Nature’s spa prowess with the healing benefits of clays and hot spring take the spotlight in Mudpack Festival at Mambukal Resort in Barangay Minoyan, Murcia, Negros Occidental third weekend of June.

Online dictionary Encarta defines mudpack as facial treatment or a beauty treatment for the face that is allowed to dry before being removed.

In this age of spa, medical tourists and travelers alike will experience Mambukal’s distinct multi-colored clays which come in gray, red, orange, grayish yellow and black abundant in the area which are considered good for the skin.

Mudpack dancers soot their faces and bodies with clays to highlight environmental protection awareness.

The festivities kick off Saturday morning with competitions on chants and stunts, drumbeating, poster making, clay body painting, mixed media art and photo.

The clay body painting and mixed media art presentation, judging and awarding take place in the afternoon.

The beauty search for Miss Earth Mambukal Pageant and band and dance party heat up the night.

On Sunday, competitions on solo dance improvisation and clay sculpture making take center stage in the morning.

The Mudpack “madness” climaxes with tribal dance competition and awarding in the afternoon.

Mudpack is a unique event as it centers on the harmony of man and nature to stir people’s awareness of the importance of environment.

The celebration is a festival of arts which serves as avenue where artists from all over Negros gather to exhibit their respective artistic talents in ethnic dances, crafts and music.

How Mudpack is brought to life?

The fiesta spawned from 1986 EDSA Revolution when Mambukal Resort was in disarray – while people were scared to go up – and their spirits were really low.

But artists Rudy Reveche and Louie Dormido and their friends trooped to Mambukal to enjoy the place and started playing with the multi-colored clays creating souvenir items.

A foreign tourist then took interest in their artworks and encouraged them to craft more.

Mambukal’s local artist Cris Garzon and members of Art Association of Bacolod (AAB) have pledged their support and more artists were enticed to join – they would meet once a year in Mambukal and showcase their individual talents.

When Nidcorp (Negros International Development Corp.) managed Mambukal in 1996, they started celebrating what has been known as the Mudpack Festival.

Since then, the Negros Occidental provincial government has taken the initiative in supporting the celebration, developed more activities and integrated the relevance of the protection of environment.

Mambukal, a premiere tourist destination is a virtual spa haven even as it boasts of Ishiwata Bathhouse which is equipped with five dipping rooms with highly-pressurized hot and cold sulfur spring water, three and two dipping rooms for women and men respectively, shower and dressing rooms.

The Ishiwata Bathhouse was first built in 1927 and named after its developer Japanese engineer Kokichi Paul Ishiwata.

It was restored sometime in 2002 when then Gov. Joseph Marañon took over the Capitol’s administration.

Mambukal is run by the provincial government’s Economic Enterprise Development Department (EEDD) which includes income-generating projects for the province like Pana-ad Festival, food terminals, hospitals and tourism.

Mambukal offers kiddie and adult swimming pools, picnic huts, wall climbing, slide for life, canopy walk, boating lagoon, butterfly garden, cottages, tourist lodges, dormitory, conference hall, catering and transport services.

Situated in a jungle setting, tourists could also trek to the seven falls hidden inside a thick forest which is a haven for bats.

Website noted that Mambukal is blessed with exceptionally beautiful natural resources spreading over 23.6 hectares and lying 1,200 feet above sea level as well as serving as a gateway to Mt. Kanlaon Volcano.

It’s where a big mountain stream fed by several tributaries descends in a series of seven falls and cuts through the center of the resort feeding the swimming pools and boating lagoon.

The hot sulfur springs whose medicinal waters are a balm for the weary flesh and continually feeds the warm dipping pool.

Its slopes and dips house interesting rock formations and lush forests of tropical and semi-tropical trees as well as a variety of pines, ferns and orchids that thrive on its cool climate and rich soil, known as Mambukal clay.

The resort has strategically located viewing decks or for more intimate encounters with nature there’s “Canopy Walk” with its hanging bridges or go all-out for a challenge on the “Rock Climbing Wall or the Slide for Life.”

For visitors who wish to take time, the Tourist Lodge offers standard rooms and suites. There are single air-conditioned cottages or camp sites to choose from as well as picnic sheds for day visitors.

Mambukal is also ideal for those inclined to mix business with pleasure with a conference room and various function rooms available.

Mudpack photo credits: Danny Dangcalan