It was almost 3 years ago when I did a project for REDD to take photos for their Primer on Forest and Climate Change. I was very grateful as I discovered this quaint forest town up in the Caraballo Mountains of Nueva Vizcaya. There was no signal, it was very rural, with crisp mountain air and rich vegetation. It became one of my favorite places to escape. I went back there with my friends a couple of months after my first visit and we left with the same sentiments that this is a special place to retreat.
So 3 years after, on a sort of a reunion trip, we went back and saw how slowly things are changing. The road to the town from the highway was widened and is 80% cemented. The Malico Fields is now used as a vegetable and strawberry farm, unfortunately a portion illegally built a greenhouse adding to the land dispute with nearby provinces. Pesticides used on some of the farms eventually led to fish kill. Elders are also concerned about the social pollution.
It was sad to hear from one of their elders about the problems creeping in but I’m glad they are trying to keep things as it is. But we are still glad that most of the things we liked about Imugan is still there. The tranquility and closeness to nature. We enjoyed hiking up to the pine forest of Salacsac, marveling at the glorious insects invading our little dorm and even gaze at the milky way under unpolluted sky at night.
Imugan is one of those places I could escape and disappear and I hope it stays that way for years.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.