Mount Pulag ain’t Rizal Park

I accompanied some friends from Singapore as they wanted to see Mount Pulag’s famed Sea of Clouds and its majestic views along the trails, in the grassland and atop Luzon.

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We’re all set and ready! And a couple of hoop junkies joined us at the last second. I wondered why. Ken told me that their group has been scratched off from the list for the weekend by the park office due to the maximum number of hikers and tourists in the park.

That made me curious.

I promised myself to investigate by the time I reach the park office and see for myself when I get to Babadak Ranger station.

It was a really nice sunny Sunday. The pine trees greeted and waved at us along the way. The smell of pine was so refreshing. The coffee break made it all more sensible,

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Then we reached DENR – Mt.Pulag Natural Park office. The usual orientation and humor thrown by Mam Emerita Albas went on. Tuwang-tuwa ang mga new friends namin.

By the time I finished settling our fees I asked her assistant how many visitors did the park had for the weekend. “Ah marami, nasa 300”, she blurted out.

“Pero we distributed them around the park and the different peaks,” she added.

“Oh okay,” I exclaimed. Mas lalo akong na-excite sa isang rebelasyon na naghihintay para sa akin.

Then BOOM! Babadak palengke ang nakita ko at hindi isang simpleng ranger station where visitors and guides, porters converge. The place was abuzzed! Noisy, magulo. Nakakahilo! I guess that’s why one of our guests almost passed out. Buti na lang klinaro nya na hindi sya kumain ng lunch before trekking. Naku po!

May nakasabay kaming ibang grupo that day. Siguro nasa 30 or so sila. One full duffle bag of food which probably weighed 15kgs or more. Puro turista ang kasama.

It was lunchtime. “Sakto ito, babaan na ng mga weekend hikers.”, I whispered.

Holy cow! Halos di matapos-tapos ang pagdagsa ng mga hikers sa kainitan ng araw. Para silang platoon. Totoo nga, 300+ ang nasa park that day.

“Tignan natin ang trail along the way pag-akyat mamaya.”

Darrel asked me, “Sir madadaanan natin ang racetracks?”

I wondered what kind of trail is that. Then I remembered that junction where Tawangan, Lusod, Ambangeg and the summit trail would meet. “Yes”, I nodded.

BOOM! Ang dating tatlong lane in 2010 ay naging Commonwealth highway along Litex, Philcoa Sandigan Bayan.

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Racetrack nga! Sa dami kasi ng bisita, sa lamig ng alas kwatro ng umaga, ang iba ay napapahinto. Sa nipis ng hangin, sila’y naghahabol sa kakarampot na oxygen. Dahil dito, may overtaking na nangyayari.

Sino ang nagpasimuno ng overtaking? Ang trail master o ang lead. Sino ang sumusunod sa lead? Ang kanyang grupo, turista man o seasoned hiker.

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Pero bakit kailangang dumaan kung saan walang trail?

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Bakit kailangan gumawa ng mga bagong trails?

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Lumapad na rin ang trail between Peaks 3 and 4. This time mukhang airstrip ng Cessna 172!

Dumating kami sa Saddle Camp. Wow mukhang may helipad sa lapad since December 2010, at June 2011.

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Aside from pockets of spaces in the summit, lumapad na rin ang dalawang podium ng Mt.Pulag.

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And more…

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Just sad to see that the sacred summit of different Cordillera tribes AKA the stage of the grand sunrise spectacle is slowly receding just like my hairline.

It’s not a bad thing to share the fleeting experience of seeing the sunrise amidst the sea of clouds. But slowly demons are eating our very own principles. And soon, the Gods will refuse us entry to their home.

In a span of three years, much has changed. Change can be good. But usually it turns out for the worst.

How vital is Mount Pulag to us? Name biodiversity and water.

If we let people in and out of the park every weekend for the whole year, how can our animal friends propagate? The tendency would be for them to head down to where no humans would disturb them. Or as they stray away, they are prone to being hunted down or trapped to be local delicacies. Kailan nyo huling nakita ang giant cloud rat ng Pulag?

Paano mag-flourish ang dwarf bamboo? Ilang taon bago ulit tutubo ang dwarf bamboo to cover much of our tracks?

Natanong nyo na ba ang waste management? May bagong itinatayong restrooms sa Pulag.  How can the mountain hold up to the waste being dumped at the camp? Malamang may plastic dyan.

Ano ang itinuturo natin sa mga kaibigan nating nakatira sa paligid ng Pulag? Ang umasa sa biyaya na matatanggap nila from visitors? Problema na nga ang inaangking lupain ng Mount Pulag National Park para sa pagtatanim ng gulay, problema pa ring maituturing ang pag-impluwensya natin sa kanila sa pamamagitan ng pagmo-modernisa ng kanilang pamumuhay.

Andyan ang pag-akyat ng kalakal. Sa mga kalakal na ating binibili, nandyan ang basura. Saan nila itinatapon ang basurang ating ibinababa? Hindi nyo naman dinadala yan hanggang Baguio City at Manila para itapon diba?

Paano ang kultura na kanilang pinapangalagaan sa pagtuturing na ka-sagraduhan ng lugar ng kanilang mga ninuno? Nawawala ang pagpapahalaga.

I am totally, unabated against abusing this mountain that we love.

30 is way too much. Sa Mount Kanlaon nga SIYAM na mapapalad na indibidwal lang ang pinapayagang umakyat sa isang trail kasama na ang group leader. That is during low season.

Let’s give time for the mountain to recuperate from the harassment it endured during mountaineering season. Sa Kanlaon open sila only from March to May and October to December lang. Only a few can climb during lean months of January to February and June to September.

Let’s not wait for this mountain to turn out as Mount Apo look-a-like. Isinara sa publiko dahil sa kapabayaan nating mga iresponsableng mountaineers, mga turistang walang pakialam at lokal na walang pagpapahalaga.

Slowly we’re losing this beautiful mountain. Sana makita natin muli sa hinaharap ang regalo ng Makapangyarihan sa lahat.

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One thought on “Mount Pulag ain’t Rizal Park

  1. Roy Mitchel Biaca says:

    Sa lahat ng mga mountaineers/outdoor enthusiasts/climb organizers, sana po mabasa n’yo rin ‘to. sana’y kapulutan po natin ng aral at kaalaman sa kung ano ang mga negatibong epekto na maaring magawa o mangyari sa pag-akyat natin ng mga bundok. Most of us climb mountains to see beautiful sceneries, to see and feel nature, and that make our climbing experience fulfilling, so kelangan maingat po tayo kasi baka pagdating panahon wala na tayong magagandang karanasan na mararansan sa mga susunod na pag-akyat natin.

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