Mount Apo above politics | Inquirer Opinion

Tinikaran Campsite 2, Mount Apo — It feels nice to be again within the nation’s highest peak; a logo of our nation and of Mindanao, habitat for quite a few endemic species, and for me, dwelling to many lovely reminiscences. I write this in our campsite surrounded by tinikaran timber after having climbed the two,954-meter summit, the place we had been greeted by a spectacular dawn after an exhilarating ascent from the volcano’s rock face, generally known as the “Boulders.”

I used to be a first-year medical scholar after I first climbed this mountain, accompanied solely by two Bagobo guides and fueled by my willpower to succeed in the nation’s highest level earlier than I flip 20. Again then, touring and mountaineering had been so new to me, and my handwritten journey journal (these days, I simply use a smartphone) mirrored a way of spirituality that I generally miss:

Doubting God [from inside my tent], I mistook the capturing stars for lightning and the operating river for rain. I used to be praying for rain to cease, virtually complaining, not realizing that God, in his goodness, has already answered my prayer.I’ve since come again to climb Mount Apo by totally different trails, in numerous phases of my life, every journey giving me inspiration and educating me one thing concerning the setting, our nation, and myself. As I climbed extra mountains each right here and overseas, I’ve come to understand not simply the problem of reaching the summit however the thrill of the paths and the sheer pleasure of merely being with nature.

I’ve additionally seen the detrimental impacts of tourism, at the same time as I’ve additionally seen its potential to result in appreciation, consciousness, and advocacy.

And, as I developed new methods of trying on the world, I’ve come to see how a mountain like Mount Apo can transcend our politics, but additionally finally be subjected to it.

We glimpsed at this just lately when footage of a Philippine warty pig (Sus philippensis) noticed close to the summit went viral, reminding us that past our heated politics, different species inhabit our nation. Sadly, we didn’t see “Warty” within the summit campsite that, in accordance with our information Clyde, has grow to be the baboy damo’s dwelling. However we noticed indicators of it, and we additionally noticed Philippine long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis philippensis) within the Boulders, skirting across the sulfuric vents.

Although the nation is on the top of election fever, the partisanship additionally feels distant, and mountaineers from everywhere in the nation can come collectively, exchanging not a lot their current political beliefs however previous climbing experiences. Certainly, I respect that I’ve at all times been welcomed by mountaineers everywhere in the nation however my essential stances, and we’ve at all times discovered widespread floor on environmental points.

Even so, we all know that mountains are finally weak to politics and that our selections will even decide the fates of varied species and their habitats. We see this on the native degree, the place native authorities models and native DENR workplaces (e.g., PAMBs, PENROs, CENROs) could make an enormous distinction as as to if a mountain will get the safety and regulation it deserves, as a substitute of merely being a money cow. For that reason, I respect how the municipality of Sta. Cruz has managed to strike a advantageous steadiness between defending their aspect of Mount Apo and selling it as an ecotourism vacation spot (for inquiries, you may e-mail [email protected]).

“We’re prioritizing how ecotourism can profit native communities—as a substitute of commercializing the mountain,“ the tourism officer, Julius Paner—himself a mountaineer—advised me. He shared that the pandemic has heightened the curiosity not simply in Mount Apo however in different nature locations within the space like Bamboo Peak and Mount Dinor.

Past such efforts, nevertheless, there are bigger points that require motion on the nationwide degree—from insurance policies on mining and logging, to general approaches to protected areas, in addition to indigenous peoples. The vastness of Mount Apo could make a hiker like me really feel tiny and insignificant, however such is the influence of humanity upon the planet that we’re altering its ecosystems and its very geology, in what scientists name the Anthropocene. Do we’ve the management that acknowledges the urgency of our environmental crises—and the need to behave on them?

I hope extra Filipinos—particularly younger individuals—would have the chance to climb Mount Apo and different mountains, and that such experiences would encourage them the way in which they’ve impressed me.

However for that to occur for generations to return, we have to select leaders who will see our mountains not as a useful resource to be exploited—however as a treasure to be protected and cherished.


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