Known as the “Home of Natural and Historical Treasures,” Bago City is blessed with wide-variety of attractions that are yet to be seen and experienced by the Negrenses, even the Bagonhons themselves. These natural wonders, for the first time, were captured and shown to the public in a one-of-a-kind photo exhibition.

Dubbed “Natural Wonders of Bago Photo Exhibit,” the City Government of Bago, through its City Environment Management Office and City Information Office, presented the three-day Natural Wonders of Bago Photo Exhibit from November 3 to 5, 2022.

Fifteen photographs of acclaimed Negrense photographer, Engineer John Kimwell Laluma, became an added unique attraction at the city’s prime tourist destination, the Bantayan Park, on the sidelines of the just-concluded 124th Al Cinco de Noviembre celebration.

Laluma, a landscape photographer for 10 years now, through his lenses powered by his passion and aspiration to convey a strong message through images, immortalized some of the breath-taking attractions in the city which are reflections of its rich biodiversity.

The 35-year-old photographer, in his speech, said that he is always in pursuit of discovering new locales and showing their beauty based on his perception.

“So when this opportunity came, my response was instantaneous. Initially, my excitement stemmed from the fact that I would be able to see wonders that are not easily accessible due to them being hidden in the highlands of Bago City. But after several expeditions, I soon realized that this privilege also comes with a responsibility,” he shared.

Laluma underscored that with climate change being felt more than ever, he feels the need to tell the story behind these photographs.

Behind the enchanting trees and the majestic waterfalls of Bago City, he said, lies a fragile ecosystem. An ecosystem, which without any serious mitigating action, might lead to them being appreciated only in photographs.

Also a teacher and web developer, Laluma said that with this journey, he started out as a photographer and now he is a witness as to how delicate the environment is and how it directly impacts every person.

“Hence, with this exhibit, I am hoping that our conversations will go beyond the beauty that we see in these photographs and we take real sustainable actions in preserving these natural wonders,” he added.

Laluma’s natural wonders photographs showcased during the exhibit included Kabit-Kabit Falls, Tabidiao Falls, Busay Oro, Busay Merin, Bungaran Falls, Asaw-Asaw Falls, Sulfuric River, Kipot Twin Falls, Tabukan ni Peroy, Guintubdan Twin Falls, Tacuzzi Falls, Bagacay Falls, Buslugan Falls, Bago River, and Hardin sang Ballo which gave him the most unforgettable experience in terms of preparation during their entire photoshoot journey that started in March this year.

“We have to consider the weather, the terrain, and our safety. For Hardin sang Ballo, we need to hurdle a six-hour trek,” he said, adding that everything has to be perfectly timed.

The featured photographer thanked city government officials led by Mayor Nicholas Yulo and Vice Mayor Ramon Torres for having programs like this that raises environmental protection and conservation awareness.

He also underscored the role of the members of the Kanlaon Green Brigade, “for without them, there won't be any photos in exhibit. They are the frontliners in the battle of preserving the natural wonders of Bago City.”

“I am still overwhelmed with today's event but my heart is full of gratitude. It truly is a different feeling to see your photos take shape,” Laluma added.

Bago City Environment Management Officer Vicente Mesias, who also spoke at the opening rites, said that November, the environmental calendar, celebrates the Biodiversity Month to highlight the importance of a diverse natural habitat to a healthful, abundant and ecologically-balanced human existence.

Mesias said it highlights the specific month of the year “where we, as the vanguards of the environment, shall focus our efforts in advocacy and stakeholder mobilization toward ensuring a sustainably managed ecosystem.”

“As Bagonhons, we take pride and honor that in our generation, we celebrate the nostalgia of a colorful history and the abundance of varied ecosystems services provided by the conserved and protected Mount Kanlaon Natural Park and watershed within our territorial jurisdiction,” he stressed.

For his part, Councilor Jake Patrick Torres, chair of the city council’s committee on environment, said the city really has a lot to offer when it comes to natural wonders but needs to be protected and preserved amid the challenges confronting the environment including climate change.

“All of us should help each other to help our environment which is not only for us, we have the responsibility to pass it to the next generation,” the official said, as he commended the efforts of all those who helped in realizing such a successful photo exhibit.

Also present during the activity were other members of the city council, department heads, and Kanlaon Green Brigade members, among other guests and attendees.*