PRES. AQUINO GRACES OPENING OF MINDANAO’S FIRST AND ONLY WORLD HERITAGE PARK

President Benigno S. Aquino III and Davao Oriental Governor Corazon N. Malanyaon led the formal launching and unveiling of the Mount Hamiguitan World Heritage Park last May 4 in Sitio Tumalite, Brgy. La Union, San Isidro, Davao Oriental. Also in the photo are Secretary Lou Antonino of Minda and San Isidro Mayor Justina Yu.

President Benigno S. Aquino III and Davao Oriental Governor Corazon N. Malanyaon led the formal launching and unveiling of the Mount Hamiguitan World Heritage Park last May 4 in Sitio Tumalite, Brgy. La Union, San Isidro, Davao Oriental. Also in the photo are Secretary Luwalhati Antonino of Minda and San Isidro Mayor Justina Yu.

SAN ISIDRO, DAVAO ORIENTAL — President Benigno Aquino III recently arrived in the province of Davao Oriental to grace the historic opening of the Mount Hamiguitan World Heritage Park and Natural Science Museum in San Isidro town.

During his visit, Pres. Aquino has remarked that the picturesque Mount Hamiguitan World Heritage Park will soon become the country’s new top tourism landmark as it is the first and only mountain range in the Philippines that is being inscribed to the highly prestigious World Heritage List of the UNESCO.

President Aquino during the inauguration of the Mount Hamiguitan World Heritage Park

President Aquino during the inauguration of the Mount Hamiguitan World Heritage Park

“Davao Oriental will soon become the new beehive of tourism activities in the country. This park will certainly drive many tourists to come in droves to see the most impressive sceneries in your province,” says President Aquino. Davao Oriental has just been declared a “tourism development area” by the President.

President Aquino congratulated the Provincial Government of Davao Oriental for this development initiative, which, aside from its ecological and aesthetic importance, also holds a bundle of solutions to local poverty. Ecotourism he said will not only bring local prestige and pride but also an alternative source of earnings.

Gov. Malanyaon tours President Aquino inside the Mount Hamiguitan Natural Science Museum

Gov. Malanyaon tours President Aquino inside the Mount Hamiguitan Natural Science Museum

Meanwhile, Davao Oriental Governor Corazon N. Malanyaon said she is happy that she is leaving office with a lasting environmental legacy that is truly renewing her people’s sense of identity, pride of place and commitment. She said she wanted her people to be one in owning up the accountability to be stewards of Mount Hamiguitan as ‘it is a paradise that the future generations also deserve to experience’.

The Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary, which was inscribed by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2014, boasts of a beautiful pygmy forest, one of the very few all over the world and host a rich biodiversity and endemicity of flora and fauna, ‘an embodiment of ecological balance which in this age and time, we can seldom see.’

“As stewards… of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, we are duty-bound to ensure the conservation and preservation of this natural legacy,” says Governor Malanyaon. “This is a testament that the leaders and the people of this province take pride and care about its natural heritage. This is also a symbol of our collective effort to protect and conserve the environment and natural resources of our province,” she said.

“And to start taking the challenge, we embark into this project and now offer you this edifice, with Mount Hamiguitan World Heritage Museum as a centerpiece. It will allow you to experience the natural wonders of Mount Hamiguitan,” says the governor. The museum’s interactive features allow tourists to discover the mountain’s treasures, such as wild plants and animals, and get a closer look at its beautiful pygmy forest and other landscapes up close without actually climbing the mountain.

Gov. Corazon N. Malanyaon

Gov. Corazon N. Malanyaon thanks all those who contributed in realizing her vision in preserving and conserving the natural wonders of her province through the establishment of a lasting project that will not only help in conserving Davao Oriental’s natural heritage but would also boost eco-tourism in the province.

Strategically located at the mountain range buffer zone, the Mount Hamiguitan World Heritage Park also features a research center, exciting mountain trail, a hanging bridge, garden, souvenir shops and restaurants among others. “We would like to present this as a model wherein we strike a balance between conservation and utilization whereby biodiversity thrives and ecological balance is maintained,” says the governor.

Governor Malanyaon also took time to thank those who have contributed in the realization of this lasting development project in her province.

President Aquino arrives at the Mount Hamiguitan World Heritage Park

President Aquino arrives at the Mount Hamiguitan World Heritage Park

“All these would not have been possible without the assistance and active engagement of our national agencies. I cite in particular the all-out support and motivation of Secretary Lou Antonino of Minda. She took the effort of going around Mindanao, looking into tourism potentials of the various regions and provinces. She outrightly recognized our local initiatives, and the prospect of helping the province’s need, the funding requirements of this project. She extended her support by bridging with the Tourism Economic Industrial Ecozone Authority or TEIZA with the Department of Tourism. She was with us when we celebrated the Mount Hamiguitan’s world heritage inscription in 2014 and… promoting our approach of developing tourism sites in Davao Oriental as model for all local government units in Mindanao. We thank of course TEIZA and DOT for the support fund provided us. We also thank the DPWH for providing the access concrete road from the highway up to this site. And of course our partner for environment protection, the DENR for setting up the Mount Hamiguitan biodiversity research center in this complex with the local academic sector and scientists. Truly, this tourism complex is also a platform for collaboration between and among the provincial government, the city government of Mati and the municipal governments of San Isidro and Governor Generoso and the concerned national agencies and other stakeholders. Indeed great things happen when we work together toward a common goal. This inauguration is not the end of our mission as a people. More challenges and opportunities lie ahead especially for the next set of leaders. We will be reaping the benefits from what we have painstakingly sowed. We are leaving this legacy in the hope that in the years to come, we, the people of Davao Oriental, will keep alive the spirit and enthusiasm that led us to the realization of this undertaking,” says Governor Malanyaon.

THE INSCRIPTION

Right after assuming her post in 2007, Governor Malanyaon spearheaded a highly ambitious initiative to have the province’s crown jewel, the Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary, inscribed on the highly prestigious World Heritage List. She believes that the inscription of the wildlife sanctuary to the World Heritage List is an excellent opportunity to draw the attention of visitors to, and remind local residents of, the outstanding universal value of the mountain range.

Thus, in the 38th session of the World Heritage Committee in June 2014 in the City of Doha, Qatar, the expanded Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary was finally enlisted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the first inscribed mountain range in the Philippines and the first World Heritage Site in Mindanao.

Of the eleven protected areas in the Davao Region, six are located in Davao Oriental. The governor says the newly crafted Environment Code of the province, which sets the policies on any undertaking deemed to impact the environment, is a testament of the commitment of the provincial government for ecological conservation. It will serve as policy guideline for sustainable management of areas with tourism value.

In declaring the mountain range as a World Heritage Site, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) says Mount Hamiguitan “represents a complete, substantially intact and highly diverse mountain ecosystem, in a significant biogeographic region of the Philippines. Its diversity of plants and animals include globally threatened species as well as a large number of endemic species including those species that exist only in the Philippines, only in Mindanao and only in the nominated property. The fragile tropical bonsai forest that crowns Mount Hamiguitan epitomizes nature’s bid to survive in adverse conditions. As a result of its semi-isolation and its varied habitat types growing in dissimilar soil and climate conditions, its biodiversity has shown a significantly high level of endemicity that has led scientists to believe that there may be more globally unique species waiting to be discovered in the area.”

Mount Hamiguitan (peak, 1,641 m) lies in the middle of a narrow peninsula with the Pacific Ocean to the east and the Davao Gulf to the west. Situated at the southern end of the Eastern Mindanao Biodiversity Corridor, Mount Hamiguitan covers 31,879 hectares of beach, lowland, montane, and mossy forest types. It is a Key Biodiversity Area in Eastern Mindanao. It is popular for its serpentine (bonsai) forests which bespeak its highly mineralized soil. Two towns (San Isidro and Governor Generoso) and one city (Mati City) has political jurisdiction over this Key Biodiversity Area.

 

BY FERDINAND ZUASOLA/PHOTO BY EDEN JHAN LICAYAN

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Copyright © 2017. All Rights Reserved.Powered by Public Information Office