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This blog is an amateur photographer's attempt to show how beautiful the world really is. He is drawn to the colors of nature like a moth to a candle light. What are showcased here are nature's grand display of colors at sunrise and sunset, beautiful beaches and off-the-beaten track locations in his beloved Philippines, waterfalls and some of nature's great sculptures, architectural gems, and other views from around SE Asia that he was fortunate to see at one point.

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March 27, 2011

nagsasa wildfire: night of the burning mountains

burning mountains

It was a spectacular sight, and equally horrifying. The whole mountain was ablaze. Loud crackling sound rang through out the cove as trees were consumed. It was so far the largest bush fire or wildfire Nagsasa cove has ever seen.

Bush fires, started by hunters trying to flush out their game, are pretty common in the coves including Nagsasa. I saw reminders of it during my previous visit. The locals have gotten used to it as it happens every year and has become part of the life cycle of the cove. Usually it stayed at a distance from the inhabited parts. But as we all know, with Nature, nothing is really that predictable.

early stages

Some of our friends have spotted the small fire a kilometer or so in land earlier that day. On the way to the cove, I also spotted several burning patches on the mountains. According to our campsite caretaker, the fire dies when it reached a certain point, like a stream that acts as a natural fire barrier. However that night there was a another ingredient to the deadly mix: very strong winds, the same ones that created huge waves at the mouth of the coves earlier that day (we were forced to turn back, the movie the "Perfect Storm" came to mind. But that's another story).

just at the back of the camp site

By dinner time the fire has gotten aggressive, we can see the glow from afar and it kept getting bigger and bigger. I kept prodding my friends to check it out. Some of us even brought their tripod and camera and jokingly remarked, "Night shoot!". It was only when we reached the open area at the center of the cove that we saw the extent of the fire and how it was proceeding faster to where we are. My brother, whom I dragged here straight out of an 11-hour flight, muttered "Just great, huge waves this morning and now a huge bonfire".

I immediately went back to the campsite and talked to the caretaker, who in turn assured me not to worry because we are at a safe distance from the fire. Everyone was still in a jolly camp mood, most  were oblivious to whats happening at the backwoods.


The fire kept raging, fueled by the dry grasses and fanned by the strong winds. I went around some of the groups and told them about the fire at the back. Within thirty minutes from the time we checked it out, it was already less than 200 meters from where we are. The fire is advancing both at our rear and our right.

By this time it got everyone's attention and people started to break camp. Some simply plucked their tents out of the ground. Heavy smoke has already enveloped campsite. I told my brother to simply bring the essentials and leave the rest behind, then we started heading to the camp site at the south of the cove.

further advancing

We waited for close to 4 hours before the fire waned. It got close to our campsite, too close in fact. Part of area where people camp at the back of the main campsite was burned. Thankfully, nobody was hurt. Heavy smoke was still lingering when we got back to the campsite at midnight. I was dead tired and dozed off the moment I lay my back on our sand filled tent.

black and brown

The next day we saw the extent of the damage. Some of trees in our favorite sunrise location are still burning. The whole mountain on the north side of the cove was black and brown, gone is the green grass cover.

burned trail

Nature will surely rebound, as it always has. Fires like this will still happen in the future unless these hunters are caught. It may be impractical to police this huge expanse of a mountain range at the moment so educating the communities around the area could be a good start.

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thepinaysolobackpacker said...

hala! :( why? nagtatanim ba sila ng gulay s bundok, parang wala naman ako nakikitang gulay na nakatanim sa mga bundok jan sa Zambales. when I 1st saw ur album sa FB I thought wow! another sunset pero bakit parang bulkan, then I read the caption. :( true enough, nature will surely rebound, d na tlga tau natuto. :(

Richie said...

We were there last night when this happened. It was all so surreal... scary shiz!!

sheng said...

That's so sad, the pictures you have posted remains the good side of Nagsasa.

Katiekate said...

according to our aeta guide (we traversed and climbed from cawag), aetas engage in kaingin as part of gamehunting. nisusunog nila para lumabas yung mga deer and wild boars.

Anonymous said...

so will the nagsasa cove be still open for public??

Lantaw said...

Nagsasa cove is still open, wala nang chance for a bush fire kasi nasunog na lahat ;). Sayang nga lang yung beautiful backwoods nya

Anonymous said...

sad... we are going to nagsasa on the 16th..climb for a cause... sayang naman... nasunog pa. :(

Pang Seguban Tejones said...

What happened in Nagsasa makes me really sad. Hope the locals learn something from it and it doesn't happen again..

dodong flores said...

Hello, Bay Allan. Nice photos of a very undesirable incident. There should be a lot of ways to catch the games without destroying the natural resources. the bush fire hurts the ecosystem, and much worst to it, endanger the lives of the tourists and the locals...

Kura said...

nyahahay! scary nga yun. Sayang naman yung ganda ng cove. Someone should be punished. Grrr!

Ang ganda nung shots though pero hindi pala maganda ang nangyayari behind the scenes. =(


i love the photos but not what happened...
i just hope no one got hurt and that those responsible will stop doing this...

charisse said...

photos are nice,the incident NOT! very sad story

bertN said...

Burning the forest just to make hunting less challenging! It's criminal what these hunters are doing to the environment! When will the government step in to stop this practice?

Lantaw said...

@bertN, Dodong, I don't think its on top of any politician's list

Anonymous said...

We were there last week when Nagsasa turned into burning infierno. According to local folks watching the cove, it started 3 days straight in other areas and only reach the main base camp on the 4th day. Men, I thought I'm gonna die that night since our tent area was already engulf by thick smoked and you can't see and breath through your nose. Those primitive hunters should be prosecute by our govt. to stop this event happen again in the future.

Anonymous said...

buti nalang hindi nasunog ung beach. dina makakaligo dun kung nasunog yun. ha ha ha ha ha!

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