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A Place of Wonder: Sibalom Natural Park

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By: Marjune N. Muzones
Sibalom, Antique- Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Sibalom, Antique’s poblacion lies a place of tranquility. In an increasingly more urbanized world, a breath of fresh air is a much-appreciated delight. A gem, not hidden, but is treasured by locals and visitors alike. This is Sibalom Natural Park (SNP), a beacon of hope for a greener future. For us all.

Also known as SNP, it was declared as a natural park by virtue of Republic Act or the “Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 2018” signed by former President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in 2018. It has a total area of 6,778.44 hectares spanning across mountainous and heavily forested terrain. Indeed, it will be a challenge catching your breath while traversing the trail. But don’t worry, it’s worth it.

At the park’s entrance lies a hanging bridge that connects it near to the concrete road at Brgy. Imparayan proper. A short walk perhaps, depending on who you ask. After which, you need to climb up more than 200 steps up the mountain before reaching the offices and cottages in the park. Travelling towards SNP is an adventure that could feed someone’s lust for wander. Seeing it from afar is one thing. Being in it however is another, more magical experience.

Aside from native species like century old Lauan (Shorea negrosensis) and (Shorea contorta) trees preserved in the park, there you can see decades old Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) trees planted during reforestation efforts in the past.Still standing tall and proud, they cool up the place and a habitat to the Visayan Spotted Deer (Rusa alfredi), Visayan Tarictic Hornbill (Penelopides Panini), Visayan
Warty Pig (Sus cebifrons), and Rafflesia speciosa, among others. Most of the flora and fauna found inside the protected area are endemic. But sadly, many of them are already endangered and it’s a race against time to preserve these creatures from extinction.\

Visitors can now set up camps in designated areas, traverse the canopy walk, and go deep inside the forest, offering a chance to take a glimpse of rare animal and plant species. Gazebos, picnic tables, cottages, and other amenities are available in the vicinity.Bantay Gubat officers are also on standby 24/7.

They are the main protectors of the forests and will not hesitate to give assistance to those who might need immediate help. Tourists and environment enthusiasts can also marvel on the beautifully coloured stones and boulders scattered in the rivers traversing the park.

Our region boasts a lot of places and rich flora and fauna for us to marvel and Sibalom Natural Park is one of those. A gem of Antique, it is a testament of hard work and dedication of those that came before us who have tended the forests that we see today. It is a beacon of hope for the future. The preservation of nature and conservation of our resources depend upon us. Hand in hand, we must treasure God’s gift of vibrant life in our world. How big or small we can do, micro efforts will definitely contribute in achieving macro positive effects for nature./DENR 6

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