Upper Bukidnon River Basin



EDWIN B. ANDOT
Regional Director, DENR Region 10
and concurrent Regional Project
Director, INREMP

      Bukidnon is the only province in Mindanao that does not have a coastline. The whole eastern and southwestern border adjoining Agusan, Davao and Cotabato are lofty mountains and densely forested mountains. The greater part of the province is gently rolling grassland plateau with deep and wide canyons of the Cagayan, Pulangui and Tagoloan Rivers.

      The Mt. Kitanglad Range lies in between 8° 7' 42" N and 124° 55' 30" E. The importance of Mt. Kitanglad extends to neighboring provinces. In terms of watershed, Mt. Kitanglad is the headwater source of several major river systems draining North and Central Mindanao (Pulangi, Manupali, Cagayan and Tagoloan rivers). It is also the homeland of the indigenous peoples (Bukidnon, Higaonon and Talaandig tribes) who recognize Mt. Kitanglad as the wellspring of their tradition. There is high floral and faunal diversity found only in Mt. Kitanglad where 168 birds (62% endemic), 58 families and 185 species of trees and other woody vegetations, 63 mammals (27% endemic) and 57% constitute amphibians and reptiles (about half of it are endemic). Potentials for ecotourism in the Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park (MKRNP) is currently being assessed as it is the second highest mountain next to Mt. Apo in Mindanao.23 Although MKRNP is a protected area, it is experiencing severe effects brought about by habitat destruction or loss, decline and loss of wildlife species, reduction of water quality and quantity, lower agricultural productivity and limited financial resources, agricultural development, and cultural loss of indigenous people (Mirasol, 2003).

      The Kalatungan Mountain Range is a mountain range located in the central portion of the province of Bukidnon. It is one of the few areas in the province covered with old growth or mossy forests. It covers an area of approximately 213.0134 km2 (82.24493 mi2), with about 113.7175 km2 (43.90657 mi2) identified as part of the critical watershed area declared under Presidential Decree 127, issued on June 29, 1987 (Muleta-Manupali Watershed). The water from these two rivers (Muleta and Manupali Rivers) is presently supporting the multimillion dam project of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) of the Philippines. They then ultimately drained into the Pulangi River, which is the site of the hydroelectric dam of the National Power Corporation. The mountain range is located in the central section of the province of Bukidnon. It lies between the coordinates 8° 00' and 8° 60' latitude and between 124° 35' and 124° 60' longitude. It is bounded on the north by the municipality of Talakag, on the west by the municipality of Lantapan and the city of Valencia, and on the south by the municipality of Pangantucan. Its eastern side is bordered by both Talakag and Pangantucan.

      Among the issues and concerns are: a) soil acidity and soil erosion especially in steeply sloping farmlands; b) kaingin farming for high value crop production; c) pest infestation; d) intensive use of chemicals and insecticide in vegetable farming; e) low potability of water supply; f) occasional flash flooding; g) weak enforcement of forestry laws; and h) conflicting laws particularly against tribal customs and traditions.

      The Upper Bukidnon River Basin under INREMP covers the provinces of Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental, though technically, it extends to North Cotabato at its lower reaches. The headwaters of Upper Bukidnon River Basin is in Mt. Kitanglad Protected Area and drains into several places. Clockwise from the north, it drains to the municipalities of Manolo Fortich, Sumilao, Malaybalay City, Lantapan, Talakag, Baungon, and Libona. The river basin is divided into six SWS, of which the largest is Sumilao-Manolo Fortich-Malitbog with an area of 1,326 km2 or 28% of the total basin area and the smallest is Kitanglad-Manupali with 510 km2 (11%).


td>Baungon-Libona
SUBWATERSHED AREA (km2) % FROM TOTAL URB MUNICIPALITIES NO. OF BARANGAYS
Kitanglad-Manupali 509.57 10.6 Lantapan
Talakag
Valencia City
14
1
1
Talakag 650.07 13.5 Talakag 21
Sumilao-MF-Malitbog 1,326.05 27.6 Impasugong
Malitbog
Manolo Fortich
Sumilao
1
5
16
10
Malaybalay-Impasugong 525.85 11.0 Impasugong
Lantapan
Malaybalay
Sumilao
6
5
33
1
948.21 19.8 Baungon
Libona
Manolo Fortich
Talakag
CDO
16
11
0
1
6
Kalatungan-Muleta 838.96 17.5 Damulog
Dangcagan
Don Carlos
Kadingilan
Kitaotao
Kibawe
Maramag
Pangantucan
6
10
11
10
6
11
1
9
TOTAL 4,798.70 100.00 27 / 19* 212

* Counting of covered municipalities avoided double counts.

      The river basin covers 19 municipalities and cities and 212 barangays. The total population of the watershed is estimated at 571,739 with population density of 120 persons per km2. There is no estimate of poverty incidence in the river basin. However, for Bukidnon, the poverty incidence in 2006 is 37.2%26.

      The different indigenous people living within the watershed are Bukidnon, Talaandig, Higaonon, Manobo, and Matigsalog. The indigenous inhabitants around Mt. Kitanglad are known collectively as Bukidnon; but ethnolinguistically identified as Higaonon for those indigenous communities north of Malaybalay down to the province of Misamis Oriental. Southward from Malaybalay, specifically those communities around Lantapan and Talakag they refer to themselves as Talaandig. These two groups speak the Binukid language, which is a northern branch of the Manobo language stock. There are some minor dialectal variations among these communities, especially in the inflections and lexicons.

      Climate and Rainfall. The northern part falls under the third climatic type, where there is no very pronounced maximum rain period with a short dry season lasting only for one to three months. The southern part, beginning from Malaybalay, falls under the fourth climatic type where there is no very pronounced maximum rain period and no dry seasons. Rains are very frequent, almost daily for the rest of the year. The average annual rainfall is 2,447 mm based from 2003-2007 PAGASA data in Malaybalay. The maximum rainfall occurs during September. The rainy season generally starts in May and lasts until October.

      Topography and Slope. The elevation of the watershed ranges from 0 masl at the coastal area to 2,900 masl at the headwaters in Mt. Kitanglad. About 32% of the area have slopes of less than 18% (flat to rolling), 19% have 18-30% slope (steep) and 49% have over 30% slope (very steep to critical slope). Of the areas classified as forest lands, 9% have slopes of 0-18%, while 91% have slopes of 18% or higher. For A & D lands, 52% have 0-18% slope while 48% have slopes over 18%. It may be noted that of the total cultivated area planted to annual crops and perennial crops, 60% are in areas with slopes of greater than 30%.

      Water Resources. The river basin has an estimated 1,725 km of rivers and major tributaries. However, owing to its mountainous area, it has the least of inland waters with only 83 ha. From its headwaters in Mt. Kitanglad National Park, it drains to several municipalities, namely: Manolo Fortich, Sumilao, Malaybalay City, Lantapan, Talakag, Baungon, and Libona. The estimated stream flow ranges from 6.024 m3/sec to as high as 9.099 m3/sec.

      Forest and Vegetation Types. Out of the 479,871 ha of basin area, 221,739 ha or 46% have been classified as forestland, while 258,131 ha or 54% are A&D lands. Of the 221,739 ha of forest land, only 64,779 ha or 29% are with forest cover, 103,884 ha or 47% are cultivated and planted to annual or perennial crops, and the rest are grassland, shrubs or wooded grassland. On the other hand, of the 258,131 ha of A & D lands, 1,148 ha or 0.4% are with forest cover, 222,812 ha or 86% are cultivated and planted to annual or perennial crops, and the rest are shrubs, grassland, wooded grassland or built-up areas.

      The River Basin has few remaining forest as a result of wanton logging activities in the early 60s up to early 80s. The remaining forest cover is mostly in Mt. Kitanglad and Mt. Kalatungan. At the lower portion of Mt. Kitanglad are minor forest species and residual dipterocarp forest. Plant families include Fabacae, Lauraceae, Myrtaceae, Podocarpaceae, and Clusiaceae.

      Biodiversity Assets. The river basin includes Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park (MKNRP) which has a unique and immense natural diversity of its flora and fauna and contributes to national heritage. Consequently, it is a priority area for biodiversity conservation of the Philippines (KBA 106). Among the wild life species in this park are the Mindanao Lorikeet, Mindanao Racquet-tail, Mindanao Scops-owl, Slaty-backed Jungle-flycatcher, Red-eared Parrotfinch, Apo Myna, Philippine Duck, Philippine Eagle, Philippine Hawk-eagle, Mindanao Brown-dove, Spotted Imperial-pigeon, Giant Scops-owl, Philippine Eagle-owl, Blue-capped Kingfisher, Mindanao Broadbill, Shrew Mice, Kaguang, Monkeys, Philippine Pygmy Squirrel, Mindanao Flying Squirrel, Bearded Pig, Philippine Deer and Philippine Leafbird.

      Minerals Resources. The area is underlained by Quarternary volcanic flows and pyroclastic materials. The volcanic flows are andesitic to basaltic in composition. Chemicals have been observed within this rock suite to include pyrite (FeS4) and Chalcopythe (Cu2 Fe2), and ore or copper, sphalrite and zinc. DENR data show that there are no mining claims on record.


      Infrastructure. The provinces of Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental have extensive road connections via the national highway from any point in Mindanao and could be reached using all modes of land transportation. About 57% of the national road in Bukidnon is paved with either concrete or asphalt and the rest is gravel surface. Provincial road is only 3% paved and 97% gravel, municipal roads 11% paved, 57% gravel and 32% earth while barangay roads are mostly gravel and about 60% earth.

      As of December 2006, estimated total irrigable area of the province is 87,700 hectares and the total service area is 31,328 hectares equivalent to an irrigation development rate of 36%. Within the river basin, the existing area under the communal scheme is about 2,180 hectares. The bigger area developed under irrigation covering the basin municipalities are those that are under the Pulangui and Manupali RIS with a combined service area of about 14,941 ha.

      Agriculture. Agriculture is the primary source of livelihood of the people in the basin with 64% of its area cultivated and planted to annual crops in addition to 6% that is planted to perennial crops. Corn, palay and sugar are the three major crops produced although banana, pineapple, coffee, cassava, rubber and abaca are also produced in commercial quantity. Due to its unique agroecological characteristics quite similar o the Chico URB, Bukidnon is also engaged in the production of priority and high value vegetable crops, such as asparagus, lettuce, broccoli, and cauliflower. The province registered 1,355 farms with 5.66 million animal heads in 2006. The establishment and operations of multi-national fruit plantations such as DOLE Philippines, Inc. Mt. Kitanglad Agri-ventures, Inc. (MKAVI), Celebrate Life and Antonio M. Soriano (AMS) group of companies also provide the impetus for economic development.

      Tourism. Mt. Kitanglad has been regarded as one of the favorite trekking destinations by local and foreign mountain enthusiasts. Records show that at least 1,400 individual visit the park per year, of which 6% are foreigners. Nature trekking, camping, birdwatching, educational tour and nature photography are among the existing ecotourism activities usually undertaken by the visitors within the park. Complimentary to these activities (and planned for the future) are butterfly garden/boardwalk, caving, canopy and waterfall adventure, rock climbing, botanical gardens, horse trail riding, mountain biking, wildlife rescue station and medico-ecotourism. Another tourist attraction is the so-called Asia's longest Dual Cable Zipline housed at the Dahilayan Adventure Park in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon. Total length of cables is 2,460 meters and elevation drop is 100 meters with estimated speed ranging from 60-100 kph.

      A main tourism event within the province is the Kaamulan, a festival by tribal groups who trek down from their traditional mountain dwellings to gather in unity, wearing their intricately woven costumes studded with trinkets, anklets, earrings, necklaces, leg lets, headdresses and amulets. The hill tribe's members dance, chat, compete in indigenous sports and perform ancient rituals. Each activity is a meaningful ceremony that reflects the richness and diversity of their culture.