WHITE Peak or Mt. Pandadagsaan in Compostela Valley is targeted to be officially opened for trekking from April to June but under very strict policies.
Earlier, Compostela Valley tourism officer Christine Dompor clarified that they have yet to open White Peak for public trekking since its closure in 2012.
Any other treks made after that is illegal and have not undergone proper coordination with their office and the Tribal Executive Council (TEC), the highest policy making body of Indigenous People (IPs) in New Bataan. These treks might have only been coordinated with individual clans and not with the entirety of their council.
They haven’t opened it yet despite of its huge tourism potential because of dangers posed by routes affected by Typhoon Pablo in 2012. On top of that, the decision to open it should come from the entire TEC – a consolidated decision by all clans.
“Whatever untoward incident would happen there it will still be our responsibility. And so we were able to come up with a trekking policy together with the TEC. We were able to do some interventions and trained porters because we really wanted to help. Not that we are trying to meddle with the tribe’s concern but since they are opening to the public, it is our responsibility to oversee if their operation is proper or not,” said Dompor.
After the Comval Tourism Office’s partnership with TEC was formed and policies were made, Dompor said the two parties decided to have a soft opening of the White Peak this coming April to June with only 20 person with climb. So far, they are already fully booked for the months of April and May. She said their office, together with TEC, will be very strict in implementing such number.
She clarified that the soft opening of White Peak on these months is not to commercialize the area but is part of their intention to test the waters especially with the policies that they came up with. This explains the very limited number of trekkers they allowed to participate.
Included in the policy is the strict implementation of proper payments like the P1,500 trekking fee per head for a three-day climb, porter fee of P500 per day for a group of at most five members, and the tour guide fee of P1,000 per day exclusive of food.
The trekkers should note that these are the only legal fees to be requested from them. Other fees like the so-called “ritual fee” are non-existent.
“We included the porter fee and the tour guide fee component because of the livelihood. At the same time, the porter is different from the tour guide. The porter will really be a few meters ahead of the actual trekkers. They are the ones to prepare the tent. The tour guide will be the ones to assist the trekkers,” she said.