Saturday, December 5, 2009

Forest Camp, Valencia

My Negros Oriental Tour: Forest Camp
It’s a nice forest park that has a conscious effort to minimize disturbing nature with modern infrastructures. So there is less metal or cement in their structures and facilities. A very good family getaway, I must say. I went there for just a peep… and by nature’s will, the camp became my sole destination further up the hills from the town center of Valencia hehe! Well, I can’t complain. At least there are bits more that I can look forward to seeing on my (hopefully) future visits.

Hey, before I proceed and before I forget, there are still nature sights in the hills surrounding Valencia, yet, this town was purportedly declared the most progressive locality in the province. Second is Bayawan and third is Dumaguete! Its probably because of the many foreigners who married Filipinas and are now starting to build their abodes and businesses there. Well, good for them… let’s just hope this town will sustain that progressive development by at the same time preserving their beautiful natural surroundings.

Alright, I talked (and haggled with) habal-habal drivers waiting for passengers under a big tree by the corner of the park across the public market. One agreed with my terms and “his” name he said was “Jiji” (pronounced jid-gee). I coaxed him that it sounded like a girl’s nickname, so I asked him what his real name was. After some hesitation, he reluctantly obliged. Hahaha, are you ready to hear this? His real name is Jennifer! Yeah, really! And he is nowhere near a girl nor even gay! He did explain to me that his parents wanted a girl and were ready with the name and the clothes. When he came out male, they stayed with the name anyway and used the baby girl clothes just the same. Cute hehehe! Oh yes, about forest camp… hehehe!

I opted for forest camp as the first destination to be followed by other places. I knew it is a park or something in the woods amidst a river just like Banica. Why I picked it as first destination I don’t really know why. Probably the curious name that is a forest and a camp. But I was not disappointed. At entrance alone, there is an old US Army Jeep parked by the grass and it is a photo-op thing already! Hey the guardhouse was unmanned, so we entered right thru and asked one of the workers we saw where we should pay the P60 entrance fee. He said “mommy baba” and Jiji said ok.

So we went to “mommy baba”. Gosh! It is a restaurant and souvenir shop with indoor and outdoor dining areas. The name is “Mommy Baba’s Garden House”. Mind you, even the outdoor tables do get to enjoy the services of a television (probably for videoke purposes). It hangs outside one of the windows of the restaurant. AND, those signs reminding everyone that alcoholic beverages are prohibited in this place are just everywhere. I learned they do have designated smoking areas only when we were about to leave. But no one apprehended me when I kept smoking as we roamed around.

What else are there in this camp? Well, aside from the foresty area worth roaming, there is a river (or brook or creek – depending on anyone’s point of view. A lot of those smooth stones (pebbles but boulder size) dot the entire place and they make the place look better. Visitors can go trek the river amidst those “pebbles” and catch glimpses of the various flora and fauna in the area. I think and I believe that Forest Camp is a downstream portion of Casaroro Falls.

There is a hanging bridge (or was that two?) for folks to cross the paths instead of going down to the river. And yes, the hanging bridge is where most visitors do a lot of their photo-ops! And that is not at all surprising since the views from the hanging bridge are really good whether you are looking left, right, down or up! Ah yes, the naughty overgrown kid in my pea of a brain was cheering when some kids started running as fast on this hanging bridge hehe! The older folks (mainly women) were vehemently protesting because the bridge-way was shaking and moving quite violently hehe! And as they shrieked their protestations, they clung to the ropes or whatever it was they could cling to ahhhahaha! Fun!

Note: you can bathe or wade or soak or sink in whatever kind of water body you see in this place – and there are a lot. But there is no big or enormous pool for anyone to do their laps. This facility's style is more for the leisurely types who want to explore nature and not just a pool. And there are quite a lot of those pools and ponds that I wondered at times, if some were really for people or for the geese!

Geese?! Well yes, there is a gang of three brave geese who are not at all friendly to strangers like me hehe! And we all know they attack – at least in goose language – they do hehe! And I had a wonderful time teasing them I was like a 6 year old boy once again. Well, for those who know my life story hehe, this time I was not afraid of them geese for I already know that they don’t have teeth and their beaks could do nothing to my shoes or slippers. And to think, decades ago, I fainted and was brought to hospital after being subdued by a goose. Whaahehehe, why am I telling that here?! Anyway, I had real fun with those three “stoogeese”! They seem to like (and protect) one of the smaller ponds where a tree that blossoms white is.

White? Yes, there is/are yet small trees in the camp whose leaves turn white am not sure when and how or until when. But it was “on” during my visit! We just chanced upon them being colored generally white and I thought I was in a warmer version of the cherry blossoms (桜). I think that pond is just for fish where we visitors could fish for a fee. Though it looked to me like it was swimmable, at least for kids hehe. And the white tree accentuated it – which I know sooner will loom over it!

Oh those pools or ponds I did not get to count. But while we roamed the place, I saw some men making another such pool (or pond). It looks simple but I am sure also takes a lot of human labour to prepare and finish. What they were doing (as with the other pools around) was arrange boulders and rocks to form some kind of a dam where water from the river would be channeled to become a pool (or pond… whatever). I just noticed that the ‘work-in-progress’ seemed to be a big one as the depth was more than the height of them workers trying to pile boulders and mud.

Aw alright, this is getting too long hehe! Forest Camp is a nice place, but I know I was never able to roam every corner of it. Why? It rained while I was there… which caused me to cancel everything else I wanted to see after this place like Casaroro Falls, Camp Lookout, Fil-Jap Amity Shrine, Pulangbato and other sights/sites that Valencia boasts about! But…

I shall return (to Valencia and beyond)!

If you want to read the chronology of all stories on this tour, click the following:
01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35
36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65


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