THE Mount Pulag National Park in Kabayan, Benguet rests easy amid the global pandemic.
Emerita Albas, Park Superintendent said with the park closed for climbers and tourists, the highest peak of Northern Luzon is healing amidst the imposed enhanced community quarantine due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) threat.
The mountain is dubbed as god’s playground and is believed to be the final resting place among the Ibaloi folks, one of the tribal groups within forest, 2,922 meters above sea level.
Albas said setbacks in income loss by tourist guides, porters, homestay owners and and the transport sector and store owners is growing.
On March 10, the park management announced the closure due to the rising number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the Philippines.
“The park management is hereby closing the park today and onwards for public safety in concurrence with the Office of the Mayor, regional executive director, Protected Area Management Board chair and stakeholders,” the announcement added.
Statistics show 43, 229 local and foreign visitors trek it’s the peak during the months of February, April, May, November and December.
The book, ‘Mt. Pulag National Park Conserving Biodiversity and Natural Resources on Luzon’s Highest Mountains’ by biodiversity researchers Dr. Edwino Fernando and For. Roberto Cereno document the ecological, hydrological and economic value of the mountain.
“As a forest watershed it helps protect the soild and control siltation and stores and regulates water flow.”
Authors added “The Park is also habitat of populations of many of the restricted-range and montane forest-dependent mammals, birds and butterflies in the Philippines. “
For the past years, local officials disclosed the mountain has experienced various damages brought by forest fires.
This year, during the month of February, a forest fire occurred at Abucot, Eddet, Kabayan followed by the park management’s decision to close the Akiki Trail for public safety.
The Bureau of Fire noted about 10 hectares damage in the forest fire.
Two years ago, the Akiki trail and Mt. Pulag summit was temporarily closed after a grassfire incident occurred allegedly because by an explosion of a camper’s butane-fueled portable stove.
Amid the closure and as rainy days continue, dwarf bamboos grow and the grasslands of the mountain regenerate.
Highlights of the climb include the mossy forests and grasslands with its sea of clouds in the summit. There are trails up the summit namely; the Ambangeg, Akiki, and Tawangan trails from Benguet.