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Forest Bathing: Reconnecting with nature, safeguarding its future

In today's fast-paced and chaotic world, many of us long for a moment of respite, to let go of life's burdens and find solace amidst the hustle and bustle. While there are various ways to seek peace and calmness, one method that stands out is "forest bathing" - simply being with nature and immersing oneself in its tranquil atmosphere through the senses, embracing the scent of the earth, the rustling leaves, the melodious birdsong, and the picturesque scenery.

In Antique, people have begun to explore the practice of forest bathing as a way to temporarily escape the demands of daily life and reconnect with nature, rejuvenating their overall well-being. Forest bathing is more than just exercise or mindfulness; it offers a chance to promote work-life balance while fostering a sense of responsibility towards the environment.

The welcome marker of the Sibalom Natural Park stands proud in greeting visitors who wish to reconnect with nature.

As part of the Philippine Environment Month (PEM), employees from both the provincial and national government agencies recently ventured to Sibalom Natural Park (SNP) in Antique to celebrate "Pista kang Kagubatan (Feast of the Forest)." This annual event aims to advance efforts in environmental protection and conservation, highlighting the benefits of forest bathing for both individuals and nature.

Participants to the forest bathing activity during the "Pista kang Kagubatan 2023" explore the wilderness of Sibalom Natural Park (SNP) on a guided trail, June 30.

Over 300 participants took part in a massive forest bathing event at the 6,778-hectare SNP, which not only serves as a primary water source but also houses a rich diversity of flora and fauna. Joebert Sebullen, a provincial government employee, initially hesitated to join the activity due to his workload but ultimately realized it was an opportunity too good to miss.

During his forest bathing experience, Joebert found peace away from the distractions of technology and the hustle of urban life. Surrounded by the cool shade of the forest, the gentle sway of the trees, the harmonious sounds of wildlife, and the vibrant plant species, he gained a deeper appreciation for the beauty of nature beyond his work and home.

Joebert also expressed gratitude for the local community members who served as their guides, imparting valuable knowledge about the significance of life within and beyond the forest canopies. Together with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Protected Area Management Bureau (PAMB), the Bantay-Gubat Association, and local government units, they work tirelessly to ensure the preservation of the park and its inhabitants.

The presence of calm and unbothered wildlife in the SNP signifies a sense of ease and safety, with various species such as pit vipers, Visayan Tarictic Hornbill, Pygmy Flower Pecker, Philippine Hanging Parrot, Visayan Warty Pig, and Visayan Spotted Deer calling the area their home. Additionally, the park boasts a diverse array of plant species, including the Rafflesia speciosa and the Amorphophallus, the largest and tallest flowers in the world, as well as endemic trees like White Lauan, Apitong, and Lumangog.

Joebert Sebullen (standing with arms up), along with his office colleagues, poses for a picture atop massive rocks in the middle of a river within the vicinity of Sibalom Natural Park.

The refreshing and relaxing experience of forest bathing left Joebert eager to return to Sibalom Natural Park, this time accompanied by friends and family, as he believes they too should experience the transformative journey of entering another world far from the complexities of society. Through forest bathing, Joebert not only reconnected with nature but also developed a sense of responsibility to safeguard its future.

Life can be overwhelming at times, but finding moments of peace and embracing the positive energy of nature can provide respite from fatigue and stress. Let us cherish and protect the natural world, ensuring that future generations can also benefit from the wonders it offers. (BPS - PIA Antique; Photos courtesy of Environment and Natural Resources Office (ENRO) Antique and Joebert Sebullen)

About the Author

Kate Shiene Austria

Information Officer III

Information Officer III under the Creative and Production Services Division of the Philippine Information Agency. 

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