Mt. Pulag (or Mt. Pulog) is the highest mountain in Luzon and the third highest mountain in the Philippines, next to Mt. Dulang-Dulang (2nd) of Bukidnon and to Mt. Apo (1st) of Davao/ North Cotabato. It also belongs to the Cordillera Biogeographic Zone in Northern Luzon.
|Elevation||2,934 meters above sea level|
|Location||Benguet, Ifugao, and Nueva Vizcaya|
|Coordinates||160 35’ 52’’ N and 1200 53’ 56’’ E|
The whole park covers an area of 11,500 hectares and lies along the Grand Cordillera Central Mountain Ranges, covering portions of Benguet, Ifugao, and Nueva Vizcaya. It falls within the administrative jurisdiction of Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and Cagayan Valley (Region II).
Elevation & Coordinates
Mt. Pulag has an elevation of 2,934 meters above sea level with geographic coordinates North at 160 35’ 52’’ and East at 1200 53’ 56’’ (Geonames 2011).
Mt. Pulag is dry from November to March with temperatures ranging from 16-200C but can also go as low as 80C. In January and February, extreme coldness & frost occurs and temperatures may drop to 2-30C. Meanwhile, thunderstorms most likely occur during May to August.
Hikers can traverse Mt. Pulag through three foot trails – Ambangeg, Lusod, and Akiki. From the Visitor’s Center and Protected Area Office in Ambangeg, Bokod, visitors can hike going to the park entrance in Sitio Babadak, Bashoy. Through the Ambangeg Trail, the path goes through the pine forest, then further up the mossy forest, and finally to the summit. On one hand, for visitors looking for a higher hiking challenge, they may take the steep Lusod and Akiki trails from Kabayan through the different ecological zones to the summit.
Topography and Biodiversity
Mt. Pulag is characterized by a highly rugged terrain with steep mountain slopes and rolling areas at the peak. It is home to three types of vegetation namely, the grassland, the mossy forest, and the pine forest. Falls, rivers, and lakes also abound the mountain. In relation, four pristine lakes are situated in the area – Tabeyeo, Incolos, Ambulalakaw, and Latep-Ngapos.The Mt. Pulag lakes, as well, supply water to four Cordillera dams: Ambuklao, Binga, San Roque, and Magat.
At the summit, the grassland is dominated by the dwarf bamboo. At lower elevations, the mossy forest, which is the mountain’s dominant habitat features ferns, lichens, moss, pitcher plants, laurels, and trees of which the most prominent are the Philippine Oak trees. Wildlife inside the forest includes the Northern Giant Cloud Rat and the Bushy Cloud Rat, the Philippine Brown Deer, the Luzon Pygmy Fruit bat andother species of bats, and a wide range of forest birds. Several orchid species are found in the region and some of which are possibly endemic to Mt. Pulag. In addition, a plant species of the cancer-curing Yew, the Sumatran Yew, also grows in the area. Below this, the pine forest, which rests on barren and rocky slopes, contains one of the only two pine species in the Philippines – the Benguet Pine.
Moreover, the first study on Mt. Pulag conducted in 1910 revealed more than 500 species of plant, of which 251 are endemic to the Philippines. Further, in a more recent bird survey, 77 species were identified, of which 30 are endemic to the Philippines, 13 have a highly limited distribution, and eight are globally threatened.
Inhabitants& Ancestral Domain
Indigenous communities living in the area are the Ibaloi, Kalanguya, Kankana-ey, and Karao. Their major livelihood is agriculture, both subsistent and market-oriented. Crops grown include cabbage, potatoes, carrots, beans, snow peas, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and lettuce.
In relation, four Certificates of Ancestral Land Claims (CALC) thru the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) Administrative Order No. 2 have been awarded to occupants of Mt. Pulag. Two were awarded to Barangay Ekip, Bokod, Benguet, while one each was given to Barangay Lusod and Barangay Tawangan, both in Kabayan, Benguet.
Given the diverse flora & fauna found in the area, it was proclaimed a National Park through Presidential Proclamation No. 75 on February 20, 1987. In 1990, Mt. Pulag National Park became one of five sites in the Philippines to become a part of the Debt-for-Swap of the World Wide Fund for Nature for three years. Recently, it was also added into the National Integrated Protected Areas Programme (NIPAP), a project borne out of a Financing Memorandum between the Philippine Government and the European Union signed in May 1995.
In the 1950’s to 1972, the accessible areas of the pine forest were logged. At present, many parts of the forest are used for farming and animal grazing.
Meanwhile, the mossy forest faces annihilation from quick expansion of commercial gardens and infrastructure development. Emerita B. Albas, Superintendent of Mt. Pulag’s Protected Area revealed that at least 100 hectares of the mossy forest have been cleared off for vegetable gardens. As early as 2004, Albas described that many intruders started bulldozing several parts of the park. Warnings have been issued and cases have been filed in court. Recently this year, a backhoe operator was also apprehended for ravaging the Tabeyeo Lake of Mt. Pulag’s mossy forest in Ballay, Kabayan. However, all cases were dismissed and the backhoe was not confiscated by authorities. In addition, Albas & her staff continue to receive death threats. Mt. Pulag is also threatened by road projects that dissect forests, for instance, a government road project that encroach in the strictly protected zonesand lakes of the forest.
Moreover, many of the intruders claim to own parts of Mount Pulag through their use of the Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act (IPRA). Yet, the vast majority of the land has never been occupied, asthe intense growth of trees, plants, ferns and other botanical biodiversity tells of thousands of years of growth. This implies as Albas explained that no one has really been dwelling in the forest, and hence, most of the intruders are outsiders.
Save Mt. Pulag Campaign
In 2011, in response to Alba and her park rangers’ plea, the non-government organization Cordillera Ecological Center known as PINE TREE launched a public education and information campaign to save Mt. Pulag. It has also sought legal assistance from Tanggol Kalikasan and the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center, Inc. – Kasama sa Kalikasan. Further, the plight of Mt. Pulag and the death threats being received by the national park workers have already been made known to DENR Secretary Ramon Paje Jr. To date, Environment officials are still looking into this case.
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- L. Allad-iw. “Commercial Veggie Expansion, Infra Works Threaten Mt. Pulag Biodiversity”. bulatlat.com. August 11, 2007 Accessed October 17, 2011.
- Michael A. Bengwayan. “Life-giving plants battle death at Mt. Pulag”. Yahoo! Philippines News, The Inbox – Vera Files. July 19, 2011 Accessed October 17, 2011.
- “National Integrated Protected Areas Programme (NIPAP)” Accessed October 17, 2011.
- Geonames. Mt. Pulag elevation and coordinates. Imagery by DigitalGlobe, GeoEye Copyright 2011 Accessed October 17, 2011.
- [Bridge Cosme. Mt. Pulag Photos. Mt. Pulag National Park. December 27-28, 1998] Permission obtained from photographer October 14, 2011