Main photo courtesy of Masungi Georeserve website.

The Masungi Georeserve in Rizal has gained an ally in award-winning American actor and environment champion Leonardo DiCaprio, who yesterday urged President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to safeguard the area’s rainforests.

DiCaprio took to Instagram to voice his concern over Masungi, a rainforest in Manila, whose protection from illicit deforestation and land disputes is under threat.

“In the late 1990s, much of Masungi was illegally deforested. Local communities fostered the development of the [Masungi Georeserve], spurring efforts to restore this precious ecosystem. From these conservation initiatives, trees were able to grow taller, wildlife numbers slowly increased, and more locals became involved in protecting this ecosystem,” he stated.

This substantial accomplishment in environmental conservation, the actor said, is at risk because the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is considering terminating the protective agreement for the area.

He asserted that if canceled, the conservation efforts that gained international recognition would suffer setbacks, potentially allowing activities like mining, logging, and illegal developments to harm the area once more.

“Join local rangers in calling on President @bongbongmarcos to intervene and continue to protect Masungi. Conservation successes like Masungi serve as a reminder that the Philippines can become a leader in sustainability, eco-tourism, biodiversity protection, and climate action. Protect Masungi Georeserve,” he said.

DiCaprio’s call came in the wake of DENR Sec. Maria Antonia Yulo Loyzaga’s firm decision to declare the 2017 memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the department and the Masungi Georeserve Foundation as void ab initio or not valid from the start.

“The Filipino people own the area occupied by Masungi Georeserve Foundation and the operation of the resort venues that charge the public for day tours, meetings, and weddings remains non-compliant with Philippine laws,” a statement from the DENR said.

The Masungi Georeserve is an area in Rizal known for its conservation efforts and natural beauty. The name “Masungi,” derived from “masungki” meaning “spiked,” reflects its rugged limestone terrain.

Visitors can experience nature firsthand, walk through pathways encountering wildlife and plants, enjoy snacks, and learn about the area’s rich history and community heritage.

Notable Filipino actors and media celebrities, such as Karen Davila, Eric “Eruption” Tai, and John Arcilla, have expressed their support for DiCaprio’s position by commenting on his post.

“Thank you so much for this awareness and call @leonardodicaprio ; such a noble endeavor, its a pity that most Filipinos ourselves are not even aware of this. Thank you. Will definitely share this 🙏,” Arcilla said.

“Thank you @leonardodicaprio 🔥Bravo @masungigeoreserve for keeping on! Amazing to see the world stand with the brave work you do!” Davila commented.