Mts. Iglit-Baco National Park
Mts. Iglit-Baco National Park (MIBNP) was formerly a Game Refuge and Bird Sanctuary declared under Proclamation No.557 of 1969, subsequently it was again asserted as National Park by virtue of RA 6148 in the following year. In 1992 another Act appertaining Protected Area Management came into passage, the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act (RA 7586) by which MIBNP was considered as an Initial Component. Initial components are those which have been proclaimed, designated or set aside pursuant to law, presidential decree, presidential proclamation or executive order as national parks, game refuge and wildlife sanctuary, wilderness area, strict nature reserve, watershed, mangrove areas, fish sanctuary, natural and historical landmarks, protected and managed landscape and seascape as well as identified virgin forest before the Act took effect.
MIBNP is situated in the central part of Mindoro, the smallest among the five (5) major centers of endemicity or the so called “faunal regions” in the country. The Park extends to an estimated area of 75,445 hectares which lies between the twin provinces of Mindoro Island, with its larger portion falling on the Occidental Side. It encompasses the headwaters of at least eight (8) major rivers of the island. The vegetation of the area is predominantly savannah (grassland with patches of forests) and lowland primary and secondary forests.
MIBNP best showcases the Mindoro biodiversity. It is abode for the critically endangered Tamaraw (Bubalus mindorensis) and other unique species of flora and fauna such as Mindoro Imperial Pigeon (Ducula mindorensis); Mindoro Tarictic Hornbill (Penelopides mindorensis); Mindoro Bleeding-Heart Pigeon (Galliculumba platenae); Mindoro Rusa Deer (Cervus marianus barandanus) and the Mindoro Pine (Pinus merkusii).
MIBNP is home to two (2) Indigenous Peoples’ group: the Tau-Buid and Buhid thus it was earlier categorized as Mangyan Heritage Natural Park. This social attributes coupled with the presence of the Tamaraw has earned an international recognition making it as one of the ASEAN Heritage Parks.
These remarkable ecological endowments as well as the Park’s local and international recognition make it a promising ecotourism destination.
Tau-Buid and Buhid can be observed dwelling in loose clusters of bamboo huts with thatched roofs and raised floors. Men and women usually wear a loin cloth made of pounded bark to cover their private parts.
Co-existing with the natives harnessing the resources of the Park are migrants from other provinces of Ilocano, Visaya and Tagalog descents. In their contact with these lowlanders, a number of natives learn to wear cloths and trade with them while others were drawn to have religious affiliation. Thus, a virtual melting of cultures and beliefs can be observed in some Indigenous People's villages while those who have not influenced remain elusive. Nonetheless, the Mangyans still consistently stressed their desire to maintain their cultural identity and ancestral domain. They assert their right to use resources for their physical sustenance and cultural survival.
MIBNP lies at the heart of Mindoro Island. Its greater portion (approximately 75%) falls under the jurisdiction of Occidental Mindoro in the municipalities of Sablayan, Calintaan, Rizal and fringe of San Jose while the remaining portion (25%) falls under the territory of Oriental Mindoro in the towns of Sabang, Rosacara, Villahermosa, Itagan, Lisap, Pinamalayan, Gloria, Bansud, Bongabon, Mansalay and Panaytayan. The Park is home and source of livelihood for most of its inhabitants. The Mangyans grow sweet potato, corn, cassava, papaya, banana, ginger and “upland rice”. They gather edible forest products and trap wild pigs, deers and wild fowls. Some even raise domestic animals. Migrants plant rice and other cash crops and tap water source from the Park’s important watersheds. They also rely on the forest of MIBNP for light construction materials and other forest products.
The Protected Area Office (PAO) is headed by the Protected Area Superintendent, who is the administrator of the Park. The PAO provides information and services such as trail guides and camping guidelines. It is located in Airport Road, San Roque I, San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, and maintains a guard post at Sitio Magtangcob and in Mt. Iglit and Loibfo, Calintaan, Occidental Mindoro.
Management activities generally focus on forest protection and law enforcement; conservation research for the Tamaraw and its habitats; awareness, education and public relations; and development recently ecotourism.
Park authorities also face a number of issues that threat the resources of the national park. These challenges include the availability of sustainable financing; awareness and support for management of the protected area; conflicting land uses; as well as human population growth and the availability of economic opportunities outside the Park.
HOW TO GET TO THE PARK
The Park can be reached in several ways, either by plane via San Jose or by inter-island vessel plying from Batangas to Abra de Ilog and then bus to San Jose;
Traveling by Air, Sea and Land
By Air: Cebu-Pacific Airlines (Terminal 3), Air Philippines (Terminal 3) and Zest Air (Domestic Airport) fly once daily from Manila to San Jose, Occidental Mindoro. The travel last for at least 35 minutes to 1hour.
Sea and Land: From Port of Batangas, Montenegro and Baleno Shipping Lines sail daily to Abra de Ilog, Occidental Mindoro. Travel time by sea takes (2) to three (3) hours. Thence from Abra de Ilog Port follows a three (3) hour ride by bus or van to Sablayan, and another three (3) hours from Sablayan to San Jose.
Access Routes to the Park
From the Protected Area Office (PAO) in San Jose, the easiest and nearest access to the Park is through a 30-40 km road to Barangay Poypoy, Calintaan, Occidental, where jeeps or motorcycle follow the old national highway. Another route is through the Tamaraw Gene Pool Farm Area in Sitio Canturoy, Brgy. Manoot, Rizal, Occidental Mindoro, where one crosses the Busuanga River via Mt. Balangawin, then across Lumintao River to Mt. Nagbobong; and finally to the Tamaraw habitat in Mt. Magawang.
LOCAL ECO-TOURISM DESTINATIONS AND ACTIVITIES
Tamaraw watching. Watching Tamaraw roaming and grazing in the wild is a relaxing activity. While atop of Mt. Magawang or in any adjacent peaks, the visitor will be fascinated by the surrounding landscape of Mt. Iglit Range as well as the seascape on the western side. Visitors can also observe the Tamaraw in Captivity at the Gene Pool Farm Facility of the Tamaraw Conservation Program (TCP) in Sitio Canturoy, Brgy. Manoot, Rizal.
Bird watching. Bird watchers 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 the 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 Loibfo Hill and Magawang, where Tamaraws may be spotted any time of the day.
There are no fixed charges for porters or guides, although a fee ranging from PhP300-PhP500 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.