Thursday, November 15, 2018

Trailblazing Series of Waterfalls in Mailum River, Coronon

I had a great trailblazing last November 14 along with some fellow adrenalin junkies in my hometown Jojo Ibañez, Rjay Estabaya and Froilan Miagao. Our destination was the series of gorgeous waterfalls situated in Mailum River and is exactly nestled in sitio Kibasanga, a western tip of Barangay Coronon leading to forested portions of sitio Binuangon, southern portion of Mt. Barira and Mt. Loay and northern part of Tubison where the towering Mt. Leong can be seen.

There are approximately 8 waterfalls along the river, all of them good reasons of a stopover for bathing and cooling. The waters are really cold and pristine because the entire surrounding of the river is covered with green sceneries. For those who are familiar with the Kiblan waterfalls, the Mailum waterfalls series are at the upper base. River trekking accounts for more or less 2 kilometers of the whole trek which starts at the Kiblan hanging bridge. Upon reaching sitio Kibarangan I met our former Upland Development Programme (UDP) sitio leader Nong Sulpicio Dulay in his farm house. It was a quick sort of a reunion for me and Nong Sulpicio whom I considered as one of the few good leaders during my stint with UDP.

It was quite difficult trekking Mailum river because the rocks are very slippery. Some face-the-walls with minor cliffs are detour routes to avoid deep river portions. The waterfalls are good reliefs, though, especially since it all just situated in adjacent intervals. The tallest was the last waterfalls we reached, approximately measured 15 feet. Much as we wanted to trek further but the vegetation covering the upstream river part made the trail very hard and almost impassable.

After a short lunch we stayed for 30 minutes and dip into a pool in one of the waterfalls. This one we thought of as the most ideal site for bathing. Our descent was a bit faster but we had our last dipping in a pool located just before approaching the Kibarangan foot trail.

Numerous wildlife species were present in Kibasanga such as Pulchrana grandocula, a common amphibian in Mindanao. Assorted dragonflies and butterflies made Mailum river their sanctuary. I also saw and heard plenty of birds in the site. A serpent eagle was caught perching in a huge tree from afar and another one gliding. The Rufuos-lored Kingfisher also flew once and another lifer was the alluring Purple-throated Sunbird.

For those who are planning to visit Mailum waterfalls, I would like to remind you that the place belongs to an ancestral domain of the Bagobo-Tagabawa under Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title No. R-11 SCR-1005-034, hence, visiting the place needs consent from the tribal leader of Coronon. For as long as there is no standard policy yet in going to the area it is always better to seek go-signal from them for information purposes. 

A Green-carpet Tour in Guimaras

Guimaras is a small province which was extracted from mainland Iloilo in 1992. It is composed of 5 municipalities conniving together to retain its green and tranquil identity, making nature a dominant scenery and stillness a common language understood by those who are keen about freedom and serenity.

It is easy to appreciate everything that is existing in Guimaras particularly since what is being banked into its landscape are of the minimum. In one of my conversations with our tour guide during a day tour in Guimaras I said environmental planning is crucial in terms or preparing Guimaras 20 years from now. The stability of this province lies mainly on how local leaders could craft clear details of its priority directions. Planning would eventually make or break Guimaras.

Meanwhile, my participation to a day tour last November 10 was practically a green-carpet experience because my eyes have seen plenty of the literal green environment. I presume more than 50 percent of the entire province remains untouch, or are having very little human interference.  Agriculture and fishery are two of the industries that supply life to Guimaras. Tourism is also doing good given with its wonderful destinations, making it a detour route to Iloilo visitors. In this article I would like to share to you the places we visited in Guimaras.

This is a renewable power-generation venture situated in San Lorenzo. The giant wind mills are identical with the Bangui structures in Ilocos Norte. It is the very first wind farm in Visayas, which is now starting to become a premiere tourism attraction in Guimaras. It is capable of generating 54-megawatt power, supplying electricity to key parts of Western Visayas.

Somewhere at the tip of Buenavista town is Roca Encantada, a Spanish term which means “Enchanted Rock”. This is a heritage house owned by the Lopez clan pedicured with awesome architecture. The actual location of the building is a reclaimed site, providing better view of the coastal scenes of Buenavista which features small islets from afar.

Jordan is the gateway town to Guimaras which is known for its solid waste management program. Looking at how they maintained an ecology center within its landfill facility is commendable. Jordan authorities made sure to minimize garbage collection by imposing segregation at the household level and accommodating only residual wastes in the landfill.

McNester Enterprises is a successful agribusiness industry in Guimaras. It offers variety of food products out of mango and calamansi being the predominant crops in the province. They first gained esteem by being a model entrepreneur in Guimaras and later on became a supplier of mango and calamansi products internationally.

This monastery ran by monks is also a well-known stopover for visitors because aside from having notable structures the place also sells good locally-made pasalubong items. 

This is located in Barangay San Miguel in the town of Jordan, Guimaras. It has more or less 8 hectares of area both for research and production purposes of mango, a very popular commodity that is being associated into the name Guimaras.

This is another pilgrimage site in Jordan, Guimaras. Several works of art are being laid out in this area that serves as stations of the way of the cross where catholic devotees always visit every Lenten season.

Monday, November 12, 2018

The heritage province of Iloilo

I am getting several opportunities to room around cities in the Philippines with my job over the last 16 years and my current trip in Iloilo last November 7-11 is perhaps another learning occasion. For 5 days I was able to observe how local authorities in Iloilo maintained a vibrant locality with a touch of calmness not usual in a highly urbanized city. The wide freeways in major road networks prevent traffic to ensue, thereby creating a healthy environment of trade, commerce and tourism.

As the heart of Western Visayas, Iloilo serves as gateway to other provinces and cities like Aklan, Capiz, Antique, Bacolod and Cebu. It also has direct domestic flights to Davao, Puerto Princesa, Clark and Manila. The comprehensive transportation services in land, sea and air are being melded that provides doorsteps to socio-economic development of the entire region.

My first interest in joining a trip to Iloilo is the flourishing heritage sites, mostly relics of the Spanish occupation. Old churches, ancient houses and other structures within the city proper and nearby towns are beautiful subjects of my solo heritage tour. Newly-erected government buildings are strived to have ancient touch in a contemporary episode.

On my second day in Iloilo I travelled to the town of Miagao where Miagao church is located. It is a declared heritage site in the Philippines and a UNESCO world heritage site. It is an amazing architectural dwelling established in year 1787. Despite several destructions through times the people of Miagao successfully retained the archaic design of the church until now which eventually made it a popular destination in the region.

Batiano River is a site that has contributed to the overall transformation of Iloilo City. Its makeover enabled the city to win the prestigious Galing Pook Award by making the river a mangrove reservation park, successfully rearranging previous illegal settlers within the riverbanks.  Today, Batiano River serves as station to sea transport system as it flows through the calm waters of Iloilo strait.

Iloilo’s pride and prestige is further spiced up with the presence of the Ilonggos, the warm and accommodating dwellers of the province. They have been tagged as dominant people in Panay Island who have sterling reputation of being affectionate, friendly and happy creations. With all these positive stance of Iloilo province I will definitely be coming back for more travels in this part of the country. 

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Chasing Nipple in Mt. Napulak

In my 4-day stint in Iloilo I learned that there is a good mountain in adjacent town Igbaras, prompting me to escape for at least 3 hours in the convention of Environmental Planners to take a quick day hike in this mountain famous for its nipple-like summit on November 9, 2018. It is called Mt. Napulak, located in barangays Bagay and Tigbanaba. I took the Bagay back trail along with a guide Boyet (09269482073) who is also a Barangay Kagawad in Bagay and is a really good guide if one wants accurate information about the mountain.

Mt. Napulak is a prevailing hiking destination in Igbaras. The summit elevation based on my GPS equipment is 1,230 masl from the highest point of the nipple rock, although there are different measurements recorded in different platforms especially blogs and related social media posts. The official height though as reflected in the local tourism office flyers is 1,200 masl. The jump off point in Bagay measures 376 masl in a community of more or less 1,200 people.

We took off around 5:30 AM at a trail made up of rice fields and coconut farms where adjacent mountain ranges of Igbaras can also be seen from all corners. The route accounts for approximately seven kilometres from Bagay to the summit. There are portions where the trail is a water way, perhaps as support system of the rice farms in Bagay. As we enter the forested area I noticed several bird species but could not identify them as the sounds were not familiar to me except for some common birds like the Philippine Pied Fantail and some thrushes. Other wildlife I observed were a green viper, some colourful butterflies and rafflesia not blooming yet.  

The summit of Mt. Napulak offers a clear 360-degree view of the entire provinces of Iloilo and Antique. The nipple rock, which is a highlight of this mountain, is a more difficult point to climb but with a wooden stair put up by the guides anybody can just visit the nipple tip to appreciate the beautiful view of the mountain ranges all around. Of all the nipples I know this is the only nipple I hated, hehe.

After 20 minutes of staying in the summit of Mt. Napulak we descended to the same trail and reached the trail head by 9:30 in the morning. I then visited the Igbaras Tourism Office to register, paying 25 pesos as Environmental Fee. My climb lasted for only four hours back and forth and by 11:30 I was back in the convention venue.

The guide fee is 750 pesos but I added 500 pesos as donation to enhance the stairway of the nipple rock summit. It was actually a good day hike given with a hectic convention schedule in Iloilo City. To be honest, this is the very first mountain I climbed in the Visayas. 

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Birding in the Bagobo Woodlands Resort

My All Saints Day took off with a quick birding in the Bagobo Woodlands Resort which I earlier pre-arranged with the very supportive resort owner Ate Nene Abajero. I left from Sta. Cruz at around 5:30 AM yesterday and arrived in the resort by 6:15. A flock of Rufous-fronted Tailorbirds welcomed me at the entrance foot path. A lone Pied Triller also showed up and although I heard plenty of small birds along the way I could not identify them one by one through their sounds.
Scarlet Minivet
Scarlet Minivet
The canopy of big trees made the surrounding still dark by 6:30 so I proceeded to the small cottages and camping site. Two Brown Shrikes greeted me with their husky sounds, blending well with Yellow-vented Bulbuls, White-eared Brown Doves and Collared Kingfisher from afar.  Olive-backed sunbirds and Red-keeled flowerpecker were spotted in the fruit tree orchard and flower garden. I saw two Grey-streaked Flycatchers perching in three different locations, and the Philippine Pied Fantail was all over the place. As I trekked down Apo Agcos Boulders some White-breasted Woodswallows were visible in a distance. Several crows also formed part of the early visitors.

Grey-streaked Flycatcher
Brown Shrike
Olive-backed Sunbird
Red-keeled Flowerpecker

Philippine Pied Fantail
A lifer for me were two Scarlet Minivets, staying for long in a tree near the cottages, and another bird I could not identify with semblance of an immature Asian Glossy Starling.

White-breasted Woodswallow

Yellow-vented Bulbul
It was a great 2-hour birding though for a total of sixteen species. I know there are a lot more but in the area which would be find out in my next birding sessions. Here is the complete list of birds I recorded yesterday in the Bagobo Woodlands Resort.

1    Rufous-fronted Tailorbird
2    Scarlet Minivet
3    Pied Triller
4    Philippine Pied Fantail
5       Brown Shrike
6      Grey-streaked Flycatcher
7      White-eared Brown Dove
8      Zebra Dove
9      Collared Kingfisher
1      White-breasted Woodswallow
1      Olive-backed Sunbird
1      Red-keeled Flowerpecker
1      Large-billed Crow
1      Yellow-vented Bulbul
1      Asian Palm Swift
1      Eurasian Tree Sparrow

Gratitude is due to the management and staff of Ang Tribu Bagobo Woodlands (ATBW) Resort for the accommodation, especially to Ate Nene and the resort manager Analou. As always, ATBW remains to be a very good and solemn venue worthy for an overnight camping and nature tripping.