Organized by the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, in partnership with the Office of Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda, the second episode of the PA Talk #ProtectedAreasforAProtectedFuture streamed live on July 28, Tuesday, 10:00 a.m.
Atty. Ipat Luna and Asec Ricardo Calderon, the Assistant Secretary for Climate Change and concurrent Director of the DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau, opened the discussion for the second episode of PA Talk. ASec Calderon honored the active participation of the local communities and Indigenous Peoples as DENR’s steadfast partners in the management of protected areas. He emphasized that management of protected areas is not the sole responsibility of DENR, and that communities also play a vital role in the protection and conservation of biodiversity. Anchored on this premise, the second episode of PA Talk highlighted the different stories of partnership with local communities and how they became an integral part of managing our protected areas. Six (6) protected areas were featured in the second episode: Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park, Bataan Natural Park, Maulawin Spring Protected Landscape, Samar Island Natural Park, Pasonanca Natural Park and Sibalom Natural Park. These protected areas were represented during the discussion by the respective Regional Executive Directors (REDs), Protected Area Superintendents (PASus), and the leaders of People’s Organizations and Indigenous Peoples actively involved in the management of these protected areas.
Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park (MKRN)
Regional Executive Director Arleigh J. Adorable of DENR Region X presented Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park, one of the few remaining intact rainforests in the Philippines that serves as a major watershed for Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental and Cotabato City. MKRNP is an important habitat of the Philippine Eagle. It is also the ancestral home of three tribes of indigenous peoples – the Bukidnon, Higaonon and Talaandig.
Protected Area Superintendent Daniel F. Somera said that they tapped and enjoined the Indigenous Peoples headed by the Council of Elders to form the Kitanglad Guard Volunteers since they shared the same vision of protecting the MKRNP. Datu Makapukaw Adolino L. Saway, Chair of Mt. Kitanglad Council of Elders and Tribal Chieftain of the Talaandig Tribe, shared that, at first, they were reluctant when Mt. Kitanglad was declared a National Park because they thought they might lose their traditional heritage and inheritance of the Park’s resources. But they changed their mind when they were informed that the management of the protected area will be harmonized to safeguard their rights as indigenous peoples. In the future, Datu Makapukaw hopes to codify their history and beliefs for future generations and to have funding for the Council of Elders. Deputy Speaker Legarda assured that their requests were heard and that partnership with concerned agencies will be sought for the mapping of the rich tradition knowledge and practices of Indigenous Peoples in protected areas.
Bataan Natural Park (BNP)
RED Paquito T. Moreno, Jr. of DENR Region III introduced Bataan Natural Park, known for its residual old growth forest that houses unique species of flora and fauna. Assistant Regional Executive Director for Technical Services Arthur Salazar shared that Aetas reside in BNP and they hold a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) over their ancestral domain that shares boundary with the Park. ARD Salazar assured that the rights and practices of the Aetas are being recognized and respected. PASu Eduardo C. Kabigting added that their hunting ground is not being restricted, especially during hunting seasons. Deputy Speaker Legarda suggested that it may be a good idea to partner with other agencies such as the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on business projects supporting Indigenous Peoples inside the BNP. Ms. Marites C. Salenga, President of Bantay Kalikasan ng Tala (BAKATA), a People’s Organization (PO) in the BNP, talked about their partnership with the DENR. She shared that they were given authority to collect entrance fees for the use of view deck in the protected area. The funds they raise from the entrance fees are used to fund environmental projects such as clean-up activities and patrolling of the protected area.
Maulawin Spring Protected Landscape (MSPL)
RED Nonito M. Tamayo of DENR CALABARZON introduced Maulawin Spring Protected Landscape, a major source of potable water for more than 3,000 local households in Guinayangan, Quezon. Meanwhile, PASu Julieta P. Narte narrated how they were able to transform the local communities from resource users into partners in the protection and conservation of the protected area. She shared that by strictly enforcing the law and through continuous environmental awareness campaigns, the DENR was able to stop illegal timber harvesting in MSPL. Likewise, Mr. Isidro Manalo Pureza, Barangay Councilor of Himbubulo Weste and a member of Samahan ng Tenured Migrants ng Maulawin Protected Area (STMMPA), shared that the 51 families inside the protected area are now at the front lines of protecting MSPL. He further added that the establishment of STMMPA has helped the communities in improving their livelihood through their engagement in alternative livelihood like ecotourism.
Samar Island Natural Park (SINP)
Samar Island Natural Park, one of the largest terrestrial protected areas in the country, was introduced by RED Tirso P. Parian, Jr. of DENR Region VIII. SINP is where the Philippine eagle, our national bird, was first recorded. It is also reputed to have one of the largest karst cave systems in the Philippines. Relative to this, Deputy Speaker Legarda asked about the lighting project of Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) in Sohoton Cave. RED Parian assured that the project has undergone various studies prior to its approval. Accordingly, said installations only cover portion of the cave, and only operate a few minutes at a time, hence having minimal impacts to the cave biodiversity. Meanwhile, PASu Zenaida R. Baisa discussed the challenge of balancing protection and enforcement efforts with the economic activities of the people who are dependent on the Park and its potential as ecotourism site. Deputy Speaker Legarda asked about the type of boat used in tour-guiding. Mr. Eugene T. Igdalino, President of Tour Guide and Boat Operators for River Protection and Development Organization (TORPEDO), shared that they use traditional bancas. Aside from tour-guiding, boat operators are also trained in rescue procedures.
Pasonanca Natural Park (PaNP)
RED Crisanta Marlene Rodriguez of DENR Region IX presented the Pasonanca Natural Park PaNP which she described as a perfect example of “nature and people taking care of each other”. The active involvement of the various stakeholders in the protection of the Park’s forests and watersheds ensures the steady supply of clean and fresh water for the communities of Zamboanga City. Dep. Speaker Legarda asked why there is still a shortage of water in Zamboanga City despite the intact forest cover of the watershed. RED Rodriguez said that one of the reasons is the growing population in Zamboanga City which may be beyond the capacity of the watershed to supply. She further emphasized the strong partnership with the Local Government of Zamboanga City and the Zamboanga City Water District in the management and protection of the protected area to secure the City’s water source. PASu Domiliza B. Campaner discussed how the DENR partners with the community and other stakeholders in the protection of PaNP by deputizing them as Blue Guards. Mr. Melvin Quijano, one of the Blue Guards in PaNP shared how he was transformed from illegal poacher to being one of the protectors of PaNP. In addition, Ms. Nenita Ebol, President of Salaan-Lumayang Buffer Zone Association Inc., a woman-led People’s Organization, shared how they contribute in the protection of Pasonanca NP.
Sibalom Natural Park (SNP)
Lastly, RED Francisco E. Milla of DENR Region VI presented Sibalom Natural Park, a lowland forest that serves as a biodiversity corridor for most of the species in the Central Panay Mountains and Northwest Panay. Rafflesia speciosa, one of the world's biggest and rarest flowers, can be found in SNP. Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer (CENRO) and concurrent PASu Louie L. Laud discussed the uniqueness of the biodiversity of SNP and the mobilization of the Bantay-Gubat to help conserve and protect not only the Rafflesia but also the other flagship species of SNP. He also highlighted the Park’s ecotourism facilities, the designs of which blend with the surrounding nature. Mr. Arnold Agting, Chairman of Imparayan Bantay Gubat Association, shared how they used to hunt for wildlife and cut trees in the area and how, upon the discovery of the Rafflesia and the establishment of Sibalom as a natural park, they were encouraged to stop their illegal activities with the help of DENR that introduced alternative livelihood and provided training to them. Dep. Speaker Legarda advised that a database for all the flora and fauna be set up in the area, and that the practices and enterprise of Indigenous Peoples in Antique be documented and for replication by all protected areas in the country.
PA Talk #ProtectedAreasForAProtectedFuture is a monthly online series that aims to promote public participation/involvement in the management and protection of protected areas by highlighting the biological, physical and cultural features of protected areas and by showcasing the various facets of protected area management through the stories of experiences of the Regional Executive Directors, the Protected Area Superintendents and other stakeholders.