When I switched on the TV, a news channel I always watch showed
the headlines around the globe. It did not show any sign of relief to my
already aching world. The unending fight between the Palestine and the
Israelis, a train wreck in Spain, political crisis in Central America, the long
and winding battle of the republican against “Obamacare” and the most
disturbing of all is the news about my country, the government’s war on illegal drug is claiming life more than we can imagine – these are the things that we
see today not only in TV but also in social media, our neighborhood, offices
and even at home. In this world full of negative news and pessimist mind, we
all need a break and breathing space to retreat from the world.   

  Weeks ago, I was invited to check out a place in the
outskirt of Antipolo City to provide a nature destination to the reader and
followers of this humble blog. Mount Purro Nature Reserve is not that far from
Metro Manila and it is a great place to commune with nature, yourself, to breath and to
have a break from this crappy world of ours. That trip serves as a catalyst of
the way I think about my travels and adventures.   Mount Purro Nature Reserve rustic setting provides an ambiance to talk to God and
reflect about life. The trees, the hum of the birds, the fresh air and the
smell of the forest is a great companion to savor life and to love the life
that we have.  

The path to rustic living

  What I like about Mount Purro Nature Reserve, aside from it
is located at the foot of Sierra Madre Mountain Ranges, are the cottages made
of native wood and dried anahaw leaves. It is my dream house at the foot of a
mountain, along a stream and surrounded by tall fruit bearing trees. Sorry for
my #TitosOfManila dream. Well who don’t dream of a retirement like that? Well
at least now, I can experience it in Mount Purro Nature Reserve.
What is Mount Purro
Nature Reserve?
  More than the things that I like about Mount Purro Nature
Reserve which are by nature self-serving, what is more compelling is the story
behind it. I cannot help but to give my all-out respect to the founders of
Mount Purro Nature Reserve for their genuine love for the Dumagats, the
Environment and the Philippines.    A descendant of General Miguel Malvar, Mr. Toto Malvar
started to plant trees in the Sierra Madre Mountain Ranges at the age of 40.
His mother urged him to plant trees after seeing the aftermath of typhoon
Lucille in the 1960’s. His mother’s urge leads him to an outskirt town of Brgy.
Calawis in Antipolo, Rizal. He planted trees as much as he could. There were
times that his whole family questioned his rationale but he just
continued to sow seeds that is now being reap by his family, the community and
the whole country.     In every endeavor, challenges will arise to test the passion
and heart of the person. Mr. Toto Malvar was not immune from the pain of passionate battle to save nature. He embrace all the challenges and stood
up from that.     The original settlers of the Sierra Madre, the Dumagats who is
living in the area up to this time, were uprooting the trees that Mr. Toto’s
team had planted. They uproot the trees to make charcoal or to level the land
to plant their crops. It was a heartbreaking challenge for Mr. Toto Malvar who gave up a lucrative corporate life in the city to plant trees and
serve as a knight of the environment.   

    Mr. Toto Malvar in his wisdom stepped back, think and he understand the life that the Dumagat’s have. In his words:   “Baka ang dapat, gawin na muna
natin yung pangarap nila na pangarap natin. Tapos in time gagawin nila yung
pangarap natin na pangarap nila. So instead of planting trees, we have to plant
in the heart of people, we have to plant in the heart of the community”
 (Maybe what we should do is to fulfill their dreams that we
also dream. In return, they will fulfill our dreams which is also their dream.
So, instead of planting trees we have to plant in the heart of the people, we
have to plant in the heart of the community)
    My heart shouted with tears when I heard the man say those words in his
low voice. That’s when I knew that Mount Purro Nature Reserve is not just a
business. It is an enterprise that cares for the people as much as they care
for the environment.  It gave me a whole
new meaning of how we take care of the environment. It’s very simple: take care
of the people first, educate them, make them fish for their food, help them
build their shelter and in the end, they will follow you and will take care of
what you care – the environment and the people.   He was right. Now, the Dumagats is part of Mount Purro
Nature Reserve’s mission and vision.     The headquarters of Mr. Toto’s team is now the Mount Purro Nature Reserve. It is a sacred space where the knights of the Sierra Madre
used to reside when they plant trees in the mountains specifically Mt.
Purro. Today they still plant tress at the foot of Sierra Madre.    Mr. Toto Malvar’s
vision has widen. Aside from the environment which is their primary advocacy,
they are now looking after the livelihood, education, health and access to
clean and potable of the Dumagats.   I cannot forget the reaction of Datu Sonny, a Dumagat, when
I mentioned the name of Mr. Toto Malvar. There was a glare of light in his
eyes. I felt his respect to the man who started to plant trees in his 40’s.     Our short stay in Mount Purro Nature Reserve was very
meaningful. It gave me a new perspective and a new thought to ponder on why I
travel. I am at a point where I no longer travel to enjoy and to chill. The
YOLO thingy. I believe I have a responsibility to write with soul and to write
responsibly. The trip in Mount Purro Nature Reserve opened my mind to find that
advocacy that I will fight for to have a deeper sense of what I do. I am for holistic
living – a gift that traveling gave me throughout the years.  I do not have that specific venue for now –
this website is my venue to express my thoughts – but soon with passion,
perseverance and love, that will come.     https://www.youtube.com/embed/lfhsgM1Yrh4?feature=player_embedded