Mahagnao Volcano National Park
A dormant volcano, an acidic lake and a freshwater lake, hot springs, waterfalls, a diversity of flora and fauna, and a fresh and cool atmosphere – these are the wonders that abound the 635-hectare Mahagnao Volcano Natural Park. With its potential for ecotourism, the area had been established in 1937 as a national park and proclaimed protected under the National Integrated Protected Areas System/(NIPAS) in 1997.
I cringed over the fact that in my entire life in Burauen, I’d never set foot on this town’s famous nature escapade.
“You are not really a Burawanon if you haven’t been to Mahagnao.” I hear some folks say. And so when my Singles for Christ brothers and sisters were planning for our yearly Krayola Project (basic-school-supplies-giving to barrio school kids we started in 2010) and chose Brgy. Mahagnao, the opportunity came. It was like hitting two birds with one stone.
We set off from Burauen as early as 6 in the morning of May 26 on a rented dump truck. We traversed a seemingly unending series of bumpy roads and uphill climbs for an hour- the steep snaking path often sent us gasping. These obstacles, however, were all worth it as we rolled along a lush panorama which we feasted on with our eyes. The canopy was getting more breathtaking as we climbed higher. An occasional holler of some wild birds could be heard from a distance.
The volcano trek started right after lunch and we were accompanied by two locals as our guides. Unluckily, rain began to pour at the foot of the volcano. Clad in flip-flops sans raincoats, we somehow tried to savor the raindrops. But the climbed proved to be more difficult and slippery. Each had their turn of doing a somersault as we tried to chose between the thorny bushes, the muddy ground or the mossy rocks for our grip.
Get easy on the sulfur, our guide would say. At one point, I almost mistook the sulfur for rocks. Sulfur is soft and if I had clung to it, I could have found myself rolling down the mountain.
Nearly an hour had passed and we finally reached the summit. Then went the traditional rubbing of the sulfur all over our arms and faces. And then this …
I forgot that I was tired and damp. I just stood there, silenced by awe.