By Zac B. Sarian

Thirty years ago, Alberto “Toto” Malvar got a Forest Reserve Management Lease from the DENR so he can reforest almost 1,000 hectares of Indigenous People’s ancestral land up in the mountains of Talawis, Antipolo City. Employing the indigenous Dumagats to help in the development of the once bald mountain, some 200 hectares have already been transformed into a forest of some 700,000 forest trees.

The forest trees include mahogany, Acacia mangium, Gmelina, auricoliformis, and others. They are more than 20 years old now so that they have become a thick forest. Next in the agenda, according to Toto Malvar, is the planting of indigenous trees that could include narra, acacia, guijo, molave, and others.

Now called Mt. Purro Nature Reserve, the place boasts of a restaurant managed by Mrs. Malvar using organic vegetables grown by the Dumagats. A son who is a medical doctor serves the community for free. A brother, on the other hand, takes care of marketing the Nature Reserve as a tourist destination. Among the latest customers were high school students from Ateneo who camped overnight together with their fathers.

Tree fern used in landscaping Mt. Purro Nature Park.

There is also a swimming pool and pathways through the forest for those who would like to imbibe the fresh aroma of the forest trees. There’s a playground for children and adults, as well as lodging facilities. The place is perfect for company team building or just memorable family weekends with Nature.

This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s March 2019 issue.