Mts. Iglit-Baco, Philippines: Into the Savannas

 

Mts. Iglit-Baco National Park in the island of Mindoro is an ASEAN Heritage Park. It is presently in the tentative list for a possible inclusion to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Mts. Iglit-Baco National Park in the island of Mindoro is an ASEAN Heritage Park, and is presently in the tentative list for a possible inclusion to the UNESCO World Heritage List.  This natural park that covers practically the central region of the island is largely of grassland montane forest type. Though I have climbed many other taller mountains before, Mts. Iglit-Baco’s main challenge is that of being exposed to the scorching heat of the sun for the most parts of the trekking.

 

The park is home to one of the oldest indigenous people in the Philippines, the Mangyan. This photo was taken in Tamisan village, one of the lowland Mangyan settlements within the park.
The park is home to one of the oldest indigenous people in the Philippines, the Mangyan. This photo was taken in Tamisan village, one of the lowland Mangyan settlements within the park.

 

Going deeper into the forest and higher to the mountains, our group encountered a few highland Mangyan people (also called Taubuid) who still observe a more traditional way of covering themselves through a loincloth, locally known as bahag.  The highland Mangyan people have been documented to have ancient writing systems known as paleographs.  The Philippine paleographs are listed in the registers of the Memory of the World.
Going deeper into the forest and higher to the mountains, our team encountered a few Taubuid or Buid (the highland Mangyan people). This group of Mangyan still observe a more traditional way of covering themselves through a loincloth known as bahag. The highland Mangyan people are known to the lowlanders as pipe smokers.  They also have been documented to still practice an ancient writing system, a paleograph. In 1999, the Buid syllabary, along with the Mangyan Hanunoo, Tagbanua, and Pala’wan, was  listed in the register of the Memory of the World under the collective title of The Philippine Paleographs.

 

DSC_0105
Some highland Mangyan people still practice slash-and-burn or swidden agriculture methods. Locally known as kaingin, this tradition puts high premium in proper crop and forest management, as well as in maintaining the right ecological balances and natural rhythms involved in the process. When done properly and in moderation, this mode of farming is a sustainable and effective land-use procedure.

 

 

Iglit-Baco is the last remaining refuge of the largest bovine in the country, the tamaraw (listed as critically endangered by the IUCN, with present count at around 230 only). Other endemic animals and plants also call this park their home.
The national park is the last remaining refuge of the largest bovine in the country, the tamaraw (Bubalus mindorensis)These animals are listed as critically endangered by the IUCN, with present count at around 230 only. These are distinct from other local buffaloes due to their short v-shaped horns, quickness, and smaller physique. Other endemic animals and plants also call this park their home, thus making the park a center of endemism and biodiversity.

 

This photo was taken somewhere in the central area of the park when we made a short stop on our way to the confluence of the three rivers traversing the strict nature reserve zone.
This photo was taken somewhere in the central area of the park when we made a short stop on our way to the confluence of the three rivers that traverse the strict nature reserve zone. Interestingly, despite the altitude, the rivers are home to some fish and prawns.

 

One of the rangers of the park who doubled as our guide. He is a Mangyan, and treats this place as a sacred space. It is part of his job to make sure that there is no poaching happening in the area.
One of the park rangers (a lowland Mangyan)  doubled as our guide for our entire stay in Mts. Iglit-Baco. He treats the whole forest  as a sacred space. It is part of his job to make sure that there is no poaching happening in the area — a clear and present threat happening almost round the clock.

 

We stayed in the park for four nights, of which two were spent bunking in the warm homes of Mangyan elders – this experience allowed us to see how their daily lives shape up. The other two nights were spent at Ranger Station 3, where we woke up to the view of wild tamaraws grazing the grasslands.
We stayed in the park for four nights, of which two were spent bunking in the warm homes of Mangyan elders, an experience that allowed us to see how their daily lives shape up. The other two nights were spent at the Ranger Station 3, where we woke up to the view of wild tamaraws grazing the grasslands.

The-Bern-Traveler

Bernard Joseph Esposo Guerrero is a self-confessed cultural junky. Based in the Philippines, he has delivered several talks on tourism, destination promotion and management, and the importance of cultural conservation. As an independent heritage researcher and consultant, he has assisted and appeared in some features by the Euronews, NGC-Asia, and Solar News Channel's What I See travel show. He has traveled (both work and leisure) extensively in the Philippines and in Southeast Asia, and takes high interest in ticking off as many UNESCO World Heritage Sites as possible. So far, Gunung Mulu National Park in Sarawak, the Temple of Preah Vihear in Cambodia, and the Philippines' Apo Reef and Ifugao Rice Terraces are the best places he has seen in SE Asia. Instagram: theberntraveler

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

We Said Go Travel

We Said Go Travel