July 29, 2017

Mount Purro Nature Reserve: A Quick Escape to a Rustic Life

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.  

What to do in Mount Purro Nature Reserve
Relax and breath!

Basically, that’s what I did in Mount Purro Nature Reserve – in the words on the millennial, chill. But if you want more adventure you can do trekking and hiking in the forest with Mount Purro Nature Reserve’s accredited guide. You can also play in their swimming pool overlooking the lush greenery. At night, join the bonfire party in one of the al fresco common area or have your own private bonfire.

Indulge and relax!

Trekking poles for all the guest of Mount Purro Nature Reserve

Bonfire at the common area.
One of the best thing to do in Mount Purro Nature Reserve is the personal interaction with the Dumagats where you will get to know them and learn the life they have in the mountains. They will demonstrate how they cook their meals by using native materials such as bamboo and stones. Then after they cook, you get to eat with them. 

Accommodation in Mount Purro Nature Reserve
The native accommodation is one of the best thing in Mount Purro Nature Reserve. The bahay kubo that is made from materials found in the area is a perfect dwelling place for those who love rustic living. It is almost an al fresco accommodation with the comforts of a fan, soft mattress, toilet and heavy-duty nets to protect you from mosquitoes and other insect in the forest. At night, if you don’t play your Spotify, you’ll hear crickets that will serenade you till you sleep.

Packages in Mount Purro Nature Reserve
Mount Purro Nature Reserve offers packages as low as Php750.00 for day tour which includes buffet lunch, access to swimming pool, hiking trails, Asian lounge, and other open spaces.

For overnight package, they have Barkada Trip for Php1,500.00 which includes accommodation in a rustic cottage, 2 sets of buffet meals (dinner and breakfast), use of all the facilities in Mount Purro Nature Reserve such as swimming pool, gazebos, hiking trails, river trails and game room. You will also enjoy a community bonfire. 

Mount Purro Nature Reserve
Barangay Calawis, Antipolo City
To make areservation: reservations.mpnr@gmail.com
Office hours: M - F 9:00 am to 6:00
Front desk hotline: 542-3005
For urgent concerns reach them via FB: facebook.com/mountpurronaturereserve

How to Go to Mount Purro Nature Reserve
  • From Cubao (Aurora Boulevard) take a jeep going to Cogeo – Fare Php29.00/head
  • From Cogeo take jeep going to Paenean. Tell the driver to drop you in “Kanto Veterans” – Fare Php23.00/head
  • Take a tricycle to “Welcome” – Fare Php75.00/trip (Tricycle can accommodate 3-4 passengers)
  • Take a tricycle again to Mount Purro Nature Reserve – Fare Php70.00 (Tricycle can accommodate 3-4 passengers)      
**Approximate Travel time from Cubao is 2 hours

More Pictures Below

Buffet meal - available for day tour and overnight :)

OMG! Pako for the win!

Common area for the bonfire.

Rustic cottages

Yes they have a game room :)