Two Filipina conservationists among Vanity Fair’s ‘Changing Your Mind Travel Awards 2021’ winners

Published March 2, 2021, 9:13 AM

by Gabriela Baron

Two Filipina sisters Ann Dumaliang and Billie Dumaliang of Masungi Georeserve are among the winners of this year’s Vanity Fair “Changing Your Mind Travel Awards.”

(Photo from Masungi Georeserve)

The Dumaliangs were recognized for being “Conservations Starters” after opening up Masungi Georeserve over 20 years ago.

The nature reserve is a conservation area in Baras, Rizal which aims to protect the 430-hectare of rainforest in the province.

“They have helped to rewild the land (depleted by deforestation and quarrying), establish monitoring trails, and integrate the local community,” Variety Fair wrote.

Promoting sustainable tourism and showcasing rugged limestone peaks, cave systems, and lush rainforests, Billie said they hoped to lure city-dwellers from Manila “who have never even seen a bird’s nest.”

Vanity Fair also cited the sisters for putting up “spectacular ways of exploring the region” through connecting rock formations with hanging rope bridges and eco-trails and offering aerial views of the karsts below and panoramics of the Sierra Madre.

The magazine also recognized Masungi Georeserve’s popular spots such as the elevated viewing deck in the shape of a spider’s web, the gigantic rope hammock spanning a few hundred meters, and the viewpoint on the summit of the park’s tallest peak.

Last year, the reserve was forced to shut after a quarrying company fenced off 500 hectares of its reforestation area.

“We started a campaign, messaging visitors and celebrities, and launching petitions. It went to the top; the Secretary of the Environment came and pulled out the fence posts,” Ann says.

She added that the area “continues to be threatened,” but the movement to protect Masungi Georeserve is also growing.

“We feel strongly about helping other protected areas not to rely solely on the government. But to become self-sustaining,” Billie added.

The sisters are also targeting to restore a 2,700-hectare swathe of land around Masungi.