MOUNT Apo, being the Philippines' highest peak, is a bucket list for many mountaineers and trekkers in the country.

With the number of people going up the mountain even before the pandemic happened, it has seen its fair share of irresponsible climbers. It can be recalled that a massive fire happened in Mt. Apo in 2016 believed to have been caused by trekkers who left a campfire unattended.

In February 2021, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Davao Region (DENR-Davao) observed that trekkers are not properly disposing of their wastes after the agency and its partners found empty soda bottles, water bottles, and face masks scattered along the trails and at campsites.

Over the weekend, it warned trekkers going to Mt. Apo that if they show indecent behaviors, this could result in them getting up from trekking the mountain again.

The agency uploaded screenshots of a trekker who was shown drinking wine or liquor at the mountain's peak while making unnecessary noise and showing indecent behavior.

DENR-Davao reminds trekkers to respect Mt. Apo considering its ecological value and its importance to the beliefs of the cultural communities in the area.

"Mount Apo is not just about its ecological and wilderness value. It is also remarkable for its cultural significance and is highly respected as it is believed to be the burial ground of Apo Sandawa, the indigenous community’s Great Forefather," the agency said in a post.

As irresponsible trekkers continue to haunt and disrespect Mount Apo, maybe it is time for the Mt. Apo Natural Park-Protected Area Management Board (Pamb) to implement stricter measures to protect the mountain from irresponsible trekkers. It may also consider conducting another round of training for guides to allow them to handle difficult trekkers.

It also pays to improve the information and education campaign on policies and what not to do when trekking Mount Apo. Mountaineering groups, DENR, and the Pamb can work closely on this together.

Lastly, as a reminder to those who plan to trek Mount Apo, learn to respect the ecological and cultural importance of the mountain. Do not trample on its beauty nor do indecent things at the mountain. Your selfish and irresponsible actions could damage the mountain in the long run. Let us all be reminded to always be responsible trekkers of not only Mount Apo but also other ecotourism sites in the country.