species already. How about eating meat of the above stated animals? Maybe it is still safe to say that a lot among us specially those who have gone to places where these animals still have a safe habitat or some of us may have gone to restaurants serving exotic dishes have a taste pf these delicious and hard to find meat.
But if I say, have you tasted one time or another meats of these animals hunted from Caraballo Mt. I am absolutely sure only a handful of us may say so and I am one of the lucky few.
I was lucky to have tasted these meat a lot of times in my childhood days, thanks to my late beloved grandfather, an agile 5 ft. frame of a man. He had a 5 man team who were the first and only hunters of Villegas . Excuse me Robert de Nero, you are a late comer. They armed themselves with a .22 caliber rifle and 5 dog hunters.
According to my mother, lolo started this hubby in the forties. As a child I can still vividly recall one late afternoon my lolo brought home a head of a deer with its multi horn freshly cut from the neck. This was part of his share of the prey. Grandpa and his team would normally go hunting at the onset of summer when the trail going up the mountain is no longer slippery. Tall grasses and bushes started to turn golden brown. They would clear a portion of the hunting ground by burning the grasses and bushes and at the middle of the burn area they would put fresh camote vines as bait. Deers and boars are attracted to a fresh ashes because of its salty flavor. Dogs and the rifleman are in ambush on the incoming preys.
The hunt would normally last 3 days and lolo would always bring with him lot of salts purportedly for preservatives just in case they would be lucky on the first day, but lolo was always a lucky and triumphant hunter. He must have been blessed by the Good Lord because he had many mouth to feed. One time, lolo told me about a deer found itself among the goats in the nearby fields just a stone throw from our house. The undomesticated animal immediately slip away before the hunting dogs were summoned for a chase.
When it was not hunting season, lolo would go up to the mountain with his group to get materials for plough. He would assemble the plough and sell it in the market.
Lolo died in the middle fifties due to old age his team was no longer as active as before and the team eventually disbanded when some of the members were too old to go hunting. As of this writing only one member is still alive – the youngest among the team, Mr Julaton. The death of lolo was also the end of my privilege to taste what was the best meat I have ever eaten.
In my early teens, my uncles, who unfortunately did not follow in the footsteps of my lolo, invited me to go with them on a mountain climbing. We armed ourselves with one air rifle, sling shot and a bolo each. They showed me the battleground of my lolo. It was a treacherous trail/routes marked by deep ravines, sharp rocks and loose stones. You have to watch for the loose stones, otherwise a false step would put you down the ravine.
From the foothills it took us about 2 hours hike to reach the highest peak, the top most portion of the Mt. when you look at it from the west, but beyond that peak are several higher peaks awaits a climber or hunter. Upon reaching the top I immediately feel a sense of manhood. It was invigorating to breathe fresh and unpolluted air. The hardship you encountered on your way up is just a scant of a more rewarding gift of nature once you are over the top. On our way back, we gathered differents fruits of duhat, mangoes and many more.
After my first climb (after a yr ) I made a solo flight but misfortune struck me on the halfway mark. I lost the trail and found myself in an unfamiliar ground. Everything was unfamiliar , even the sun was, to me, in a different position. I immediately remember about a story that when you are lost in the mountain, strip naked , bow to the ground and position your ass towards the sky. I did in haste and slowly everything turn to normal. I did not pursue the trek instead I rested momentarily when suddenly I saw a monkey on top of a banana tree and before it could spoil further on the fruits, I aimed my slingshot and bull’s eye the primate got a piece of my markmanship. i brought home the leftovers.
As of today there were no more news about hunting. the wilds may have been driven away far east or north because of unabated kaingin system or uncontrolled clearing in the area. Every summer there were incidents of bush fires.
The establishment of a cement factory may have added to this sad scenario ; and what made it more damaging is the apathy of the concerned government agency tasked to safeguard the environments. Can we still bring back the glory days of Caraballo Mountain? It is a long shot but it can be done. Let us start maybe with the owners of the cement factory to put up a small scale breeding farm for deer and wild pigs. A financial and technical assistance from the DENR , NGOs and the local government. It is really a long shot but it has to start somewhere, somehow, And only then could we write something on the wall — THE GLORY DAYS OF CARABALLO MOUNTAIN IS UNDER RESTORATION