Mount Pulag

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Mount Pulag [1] is Luzon's highest peak at 2,928 metres (9,606 ft) above sea level, third-highest mountain in the Philippines, and 26th-highest peak of an island on Earth. It is second-most prominent mountain in the Philippines and is also a dormant volcano. Located on the triple border of the provinces of Benguet, Ifugao, and Nueva Vizcaya, the borders meet at the mountain's peak. Mount Pulag is third highest next to Mount Apo and Mount Dulang-dulang.[2]

Mount Pulag is famous for its "sea of clouds" and its exceptional view of the Milky Way Galaxy at dawn, which has attracted many tourists who wish to see the scenery.

The entire mountain is believed to be the home to the tinmongao spirits and is the sacred resting ground of the souls of the Ibaloi people and other ethnic peoples in the area.[3]

History

The Ibaloi people of Benguet mummify their dead and house them in caverns in the mountain. The Kabayan mummy burial caves, one of the main attractions in the site, are considered Philippine national cultural treasures under Presidential Decree No. 432.[4]

Mt. Pulag was proclaimed a national park through Pres. Proclamation No. 75 on February 20, 1987 covering an area of 11,550 hectares (28,500 acres).[5] It is part of the Cordillera Biogeographic Zone and is a National Integrated Protected Areas Programme (NIPAP) site.[6]

The national park is inhabited by different ethnic groups such as the Ibalois, Kalanguya, Kankana-eys, Karao, and Ifugaos.[7]

Geography

Fogs at Mt. Pulag

Mount Pulag stands at 2,928 metres (9,606 ft) high high.[8] The peak of the mountain is located in the Municipality of Kabayan Province of Benguet.

Climate

Because of its high elevation, the climate on Mount Pulag is subtropical highland with rains predominating the whole year. Rainfall on the mountain averages 4,489 millimetres (176.7 in) yearly, with August being the wettest month with an average rainfall of 1,135 millimetres (44.7 in. Snow has not fallen on its top in at least the past 100 years; however, there have been mild flurries on the mountain, especially during December, January and February. Frost is more common on the mountain due to the low temperature during those months.[9] During the winter season, the temperature at the highest point of the mountain is known to dip into sub-freezing temperatures, making it the coldest place in the country.[10] The only recorded incidence of snow was in the late 1800s.

Fauna and flora

Mossy forest of Mount Pulag National Park
A short-footed Luzon Tree Rat or a Dwarf Cloud Rat

Mount Pulag has a large diversity of flora and fauna, including many species endemic to the mountain.[11] Mount Pulag hosts 528 documented plant species. It is the natural habitat of the dwarf bamboo (Yushania niitakayamensis) and the Benguet pine (Pinus kesiya) that dominate the areas of Luzon tropical pine forests found on the mountainsides. The Philippine yew tree, which contains a compound associated with cancer treatment, is found on Mount Pulag.[12] Its bark is used by indigenous Ibaloi and Kalanguya communities to make tea.[13]

At lower elevations, Mount Pulag has a mossy forest full of ferns, lichens, and moss.[11]

Among its native wildlife are 33 bird species and several threatened mammals such as the Philippine deer, giant bushy-tailed cloud rat (bowet) and the long-haired fruit bat.[6] Mount Pulag is the only place that hosts the four cloud rat species. It is one of the most biodiverse locations in the Philippines, with the newly found (since 1896) 185-grams dwarf cloud rat, Carpomys melanurus, a rare breed (endemic to the Cordillera), and the Koch pitta bird among its endangered denizens.

Hiking activity

Mount Pulag

As the highest mountain in Luzon, Mount Pulag attracts a lot of mountain climbers.[6] Highlights of the climb include the montane forests and the grassland summit with its "sea of clouds" phenomenon. There are four major trails up the summit: the Ambangeg, Akiki, and Tawangan trails from Benguet and the Ambaguio trail from Nueva Vizcaya. These trails are managed by the Mount Pulag National Park, under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Incidents

Presidential helicopter crash

On April 7, 2009, a Philippine Air Force (PAF) Bell 412 of the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing crashed at 6,900 feet (2,100 m) above sea level in the Kabayan-Pulag pass between Mount Mangingihi and Mount Pulag in thick low cloud and fog. The aircraft pilots and their passengers, who were presidential appointees, died in the crash.[14]

Mount Pulag Forest Fire

On January 20, 2018, the Mount Pulag National Park temporarily suspended trekking and hiking activities on Mount Pulag following a forest fire in a section of the mountain. According to an initial investigation, the fire started when a butane gas stove brought by a hiker allegedly exploded. The fire officers in the site declared the fire extinguished later that day.[15][16] Cases were afterwards filed against the perpetrators of the fire. Park rangers estimate that it would take at least 6 months to 1 year before the area would recover holistically.[17]

External links

  1. TagalogLang, Author (July 25, 2015). Highest Mountains of the Philippines!.
  2. Lasco, Gideon (January 24, 2016). The 10 highest mountains in the Philippines (2016 update). Pinoy Mountaineer.
  3. "Benguet folk to appease Mount Pulag spirits", The Manila Times. 
  4. Cariño, Delmar. "Respect mummies, Pulag trekkers told", Philippine Daily Inquirer, 27 April 2009. 
  5. Proclamation No. 75; Declaring As Mount Pulag National Park Certain Parcels of Land of the Public Domain Embraced and Situated in the Municipalities of Buguias and Kabayan in Benguet, Kiangan in Ifugao and Kayapa in Nueva Viscaya, Island of Luzon. (20 February 1987).
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "Mapping out Mount Pulag", GMA News, 25 December 2009. 
  7. (28 July 2004) Getting Biodiversity Projects to Work: Towards More Effective Conservation and Development (in en). Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-52972-3. 
  8. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named PHIVOLCS
  9. "Mt. Pulag temperature drops to 1 degree Celsius", ABS-CBN News, 19 January 2017. 
  10. "Mt. Pulag freezes below zero", The Philippine Star, 29 December 2015. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 Mt. Pulag National Park (en).
  12. Bengwayan, Michael A. (2019-03-05). Companies Rush To Patent Wildlife Of The Philippines - OpEd (en-US).
  13. Bengwayan, Michael A. (2018-07-29). PHL biodiversity under siege from biopirates (en-US).
  14. Yagumyum, Rudy. "PAF provides more details on presidential chopper crash", ABS-CBN News, 16 April 2009. 
  15. Comanda, Zaldy. "Mt. Pulag closed to hikers due to forest fire", Manila Bulletin, 21 January 2018. 
  16. "Hikers, trekkers barred from Mount Pulag after forest fire", ABS-CBN News, 20 January 2018. 
  17. Agoot, Liza. "Activities at Mt. Pulag suspended due to forest fire", Philippine News Agency, 20 January 2018.