August 2014

August 2014


“My father had one hole cut in the bedroom wall for his rifle and another to see through”, my own father would tell this time and time again me as child. This, right before he would sweep our house for “bad guys” or anything (open doors, knives left out in the kitchen, strange vehicles outside) that was a potential threat to our family. In WWII, when the Japanese Imperial Army invaded the Philippines, they invaded people’s privacy and they threatened their security. You don’t have to take my word for it, just read any of the brutal acts of violence toward both Filipinos and leftover USGI’s in any number of historical accounts. Even after the war, my grandfather was affected by the trauma of evading the enemy and hiding for years (hence his shooting port). My father, to this day, still checks the house because he remembers how easily security can be challenged. I’ve adopted these habits and more routinely checking doors, evaluating paths for egress and having tools handy at a moment’s notice. Why do I bring this up? Why do I have to refer to security in the middle of the summer when most of you are relaxing and taking it easy? I bring it up because the obligation to protect yourself and those you care about never ends. Security is something you never feel bad about having too much of but regret having too little when something challenges it.

What do I mean by security? By most definitions, security means free from threats. We face threats everyday so I don’t think you can live a life “free” from them. There are financial threats, emotional threats, physical threats and threats to our health. Security, as I see it, is more about managing threats and mitigating their potential affect on us. We become aware of threats and take action to prevent them from affecting us. We can drive structurally safer cars, eat healthier food, install alarm systems, buy homes in low crime areas and choose friends who share the same values. In the words of my some of my most respected instructors, “there are no victims, only volunteers.” Some people ignore security then are quick to accept a title which places no fault on them. I was victimized by a scam, I was the victim of assault after walking through the park alone, unaware and unarmed, I’m the victim of a theft after someone walked off with my (insert your most precious belonging here) left in the backseat of my car. If we are aware of a threat but take no action to prevent it, we volunteer for the consequences. Security means taking action.

There is no way to address every security threat in a single blog post. After years of awareness training through my father, the lessons of respected mentors and daily practice, I’m still learning. I want to impress upon you the importance of prevention rather than treatment. I started this blog entry with the brief reference to my grandfather who took measures to deal with a home invader. What I know is what I’ve been told and I can only assume there were many nights he lay awake in bed, unable to sleep. He likely suffered from PTSD before it was known as PTSD. I’m willing to assume, and it is a damn good assumption, if given the chance he would rather have  not needed to evade to the jungle with members from the town at all. He would rather have had the Japanese stay in their own country. Would you want to leave your home under stress and fear for your life? I’m also willing to assume those who have had their security threatened (break ins, assaults, severe debt, heart attacks, etc) would give anything to go back in time and do something different to prevent it. Instead, remedy in the form of therapy, counseling, medication, etc. is used to heal these mental and emotional wounds. What is that old expression? An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Well, cure isn’t always guaranteed and many times people take their regret and pain to the grave. Action always beats reaction and being proactive in your security preparedness and ability and is better than being reactive.

Kevin Estela Blog of Education August 2014

Each winter, a cold weather kit is carried in my car. I’m protecting myself from the dangers of exposure and ensuring my security.

So, knowing you should take action, how do you improve your security without being overwhelmed? Start by identifying where you need security. Ask the right questions. Where do you spend most of your time? Probably home and work for 8 hours respectively (on average). Well then, what about your car on your way to work? Even though you spend less time there, you’re always perceived as vulnerable in transit. You determine if you really are or not. Take steps to improve your security through preparedness. Determine what the probable threats are and be realistic in your preparations to deal with them. If  freezing to death in your car is a real threat on your drive to work should your car break down, pack warm clothes and a sleeping bag in your car. If you know there is a string of car break ins in your neighborhood, get in the habit of removing valuables from your vehicle when you leave it and making sure anything attractive is out of site. Don’t purchase more than you need to satisfy an unrealistic fantasy. If you plan on “bugging out” in the city, don’t bother with excessive water or food reserves. Be prepared to carry what you pack and understand help may only be a few blocks away outside the danger zone. Carry the basics to address security threats each day. Tuck an extra $100 somewhere, carry a flashlight and keep your phone charged all the time!  This brings me to training. Security means being able to handle threats and insecurity is not being able to handle threats. Train everyday! Build good habits and understand if you aren’t working to improve your security, you are working against it. Remember this next time you leave your car unlocked, live beyond your means, allow yourself to go without exercise or walk into a social setting you normally wouldn’t go into.

Kevin Estela Blog of Education August 2014

Everyday Carry Items can make the difference between preparedness and “victim”. Don’t volunteer.

The nuances, tips and tricks of the security skill set come with practice. Try not to do it all at once. You can’t  go from Johnny Mayonnaise to someone like Jason Bourne overnight. Listen to the experts and do your research. Sometimes, the hardest person to sell the idea of security to is yourself. Trust those who have been there and know their craft. If you want to be more secure in your health, speak to a personal trainer. If you want to be more secure while commuting, take an advanced driving course. If you don’t know how to handle your finances, speak to a financial planner. Don’t go at it alone. Along the way, you will learn little tricks like how to hide items in the open, how to utilize every resource and where to position items for maximum effectiveness. One tip I recently picked up from one of my Sayoc instructors is to attach your personal trauma, not ouchie boo boo, kit to your vehicle headrest. In an accident, a first-responder will hopefully identify your kit, know how to use it and apply the contents inside if they are without their own. Tips like these are picked up when you least expect them. The key is learning to identify what is useful and filter out the fantasy garbage. With time,  you’ll learn more and become more secure overall.

Survival skills, which likely drew you to this site, are more than fire starting, shelter building, plant identification and the skills you find in wilderness manuals. Survival skills include evaluating your security and identifying threats, having the means in place to protect yourself and your possessions, building good habits to be consistent in your protective actions and regularly training to maintain your performance. Sadly, what I just stated will be overlooked by many who would rather purchase the “must have” item they saw in a catalog than seek out those who will install good security habits. If you know  and care about someone like this, share this article with them. Have a great summer but never let your guard down. Remember, your threat/opponent/enemy is training when you’re not.