IMUGAN AND SALACSAC PINE FOREST
My trip back to Imugan was sort of a retreat. A good getaway from the busy city and my demanding work. For me, Imugan is a Shangri La, a rural farming town where cellphone signal and internet connections are limited. An ideal place to be disconnected to the digital world. Imugan is far from being a tourist destination and thank goodness that locals prefer it that way.
I am glad to be here again with my girlfriend and travel buddies after 3 years and saw how things changed. The rough road from highway to Imugan has widened and cemented on most portions. Before, it was an almost an hour jeepney ride on a 7km stretch. Now, a tricycle can drive you to the town in 30 minutes or less.
Malico Fields is now planted with strawberries and vegetables. Some portions of the hills are being leveled to make more space for farming. Greenhouses are also installed which according to the locals are illegal. Fish kill in river and stream due to the pesticides being used put fear in locals of Imugan.
The hike to Salacsac Pine Forest was lightly moderate passing by Caraballo Mountain. After 45 minutes, we reached Sta Rosa, where the an abandoned school can be found. Sta Rosa Elementary School is already obsolete because there are no more kids there to study. It is sad to think that an environment very conducive for studying is no longer in use. How I wish I studied in a very relaxing place surrounded by pine trees.
We went back to Kalahan Dormitory after the hike to freshen up. The dormitory was built for researchers, farmers and foresters who went there to study organic farming and carbon trading. It rained in the afternoon, so we decided to postpone our trek to the falls the next day. We killed our idle time by just sleeping, eating, shooting macro, sharing stories and jokes inside the dorm. It was a retreat anyways.
In the evening, I had a hard time summoning the sandman. I went outside and saw the stars blanket the dark blue sky. I went back to my room to get my camera and tripod hoping to catch the Milky Way.
Come morning, we hiked a kilometer to reached the falls. As expected, we were the only people to enjoy the waterfalls. The water is bitingly cold but it doesn’t stop me to dip a little. It is not everyday that you can take a plunge into a wonderful gift of nature.
The weekend was short for us to enjoy this idyll town as we need to go back. I am still planning to go back here for the third time, fourth time and for how many times possible. I hope the simplicity and beauty of this place can be preserved, a responsibility of the locals and for tourists as well.