HEAVY RAINS “SHUT DOWN” MT. PULAG TO TREKKERS

BAGUIO CITY — Heavy rains and strong winds in Mt. Pulag have “shut down” the country’s second highest peak in Kabayan, Benguet to mountain trekkers for two straight days since Thursday.

The Office of Civil Defense in the Cordillera, quoting park management, said that trekkers are advised not to take the risk of climbing the over 2,900 feet above sea level mountain because of the bad weather.

On Thursday, Mt. Pulag Protected Area Superintendent Emerita Albas, in an advisory, said the peak and camps 1, 2 and 3 have been closed as it was drizzling with zero visibility accompanied by strong winds that could blow away the camping tents.

Albas acknowledged plans to partially close down the mountain to trekkers to protect it from further degradation.However, she said that they still have to observe the mitigating measures already instituted by the park management while taking into consideration any permanent closure to local livelihood.

“The park closure should be presented to the management board,” Albas explained.

At least 150 people benefit as tour guides in Mt. Pulag as a trekking area. “We have to ask what the indigenous peoples communities think of the partial closure, if ever,” Albas said.

Aside from the guides, transport groups as well as home stay program beneficiaries would be affected if the mountain is partially closed.

Considered as a sacred ground of the indigenous Ibalois of Benguet, Mt. Pulag is a favorite trekking ground for local and foreign tourists because of the breathtaking view of the sunrise amid a sea of clouds at its peak, the second highest after Mt. Apo in Davao. THOM PICANA/ northboundasia.com