History of Philippine National Parks

Nature does not only provide the Filipino the means for his survival – its fertile lands for agriculture, its rich waters for fishing, and its abundant forests for hunting and for the materials that give him shelter – but it also provides him the majestic mountains, the wide blue oceans, the winding rivers and the placid lakes and the verdant hills and lush virgin forests for his aesthetic pleasure and inspiration. This environment has made the Filipino a child of nature and he gives expression to this endowment through his arts, his songs, his paintings, his music, his literature, and his poetry. In his natural heritage, the Filipino is well-equipped. · 

But it has been observed that while nature provides him a rich legacy, often he does nothing to conserve it. He fails to relate his well-being to his eco-system. 

To substantiate the government’s thrust towards conservation and development of the national patrimony, the Department of Natural Resources was created to handle the task of managing and utilizing, among others, the country’s land, water, Mineral, and forest resources. 

In forest development, the department is focusing its attention on forest management and reforestation, including tree farming, selective logging, and kaingin, management. The social approach wherein kaingeros are trained in farming methods consistent with forest management is vital, as it would mean saving our valuable forests and at the same time, continue producing food crops. 

Faulty agricultural practices, uncontrolled cultivation especially of marginal lands and wanton exploitation of the country’s natural resources can seriously threaten the preservation of this natural heritage.

The conflict between land use for economic development and the preservation of ecological elements is a pronounced issue everywhere. Many progressive countries have instituted controls on logging, preferring to import for the meantime most of their needs. 


As early as 1932, the Philippine government recognized the need to preserve or conserve forest areas when it set aside and proclaimed the Mount Makiling area as a national park. 

The government, in recognizing the value of national parks which are considered “showcases of the country’s natural heritage,” has continued the policy of preservation and conservation by declaring a good portion of our lands and forests ·as national parks, national recreational areas, national reserves, and also as bird and wildlife sanctuaries. 

National parks and reservations are classified into four groups, namely: national parks, game refuge and bird sanctuaries, national seashores, and historical monuments or sites. However, in the study conducted by the Department of Natural Resources and the Development Academy of the Philippines, in order to eliminate the conflict between preservation and use, two general classifications, based on the objectives and not on the physical nature of the sites, were proposed: (1) the National Parks where preservation is the major purpose, and (2) the National Recreation Areas where recreational use is the major purpose. 

Under the National Parks System, however, suitable areas have been classified into national parks, national recreation areas, and national reserves. 

The Department of Natural Resources and the Development Academy of the Philippines have jointly undertaken an inventory and survey of existing facilities and resources of all national parks and national reserves. The data gathered makes possible the preparation of a master development plan of areas within a park, or the entire park itself. The master-plan’s function is to prescribe the basis whereby park use, management, and development shall be reconciled with the preservation and perpetuation of the physical attributes and natural resources of the area.

The construction of dams, reservoirs, irrigation projects, hydroelectric, volthermal or other power generating facilities that service the needs of areas outside the national park are not allowed. Further, national, or provincial roads including rights-of-way should not bisect a national park.

There are Fifty-eight general national parks in the country today and except for those still under survey, the approximate area is 316,091.992 hectares.

National parks may be defined as an area or site usually of great natural beauty or of special historical value that has been set aside by the government for public recreation and enjoyment. 

Natural parks and national reserves are established to meet four basic objectives: top reserve unique eco-systems, to maintain and control areas for scientific evaluation of a rapidly changing biological environment, to preserve sites of historical and cultural significance, and to provide healthful recreation in an area unpolluted by the physical waste of an industrialized community. 

In a national park, one or more of the following factors are represented: an ecological community significantly illustrating characteristics of a physiographic province or a biodata such as mossy forests and mangrove swamps; a biodata of relative stability maintaining itself under prevailing natural conditions, such as a climax community; an ecological community significantly illustrating the process of succession and restoration to natural conditions following descriptive change such as in volcanoes; a relic fauna and flora from an earlier period; scenic grandeur of our natural heritage; extraordinary geological formation or significant features illustrating geological processes; and significant fossil evidence on the development of life. 

Mount Makiling in Laguna was the first to be proclaimed as a national park. The proclamation was in 1932 in line with the passage of Act No. 3915 which states that upon recommendation of the proper department, the President, through the proclamation, “…preserve, withdraw from occupancy, settlement, or disposal under the laws of the Philippine Islands, any portion of public domain which, because of its panoramic, historical, scientific, or aesthetic value, should be dedicated and set apart as a national park for the benefit and enjoyment of the people of the Philippine Island.” 

National Parks

Under the conceptualized National Park System, there are twelve national parks. Under this grouping, a national park is defined as an “area reserved for the interpretation of natural features and ecological processes.” They are:

Mount Canlaon. This massive volcanic mountain, twenty-four kilometers from· Bacolod City, towers over sugarcane fields in Negros Occidental. Within a day’s climb, Mount Canlaon unfolds its story of past eruptions in curved slopes, solidified lava, and heavily forested terrain. It has a waterfall which is the main attraction of the Mambucal resort at its foot. 

Mount Pulog: This 9,200-foot high mountain in Benguet is considered the highest in Luzon. It has natural forests, grasslands, and unique species of vegetation. It is60kilo- meters from Baguio City.

Balbalasang-Balbalan: 91 kilometers from Kalinga-Apayao, this is a pine forest with gushing mountain streams situated in the cool highlands of the Kalinga-Apayao province. This is where one could get lost, only to find himself a new and a refreshed person. 

Saint Paul’s Subterranean River: This is seventy-five kilometers from Puerto Princesa; it can be approached from the west coast of Palawan. The river flows through caves formed by plastic-looking limestone.

Coron Island: Chiseled mountains of Coron island are silhouetted against the gentle blue skies of Northern Palawan. The lakes and forests and the magnificent sunrise are a poet’s delight. 

Apo Reef: Varied corals abound in the reef while the sunlight, the moonbeams, and shadows play love and romance with the lush mangrove and with the tropical fishes. It is twenty-three kilometers from Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro. · 

Mount Mayon: This majestic mound of rock and earth which is 21 kilometers from Tabaco, Albay, has its many mysteries and how the volcano became almosta perfect cone is one of them.This is a classic example of conflicting moods: serene, yet destructive; meek, yet fiery. 

Mount lsarog: This is where Panicuasan Falls strikes the boulders in fascinating rhythm that is hauntingly accompanied by the songs of birds at dusk and even at dawn. It is 1kilometers from Naga City. 

Bulusan Volcano: This is the guard of the night, thirty-six kilometers from Bulan, which listens to the echoes of eternity, pledging to the world an eternal beauty of earth, sky, and sea. At the lake, one can go boating and fishing, while waiting for the beautiful sunset. 

Twin Lakes: In Negros Oriental, twenty-four kilometers from Dumaguete City, one will find all the shades of green in the world: light, deep and dark. 

Mount Malindang: Orchids and cool streams abound in this rugged, ~we-inspiring mountain of Northern Mindanao, located 30 kilometers from Ozamis City. It is caressed by clouds that hang like soft white tulle from the sky.

Mount Apo: This is 10,311feet high, the highest in the country. It takes three days of arduous climbing to reach its peak. Itis just twelve kilometers away from Kidapawan. Waterfalls and lakes are plentiful, and the gorges are exciting.