"Mts. Iglit-Baco National Park, Mindoro island" Province of Mindoro Oriental by StefanosS

Province of Mindoro Oriental Travel Guide: 447 reviews and 1,241 photos

Mts Iglit-Baco National Park is the only place in the world where one can find the Tamaraw (Bubalus mindorensis), a type of water buffalo that is endemic to Mindoro Island. This was the major reason for its declaration as an ASEAN Heritage Park and its being considered for a World Heritage Site status. Also, the declining Tamaraw population necessitated the area’s establishment as a game refuge and bird sanctuary covering 8,956 hectares. On 9 November 1970, its coverage was enlarged to 75,445 hectares and declared a National Park.

The Heritage National Park lies at the heart of Mindoro island, about 130 km south of Manila. Accordingly, Mindoro may have been part of the land bridge connecting Palawan island with Luzon by which some of the Philippine’s ancestors migrated from mainland Asia and Borneo. Today, the island is divided into the provinces of Mindoro Oriental and Mindoro Occidental and is home to the Mangyan tribe who have long been known to be its caretakers.

Approximately 75% of the park lies in the province of Occidental Mindoro, which comprises the municipalities of Sablayan, Calintaan, Rizal and San Jose; the remaining 25% is within Oriental Mindoro. A rugged terrain of slopes, river gorges and plateaus characterise the park, encompassing at least eight major river systems and ten low mountains close to each other. Mt. Baco, the highest mountain with an altitude of 2,488 meters above sea level, dominates the central portion of the park. Southwest of Baco is Mt. Iglit (or Fungso mangibok), the second highest with an altitude of 2,364 meters, and where the most number of tamaraw roam its ranges.

The tamaraw is one of the most seriously endangered large mammals, and has become a principal concern of the Species Survival Commission, International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Only 187 heads existed, based on the survey of 2001, conducted by the combined team of Mts Iglit-Baco National Park-Protected Area Office and the Tamaraw Conservation Program.

The island of Mindoro receives the full impact of the southwest rain-bearing winds that blow during the southwest monsoon. From May to October, especially in August, the western half of the park receives torrential rain but, during the northeast monsoon when the prevailing winds shift northeast, the western part becomes a rain shadow area. This is the prolonged dry period for the western half of the park. The eastern half however experiences only a brief dry spell. January to May would be the best months to visit the Park.

The Mangyan
Living harmoniously with the tamaraw and nature, the Mangyan is the major indigenous group in Mindoro and is classified into at least eight ethno-linguistic groups. Some groups are believed to have been coastal dwellers, but have since moved into the remote forest interior to avoid religious conversion by migrants.

The Mangyan are traditionally nomadic and share a passion with their fellow Mangyan for the betel nut. The Buhid linguistic group is said to be highly literate, and write in ancient scripts similar to the Tagbanua, an ethno-linguistic group of Palawan. The Mangyan consistently stress their desire to maintain their cultural identity and ancestral domain, asserting their right to use resources for sustenance and cultural survival.

Park Management
The Protected Area Office headed by a Protected Area Superintendent, is the administrator of the Park. It provides information and services such as trail guides and camping guidelines. The office [Tel. (+63.43) 491-4200] is located at the LIUCP Bldg., Airport Road, San Roque 11, in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, and maintains a guard post at Sitio Magtangcob, Calintaan, Occidental Mindoro.

Visitors should inform the Protected Area Office about their travel itinerary, number of climbers or visitors and purpose of visit, a few days before their intended arrival.

Reaching the Park
The Park can be reached either by plane or boat from Manila via San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, followed by a long, bumpy and tiring drive from San Jose to Poypoy, Calintaan, the nearest accessible barangay in the western side, or from the municipality of Bongabong in the eastern side. The interior of the park can be reached only through wild trails cutting across the grassland vegetation. It is convenient to visit the park during the dry season despite the hot and glaring sun. During the wet season, rivers and tributaries may overflow, and more often, trails become very slippery and impassable.

Local Eco-tourism Destinations and Activities
In the Mts. Iglit-Baco National Park, the major activities and local destinations that one can do and see at the park and its surrounding area are:

Tamaraw watching.
Watching Tamaraw grazing in the wild is a relaxing activity. The visitor will be spell bound by the surrounding seascape on the west side.

Tamaraw observation in captivity at the Gene Pool.
Visitors can observe the Tamaraw breeding activities at the gene pool in Sitio Canturoy, Brgy Manuot, Rizal.

Bird watching.
Birdwatchers will enjoy observing the birds endemic to the Park as well as other interesting ones like the Blue Shortwing, Island Thrush Tardus, Blueheaded Racket-tailed Parrot, Barred Graybird, Philippine Bulbul, and Mindoro Canegrass Warbler.

Mountain climbing.
The climb to Mt. Iglit (2,364 m a.s.l.) starts with a one-hour trek from Barangay Poypoy, Calintaan, Occidental Mindoro to Station I at Sitio Magtangcob. Another three-hour hike brings one to Station II at the foot of Mt. Iglit. From there, one can start a four to five-hour ascent to the summit. Climbers can descend to Station III at Magawang, where Tamaraws may be spotted any time of the day. So far, there have been no recorded ascents to the peak of Mt. Baco (2,488 m a.s.l.) because of inaccessibility. There are no fixed charges for porters or guides, although a fee ranging from PhP 300 (US$6) to PhP 500 (US$8)/day is considered fair. Aside from following the camping guidelines, visitors must observe and respect the culture and sacred sites of the Mangyan living within the area.

Attractions Outside the Park
Sablayan is the central town of mainland Occidental Mindoro, which is located 91 km from Mamburao, and 73 km from San Jose. Before or after a visit to the Park, one can take a 2½-hour-jeepney or mini-bus ride to the many attractions around Sablayan.

Pandan Grande is a three-hectare islet, with a lagoon and white sand beaches. A French national developed the area into an international beach resort, which is listed in the International Tourist Guidebook as one of the “Philippines’ Top 10". From Sablayan Port, one can take a 15-minute boat ride to the islet. The resort has 20 native cottages and a restaurant serving international cuisine. Scuba diving facilities and instructors are available.

Pandan PiqueÏ?o is an islet with virgin forests. Like Pandan Grande, this is an atoll with scuba diving possibilities.

Apo Reef Natural Park is a protected area covering 15,792 hectares that includes both land and water, and encompassing three islands with white beaches: Apo Island, Apo Menor (Binangaan Island) and Cayos del Bajo. The islands are accessible by motorised banca. An astonishing site for snorkeling and scuba diving, its crystal blue waters and coral reefs teem with a wide variety of marine life. The reef is home to some 385 species of colorful marine fishes, including sharks, stingrays, mantas, tropical fish and morays, and over 500 species of soft and branching types of hard corals.

Parola Park. This Park is situated on the hilly coastal portion of Sablayan, where the early Sablayanons established a watchtower (parola) sometime in 1861 to guard against pirates who used to raid the area. Round-the-clock watchers would signal the people to hide whenever they sight pirate vistas. In 1896, the parola was equipped with bells that rang musical chimes. In later years, a church was built but is now in ruins. The parola still stands as a historic landmark.

  • Intro Updated May 3, 2006
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