If you find yourself too busy to even concentrate with small tasks or life at the city tires you down, there’s one good place to unwind – at the Bulabog Putian National Park or BPNP.
Bulabog Putian National Park sprawls across the municipalities of Dingle and San Enrique in Iloilo province, covering an area of 854.33 hectares.
In Dingle, it spans the five barangays of Moroboro, Lincud, Camambugan, Caguyuman and Tula-tulaan. In San Enrique, it crosses the four barangays of Rumagayray, Compo, Palje and Lip-ac.
The Park is underlain with Dingle limestone and is touted as the only limestone mountain formation in Iloilo Province. It is also called the “living forest university” in Iloilo due to its close proximity to big universities and schools in the city.
It is some 43 kilometers or an hour and a half drive away from the city of Iloilo. Bulabog Putian National Park is a treasure trove of all things a forest can give.
Meantime, that one-hour drive would make it two hours since the Monfort Bridge in Dingle is still under construction and visitors to the Park need to detour via bangga Badiang, Anilao. The bridge was damaged due to flooding caused by typhoon Agaton in April 2022.
What can one expect at the Park?
At the entrance, one of the surprises might be a leg hug from Bula, a one-year-old Long-tailed Macaque monkey. Or you can chance to see a pit viper on its favorite tree.
The staff at the Park knows too well when it is on its usual spot near the entrance, you can ask for their assistance and they would be happy to guide you.
A slow walk on the 1,000 linear meter paved trail from the entrance of the Park into the different spots immersed you into the greens of the surrounding. A comfortably cool temperature of 23 degrees Celsius or lower inside the Park helps one to breathe easy. It’s like basking on all the oxygen you can get from the trees that makes your lungs happy.
The Park is a second-growth Molave and dipterocarp forests that is a safe haven for many endemic species of plants and animals, even insects.
It has 13 caves, each with unique features. Most visited are the Guiso, which is a habitat of bats and swiftlets; Tuko, a small cave with unique stalactite formation; and the Maestranza, famous as a historical cave where guerillas during the Spanish, American and Japanese period took shelter.
Maestranza Cave is the site of the “Cry of Lincud” which began the Philippine Revolution in Iloilo in 1898. Inside the cave, one can see patriotic messages in old Spanish writings. One is El que ama verdaderamente a su patria no mira su provecho propio, which means: He who truly loves his country does not see his own advantage; and the other one is Los Republicanos Juran Morir Antes Que Entregarse, which means: The Republicans Swear To Die Before Surrendering.
Just a short distance from the gate of the Park, the more than a century old Dao (Dracontomelon dao) tree is an eye stealer, always ending up as a picturesque background for group photos. It has wide and sturdy buttress roots that are typical of shallowly rooted trees, usually found in nutrient-poor tropical forest soils that are not very deep.
Strolling around the Park is a fresh escape from the humdrum of city life. One enjoy breathing in the crisp scent of forest trees while dainty, colorful, even mysterious-colored butterflies flutter around you. Of course, the air changes its scent when you are standing next to a cave where Guano deposits are.
Unknown to many, Bulabog Putian National Park is surrounded with lakes and springs which sources are from underground river and creek systems. Its water supply makes up a small to large watershed unit that drains through the cave system down to Moroboro Spring and the Jalaur and Ulian Rivers at the south portion.
The Bulabog Putian Mountains with its Putian Peak rising at 1,056-foot (322 meters) is the highest in Central Iloilo. Its where you can have an amazing view of the surrounding plains of northern Iloilo. The Putian Peak is an apt description of the mountain’s most distinctive feature: a white stone wall with a towering height that can be seen as far as Passi City, which some 20 kilometers away.
When you visit Bulabog Putian National Park (BPNP), just keep in mind to “take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time.” The forest ecosystem of the Park is as fragile as the limestone it is made of. We can breathe in all the oxygen it gives, bring with us all the wonderful memories of the visit and be a conscientious, responsible tourist. (DENR-6)