Mt. Pulag is famous among hikers and trekkers, and for good reason: It is the highest peak in Luzon, it is the 3rd highest peak in the Philippines, there is an easy trail for beginners, and its sea of clouds really is something else.
But not a lot know that Mt. Pulag, located in Kabayan Benguet, is actually sacred grounds.
Because the mountain is so high up (926.04 meters above sea level) and near the heavens, the tribes who live in and around Mt. Pulag, — the Ibalois, Karaos, Kalanguya and Kangkanaey — believe they can commune with the gods.
And for them, climbing it is a sacred activity.
Which is why the tribal community of Mt. Pulag, seeing the surge in the mountain’s popularity and the subsequent disrespect it brings, decided to put in controls and guidelines.
“Mamamatay ang Pulag kung hindi ma-control [ang crowd],” Emerita Albas, DENR Park Superintendent of Mt. Pulag, told the Biyahe ni Drew crew.
“Kailangan din ipa-recuperate ang bundok. Pag masyado maabuse, hindi na magbe-benefit ang future generations,” said David isidro, lead coordinator of Travel Factor.
Below are some of them:
- All organizers need to have at least 12 participants
- All hikers must submit to the medical checkups.
- All hikers must be registered
- All hikers must attend the mandatory orientation
- Respect the local culture
- Garbage in, garbage out
- Do not introduce animals and plants from the outside. “This can wipe out native plants,” Albas explained.
- Propagate native plants and respect endemic species
- No PDAs please. Avoid kissing in public
- Do not go around naked. “Insulto ito sa katutubo,” Albas said.
- Patronize local transport groups because they know the terrain best.
According to Albas, violators will be presented to the council of elders and may be punished based on the tribes’ customary laws. — LA, GMA News