Rafael Salas Park and Nature Center: EcoTourism Park in Negros Occidental

Continued from Rafael Salas Park and Nature Center: Going there

Because of its proximity to Mount Kanlaon, an active volcano in the Negros Island, Bago City is blessed with natural attractions such as waterfalls, streams, springs and abundant vegetation. Some areas have sloping terrain with cool atmosphere and breathtaking mountain views such as the Buenos Aires Mountain Resort which was our first stop.

Another notable destination for nature lovers is the Rafael Salas Park and Nature Center, about 30 minutes further up from the said resort. You can see some of the scenic views along the winding road going to the park in my previous post Rafael Salas Park and Nature Center: Going there.

Photo of guard house with entrance fees, Rafael Salas Park and Nature Center, Bago City
The guard house, without a guard ;) Finally, we’re here!

This 296-hectare nature park was developed for ecotourism as a project of the Bago City local government, the province of Negros Occidental and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

A native of Bago City, the late Rafael Salas was a prominent and well-respected statesman. He used to serve as Executive Secretary to President Ferdinand Marcos before becoming the first Head of the UNDP (United Nations Population Fund) from 1969 when it started until his death in 1987.

Photo of the steps going up the elevated park, Rafael Salas Park and Nature Center, Bago City
Steps going up the elevated park which highlights a monument to the late Rafael Salas at the center.

Photo of the bronze bust of the late Rafael Salas, Rafael Salas Park and Nature Center, Bago City
A closer look at the bronze bust of the late statesman.

Photo of Dad, Mom and cutie sis going to the lodge, Rafael Salas Park and Nature Center, Bago City
Few steps below the parking area is the lodge which offers a picturesque view overlooking some areas of Negros from its lobby.

At the lobby area you can see a large collage of photos highlighting achievements in the life of Rafael Salas, including a printout of excerpts from some of his writings and speeches. Below the collage is the phrase “…the footsteps of a man of enduring achievement” by Javier Perez de Cuellar, former Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Photo of the large photo collage at the lobby, Rafael Salas Park and Nature Center, Bago City
Part of the large photo collage at the lobby.

We had our lunch in one of the cottages. Thanks to the staff who welcomed us, as they helped carry our things to the cottage and provided us with a table cloth. We washed our hands with ice cold spring water. The air was fresh and so cool, it was a hearty lunch amidst the refreshing ambiance of nature.

Photo of one of the cottages in the picnic grounds, Rafael Salas Park and Nature Center, Bago City
One of the cottages in the picnic grounds by the slopes.

As engraved in a commemorative marker in the picnic area, “The development of the picnic grounds and the construction of cottages were made possible through the efforts of Governor Rafael L. Coscolluela and Mayor Janet E. Torres as manifestation of their commitment to the preservation, rehabilitation and protection of our environment.”

We decided to stay overnight and settled for the big room near the lobby which has about 20 plus beds lined up and a toilet and bath inside.

Some practical tips for those who plan to stay overnight:
• If you can’t stand icy cold spring water for your shower, bring a percolator or electric kettle for heating.
• Beddings are provided but I suggest you bring your own for a more comfortable sleep.
• There’s no canteen so bring some food along (e.g. noodles, canned goods and food with longer shelf life).
• You can request to cool some of your food and drinks in their refrigerator at a small fee.

Here are some random photos at the eco park. It was such a memorable and nature-filled stay for us.

Photo of Caity having her morning walk, Rafael Salas Park and Nature Center, Bago City
It’s my little niece Caity having her morning walk!

Photo of an orange flower, Rafael Salas Park and Nature Center, Bago City
Lovely orange buds.

Photo of pink orchids, Rafael Salas Park and Nature Center, Bago City
Pink orchids.

Photo of parking area with trees, Rafael Salas Park and Nature Center, Bago City
Trees everywhere!

As the resident manager toured us around, it was sad to see the park’s lodge and other facilities so worn out and in need of renovation. Thus, it’s heartwarming to know that Carmelita Salas, the wife of Rafael Salas, announced few months ago about her plans to develop the park as she has already retired from the foreign service. She was the former Philippine Ambassador to the Czech Republic and she was even present at the Philippine Independence Day celebration during our visit to Prague last year.

She will be working on developing the park not just with the government but with private institutions as well. Indeed, this is something to look forward to. We’re definitely planning to visit again and hopefully there would be much improvement next time. Rafael Salas Park and Nature Center has the potential to become one of Negros Occidental’s top tourist destinations as an ecotourism park.

Up next: Rafael Salas Park and Nature Center: Scenic views from the lobby

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