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THE WHOLE PHILIPPINE mountaineering community had been in a state of agitation lately ever since the news of the planned construction of more than 16,000 trail steps that will be undertaken by the City of Kidapawan leading to the summit of Mount Apo was hatched.
The main purpose of the project is to facilitate tourism in the area; to discourage the establishment of new and unsanctioned trails; strengthen conservation and preservation; bring economic gain in the local tourism industry; and position Kidapawan as a major tourism hub in the entire Central Mindanao. It was presented to the Kidapawan City Tourism Council and to the media recently by the city governmentís Investment and Tourism Promotions Office and would cost P2.5 million.
An advocacy movement in the Internet opposing this project was immediately started by mountaineers belonging to the Mountaineering Federation of Southern Mindanao, led by Art Daniel Bacus, when it discovered that the whole idea is morally wrong and so found support from their brethren in Luzon and in the Visayas. Aside from mountaineers, environmental advocates and citizens with right frames of mind joined in this fray with which a signature campaign now found its way among the malls and public places.
A parallel fund-raising drive was started in Davao City to provide the needed monetary resource for an information drive to counter this planned desecration of the countryís highest point. For info, Mt. Apo is sacred land to the indigenous Bagobo, Matigsalug, Talaandig and Manobo peoples which all referred the peak as Apo Sandawa. Lake Venado and the forests along the enclaves of the Mt. Apo National Park are traditional hunting grounds for these tribal peoples and no local government entity should have dominion on ancestral lands claimed by these people. Besides that, Mt. Apo is a protected area and no structural development should be undertaken which would violate the law proclaiming it as a national park and, as it is, may destroy the natural essence of the mountain.
Here in Cebu, our very own outdoors community start its very peaceful protest action at the IT Park last March 23, 2013 at 8:00 PM. It coincided with an Earth Hour program but separate and produce its own distinct crowd. All wore black T-shirts with the print ďNo Stairway to Mt. ApoĒ to show disapproval and displeasure about that planned stairway construction. Organizing this event are Chad Bacolod of the Mountain Climbers Alliance of the Philippines, couple Randell and Marjorie Savior of Tribu Dumagsa Mountaineers, Bonny Ann Gicale of the Outdoorsmanís Hub and Leo Linog of Star FM. This writer came to observe and document that activity. Ultimately, I affixed my signature opposing this project for a good reason.
On this same ground, this writer started a thread about this entitled Mt. Apo Crisis in the Politics and Current Events Section of iSTORYA.NET last March 26, 2013 to find consensus among members of the online Cebuano community. As of this writing, the majority of comments had already been posted opposing this folly of an idea with only one in favor. It is an opinion poll which, altogether, represents the macrocosm of the sentiment of the Cebuanos. You donít need to be a mountaineer or be an environmentalist to distinguish which ideas are commendable for Mt. Apo and which are not despite the rosy picture given by the adherents of this Hagdan Ni Apo project.
You donít need a stair to climb a mountain. If you are fit you could do it. If you are not, then discipline yourself to be fit and climb your mountain else do not climb at all. Donít change the mountain to accommodate you. Let the mountain change your mindset. Better still, know the mountain better instead of just climbing it.
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About the Writer:
PinoyApache is a former mountaineer and have summitted Mt. Apo nineteen years ago to this day. He now teaches survival and primitive-living skills to mountaineers and other interested people under Snakehawk Wilderness Skills School. He is owner of a blog called Warrior Pilgrimage and is an article contributor for iSTORYA.NET and Pinoy Mountaineer.