Body pain, muddy shoes, and an itchy skin. That’s what I got from my very first Bivouac. Yet, I still enjoyed it.
Last June 5, 2018, the 5th Philippine Bivouac Mili-Sim (Military Simulations) Assembly happened in Camp Malauac 3, Angono, Rizal. This isn’t your average social gathering. In this Event, Hundreds of Airsoft enthusiasts come together, group themselves into 3 teams and spends 24 hours in an area to outplay, outsmart, and defeat each other. Think of it as a normal game competition and outdoor camping but in real war situations. Sounds fun? We’ll get to the best part.
Before we go any further, let us first understand what is BIVOUAC. It is not a French word nor an acronym of a very long sentence which we all know most military forces worldwide is often obsessed with. Bivouac is actually a type of temporary shelter or camp used by hikers, mountaineers, and (you’ve guessed it) soldiers. It’s not a common tent since it’s uncovered and often disregards the rule of safety. Today, The term Bivouac is now used in some countries as an Airsoft Outdoor Mili-Sim Activity.
Bivouac 5 is a result of collective ideas of the biggest Airsoft enthusiast groups and hobby shops in the Philippines. Joining the event requires some real military equipment like vests, combat uniforms, army shoes, and a working airsoft firearm. Heavy Military-grade hardware is not included so don’t expect tanks and para-drop bombs. After paying 800PHP and signing some waivers, I finally get the chance to join the 5th Bivouac Mili-Sim. The game is open for everyone but it is not for faint of heart. The firearms may not be lethal but the danger within the game site is no joke.
The bivouac 5 was held in a remote mountainous area of Angono. There are snakes in there, wild rodents, poisonous insects, and mosquitoes which may harm the player. The weather is unstable, sometimes it rains, sometimes it’s so hot. The slopes are slippery when dry and muddy when it rains. The bushes have pointy spikes and infested with bugs and caterpillars. The only water and food you packed are the only things you’ve got. And you can’t pack too much because it will be too heavy to carry. Anybody up for the 6th Bivouac?
The main equipment used in this game is a firearm known as “Airsoft”. It resembles a real firearm but only shoots small plastic projectile called “BB(s)”. Although considered “non-lethal”, these firearms can still harm an individual. They can only be operated in an airsoft permitted areas, game sites, official airsoft conventions, and indoors, given that the user is properly protected.
The mechanics are simple; Each member is given a package that includes a whistle, pieces of white cloths, hydrating powder, and blinker light. Members are then divided into 3 groups (Blue, Red, and Green) led by their commanding generals and color flags. The first team who capture’s the other teams’ flag wins. When you receive a hit, you simply turn on your blinker (with a color according to your team color) and a nearby teammate must come to you, tie a white cloth on your arm symbolizing you’re healed, and then ready to fight again. The whistle can only be used during emergency situations like if one of the players gets seriously injured. Other mechanics such as ransack, team alliances, and Prisoners of War (POWs) are within the game.
Does this mean the Bivouac is just like a common boy scout camping? Well, not actually. Coz like I said, participants will undergo a Military Simulation (Mili-Sim); Meaning, campfires which are best done with your favorite campfire songs and marshmallows is like declaring defeat since you will be attracting enemy attention. Unless it’s your strategy to set a campfire as a decoy. Hmm, why didn’t we thought of that?
Although our team lost the fight, I’m proud that I have fulfilled my part defending my ground as one of my team’s sniper. My job is to lay down and watch the perimeter from enemy scouts that roam around the camp. I’m actually thinking about joining the next Bivouac. I’m dying for some payback.