My last climb to Mt. Apo was Holy Week 2013, that was eight long months before I’m finally back to the mountain I considered my backyard. This time, the climb was extra special because I spearheaded a team of documenters from GMA Network in Manila for its shoot of the country’s highest summit in its weekly documentary show I-Witness.
“Actually, we would like to connect Mt. Apo to some top mountain destinations in the world,” said I-Witness host Miss Kara David. “We would specifically like to compare our very own Mt. Apo to other peaks which we already visited, Mt. Olympus in Greece and Mt. Fuji in Japan.”
The climb started early morning on November 29 when I picked the team up at their transient house in Davao City. Along with my colleague Hardi Joy Desuyo, we travelled all the way to Baruring and trekked the jungle of Tinikaran until we reached the first campsite of the famous Sibulan Trail. Blessed with a fine weather, we were ahead of our itinerary as we arrived at around 1:30 PM at Tinikaran campsite.
The extra time we spent at the campsite allowed me to chat more with Miss Kara. In one of our conversations, she told me that Mt. Apo, particularly Sibulan Trail, is a very good trail every full-blooded mountaineer should pass through. The still lush vegetation and trekkers’ trail that she referred to as virgin is worth the experience. “What I like about Sibulan Trail is that the trail is not abused.” To my delight, I explained to her the core of conserving the environment more than just ecotourism. I also told her the strict implementation of carrying capacity that should be religiously practiced by LGUs with open trail to Mt. Apo.
The second day of our trekking wasn’t really fine in as far as the weather is concerned as we had to traverse the heavy downpour when we got to the boulders. However, the other I-Witness crew found one interesting reason to thank God for the rain, as it would surely add drama to the storyline of their documentary. Videographers Aldrin and Disney were all praises for that, although at some point they also had their share of frostbites. Instead of directly going into the main summit campsite, we instead stayed at 87 degrees campsite on the second day. We waited for the rain to stop and then took the entire team to the summit at around 1:45 PM.
Although exhausted with our Day 2 experience, the rest of the team had no problem descending via the same route on the third day. We arrived in Tumpis basecamp very early at 11:00 AM and just took our time there with the Sibulan Porters community. We even had lunch in one of the houses of the porters in Tumpis.
Some other highlights of the climb that Miss Kara David observed and pointed out to me include the empowered community in Sibulan that propelled ecotourism and environmental conservation considering that the area belongs to a natural park and ancestral domain. She also said that she personally opposes to the idea of putting up a stairway to Mt. Apo as earlier proposed. “The beauty of this mountain is unique and we can only have it here in the Philippines. Putting up structures that will belittle its beauty is not a good idea. As much as possible we have to keep this mountain in its original state,” the amiable host concluded.This blogger would like to thank the I-Witness team headed by Executive Director Miss Cris, Miss Kara, Aldrin and Disney and my office buddy Hardi. Also to our porters Artur, Judy and Jangjang.