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Into the Wild

Embarking on a journey through remote corners of the Philippines, biologist Mike Dilger and BBC World News presenter Rico Hizon get closer to nature while filming a new travel series.

Published on Apr 10, 2018

presenter Rico Hizon, the rich culture and natural landscape of his homeland are a constant surprise. Venturing deeper than he ever had before, Hizon joined BBC Earth wildlife expert Mike Dilger on a 3,000-kilometer trip from Palawan Island to the jungles of Luzon for their upcoming documentary series, Philippines: Island Treasures. For Hizon, it was the cuisine that amazed him most: “Generally, adobo has the same basic ingredients. But on this journey, I learned that each region, each island, sometimes even each town, may have their own style of cooking it. They tailor their recipe to what ingredients they have locally or seasonally.” For Dilger, the trip was a biologist’s dream, and releasing a captive-raised endangered Philippine Crocodile into the wild was a thrill. “Standing ankle-deep in the water, I loosened the grip of the crocodile in my hands, only to watch it momentarily float on the surface, before a quick swish of its tail saw it disappear from view.” Here, Dilger and Hizon share some highlights from their trip. —ELOISE BASUKI



The coral reefs around Coron are simply world-class. Situated in the fabled “Coral Triangle,” stretching from the Philippines in the north to Indonesia further west and the Solomon Islands in the east, the diversity of marine life here is off the Richter scale. Dipping into the bath-warm water to scope out the sea life feels just like dropping into the world’s largest fish tank. — Mike Dilger



I’m really proud of Ayah Javier, Palaweño Brewery’s founder and brewmaster, and her business partner Malu Lauengco. They manage the first all-women beer business in the Philippines. Their brewery uses local ingredients from spices to coconuts and mangoes to give their beers a unique taste. The varieties range from the hoppy Ayahay IPA to the Honey Kölsch, a “tribal beer” made with Palawan honey. — RICO HIZON 



With few signs of modernity, it is a simple and yet demanding life played out by the Batak people, the country’s oldest indigenous tribe, in the shadow of Cleopatra’s Needle—one of Palawan’s most distinctive mountain summits. Living a subsistence lifestyle on the edge of the forest, the tribe survives by tapping resin from the almaciga tree. — M.D.


Once common across the archipelago, a combination of habitat loss and poaching over the last 30 years has seen the Philippine Cockatoo brought to the verge of extinction. However, with the help of local support from communities on Palawan, the future of this stunning, sociable and noisy bird may just be starting to get a touch brighter. — M.D.


Inhabitants of the mountainous town of Sagada in northern Luzon have a rather unconventional way of honoring their dead. Rather than burial or cremation, some departed members of the Igorot community have chosen for their coffins to be suspended halfway up a sheer cliff. Only when placed at such a lofty location will they then be closer to their ancestral spirits. — M.D.


I was awestruck with the beauty and splendor of the Banaue Rice Terraces. They were breathtaking, nature at its finest. Despite their majestic beauty, this was the toughest part of my trip. I had to trek up and down the terraces that are around 300 meters high. What’s really impressive is that these terraces were built by hand more than 2,000 years ago. — R.H.


For any eco-tourist, the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, a river that flows under the St. Paul Mountain range, is a must-see. Macaques and monitor lizards form a welcoming party before visitors are invited to take to the boats. Paddling upriver and under the island, torches are essential if you want to get the best out of the dark, wet subterranean world that has become home to innumerable bats and blind tarantulas. — M.D.


You can watch Rico and Mike in Philippines: Island Treasures on BBC World News on April 7 & 14. The series will be repeated later in 2018.


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