A soft cry from the fringes of Mount Bulusan

In Mt Bulusan’s lore, a bird also looms large. The original names of some villages around the periphery of Bulusan Volcano even today still pay homage to the bird.

The names of Barangay Layog (to fly), Macabari (break : breaking branch), Tagdon (to alight) and Mapapac (bird’s ancient name) will forever remind us that once from the distant past one powerful bird made Mount Bulusan his home.

Mount Bulusan

Mount Bulusan seen from Bulusan town in its more feminine form.

A mirage of a bird spirit continually appears in my Bulusan’s mountainscape lately. And recently a real Brahminy Kite* in the mountain forest of Bulusan seems to be sending signals of things to come–an ominous one. The news of Geothermal full implementation of the exploration stage brings chills to us residents of this magical mountain’s fringes. Not surprising, since at stake is around 26,000 hectares atop the mountain within the periphery of the volcano more than six times larger than Bulusan Volcano Natural Park (BVNP). A prime watershed area that will be converted to a vast Geothermal field zone.


Mount Bulusan as viewed from Irosin side– more masculine form.

“When our ancestors looked for a settlement to build a community, this area was the perfect choice because of its abundant waters for agriculture and domestic use. It is here that for thousands of years our forefathers were able to build 5 large communities, the towns of Bulusan, Irosin, Casiguran, Barcelona, Juban and neighboring towns flourished (total population: 500,000). It is because of the abundant water source from the mountains servicing our needs,”  says one local resident voicing his apprehension on the planned conversion.

The mountain of Bulusan is the world’s center of origin and center of genetic diversity of Canarium ovatum (source : Roberto Coronel Pili monograph).  Canarium ovatum is  simply ‘Pili’ to us in Bulusan.

It will take another earth to have another cocktail of heavy dose of rainfall, Pacific ocean’s breeze, rainforest mix and a Volcano to have another Pili species.

Pili is Bicol’s heritage flora in essence by the very definition of what a natural heritage comprises. It is our duty to preserve it in perpetual existence. It is our duty to protect and preserve its natural habitat– Mount Bulusan. It is our gift to the world.

*The Brahminy Kite is sacred in most of Southeast Asian countries. It is the manifestation of Garuda, the mount of Vishnu.

Photographs by

Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines

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