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||NEW BUSUANGA STORIES
|With reactions to the Stories of Old Busuanga
credits to Yahoo collections, Mr. Marche's illustrator and Gunther Dreichman
of the most exquisite gifts life enriched me with is the profound
friendship with the family of Vicente and Carmen Reyes and his
children. A large family with residence in Quezon City, they always
made sure I joined them in their joyful family affairs and made me feel
like one of them. They had a large property in the remote plain of
Malbato by the northern shore of Malbato Bay, some 15 kilometers from
the town of Coron, Busuanga, Palawan where the family spend
most of their summer vacations. Four times in the last sixties and
early seventies the family invited me to spend summer with them, showereng me with their generous and gracious
After I published the page on Calamianes in
this homepage, I sent the link to three of my old vacation mates in
Malbato, Manny Reyes, the youngest of the Reyes brood, her slightly
elder sister Menchu Reyes and their cousin Tony Valera. The three of
them replied with very kind feedbacks that I'd like to reproduce here.
reading Perdi! It's amazing that aside from the crocodiles, Malbato,
Busuanga and Coron Island in the 1800s and was the same as what we
experienced in the 1970s. I stayed in the North Shore of Busuanga
(Japy's daughter's beach resort) about four years ago and had a day
tour of Cayangan, Coron Town and Malbato. It was so sad that I could
hardly recognize the places where we visited.Tourism, commercialization
and progress has changed the place for the worse.
don't know if you were with us (I think it was in 1967 with Fr.
Castanon) when we visited a Tagbanua burial beach where we found
skeletal remains Japy told us that the bodies were hung on branches of
trees just like what was narrated in your translated article.
wasn't. Jappy Reyes was the eldest of the Reyes children, around my
age. He passed away in the 70s leaving very fond
memories in all of us.
what a joy walking along the past. Thanks for sharing. Your memory is
incredible and unfading. What is your secret?
You don't forget easiliy moments of intense enjoyment, even from decades past, in a
replica of paradise
vacations in Malbato were almost multitudinous affairs with all of the
Reyes siblings, their cousins and friends. Trekking through the forests,
walking up shady creeks amidst the shrill chatter of monkeys and
squirrels, climbing the steep hills
around the Bay, sailing by bangka to explore the island of Coron, its
fabulous Cayanan Lake and the myriad lagoons and coves of its northern
coast, and diving in the unspoiled coral reefs all around left hardly
any time to be bored. The place was pristine, unspoiled by careless
visitors, and our perambulations were untrammelled by any rule or
regulation except prudence and respect for the environment, something
instilled very keenly by Don Vicente. No permits, no fees. A feast for the eyes and for the spirit.
is very nice. Wow a lot of Calamian deer then and crocodiles and boa
constrictors. Sadly the Calamian deer and crocodiles are extinct in
Busuanga Island. Boa constrictors 7 meters are likely not to be found.
The cattle riddled by maggots was a problem I encountered when I took
good care of close to 300 goats. 60 cattle and 55 wild carabaos before
the land got land-reformed in the early 80's.
it (the Coron Island lake mentioned by Mr. Marche) was the bigger lake,
that no tourist can get into (not allowed) and not Kayanan. You may
want to add that in most of the plains of Malbato the land was
land-reformed. Hence this provided in-roads for people to get into the
forest and further destroy habitat for wild-life. The once abundant
Emerald Green Pigeon is very little now and sadly the sea turtle as
well. But this history inspires us to conserve and rejuvenate what is
left. A lot of the biodiversity is there but we must act fast so we
will not completely lose a lot of them. The Calamian deer no more than
300 is left in Calaluit, the crocodile unseen in the place (obviously
dangerous to humans), but I am convinced we can reintroduce these
species together with our beloved Philippine parrot extinct in the
island but still some are spotted in Coron island. The land in Coron
Island inhabited by people maybe the barangay which I have not yet
Thanks for sharing Perdi. I hope you continue
this research; it will be very useful as we strive to develop
Kingfisher Park. It is a very very difficult climb we need to do for
KP's continuity because of difficult squatter problems abounding in the
island. However, I believe it is doable.
THANKS this is a wonderful start of my Saturday
The Malbato plains in the 1970s still looked very much like the plains
recounted by Mr. Marche in the XIX Century, minus the wild carabao
herds, the crocodiles and the huge pythons.
Wild hogs and the
calamian deer were abundant and so were birds as exotic as the
patoltol, a kind of owl whose scandalous cries could be heard at night
for miles around; the Philippine parrot, flocks of which could be seen
flying in summer afternoons against the backdrop of the mountains to
the Northeast; or the elusive kilit, a beautiful tiny parrot that lives
only in Busuanga. Taller mountains were forested as well as the creek
ravines in between, and the coast was lined deep with thick
bakawan, full of large succulent alimango.
people living in the area lived in their bahay kubo, separated by
kilometers, and in the southern side of the plain, a few hundred meters
from Malbato Bay's North-western shore, was the compound of the Reyes
family, a large bahay kubo, not much different from that of Mr. Marche's
hosts and also built on halige posts, that had sawali walls and buho partitions
with a terrace to the north that functioned partly as dining and partly
as dormitory. In addition there were also a few other buildings made of
similar materials housing tools and some rusty agricultural machinery.
In the center of it all, on a concrete platform, there was an artesian
well with a hand-operated pump. A small diesel-powered generator would
provide electricity a couple of hours a night, for other illumination
there were several trusty Petromax kerosene lamps.
phones had not yet been invented, there was no telephone and we were
nowhere near any place to tune in to any radio station. The only
entertainment consisted on an old LP record player where we would
listen every night to a single record or the Mabuhay Singers
interpreting traditional kundimans to the chagrin of the younger set
that preferred something livelier. I remember the concert began with a
folksy rendition of Lawiswis kawayan,
which I, being older and somewhat more sentimental, enjoyed, more so if a
soft breeze from the surf would ruffle through the leaves of a huge
bamboo stand near the house.
The implementation of land reform in the 80s in the
Malbato plains and the massification of tourism attracted by
the beauty of the place and the mushrooming of lodging and resort
facilities have brought a multitude of new stakeholders with whom the
resources must be shared. It is not possible anymore
to enjoy the place in the care-free style described
by Mr. Marche in the XIX Century, which with very few changes
was possible until the late 70s. Today's stakeholders must be made aware
of the fragility of the environment and the need to keep it pristine maintaining the natural habitat
while enjoying it sustainably, be they farmers, fishermen or tourists, so it may be
bequeathed to next generations to enjoy. A new attitude of respect
informed by the awe and wonder of Malbato's beauty has to be part of
the culture of both tourists and locals to preserve existing flora and fauna resources, augment those in danger and
if possible bring back from oblivion those that are already extinct. This is the dream behind Manny Reyes' passion for the development of Kingfisher Park in Malbato.
Below, a sampling of species native to Malbato and Busuanga
that are in danger due to the dwindling of their natural habitat, reason enough to respect and love Busuanga.
Emerald green pigeon
|Camamian deer in
captivity, Calawit reserve, Busuanga
photo credit to Gunther Dreichman