MAGALLANES, Cavite: The local government unit (LGU) here is gradually opening its doors to tourists while observing safety and health standards to avoid the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Cavites Buhay Forest - Trees and more thrive in Cavite’s Buhay Forest
The vertical and ground birds’ nests in Buhay Forest are Instagrammable. PHOTO BY DENNIS ABRINA

Offering a getaway is Buhay Forest (Life in the Forest) in Barangay San Agustin of this town, 71 kilometers away from Manila and a perfect place to commune with nature in a “bubble” away from the coronavirus.

Buhay Forest, which covers 10 hectares, is a trekking paradise atop Magallanes town, some two hour’s drive from Manila via Cavitex.

In a recent interview, Freddie Sisante, municipal environment and natural resources officer, said former Magallanes mayor Napoleon Beratio proposed the development of Buhay Forest in 2012 as an eco-tourism site.

According to Sisante, Beratio led a massive reforestation drive to protect and preserve the forest cover of that part of Magallanes.

“The Buhay Forest concept offers visitors and trekkers an easy climbing adventure to the Magallanes highland’s summit where there is a camping area, a hut, restrooms and picnic tables and benches,” he said.

One has to ascend some 178 manageable steps and 248 more up a pathway to the top that faces a cliff.

Trekkers taking the Barangay San Agustin route will only take a few minutes to climb uphill while those who opt for the Barangay Ramirez route may be rewarded with the experience of feeling one with the Divine

The place comes with 11 picnic tables scattered across a 500-sqm picnic area, benches, six swings, two seesaws, and vertical and circular birds’ nests, which are just the right backdrop for taking souvenir pictures

One can also cross a bridge or go up to a viewing tower to case the surrounding areas.

“Matatanaw po ninyo ang mga bulubundukin ng (You can view the rolling hills of) Mt. Gumuhong Bundok to the north [on] the Nasugbu, Batangas side; Mt. Marami in Maragondon, Cavite [on] the northwestern side; Mt. Ulila in the west; Mt. Ipus [on] the southwestern side; and Mt. Kaytalang [on] the southern part, including a view of Mt. Palay-Palay and Pico de Loro [on] the Maragondon side,” Sisante said.

Mayor Jasmin Maligaya-Bautista said the local government’s camping and trailing rules state that hikers and tourists must leave no trace of garbage in the area and must always keep the highland clean. Buhay Forest is open from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Those 15 years old and below and 65 years old up are disallowed from entering, according to guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging of Infectious Diseases.

Overnight stays are still disallowed, and it is still mandatory to wear face masks and face shields.

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