Mount Apo set to reopen to the public

Editha Caduaya
The country's highest mountain, closed to the public since a fire razed it in March 2016, will soon be open to trekkers

REOPENED. After 13 months, Mount Apo is open to the public once more. File photo by Louie Lapat

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – After over a year, Mount Apo is set to be reopened to the public on April 12.

The mountain was closed to the public in March 2016, following a fire that destroyed over 100 hectares of forest cover. Though the cause of the fire remains unknown, it is believed to have been started by irresponsible trekkers who left a fire unattended.

The Protected Area Management Board (PAMB), the highest policy-making body in Mount Apo, approved the request of various concerned local government units  to reopen the country’s highest mountain. (READ: A visit to Mt Apo: Experiencing a world within a world)

Joey Recimilla, Kidapawan City Tourism Officer and PAMB chair, said that the decision was made during an en banc meeting on Thursday, March 23.  

The body passed Resolution 01, series of 2017, which lifts the prohibition to climb the mountain. Recimilla said that the Camping Management Rules will be strictly implemented.

In a presentation, the PAMB cited several reasons for supporting the reopening of the mountain:

  • This is the only way to protect and preserve what was left of Mount Apo
  • To promote eco-tourism, culture, and the traditional arts
  • To provide direct and indirect livelihood to the communities and the local government

“All trails are open [and are] subject to compliance to LGUs’ management and emergency plan, as we agreed on details about ground preparation before allowing the climb,” Recimilla stressed.

The conditions for climbing are:

  • All porters undergo training on environmental protection and preservation
  • Maps and trails, as provided by the PAMB, must be followed
  • Climbers must undergo camp management before they are allowed entry
  • Host Villages must be informed every time climbers start the climb
  • The trekkers, MUST only visit the peak and capture photos and leave before night time

“If you did not comply, you cannot open your trail,” Recimilla said.

Meanwhile, the  Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-PAMB decided to open the terrain to give way to more economic opportunities for the residents in the area and to promote ecotourism.

Reopening Mount Apo to tourists also provides economic opportunities to residents who are porters. “It is better to open it because trekking activities are not destructive. In fact, it is ecotourism,” Recimilla added.

The DENR will have a permanent monitoring team in Mount Apo to ensure that rules are followed. Among the new policies is the restriction on liquor, smoking, and sleeping at the peak at night.

Here are the fees to climb Mount Apo:

  • Permit fee: P2,000 and P2,500 for standard and peak season, respectively. A refresher course is included as part of the fee. The new rate is 50% higher than the previous fee that ranged from P1,000 to P1,500.
  • On top of the permit fees, the hikers will pay an additional exit fee of P1,000 to P1,500. Mount Apo has various entry points, including Davao City, Sta Cruz, Digos City, Kidapawan City, Makilala, and Magpet.

 – Rappler.com