This natural complex of Negros is now a wildlife reserve
The days of barbecues and video-singing are over. In its place, serenity not just for guests but for its resident wildlife
ANCX staff | May 31, 2022
If you plan to take a trip to Negros Occidental and want to immerse yourself not only in batch broth and inasal oil but also in nature, consider visiting Mambukal Resort and Wildlife Sanctuary. Located in the city of Murcia, it offers the works: birdsong, clean fresh air, forest hike, natural hot springs to soak in, lagoon, trees and trees and trees everywhere you look.
The shrine is located at the foot of Mount Kanlaon and covers an area of 23.6 hectares, which includes part of Mount Kanlaon Nature Park. It is less than an hour’s drive from Bacolod-Silay Airport.
Owned and operated by the provincial government of Negros Occidental, the popular tourist attraction had to close for a few years due to the pandemic as it served as a quarantine and isolation center for returning Negrenses and Capitol workers found positive for Covid.
In December, when local cases declined, reducing the need for a healing center, the station was reopened to the public, only to close ten days later when Typhoon Odette devastated the province. After four months of rehabilitation, the Pride of Murcia is now open to visitors.
But Mambukal is no longer the Mambukal of yesteryear. It’s calmer and more serene. If you’ve been here before, you might notice the difference. It is no longer considered an ordinary mountain resort. As its name suggests, it was declared a Wildlife Sanctuary by Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson’s Executive Order (EO) 21-45, Series of 2021.
The area is home to several endemic and wildlife species and is therefore protected by Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act. The EO prohibits “the hunting, wounding, taking or killing in said territory of any endemic animal or wildlife/and/or the destruction of any vegetation or any act causing the disturbance of the habitat of wildlife” .
Provincial Tourism Officer Cheryl Decena tells us the EO comes with stricter guidelines for building structures inside the sanctuary as well as regulations for visitors. For example, they now choose to assign “no-build zones” for areas that turn out to be the breeding ground or home of certain animal species.
Videoke sessions are no longer allowed in the station and the noise scares away birds and bats. Guests are allowed to bring food, but the old days of barbecuing and grilling are over. Decena says the Philippine Diversity Conservation Foundation (PhilBio) has reported that bats are very sensitive to smoke and can smell it from miles away. Mambukal is one of the few bat sanctuaries in the Philippines.
Smoking of cigarettes is prohibited on the premises and guests are only permitted to park their cars in designated places. Visitors must take out their own waste once they have left the premises. “The protection of flora and fauna comes first,” emphasizes Decena.
To control the sanctuary’s capacity, the government of Negros Occidental increased free admission from a measly P50 to P120 for adults and from P20 to P60 for children. The entrance fee includes access to small and large pools as well as hot springs or soaking pools. Cabins are available from P500 to P800. For overnight stays, villas and cottages can be rented. Fares range from P2000 to P5,500.
A separate fee of 100 pesos is required to use Ishiwata hot springs. This ofuro – the resort’s first permanent structure – was actually built in 1927 by Japanese architect Kokichi Paul Ishiwata, who originally developed the place as a bathhouse and picnic garden. If you’re familiar with the classic “Oro, Plata, Mata” from director Negrense Peque Gallaga, one of the pivotal scenes was filmed here, while parts of the forest were used as the setting for the characters’ war refuge.
Visits without an appointment are no longer allowed in Mambukal. Guests are required to book in advance at the Mambukal Reservation Office. For all inquiries and reservations, call 034-4338516.