A sprawling 1120 hectare of land situated on the lower part of the mighty Magat River in Cagayan Valley has been converted into an eco-park, descriptively named Lower Magat Eco Tourism Park of LMET. The eco-park is under the municipality of Diadi, north of Nueva Vizcaya, already bounded by Isabela and Ifugao provinces. This was our playground after covering the Ammungan Festival’s Street Dancing for that day. A much deserved brief respite at the heart of a forest.
With 18 different indigenous groups living in the valleys and mountain regions of Nueva Vizcaya, it is so fitting to use the native Gaddang word “Ammungan” as the province’s festival title. It is also an Iluko word from “ummungan” which is commonly understood by the different ethnic tribes which means “to gather together”. Last week from May 21-24, 2014, the Ammungan Festival 2014 was celebrated and one of the highlights of this 4-day revelry was the Street Dancing Parade and Competition. 10 out of the 15 municipalities gathered together in Solano to showcase the uniqueness of their hometown and the characteristics of their people through music, costumes and dance.
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.
My 2nd visit to Imugan, Santa Fe gave me an opportunity to visit one of the historical sights in Nueva Vizcaya popularly known as the Dalton Pass Shrine and Monument, now called the Balete Pass Shrine and Marker. Much like how they renamed the Dalton Pass highway to Maharlika highway. This Zigzagging road is also known as the gateway to the Ifugao Rice Terraces, Central Luzon and the Cagayan Valley.
“It looks like La Trinidad many years ago” I remember my writer companion tell me while we look at the cloud draped expanse of Malico ridges and troughs. Barangay Malico is 10km away from Imugan. It was our jump off point to our climb to Salacsac Pine Forest at Sta Rosa. But there is more to this developing land.
It’s only been at least a month since I went to Imugan Nueva Vizcaya to do a documentation on Forest Carbon Measurement for Trading, I found myself back in Imugan with a few friends. We stayed this time on a dorm near a river frequented by foresters and also closer to the impressive cascades and falls of Imugan can be found. On our second day in Santa Fe, we venture 10km further to Salacsac, where a pine forest can be found.
The main activity for the day was to do the documentary shoot at the dipterocarp forest in Imugan. We met with the team of Foresters at the Kalahan Academy and they explained to us briefly where we are going. There were about a team of 8 foresters with us to cover everything we need. We’ll be tagging along with them as they work through the forest.