Sibalom Watershed Forest Reserve
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Sibalom is a second class municipality in the province of Antique, Philippines. It is known as the "Rice Bowl" of the province. As of 2010 census, Sibalom is inhabited by a total of 56,058 residents and is projected to increase to 63,254 in the year 2017.
Sibalom is home to the University of Antique.
Sibalom is politically subdivided into 76 barangays. From 1953 to 1955, Barangay Catmon was known as Barangay Pajarito.
Sibalom's tourism industry dawned after the proclamation of Mt. Porras and surrounding areas as a protected area. Declared Sibalom Natural Park by Presidential Proclamation 282 and the first protected area in the island of Panay, Sibalom now boasts of its local tourism potentials.
Foremost of the attractions Sibalom has to offer, is the Rafflesia speciosa, discovered in Mt. Porras and surrounding Barangays in 2002. Dubbed the biggest bloom in the world, its discovery launched Sibalom in the map of tourist stopovers in the Philippines. Aside from the park and its endangered flora and fauna, Sibalom also has century old industries and structures worth the visit of potential tourists, as well as boulders of gemstones to rock-hound and treacherous mountain trails to trek.
Through the assistance of the Provincial Tourism Office and the provincial government's Ecotourism Program, the municipality is in the process of developing its tourism framework in anticipation of the expansion of its tourism industry.
Panay Island is in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines. It harbors many unique species of plants and animals some of which are on the brink of extinction, locally and globally.
One of the last patches of lowland forest in Panay Island is confined to the municipality of Sibalom, province of Antique.
About 5,000 hectares of forest in Sibalom—from Mt. Porras extending to Mt. Igmatindog—was declared a natural park by the President of the Philippines on April 23, 2000. Of this forest, 672 hectares are undisturbed by any human activity while about 4,223 hectares constitutes the 50-year old reforestation site.
There has been no in-depth study of the plants and animals in Sibalom Natural Park; but what is known so far shows a great diversity of species. For example, of the 59 species of birds identified in Sibalom, half are dependent on the forest for their survival, and eight cannot be seen outside the Philippines like the Walden's Hornbill, Sayan Hornbill, White-winged Cuckoo-shrike, and Negros Bleeding-heart. Among the four mammals initially identified in the area are the Visayan spotted deer and the Visayan warty pig, both endangered and found only in the western Visayas. (Haribon Foundation, 2001)
The Philippine dipterocarp trees such as white lauan and apitong, and fruit trees such as antipolo and malapaho are found in the forests of Sibalom. The globally endangered giant flower, the Rafflesia, also blooms in the park.
Different plants and animals thrive in various parts of the forest. For example, hardwood trees like Narra flourish; animals like deer and monkeys are seen on slopes of 300 to 800 meters above sea level.
The grassland serves as feeding ground for many birds such as munias, sparrows, and flowerpeckers. It is also dominated by shrubs such as katungaw-tungaw, coronitas and cogon.
Sibalom is endowed with many rivers and lakes teeming with fish and other marine resources. The Mau-it River is embedded with and surrounded by boulders of semi-precious gemstones such as jade, jasper, chert, onyx and agate.
The people of Antique believe that the forests and mountains are part of their lives and existence. For them, a healthy forest helps stabilize climate, provides clean water and fresh air.
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