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List of Ecotourism Sites in Central Luzon

LIST OF ECOTOURISM SITES

EXISTING

Mt. Pinatubo
Botolan, Zambales
Mt. Pinatubo is an active volcano located on the island of Luzon at the intersection of the borders of the provinces of Zambales, Tarlac, and Pampanga. The volcano’s eruption in June 1991 came after 500 years of dormancy, and produced one of the largest and most violent eruptions of the 20th century. Before 1991, the mountain was inconspicuous and heavily eroded. It was covered in dense forest which supported a population of several thousand indigenous people called Aetas, who fled to the mountains from the lowlands when the Spain conquered the Philippines in 1565.

Pinatubo is a stratovolcano on the island of Luzon. Its eruptive history is divided into two distinct parts. The first part of this history involves an ancestral volcano to Pinatubo. This period includes all eruptions to about 35 thousand years ago. Ancestral Pinatubo was a stratovolcano made of andesite and dacite. There is no evidence of large explosive eruptions from this volcano. Ancestral Pinatubo was centered where the modern Pinatubo currently stands. It may have risen as high as 7,550 ft (2300 m) above sea level at one time. Remains of a 2.2 by 2.8 mile (3.5 by 4.5 km) wide caldera from the old Pinatubo are still standing in the area today. Several of the surrounding volcanoes were actually vents of the ancestral Pinatubo. These include the Mt. Negron dome, the Mt. Cuardrado dome, the Mataba dome and Bituin plug, and the Tapungho plug. The modern Pinatubo is a dome complex and stratovolcano made of dacite and andesite. This complex is surrounded by pyroclastic flow and lahar deposits from large explosive eruptions. These explosive eruptions have been clustered into 6-12 eruptive periods. The explosive eruption of June 15, 1991 is one of the smallest of these eruptive periods. The 460 (+/- 30) year period of dormancy that preceded this eruption was actually relatively short compared to other such periods in the history of the volcano. Pinatubo rose about 5725 ft ( 1745 m) above sea level before the June 1991 eruption. This means almost 500 ft (150 m) of the volcano was blasted away by this eruption. This seems to be the history of the volcano. After a relatively short explosive eruption, it will undergo a period of slow growth through extrusions. Then the volcano becomes dormant for a longer period, and much of the material deposited during the last eruption is eroded. Finally, another explosive eruption will occur and destroy whats left of the growth from the last eruptive period. This process seems to have repeated itself over time, creating a somewhat stable size for the volcano. The largest eruption in the history of the modern Pinatubo occurred over 35,000 years ago. This eruption distributed over 325 ft (100 m) of pyroclastic flow material on all sides of the volcano. It also marked the birth of the modern volcano. The magnitudes of eruptions since that event are decreasing with time. Pinatubo typically erupts large quantities of relatively cool ash and dacite magma. It follows that a large, shallow magma chamber exists beneath the volcano. When gas and crystal rich magma evolves in this chamber, explosive eruptions occur. There is great evidence of mafic magma mixing with the dacitic magma in these chambers causing these eruptions. Pinatubo has been relatively quiet since the 1991-1992 eruption, but it is still active. It remains to be determined whether or not more explosions at the volcano are likely during the current eruptive period. Sources of information: Newhall, Christopher G. and Punongbayan, Raymundo S., Fire and Mud: Eruptions and Lahars of Mount Pinatubo, Philippines, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Quezon City and University of Washington Press, Seattle and London, 1126 pages, 1996. For further information, visit http://volcano.und.nodak.edu/vwdocs/volc_images/southeast_asia/philippines/pinatubo.html (or search "pinatubo fire and mud")

Candaba Swamp and Wild Duck Sanctuary
Candaba, Pampanga
The Candaba Swamp is located 60 kms north of Metro Manila. It encompasses about 32,000 hectares of wetlands located mostly in the town of Candaba, Pampanga, and is bounded by the towns of Baliuag, San Ildefonso and San Miguel in Bulacan, San Luis and Arayat in Pampanga, and Cabiao in Nueva Ecija. Situated at 11 meters above sea level, the swamp is the lowest point in Central Luzon. It acts as a natural flood retention or catch basin holding wet season overflows from the Maasim, San Miguel, Garlang, Bulu and Penaranda rivers, and draining into the Pampanga River. The natural retention capacity is approx 1.5 billion cubic meters. The swamp is the staging and wintering area for migratory birds from October up to April of every year. It is a significant part of the East Asia-Australiasian Migratory Flyway that includes Siberia, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Philippines, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, South Korea and Singapore. WHAT TO SEE: Migratory birds spend winter in the Philippines or pass through the islands on their way to points South and North on their return trip to their native habitats. Egrets and indigenous birds like the rare salaksak and batala can be observed especially during dry months when the fishponds turn to rice fields - when large numbers of egrets descend on shallow pools teeming with snails and small fish. In 1982, about 100,000 ducks were observed in a single day, thus having the largest concentration of birds in the country. PROPONENTS: The Municipality of Candaba found technical support from an environmentalist group KAAKBAY SA KALIKASAN (eMail: environment@kaakbay.org or Tel. No. 63 2 952-4882) in its campaign to advocate environmental conservation and protection in the area. HOW TO GET THERE: The town of Candaba may be reached from 4 exit points in the NLEX: 1) exit Sta. Rita passing thru Pulilan and Baliuag; 2) exit Pulilan passing thru Baliuag; 3) exit San Simon; and 4) exit San Fernando passing thru Mexico and Sta. Ana towards Poblacion, Candaba. CONTACT INFORMATION: Office of the Mayor, www.candaba.lovesnature.com or http://www.geocities.com/mun_of_candaba/ eMail: mun_of_candaba@yahoo.com or Tel. No. (63 45) 632-1299.

Pawikan Sanctuary
Morong, Bataan
Located in Brgy. Nagbalayong, Morong, Bataan is the site of a community-based Pawikan Conservation Program devoted to the preservation and propagation of endangered marine turtles aptly called Olive Ridley turtles or Lepidochelys Olivacea. Manned by former poachers and turtle egg collectors who turned into conservation advocates, the Program's mission is to secure the eggs laid during the nesting season (between September and January) and transfer them into the hatchery to facilitate breeding and to contribute to the regeneration of the fishing grounds. Some 30,000 hatchlings have been released in Morong as of 2005 (since 1999) by a community-based conservation center formerly supervised by the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM). The UN Development Program since 2001 has provided funds to the community for conservation work and maintenance of an office. Many tourists go to this sanctuary during the nesting season and especially during the Pawikan Festival to be able to get a chance to witness the endangered sea turtles struggle to shore at night to lay their eggs. During the Pawikan Festival, tourists are even able to "adopt a turtle" and personally hold and release a baby turtle into the sea.

Aguinaldo Cave
San Miguel, Bulacan
Three prominent caves exist along the banks of the Balaong River that circumscribe the historic barangay of Biak-na-Bato, namely Bahay Paniki Cave, Aguinaldo Cave and Bukal Cave. The most notable of these is the Aguinaldo Cave where the late hero, Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, once took refuge while leading the resistance movement against the Spanish and American colonizers. Militarily, its narrow but long entrance coupled with the existence of secret chambers can way-lay intruders. The enemy has to literally crawl through the low portal and would ran smack against the waiting defenses of Aguinaldo's men. Aside from the presence of stalactites and stalagmites which come in various hues and sizes, the cave also boasts of palisades or rows of columns (stalactites and stalagmites which have united in the course of time) which local residents refer to as the Cuarto-Cuarto Cave or cave of many chambers. Some palisades have developed into walls, partitioning off the cave area into several rooms. The cavern has two long, branching natural tunnels: one extending from the portal to about 130 meters horizontally lain; the other descended by a vertical crevice about 10 feet deep which situates the various chambers. To reach several of these, one has to wiggle, waggle, wriggle, squirm, push and pull to get to the inside. At the lower mouth of the cave, one can sit on the rocks and cool off with naturally chilled air from an underground cold spring. The cave is entered via a higher orifice, and one must clamber down to get to the water's edge. A ten-minute boat ride into this eerie underground river leads to a stalactite-accented cavern where, at its center, a smooth triangular block of marble juts above the surface of the clear emerald water. Local lore claims it to be "la mesa de Aguinaldo", the table on which Aguinaldo signed the historic peace treaty. HOW TO GET THERE: Take the North Luzon Tollway and exit at Sta. Rita/Baliuag (exit 32A/32B). From the exit, head north along the National Highway towards Plaridel, Baliuag, San Ildefonso (about 28 km). About 7 kilometers from San Ildefonso, keep an eye for a Y intersection. It should have a sign that points to Biak na Bato National Park. Take that road on the right and then, about 1 km farther, there would be another intersection, and the road on the right (eastward) will lead straight to Biak na Bato.

Biak-na-Bato Nature Park
San Miguel, Bulacan
Biak-na-Bato, nature park located 12 kilometers from the municipality of San Miguel de Mayumo, provides a unique eco-adventure steeped in history. It is a mountain gorge sliced by the Balaong River that flows from Calumpit in Bulacan and empties into Candaba Swamp in Pampanga. The river trail winds through Aguinaldo's former natural fortress and leads to caves of natural and historical significance, observation outposts and ruins of stone fortifications. Near the end of the trail is a stone cliff with carvings, possibly over a hundred years old. HOW TO GET THERE: Take the North Luzon Tollway and exit at Sta. Rita/Baliuag (exit 32A/32B). From the exit, head north along the National Highway towards Plaridel, Baliuag, San Ildefonso (about 28 km). About 7 kilometers from San Ildefonso, keep an eye for a Y intersection. It should have a sign that points to Biak na Bato National Park. Take that road on the right and then, about 1 km farther, there would be another intersection, and the road on the right (eastward) will lead straight to Biak na Bato.

Mt. Natib
Orani, Bataan
Mt. Natib is the highest peak in the Bataan Natural Park with an elevation of 1,253 meters above sea level. The slope is characterized by very steep forest cover. Its mossy forest features a collection of small stunted trees as one approaches the top. The peak is covered with small patches of grassland. Also found are boulders with inscribed names of American expeditionary forces that climbed the peak way back in the 1930s. The Bataan Natural Park where Mt. Natib is located is located approximately 124 kms from Manila. To reach the mountain from the North Luzon Expressway, exit at the San Fernando tollway and take the Gapan-Olongapo road. Upon reaching the Layac junction in Dinalupihan, Bataan, take the Roman Superhighway. From there it's about 10 minutes travel to Tala-Orani intersection, then take a turn right to Brgy. Tala where the PASU-DENR monitoring station is located. From the station, Mt. Natib is about 3 hours of trekking. For further information, contact PENR Office, (63 47) 237-3550 or PASU-BNP, Mobile #0927-523-7236

Dona Remedios Trinidad Natural Wonders
Dona Remedios Trinidad, Bulacan
Because of its altitude, the town of Dona Remedios Trinidad has a cooler and moister climate than the rest of the towns of Bulacan. Its natural features include rivers, waterfalls, forests, springs, limestone formations mountains and hills. Magnificent and well-preserved caves can be found in Barangay Bayabas one of which is called Puning Cave with a spring running down a mountain. Another beautiful cave is the Baras-Bakal spring cave located at Barangay Pulong Sampaloc and Madlum Cave in Biak-na-Bato National Park. It has several breathtaking waterfalls like the Tumutulo Falls in Brgy. Bayabas which drops from a height of fifteen meters into an attractive setting of white stone formation and marble and cascades further into an old stone formation called Simbahan ni Lapud (Brgy. Kabayunan), Mount Bato Falls (Brgy. Sapang Bulak), Verdivia Falls (Brgy. Talbak), Talon ni Eva (Brgy. Kalawakan) are ideal places for group picnics and outings. Preferred ecotourism activities include: mountain climbing, bushwalking, rock climbing, camping, mountain biking, bird watching or simply enjoying the majestic view and landscape of the Sierra Madre Mountain Ranges.

Madlum Cave
San Miguel, Bulacan
Madlum Cave is a prominent feature in the Angat Limestone Formation which occupy most of the whole reservation of Biak-na-Bato National Park and is considered a shrine by the people of San Miguel, Bulacan. There are three giant portals to the approximately 50-meter long cavern. An entrance to the right, which is about 30 meters from the water level of the Madlum River, is a statue of the Virgin Mary. It is the place where the town's patron saint, St. Michael, was found. It is located in Sitio Madlum, Brgy. Sibul Spring. It is only 5 minutes ride on a private vehicle from the Poblacion or in an hour or so from the North Luzon Expressway by bus plying the Manila - Tuguegarao route. This place which offers a scenic view of the natural environment delights excursionists and nature lovers.

Minalungao National Park and Cave
Gen. Tinio, Nueva Ecija
The site features the breathtaking view of narrow deep river that looks up to 16-meter high limestone walls. At the end of the white rock formation is an enchanting cave that is perfect for trekking activities. The cave - Located at the foot of Minalungao Hill, Minalungao Cave's rock formation is composed mainly of calcites (limestones and marbles) which are dotted with tiny and shallow holes, evidence of dissolving reaction from the continuous dripping of rain water (during wet season) from the apex of the vertical soil-filled cragged species of grass. The vegetative cover in the area is limited to species like shrubs, vines, cogon and other unidentified species of grass. Fauna species observed outside the caves include monkey, wild pig, squirrel and birds like oriole, swift, martinez and ground thrust. The nocturnal troglophiles - fruit- and insect-eating - are characteristic of almost every cave visited. The portals to the cave (one large and another small) situated about 10 meters up to the river's water level, is blocked by a big, brown rock, simulating Jesus' Tomb at first glance. An ascending vertical crevice welcomes visitors some 50 meters into the portals. A lone bamboo pole serves as the only way up the ante-room which is adorned with flowstones, stalactites and stalagmites. A narrow sinkhole directly above the dome faintly provides natural light to the place. Its naturally ridged formation is cut through the center by the Penaranda River where various fish species abound. The water-lined corrosion on the cragged vertical rocks suggest a 10-meter swelling of the otherwise peaceful river, during rainy days.

Sacobia Valley
Clark, Pampanga
The 5,612-hectare Sacobia Valley area with its vast expanse of virgin forest, range of mountain peaks, valleys and hills and an exuberantly rolling terrain coupled with the presence of indigenous communities remains to be one of the few places in the region with rich potential for tourism and travel. The presence of a chain of prolific waterfalls, surging streambeds and abundant natural springs speaks well of its natural beauty and majestic appeal to both local and foreign visitors.

Sacobia’s tourim appeal is relatively unknown and unrecognized by both local residents and visitors to the area. The Department of Tourism sees the potential for Sacobia to become the hub of activity for ecotourism, cross-cultural exchange including its capacity to become a showcase for ecotourism development and environmental protection. It is envisioned to be the prime camping holiday destination in the region.

EMERGING

Mt. Tapulao
Palauig, Zambales
Mt. Tapulao, standing at a height of 6,683 feet (2,037m) above sea level with temperature cooler than Baguio at 12 - 16 Celsius (53.6 - 60.8 Farenheit), is veritably a garden of nature abundant with century-old pines, locally known as Tapulao, hence, the name of the mountain. It plays host to species of orchids, ferns, mossy forest and a secret garden of Bonsai trees, wild strawberry farm, home to monkeys, wild deers, birds, wild boars, upland horses, cattles, wild cats and lizards. Truly, a perfect paradise for nature lovers. It is located at the rolling terrain of Mt. Salaza, Palauig, Zambales. Ideal for biking, driving, trekking, camping and kayaking at the Wild Water River. HOW TO GET THERE: Take a bus (Victory Liner) bound for Sta. Cruz. At the Banlog Triangle Palauig Arc, leave the road at a clearly marked crossing that leads inland to Dampay Resettlement Area (about 8 kms). From there, it is an 18 km or 7-8 hours of trekking up to Mt. Tapulao. The journey may be shortened to about 4 hours on board 4x4 vehicle. For further details, contact Palauig Tourism Office (Danny Timbol), Mobile: 0917-952-1533

Tarlac Ecotourism Park
Sitio Padlana, Brgy. Lubigan, San Jose, Tarlac
In the early months of 2001 under the leadership of Governor Jose "Aping" Yap, a project was launched to find a place in the province where people and nature can co-exist in harmony with each other. Soon after, a 278-ha forested land that would eventually serve as a sanctuary for environment and nature lovers was established.

Located at an altitude of 308 meters above sea level, 30 kilometers from Tarlac City, the said place boasts of perfect climatic condition with natural ecosystem for plants, disterocarp trees, convenient habitat for native and migratory birds and wild animals. The place is a perfect place for camping holidays.

On April 12, 2004, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo issued Proclamation No. 602 officially declaring the Tarlac Ecotourism Park as "ecotourism park and campsite." Vic Yap, in-charge of Special Projects Office, facilitated the construction of concrete roads, electricity, water system, eco-park buildings and other amenities for the campsite.

Today, the Monasterio de Tarlac Chapel , a hermitage house, dormitories donated by friends of the "Servants of the Risen Christ" are now in place and soon a bigger church will rise to serve as a repository of a host of religious relics and artifacts that originates from the Vatican. The blessing of the monasterio dedicated to the Relic of the Holy Cross was presided by His Excellency Most Rev. Fernando Filoni, D.D., Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, together with Tarlac Bishop Florentino F. Cinense, and other clergy on January 30, 2007.

The place will soon become one of the most-visited piligrimage sites in the country.

POTENTIAL

Mt. Anacuao Bird Watching
Dinalungan, Aurora
Yearly, foreign tourists from Europe and USA visit Mt. Anacuao during summer months to experience the exciting mountain climbing and bird watching safari on this 1,984-m high mountain in Northen Luzon. Some ten rare species of birds are found in Mt. Anacuao alone.

Mt. Arayat
Arayat, Pampanga
Rising above sea level by 3,300 ft., this legendary wonder of Mother Nature boasts of lush green vegetation and wildlife sanctuary. Visitors to the area are welcomed by its envigorating mountain air coupled with nature's serenity. At the foot of the mountain, visitors are prone to take a dip and experience the rejuvenating effect of cool mountain spring at the Arayat National Park. An extinct volcano, Mt. Arayat is a sight one will not miss, since it stands alone in the open plains. Not to be missed is the so-called White Rock which is said to have formed about 600,000 years ago during a prehistoric eruption and that it was used as a sentinel by Filipino patriots in the early revolts against Spanish rule. Take the two-hour climb from Magalang side (via Pampanga Agricultural College), then go down to the Arayat side where one can take a dip in the cool spring water at Bano Resort.

Dicasalarin Cove
Baler, Aurora
Dicasalarin Cove is a secluded white sand beach where the verdant Sierra Madre foothills meet the Pacific Ocean. Dark, thickly forested hills contrast with the striking white shoreline. There are no resorts, no facilities on this fine stretch of sand. A freshwater river, flowing from the mountains beyond, trickles out to the sea. Dicasalarin Cove's stunning beauty and relative isolation certainly make it one of Baler's best-kept secrets.

Though it is possible to take a short boat ride along Aurora's rough coastal waters, hiking to Dicasalarin is the way to go. The adventure will entail passing through most of Baler's barangays, climbing up to a hilltop weather station where the vistas are breathtaking, tramping through lush forests, scrambling across rocky shores and finally to the desolate beach where the beauty is as rough as the crashing waves of the Pacific.

How to get there:

One can charter a bangka from Sabang to take you to Dicasalarin Cove. The trip takes about 45 minutes, hugging the coastline of Baler. We were warned, however, that this could be a very rough ride considering the strong currents of the Pacific. Remember that Baler is a surfer's destination, especially from October to February where the swells can reach 15 feet in height.

Hiking is a more worthwhile option. From Sabang Beach, walk or ride a tricycle southwards to the edge of the Pingit-Kinalapan River. Just ask for directions to Castillo. At the banks is a ferryboat, which locals call a badeo, which you need to take to cross the river to Castillo. It costs P2 per head and the ride takes 5 minutes. At Castillo you may wish to hike all the way to the jump-off to PAG-ASA hill or save your strength by hiring a trike for P25 per head. Ask the driver to take you to the base of the hill where the PAG-ASA station is located. You may also request him to come back for you at your designated time, also at the jump-off point.

The ride takes about 30 minutes and will pass by the sitios of Castillo, Cemento, and Digisit. The jump-off point is where the concrete road to the weather station ascends from the main road. Trikes can't make it up this steep road so this will be where you should ask your driver to pick you up later.

40 minutes of uphill climbing along an alternating concrete-and-gravel road will lead you to the abandoned PAG-ASA weather radar station. You may wish to go to the back of the building and climb the water tower for a nice panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra Madre mountains. Dicasalarin Cove is also already visible from this vantage point.

A few paces from the station's gate is the downhill trail to the beach. It is unmarked so look carefully for it. The trail cuts an easy path down the slope of PAG-ASA hill, shaded from the sun by medium-sized trees. We later learned that this is an already established hunter's trail (we even picked up a couple of snack and candy wrappers). The hike down to the beach will take about 20 or so minutes.

You will emerge from the forest into Dicasalarin Beach's reef side. Here, black rocks and dead coral line the stretch leading to a rock wall jutting out of the mountainside. There is a trail up this wall, traversing it towards the white sand beach, but you may opt to walk by the shore. Be careful, as the path is unestablished and is dangerously sharp and rocky. Your trek will be more complicated if the tide is high. A bit of rock climbing will be necessary. Indeed, for those who crave for a little adventure, it will be a worthwhile trek.

And so you will reach the pristine white sands of Dicasalarin Cove. The waves are gentle and there is an abundance of possible campsites. You may wish to explore nearby shores or climb the hills that line the beach. (Source: www.waypoints.ph)

Paradise Ranch (Leisure Park and Wildlife Sanctuary)
Location Sitio Monicayo, Brgy. Calumpang, Sacobia Valley, Clark, Pampanga
Description Perfect for field trips, get-away vacation, camping, retreats, rock climbing, trekking, rest and recreation, outdoor adventure and other occasions. Amenities include: villas, lake house, cafe/restaurant, man-made lake, aviary, playfield, butterfly garden, botanical garden, fishing lagoon, picnic huts, cottages, prayer hill, and more. For reservation, contact: Paradise Ranch Admin Office, Tel. No. (63 45) 889-8245/8286 / 625-6698/6696/321-0444/0445 email: give@pinoykids.org Contact Person: Eric Gomez (Executive Director) and Gerry Guiriba (Fund Development Manager) Developer: Philippine Children's Fund (PCF) Website: www.paradiseranchclark.com

 

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