Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

Amid the volcanic island of Camiguin in Northern Mindanao lies a unique and expansive mountain range with dramatic slopes and majestic peaks, lush forests, and rich wildlife. If you want to be surrounded by this scenic landscape, why not visit Mounts Timpoong – Hibokhibok Natural Monument? Whether you’re a visitor seeking to recharge in the quiet, a wildlife enthusiast, or an adventure traveler, Timpoong Hibokhibok has a lot to offer you.

Timpoong Hibokhibok is the country’s 8th ASEAN Heritage Park, a key biodiversity area spanning 2,203.39 hectares in central and western Camiguin. It covers the municipalities of Catarman, Mahinog, Mambajao, and Sagay.

Declared a protected area (PA) in 2004, Timpoong Hibokhibok is listed among the PAs under Republic Act 11038 of 2018.  It belongs to the 113 legislated PAs throughout the country. As a protected area, Timpoong Hibokhibok is distinguished for its unique biodiversity, ecological importance, and needed preservation.

The Forests and Mountains of Timpoong – HibokHibok

The highlights of the natural park are Mt. Timpoong and Mt. Hibokhibok. 

Mt. Timpoong, which is the peak of Mt. Mambajao, stands at 1,614 meters above sea level. It is the tallest peak in Camiguin. 

Mt. Hibokhibok—an active, conical volcano that is made of hardened lava—stands at 1,200 meters above sea level. It is the peak of Mt. Catarman, and is the largest volcano in Camiguin. 

Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

Across Timpoong Hibokhibok lie grassland, mossy, and upland wetland forests. The protected area is also home to dipterocarp forests of tall and many different tropical trees, as well as a crater lake, the Nangkawa Crater. These habitats help sustain life in Timpoong Hibokhibok.  

In the natural monument also stand majestic waterfalls, such as Binangawan, Katibawasan, and Tuasan. Springs, both hot and cold, may be found in the area, too. The Sagay and Binangawan rivers also pass through Timpoong Hibokhibok. 

This protected area helps keep the air in the area clean, and the climate in the area cool. It serves as a main source of water for the people of Camiguin. 

Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

The Biodiversity in Timpoong Hibokhibok

Timpoong Hibokhibok is home to rich tropical flora and fauna of great importance in Northern Mindanao. 

Trees like bagtikan, white lauan, molave, and nato form the backbone of the forests here. There are also the kalingag and duguan trees which may be used for medicinal purposes. 

Flowering plants like the Camiguin ayum, ground orchids, as well as critically endangered lady slippers may also be found in the area. Roseleaf raspberries also thrive here. 

Wildlife enthusiasts may also find Timpoong Hibokhibok to be inviting. 

Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

The place is home to endemic butterflies and beautiful birds. Bird watchers may spot the Rufous paradise flycatcher, golden yellow white-eye, black-naped monarch, white-breasted wood swallow, and orange-bellied flowerpecker. The Philippine pitta, Camiguin hanging parrot, Camiguin hawk owl, Brahminey kite, and yellow bulbul are among the other birds in the protected area. 

Mammals such as the civet cat, Camiguin forest mouse, Camiguin forest rat, large flying fox, Philippine macaque, and Philippine warty pig live in Timpoong Hibokhibok. Trekkers may spot the Camiguin narrow-mouthed frog on their trails.

Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

Activities in Timpoong Hibokhibok

The expansiveness of Timpoong Hibokhibok offers visitors plenty of activities to do in the natural park.

Mountaineers and adventure seekers will enjoy going up Mt. Hibokhibok for a challenging yet rewarding climb, while trekkers will find adventure in the Itum and Yumbing trails. Summits open to visitors, as well as the 7,500-square meter Crater Lake and the Ilihan crater, offer a rewarding and breathtaking view at the top. 

Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

Visitors may also go to the springs for a refreshing and quiet break, or spend time in the picnic grove. 

Bird watchers can spot different species in designated sites. And visitors may want to drop by the butterfly garden. 

Standard admission fee is P500 and services of tour guides may be availed of for P1,500. 

Ways to Get to Timpoong Hibokhibok

Visitors may take the flight from Cebu to Camiguin, or take a ferry from Balingoan, Misamis Oriental to Benoni, Camiguin. From Benoni, visitors may then travel by road to Mambajao where there is an entrance to Timpoong Hibokhibok. 

Government efforts to conserve Philippine PAs 

Currently, there are 247 PAs under the NIPAS, 113 of which have been legislated, 13 have been proclaimed by the President, and 120 remain as initial components of the System. The NIPAS was established by virtue of Republic Act 7586 or the NIPAS Act of 1992, and amended by Republic Act 11038 or the Expanded NIPAS (ENIPAS) Act of 2018.

NIPAS is the classification and administration of all designated PAs to maintain essential ecological processes to preserve genetic diversity, to ensure the sustainable use of resources found therein, and to maintain their natural conditions to the greatest extent possible.

The year 2022 marks the 90th anniversary of PA establishment in the country through Republic Act 3915 that was enacted on 1 February 1932. In line with this, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Department of Tourism (DOT), and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) signed a joint declaration to support the celebration of the Year of the Protected Areas or the YoPA Campaign, which promotes Philippine national parks.

The DENR, through its Biodiversity Management Bureau, and the Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) of UNDP Philippines, in partnership with the DOT and DILG, are working together to promote protected areas under the NIPAS. They are also working with other agencies at the national and local levels to ensure effective conservation and sustainable management for national parks nationwide.