Lakeside property regards environment as ‘first customer’

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THE FOREST at the edge of Lake Buhi protects the body of water from siltation. Photo by Tessa R. Salazar

The isolated town of Buhi in Camarines Sur is home to the world’s smallest fish, the Mistichthys luzonensis, known among the natives as sinarapan.

But Buhi, and its picturesque lake where the fish live, is also home to the Lake Buhi Resort whose owner, 76-year-old entrepreneur, scuba diver and nature lover Cyrus Obsuna, considers it his legacy to the next generation of Buhinons and Filipinos.

First, however, he has made sure that this legacy sits well with Mother Nature.

During the course of the 10-year development of the two-hectare resort—a 25-room property directly facing Mount Asog and Lake Buhi—Obsuna instituted five eco-friendly practices within and around the premises.

Medicinal trees and plants

For instance, Obsuna’s pilot project involves planting trees and other flora endemic to Bicol, such as the pili nut, the extracted sap of which is known for its medicinal purposes.

His mini cacao farm produces the daily supply of native chocolate (tablea) for his guests. The tablea is used to make a variety of native delicacies, from the aromatic hot cocoa drink to champorado (rice porridge) or suman (with sticky rice). Aside from cacao, which is widely known for its antioxidant properties, Obsuna boasts of other medicinal trees grown in his sprawling 50-hectare property, such as bignay, guyabano, coconut, mango and mabolo.

Obsuna’s property sits on a mountainous forest teeming with coconut and other trees, and is an extension of his natural medicine cabinet. He employs eight of his staff who act as forest rangers and ensure that the wild birds, civets (a species of wild cats) and monitor lizards that make the forest their home are protected from poachers.

No hunting, cutting

MOTHER Nature blesses Lake Buhi Resort with a magnificent display of the supermoon. Photo by Tessa R. Salazar

“I do not allow hunters in my property. Also, no trees are allowed to be cut there,” Obsuna stressed. He fears that once hunting or logging is allowed, the townsfolk would eventually cease to hear the sounds of wildlife.

Citing his own initiative in his property, Obsuna explained the advantages of a privately initiated forest protection system. “My property is one of the few lakeside areas in Buhi that are planted with more trees to create a watershed. The watersheds protect the lake from erosion and siltation.”

Everything is interconnected, Obsuna noted. The resort and the property surrounding it would not be ecologically sound if the lake itself and its environs are environmentally compromised. Thus, Obsuna and his team see to it that their efforts go beyond their property. In this case, Obsuna has taken it upon himself to clean up Itbog falls, which is a 10-minute boat ride and a 35-minute walk from his resort.

By the end of this week, Obsuna’s crew would have cleared the falls of the garbage its visitors have carelessly left around it. Eventually, Obsuna would make clean-up drives to Itbog a regular activity for his staff.

Nothing goes to waste

Long before waste segregation was made mandatory by the local and national government, Obsuna and his resort staff had already instituted a waste segregation scheme where nonbiodegradable materials like cans, plastics and bottles were collected by the local recycling firms. The biodegradable materials, normally kitchen waste, are buried in a pit to be decomposed and transformed into fertilizers.

Although Obsuna has been involved in various property developments in Cebu, he believes that there should be a limit to commercial exploitation. Many areas in the provinces should remain untouched, he stressed. These unspoilt areas would create the natural supply of oxygen and clean water.

Obsuna purposely did not put up signs to reveal his resort’s location, nor does he advertise it. For nearly 20 years, Lake Buhi Resort has received guests who only learned of the place from other friends or family who have gone there before. The word-of-mouth advertising assures Obsuna that he has a firm control of who can go in and enjoy his place.

“If Mother Nature will allow it, she herself will lead you to my place,” Obsuna said with a smile.

Share with us how your own property is in harmony with nature. E-mail the author at tsalazar@inquirer.com.ph.

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