Photo by Red Cross
The Red Cross helped mobilize locals and provided them with food and supplies to aid their community.

My experiences in the Philippines dashed a few survivalist myths and provided valuable lessons:

1. Mindset Matters: If the worst happens when you’re 7,000 miles from your disaster kit, you’ve still brought your mental attitude towards survival and the knowledge gained from preparing at home.

2. Work As A Team: Solo survival is unrealistic. You must cooperate with others in the same predicament. Through cooperation, neighbors were able to share resources and alert each other to hazards, news and incoming relief.

3. Consume With Caution: Sharing was sometimes very difficult. Food had to be considered non-replenishable, and I was very conscious of every kilo of rice and can of food I brought over the mountains and doled out to needy survivors in the area.

4. Ways To Lead: Surviving requires that we must quickly learn when to take charge, when to acquiesce to someone else’s experienced judgment, when to be charitable and when to say no.

5. Prepare To Defend: A self-defense firearm should be at the top of your list of urban survival gear. Without it, you are only stockpiling supplies for the first stronger opportunists to come and take them, and possibly take the lives of your loved ones as well.

6. Keep Your Cash: The idea that cash becomes worthless in a disaster is a myth. After a disaster, the cost of anything still available will double, but without money I couldn’t have paid for fuel in exchange for a seat on a truck to go get more lifesaving supplies.

7. Humor Is Essential: Though our situation was grim, or perhaps because it was grim, it was important to laugh at it and ourselves to keep spirits up and maintain the conviction that we would survive, no matter what happened.

This article was originally published in the SURVIVOR’S EDGE™ Spring 2016 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.

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