March 15-18, 2008
Towering at 2,954 meters (9,692 ft) above sea level, Mt. Apo is the Philippines' highest stratovolcano. It's last eruption is unknown, and sulfuric craters spewing toxic fumes can be found on the boulders section, on the way to the peak. Mt. Apo is home to 270 bird species, 100 of them endemic. It is also home to the world's largest eagle, the Philippine Eagle - it exists nowhere else in the world. As one of the highest land-based biological diversity in terms of flora and fauna per unit area, it's marked for the UNESCO Tentative World Heritage List.
I was backpacking alone from Iloilo City, and subsequently hooked up with the climbing team upon reaching Davao City. Altogether, we were 11, forming 2 groups, including 1 guide and a (mandatory) porter. A lot of the ground work was already done tirelessly by Reggie who ensured lodging, transportion, guides, etc. were factored in. Prior, there was a lot of email exchanges within the group on food planning, gear and logistical needs. As I was still backpacking then, I had no input, and simply tagged along for the climb.
The thick layer of bureaucracy that accompanied the registration process was frustratingly stupid. To register, they require the following: a letter of intent, an application form, 1x1 picture, medical certificate, waiver, briefing, certificate of briefing, etc. The papers go through the following offices: OCEEM, the city mayor, and the CTO. When I asked the officer if this registration-information is available online or on any government offices, he said it's not. So, how the heck are we supposed to know that we need a picture, a medical certificate, a letter of intent, etc? Ah....when comedy was king!
There are a few options on what route to take. We chose the Kapatagan trail to summit. It was a 2-day trek that took us along diverse ecosystems - grassy knolls, mossy forest and boulders. Temperature ranged from scorching heat to chilling cold. We trekked over and under fallen logs, on river crossings, thick brush and sulfuric vents.
Before the peak, we had to hurdle the 87 degree boulder climb. At the outset, it was the scariest thing to look at, but the actual climb was not as daunting, although still formidable. The summit has 3 peaks with a 500m crater lake saddle. The panoramic view of all of Mindanao was simply gorgeous.
Santa Cruz - Colan Trail
The original plan was to go down via Kidapawan Trail but that would mean going against rush hour traffic. That day was the start of the climbing frenzy and hundreds would be taking the Kidapawan Trail on the way up. With mostly single-tracks, it was a looming nightmare. We decided to traverse the mountain and upon reaching the base on the other side, to make our way back by cutting through the mountain's foothills - the Santa Cruz/Colan Trail. This trail was longer but pretty level. We wound through thick mossy forest, Lake Venado, and came upon the giant Almasiga tress - it takes 6 grown ups hand-in-hand to wrap around it.
One thing annoying about climbing Mt. Apo is apart from paying the already exhorbitant entry fee of P500/person, you pay another exit fee if you exit at another point. We tried to skirt this by going where there's no checkpoint. In the process however, we got lost (yes, even with guides) and lost daylight before reaching the nearest village. From there, we boarded a utility truck back to Digos, then headed back to Davao City.
I asked a few of my teammates why they climb. The answers were varied - for fun, to get away from it all, for flora and if you're lucky, for fauna, etc. I can't say I do it for fun although I feel a great sense of accomplishment summiting a mountain and making it back down in one piece. If I want fun, I'll do technical single-track riding on my mountain bike. I guess I climb to get to know myself a little better. Because you can't quit in mid-stream, and you don't want to be the weakest link in the chain, you take that extra step forward and upward...with all that heat, with all that load and with all the obstacles in front of you. At the end of the day, after loading my crap in some thick brush, after making the laundry line, preparing and cooking food, keeping the tent dry in the driving rain, breaking bread with my team, and getting to know my climbing buddies through their passing anecdotes, I get my sense of bearing on how I fit within this bigger whole. Moreover, knowing myself better, instead of being critical, I get to appreciate my imperfections like scratches on genuine leather. Climbing does that. Yeah, tomorrow's gonna be a great day.
*** Some pictures courtesy of Reggie, Aarone, Mcar, Ivan, Xtine, Tomas, Cloud, Slow, Ian and Jon
- Bring with you an ID picture, a letter of intent and a medical certificate. The registration guys will give you a hard time if you don't have these.
Davao City, Philippines
- Bahay ni Tuding - central Poblacion location, wifi, hands-on owner
160 San Pedro Street, 8000 Davao City
0947 361 3544 | 7°03'57.6"N 125°36'28.3"E
- The Pinnacle Hotel and Suites - central location, new management, newly renovated
Sta. Ana Avenue, Davao City 8000, Philippines
(+63) 932-8708621 | 906-3185885 | 7°04'34.2"N 125°36'54.2"E
- The Apo View Hotel - Davao's iconic hotel, old world charm, casino
150 J. Camus Street, Davao City Philippines 8000
+63 (82) 221-6430 to 40 | 7°04'09.2"N 125°36'27.4"E
- North Zen Basic Spaces - great rooms at affordable prices
Sobrecarey St. (corner Lapu-Lapu St.), Davao City, 8000
(082) 295.3997 | 7°04'43.0"N 125°37'04.3"E
- Urban Living Zen Hotel - newly opened - all NEW!
F.s. Dizon Bacaca, 8000 Davao City
(082) 287 3133 | 7°05'28.4"N 125°36'22.3"E
- The Royal Mandaya Hotel - heart of downtown Davao City
J. Palma Gil Street, Davao City, 8000
(+63 82) 225.8888 | 7°04'09.4"N 125°36'36.8"E
- Alu Hotel Davao - central downtown location
M. Roxas Avenue corner Padre Faura Street, Davao
+63 82 227 5232 | °7°04'07.7"N 125°36'51.7"E
yoga | health | fitness
- one of the cleanest potable water in the country
- smoking is banned from commercial establishments
- pineapple samurais are endemic here and nowhere else in the country (pineapple vendors who cut-up whole pineapples into chunks with just a few strokes of their carving knives)
- public utility drivers conspicuously display their IDs
- durian Mecca of the Philippines (not to mention Marang, Mangosteen and Sweet Pomelo)
- you want to add some more? please submit on the form below
- the weighing scale of fruit vendors specially the durian push cart vendors are a blatant cheat - showing almost twice the actual weight
- deep excavations are done and left open. When the rain pours and the streets are flooded, no one can see the excavations. Unsuspecting people fall through the excavations and could drown if not for the people who jumped in to make a rescue. On the night of Sep 18, on a heavy downpour, I personally saw 3 women fall through. According to the vendors, as much as 8 people fell through. Of course, no one complained, and of course, the authorities did nothing. As of this writing, the excavations remain open.
- you want to add some more? please submit on the form below
- Yoga Beyond the Mat Oct 21, 2016
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- Duterte Mania in Davao Oct 12, 2016
- Sirsasana, Sarvangasana - Yoga Makaranda II Oct 7, 2016
- Tirumalai Krishnamacharya Oct 5, 2016
- Ashtanga Yoga with James Fritz Freire at Holiday Gym and Spa Oct 1, 2016
- There was a Bomb Explosion? Sep 30, 2016
- Jin in Davao Sep 29, 2016
- Scrubs and Hilot at Holiday Gym and Spa Sep 22-29, 2016
- The Fabulous Dabawenyos Aug 22-Sep 26, 2016
- Nirvana Breathing Fitness with Lita C. Quisumbing Sep 21, 2016
- Massage, Sauna and Ear Candling at Holiday Spa and Gym Sep 17-19, 2016
- Downpour in Davao Sep 18, 2016
- Lounge One Yoga Sequence by May Bel Le at North Zen Hotel Sep 16, 2016
- Celebrating Davao's King of Fruits - Durian! Sep 11, 2016
- The Blast that Rocked Davao Sep 2, 2016
- Hatha Flow Yoga with Joanna Lizares Co at Holiday Spa and Gym Aug. 31, 2016
- Conducting a Power Yoga Class at Yoga Davao Aug 29, 2016
- Good Eats with Mel Pangan's Davao Food Tour Aug 26, 2016
- A Gifted Dell Laptop from the Usual Suspect Aug. 24, 2016
- The Duterte Phenomenon Oct 21, 2015
- 20 Days in Davao City July 4- 24, 2014
- Goodbye Davao...Again! Sep 28, 2013
- Wine and Cheese at Malagos Farm House Sep 27, 2013
- Custom-made Peanut Butter at Davao City's Bankerohan Market Sep 27, 2013
- Yoga in Davao Sep 26, 2013
- Celebrating 25 Years of Habitat for Humanity Philippines Sep 18, 2013
- Clobbered in a Vicious Karate Match Sep 17, 2013
- Back Into the Black Sep 1, 2013
- No Reply Aug 30, 2013
- Full Body-Cavity Search without the Latex Aug 25, 2013
- Fun Day with Crocodile Sonny and Sports Unlimited Dynamic Duo, Dyan Castillejo and Marc Nelson Aug 15, 2013
- Fun! Fun! at Maxima AquaFun, Samal Island Aug 11, 2013
- Goodbye Davao Jan 22, 2013
- Davao City's Peace and Order Jan 21, 2013
- Holiday Spa Yoga, Davao City Jan 20, 2013
- Free Yoga at People's Park Jan 12, 2013
- Davao City: Family Ties Dec 15-22, 2012
- Breakup Diaries: Chance Encounter in Davao City Dec 19, 2012
- Davao City June 20-23, 2009
- Davao City March 18-20, 2008
- Mount Apo March 15-18, 2008
(27 Apr 2016) My friend and I want to do trekking in the Mt Alpo around 5-6 May 2016. How can we book such trekking before coming to Davao?
(28 Apr 2016)
I consulted Dennis Manonog
, a climb I met during my climb and this is what he said verbatim, "...the recent fires in Mt. Apo were so bad local authorities are closing it for 5 years! Here's one blog
(Nov 15, 2012) Salamat sa pag pose. Na feel ko na exciting pala ang mountain activities. Paano ba mag paregister para makapag mountain climb? Passion kasi ng boyfriend ko mag mountain climbing and gusto nyang may makilalang mga mountaineers pag nandito na siya sa Mindanao. Gusto ko ding mag join. I think that's exciting. How long does it take to drive from Ulas, Davao going there to Mount Apo? Thanks!
(Nov 17, 2012)
The best way is to contact the UP Mountaineers (https://www.facebook.com/upmountaineers
), but this is Manila-based. I don't know the mountaineering organizations in Mindanao, although I'm sure there are a lot. Sorry, I have no idea about the drive from Ulas to Mt. Apo. Thank you for your interest, Eunice.
(May 18, 2009) wow...impressive. LoneRider ka talaga. so tell me, exciting ba doon?
(27 Apr 2008) Thanks for the link-up. Your site rocks! Too bad we didn't get to know each other well while on the trail. We should meet again...somewhere remote in the Philippines. Sagada's not as remote anymore as it used to be, yeah?
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