Category Archives: Nature

#344 Lake Mainit

Lake Mainit is the fourth largest lake in the Philippines, having a surface area of 173.40 square kilometers.

The lake is also the deepest lake in the country with a maximum depth reaching 223 meters. Lake Mainit (which means ‘hot’) is located in northeastern part of Mindanao and within the boundaries of the provinces of Surigao del Norte and Agusan del Norte. A panoramic view of the lake can be seen from Maharlika Highway along the lake’s eastern shoreline.

The water of the lake is generally clear and clean. Various points around Lake Mainit are potential tourist attractions, particularly for so-called ecotourism and adventure tourism. Boating, bathing, and fishing are recommended activities for visitors. A number of bird species can also be found at specific times of the year making it an ideal place for bird watching.

The lake is also rich in aquatic resources and has a high diversity of aquatic fauna and freshwater fishery. Economically important fishes that are found in Lake Mainit are milkfish, eel, silverside (bolinao), mudfish or dalag, gourami, carp, and tilapia.  Lake Mainit can be reached by land and is around 45 minutes from the bus terminal in Surigao City. (Source: WikiPilipinas)

Mabuhay ang Lake Mainit!

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#338 Arroceros Forest Park

The Arroceros Forest Park is located near the MacArthur Bridge, next to the Manila Metropolitan Theater in downtown Manila.

The small park or garden is one of the few ‘green lungs’ in congested Manila and has drawn its share of  controversy when city officials attempted to close the park in preparation for plans to convert the lot for other uses.

Today the Arroceros Forest Park is a oasis of calm in downtown Manila. Although it was given to the City Schools of Manila Division during the term of Mayor Atienza, the park has recently been promised back by mayor-elect Mayor Lim to it’s former caretakers, the Winners Foundation.

 Environmentalists and Cultural Heritage advocates in Manila are delighted that the park can now be opened up to the public and that the foundation can once again continue their efforts to re-green a lot that was once occupied by an office building until the 1980’s.  (From: Various Internet sources)

Long live the Arroceros Forest Park!

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#334 Coconut Palace

Love it or hate it, the Coconut Palace, also known as Tahanang Pilipino (Filipino Home), is one of the many controversial building projects by the former First Lady Imelda Marcos.

The Coconut Palace, located at the Cultural Center Complex along Roxas Boulevard in Manila, was supposedly built for Pope John Paul II’s visit in 1981. However, the pope declined the offer, saying that it was too ostentatious a place to stay. The Palace’s architect Francisco Mañosa, later claimed that the Coconut Palace – a showpiece on the versatility of the coconut and its viability as an export – was planned long before the Pope even decided to visit the country.

Built in 1978, the Coconut Palace is made of several types of fine Philippine hardwood, coconut shells, and a specially engineered coconut lumber called ‘Imelda Madera.’ Each of the suites on the second floor is named after a specific region of the Philippines and displays some of the handicrafts these regions produce. The palace is shaped like an octagon while the roof is in the form of a traditional Filipino salakot or farmer’s hat. Some of its highlights are the 101 coconut shell chandelier, and the dining table made of 40,000 tiny pieces of inlaid coconut shells.

The palace celebrates the coconut as the ultimate “Tree of Life.” From the coconut’s roots to its trunk, bark, fruit, flower and shell, the palace’s design, form and ornamentation echo these elements. Today the Coconut Palace is a museum, with a butterfly garden and an orchidarium. The building is undergoing major renovations and news reports say  that it maybe used as the office and official residence of the Vice President of the Philippines. (Source: Wikipedia)

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#332 Anawangin Cove

A famous destination for fervent campers in Zambales province is the Anawangin Cove near the coastal village of Pundaquit in the town of San Antonio. Anawangin Cove has a rough, ash-colored beach (it is not white sand as a lot of people claim it to be) lined with Agoho Trees (Casuarina equisetifolia l.) – a large, evergreen, straight and tall tree resembling a pine tree.

These trees, which makes the place unique, stretch inland and the seeds of the trees were said to be brought by ash expelled by Mt. Pinatubo. There are no roads leading to Anawangin. It is only accessible by a 30 minute boat ride from Pundaquit, or by a six-hour trek through hot, open trails through the Pundaquit range.

The cove’s relative isolation has kept it free from development – as of this writing, there are no resorts on this sparkling piece of natural beauty, save for a few huts and deep wells. Just behind the beach is the pine forest and a marsh, where one can find natural springs feeding to the sea. The area is home to a number of bird species.

Mabuhay ang Anawangin Cove!

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#331 Pasonanca Park

Tree House at Pasonanca Park

The Pasonanca Park (7 kilometers away from Zamboanga City, Zamboanga del Sur province, Mindanao) is located in an area 500 feet above sea level, and surrounded  by verdant mountains and rolling hills.

This 58-hectare park  has 3 swimming pools ringed by ferns and other greenery. Sparkling cool water flows in and out 24 hours a day from nearby mountains. The park houses the Zamboanga Convention Center, the Boy Scout Camp and Amphitheatre. Its most popular attraction is the Tree House built in 1960. Visitors can reserve for a stay at the Tree House through the City Mayor’s Office. The stay is free but only for a night or two to enable everyone a chance to experience living atop a tree. The unique Tree House is equipped with basic facilities for a short stay.

Mabuhay ang Pasonanca Park!

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#322 Kayangan Lake

Kayangan Lake,  located at Coron Island, Northern Palawan, is one of the popular attractions in Coron and is considered to be the cleanest lake in the Philippines. 

Sometimes called the Blue Lagoon, this freshwater lagoon is set amid sheer limestone cliffs.  Visitors to the lake walk up a mountain trail to see this postcard-pretty lake with its underwater rock formations, clear turquoise waters and the cliffs that enclosed this natural gem. The native Tagbanuas are the original settlers in this region and park fees collected from visitors are supposedly to benefit the local Tagbanuas. The Tagbanuas were the first ethnic tribes in the Philippine to win ancestral claim in the late 1990s over the group of Coron Islands including the sea, considered a legal first in Philippine jurisprudence.

Despite their control, the Tagbanuas failed to stop the encroachment of mass tourism and the noise of motored boats and tourists are largely frowned upon by the Tagbanuas as they believe that the noise disturbs the balinsasayaw or swiftlet, the tiny bird that nests in the island’s caves.

The edible birds’ nests are the source of livelihood for Tagbanua fishermen who gather them starting December when the northeasterly (amihan) wind blows and keeps the inhabitants inland. The Tagbanua scale the jagged limestone cliffs toward cave entrances high above the sea. They would then make the stealthy and treacherous descent into the dark caves to gather the nests which they sell to Chinese traders in town.

Photographing the lake can be quite challenging as the best panoramic views of the lake are often taken from high angles, and with the steep mountain trails and vegetation one has to be ready to climb trees and rocky outcroppings to get the best shot. (From: Various Internet Sources)

Mabuhay ang Kayangan Lake!

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#319 Mt. Banahaw

Mount Banahaw is a dormant volcano located along the boundary of Laguna and Quezon provinces, central Luzon island,  Philippines.

The mountain and its environs are considered sacred by the local residents because of its “holy water,” which allegedly have beneficial qualities, issuing forth from local springs and its “puwestos” or the “holy sites.”  These are composed of unique, natural features such as rocks, caves and springs with shrines erected in, on or around them. The location of these ‘holy sites’ were supposedly revealed to a man during the Spanish colonial era by the “Santo Boses” or the “Holy Voice.”

Mt. Banahaw regularly attracts locals who are into folkloric religious or spiritual belief systems, and those who claim to have found healing in Banahaw’s slopes. Filipino mystics and their followers consider Banahaw as one of the world ‘spiritual energy’ centers and believe that the mountain has a unique role in developing human spiritual life.

Religious devotees usually flock to Mt. Banahaw during the Lenten season. A climb to Mt. Banahaw takes around two to three days trek, passing waterfalls and caves en route to the summit. There are at least four different trails from Dolores, Sariaya, and nearby towns in Quezon. Pilgrims and hikers usually take the trail of Cristalino and of Tatlong Tangke from Kinabuhayan, Dolores reaching the Durungawan I, II, and III viewpoints atop the summit. (Source: Wikipedia and other sources).

Long live Mt. Banahaw!

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#299 Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary

Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary is an area in the Philippines declared as protected by the Ramos administration. The marshland acts like a sponge, as it is nestled in the mid-waters of the Agusan River drainage basin. Within its lakes, several floating communities can be found.

Agusan Marsh is one of the most ecologically significant wetlands in the Philippines. Located in the heart of Mindanao’s Agusan Basin, this vast expanse of marsh covers an area roughly the size of Metro Manila. It contains nearly 15% of the nation’s fresh water resources in the form of swamp forests.

During the rainy season, when the water rises to create large lakes, vast number of ducks come to Agusan Marsh to nest. In the dry months, thousands of birds come from as faraway as Japan, China and Russia to escape the chilly winter winds of Northern Asia. Over 200 individual species have been known to spend at least part of the year in the marsh, making it one of Asia’s most important transit points for wild birds (Source: Wikipedia).

Mabuhay ang Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary!

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#297 Mangosteen

Mangosteen, although available and grown throughout Southeast Asia, is one of the favorite fruits that one can find in the local market particularly in southern Philippines.

The fruit has a distinctive star shape and purplish fleshy skin or peel that enclosed a juicy white seeded flesh. Mangosteen of good quality is sweet and has a refreshing taste, making it a well-loved, popular tropical fruit.  A tropical evergreen tree, mangosteen is believed to have originated in the Sunda Islands and the Moluccas of Indonesia. The tree grows from 7 to 25 m (20–80 ft) tall. The rind  of the edible fruit is deep reddish purple when ripe. The fragrant edible flesh can be described as sweet and tangy, citrusy with peach flavor and texture. (Source: Wikipedia and other sources).

Long live tropical fruits!

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#289 Great Sta. Cruz Island

Great Sta. Cruz Island (to distinguish from Little Sta. Cruz Island) in Zamboanga province, Mindanao, southern Philippines, is best known for its pinkish sand beach. The unique color hue comes from coral bits washed up from the sea bottom.

On the island is a fishing village, a lagoon, and an old Muslim burial ground. Characterised by extensive and varied aquatic life, coral heads and rocks support a wide array of tropical fish. The island is ideal for swimming, skin/scuba diving, beachcombing, and sunbathing.

Facilities on the island include dressing rooms, toilets, picnic sheds, and cooking areas. As  a coral island, drinking water is not readily available in the island, and visitors are advised to take along drinking water and food. Wearing canvas or plastic shoes/slippers to protect the feet from sharp rocks and coral shards are also recommended.

Sta. Cruz Island is located some 15 minutes away, by an outrigger, motorised boad, from either the Lantaka Hotel or the Golf course beach in Zamboanga. It is only about 4 kilometers from the Zamboanga mainland. There are minimal entrance fees to the island.

Mabuhay ang Great Sta. Cruz Island!

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