Mount Purro Nature Reserve is a nature reserve nestled at the foot of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range in Barangay Calawis, Antipolo. The forest-trails of Barangay Calawis sprawl through the nature reserve and link its guests to the surrounding wilderness.
The nature reserve operates not only for the sake of profit but mainly for the benefit of the community enclosing it. As the guests of Mount Purro Nature Reserve take in the unadulterated beauty of nature, the locals and even the natives of the Sierra Madre Mountains (called Dumagat tribes) gain a sustainable means for livelihood while still preserving their culture and tradition.
January 5, 2017 – It was past eleven in the morning when my friend, Gab, and I arrived at the nature reserve. We were warmly welcomed by the staff who led us to the restaurant first. While we were waiting for our room to get ready, we were entertained by Lolo Toto and Sir TJ, the father-and-son tandem who takes care of the whole place.
When asked, “ What’s the difference between a nature park and a nature reserve?” You’ll get a pretty direct answer from the staff. According to the Lolo Toto, founder and owner of the Mount Purro Nature Reserve, the difference is the focal point or the main attraction of the place. In a park, people praise the facilities. Resorts and recreational areas offer activities that are mostly spent in man-made structures. Meanwhile, in a nature reserve, the focus is on nature. People soak into the grandeur of the environment unrushed.
Before we knew it, people were already flocking in Loli’s Kitchen at 12nn. Loli’s Kitchen is where sumptuous Filipino meals are served buffet-style. When you bump into some of the guests, you’d get surprised by the distinctive crowd Mount Purro Nature Reserve attracts. Most of them are Earth-lovers and nature enthusiasts.
The buffet at Loli’s Kitchen was a delight to the appetite. I liked their version of gising-gising and laing! After enjoying a hearty meal, we were assisted to our Suite Home where we stayed for a night. With the pathways looking all the same to me, finding our villa was tricky at first. But as we get familiarized with the place, my friend Gab and I finally learned how to get there without asking anyone for directions.
Our hut for the night was beyond expectations. What struck me the most was the open-air feel caused by the net screen window. Believe me when I say getting closer to nature has never been this intimate. The structure is mostly made from natural materials such as dried leaves, bamboo sticks, wood, and shells.
That night, falling into slumber took effort because I wasn’t used to the open-air vibes. Instead of concrete walls, opposite to me was the sight of the deep dark forest and very few twinkling lights from outside. Irked out and feeling paranoid, I planned to keep the bedside lamp open until morning. Fortunately, I was getting more comfortable with the whole setup that eventually I turned the lights off, letting the cold breeze of the night sing me to sleep. I woke up with the best view of the lush the next morning.
For guests hailing from the city, it may seem like there is nothing much to do with nature here. But once people get the pace of the rural living, the 36-hectare forest is a treasure waiting to be discovered. One of the many obvious ways to enjoy the stay is to dip into the cool waters. The intimate pool is tucked in the middle of the lavish forest.
Aside from swimming, people may also enjoy the game room where fun indoor activities await. Gab and I had a great time playing “sungka” and table tennis. (Sungka first-timer here!) It was a good venue to meet other people and mingle as well.
On the morning of our second day, we woke up early to catch the guided hike to Malvar’s Peak. Kuya Rodel, the camp master, told us the night before to be at the reception area by exactly 5:30 in the morning. That fateful morning, together with 9 other people, Gab and I carried with us walking sticks in one hand and a bottled water in the other as we started the trek.
Since it was a pre-dawn trek, we also carried flashlights with us. In my case, I switched my phone to flashlight mode to see the trail clearly. The trek was short and may seem easy but for beginners like myself, it was quite the challenge. It took a lot of leg power to get through that trail especially because the distance between each step was so high. The trek stretched every inch of muscle in my lower body. I was just glad that Kuya Rodel let the group rest for a while after every 10-15 minutes. In that way, we had time to rehydrate and sit down to keep our muscles from numbing.
After roughly 30 minutes of panting and pushing forward, we finally reached the peak. Alas, we were standing at 419 meters above sea level! The group caught a glimpse of the sea of clouds lingering over the Sierra Madre mountain range at 6:30 in the morning.
The viewing deck at the peak was small that it could only comfortably fit a few number of people. As for the group, we took in the majesty of the view as we sat on the makeshift seating. The resting time at the peak gave each of us a chance to introduce ourselves to one another. In the group of 11, we discovered that there were 3 birthday celebrants who chose to spend their special day in this lovely place. One of the celebrants was Gab, by the way 😉
On our descent back, Kuya Rodel guided us to a different path. Unlike on our way up, now we were just taking our time and joking around with the other guests. In no time we got back to the jump-off point. We also passed by the newly built casitas and the farm where Loli’s Kitchen gather their fresh produce. Dumagat tribes help the management of Mount Purro Nature Reserve run this place and yes, we greeted them good morning along the way.
Because the days here feel very rural, I forgot that we were just a few hours away from Manila. The quick weekend taught me that travel is more than just leisure. It can also become missional, especially for the sake of the generations to come.
|11:30 AM||ETA Mount Purro Nature Reserve|
|12:00 nn||Lunch at Loli’s Kitchen|
|1:00 PM||Early Check-in at Suite Home, free time|
|2:45 PM||Trek to Bunsuran Falls|
|3:15 PM||ETD Bunsuran Falls|
|4:00 PM||ETD to Jump off point (cemetery)|
|4:15 PM||ETA to Jump-off point|
|4:30 PM||Swimming pool, free time|
|7:00 PM||Dinner at Loli’s Kitchen|
|7:45 PM||Back to Suite Home|
|5:00 AM||Wake-up, prepare|
|5:30 AM||Call time for trekkers|
|5:40 AM||Orientation about Malvar’s peak|
|5:50 AM||Start of trek|
|6:05 AM||Resting station|
|6:10 AM||Resume trek|
|6:18 AM||Resting station|
|6:30 AM||Reach Malvar’s Peak|
|7:00 AM||Start of descend|
|7:20 AM||Back to Jump-off point|
|7:30 AM||Breakfast at Loli’s Kitchen|
|8:00 AM||Game room|
|11:00 AM||Eat Lunch at Loli’s Kitchen|
|11:40 AM||Pack up, go home.|
How to Get There
- From Araneta Farmer’s Market (Cubao), ride a jeepney goign to Cogeo Gate 2.
- From Cogeo Gate 2, ride another jeep bound to Paenaan.
- From Paenaan, ride another jeepney going to Kanto Veterans.
- From Kanto Veterans, ride a tricycle to Calawis Welcome Sign.
- Take another tricycle to Mount Purro Nature from Calawis Welcome Sign.