JEST - Jungle Environmental Survival Training
Subic Bay Municipal Authority, Philippines
Soon after the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991 damaged many of its facilities,
the U.S. Subic Naval Base closed its doors handing the keys back to the
Philippine government who is developing the site for manufacturing, trade
The U.S. Marines had used the nearby mountains to train its soldiers
in jungle fighting and survival. Their teachers were the aboriginal Aetas
or "negritos" who have lived in these forest for eons. After the soldiers
departed, the JEST program turned its attention to the burgeoning interest
in the combination of environmental awareness and tourism or "eco-tourism".
The JEST Programs
Jungle Demo - Visit JEST's hilltop school and observe as trainers
demonstrate basic jungle survival skills as they have been handed down
through generations of native Filipinos. Learn from the same instructors
that taught jungle survival to the U.S. troops. Established thirty years
ago, the Jungle Environmental Survival Training school is the first and
only school of its kind.
Jungle Tour - Trek into the world-famous Subic Forest escorted by
the instructors of JEST. There you will be shown how to locate sources
of potable water, set traps using only naturally occurring materials, and
much, much more. Easy, moderate, and difficult trails available. (Length
of tour varies from 1-4 hours based on visitors' preference.)
- Photos from a Jungle Tour
Jungle Overnight - For the more adventurous tourist, this attraction
allows a special inside look at jungle living. Camp overnight in the Subic
Forest just as the soldiers did when the school was first founded. Learn
basic survival skills by experiencing them first hand! (1-3 days)
Mini Zoo - Located within the JEST compound, the Mini Zoo features
native species found in the Subic Forest.
Souvenir Shop - Souvenir items at reasonable prices are available
here. Choose from a broad selection of native handicrafts, shirts, postcards
and many other exquisitely crafted items.
Another site at SBMA offers a model negrito village, cultural events, jungle
survival demos and tours, and picnic area.
For more information contact SBMA at (047) 252-4429, 4123, 4154,
Comments from former Subic Marine, Richard de Triquet:
- Over the course of 20+ years I became to know quite well a couple of the Aeta instructors of the JEST School. What a great group of men: kind, humble and possessing an incredible knowledge of fieldcraft and native animals. Their uncanny sense of animal behavior and hunting amazes me to this day. I was very glad to see that a couple of these men, including Abraham, are still employed up there at Cubi after the Marines departed. I stopped by the ecotour with my teenage son when I visited family two years ago. It was like old homecoming and I was humbled with the hospitality they extended. To a man the old timers longed for the old days with the Marines, since they believe that the large watershed area was better protected than now. My observations are that the logging and illegal squatting remains “fairly” well controlled by the current Gordon government.
- The Subic watershed area is extremely beautiful. The contrast between the Subic and Zambales sides of the Bay where mountains are denuded is striking. I would encourage responsible hikers to get over there and link up with the Ecotour folks. The flora and fauna really is wonderful. If you need lodging I would stay at a reasonable hotel room up there at Cubi and over in Bario Barretto outside Olongapo.
- I would also encourage those of a charitable nature to support the Aetas in Pastolan Village. Pastolan village is located up the mountain on a shelf above the Subic Golf Course. Basic clothing, household goods and staples are always in need there. These people are facing a lot of difficulties today much more so now than when the US Navy was there. Contact one of the men at JEST and they can coordinate a visit.
Take me back to Bundok's Ecotours Page