The importance of the jungle survival skills of the Aetas was recognized by the Americans as soon as they set up bases in the Philippines. Their knowledge of the jungle became even more precious during the Vietnam War as the Americans fought a difficult jungle war. The US military including Marines, Navy seals and Special Forces units trained with the Aetas at the Jungle Environment Survival Training (JEST) Camp in the rainforest of Subic Bay. When the Americans left Subic Bay in 1992 the JEST camp was converted to teach civilians basic mountaineering, fire-building, wildlife identification and other wilderness survival techniques. I was really happy to have done this course! I particularly
enjoyed watching our guide make fire out of dried bamboo. Then we went for a hike in the rainforest without food or water. Our guide identified which plant/vine we can get water from. If I get lost in the jungle now, I don't think I would be able to remember which plant it was that we drank from but it helped me appreciate the indigenous knowledge of the Aetas. It would be nice if everyone on earth would have as much commune with nature. They take only what they need, appreciate what they get and by so doing nature provides them with everything.
This trip reminded me of my highschool teacher, Dr. Tabinga, who is coming from the Cuyo, Islands. He taught us how to identify edible yams that you can find in the jungle and how to cook them without water.
For more information, contact or visit:
Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority
Tel. No. (6347) 252 – 4123/4561/4194
JEST jungle+survival olongapo subic+bay aetas tourism travel zambales philippines