Mount Makiling opens up again to hikers

April 9, 2009 4:13 am 

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LOS BAÑOS, April 8 — Lenten Season is here. Mountaineers, campers, outdoor and nature lovers will once again troop to Mount Makiling to seek physical and mental relaxation. Religious groups will not only seek wilderness for spiritual communion with nature but will also wish to enjoy the beauty of the woods.

While Mount Makiling would offer the grandeur of the towering trees, fresh mountain air, music of the twittering birds in the early morning, chirping notes and shrieking howl of crickets and cicadas, and soft and moist grasses underfoot the forest trails, the benefactors, on the other hand, should know and practice how this pristine mountain could be protected and preserved.

Why Make It Makiling?

In previous years, there was no strict monitoring and regulating policies implemented to safeguard the mountain’s resources. Vegetation was damaged, wildlife was disturbed, facilities and other amenities were vandalized, and trash scattered everywhere. Some visitors who come to this legendary mountain did not display love, care, and proper attitudinal responsibilities for this enfranchised physical environment.

From the lessons learned, the Makiling Center for Mountain Ecosystems (MCME) a unit of the University of the Philippines Los Baños mandated to manage Mount Makiling, adopted a scheme wherein visitors, who would be getting time to refresh and stimulate their physical, mental, and emotional growth, would side- by-side develop a good sense of appreciation and accountability for this God-given gift.

The project started in 2002 and was named “Make It Makiling!” or MIM to reflect its ecotourism thrust. According to Dr. Jose O. Sargento, MCME Director, the project will once again tap local government units, various government agencies, non-government and civic organizations together with business establishments and volunteer groups around Mount Makiling. This year’s partners include the local government units of Los Baños, Laguna through Mayor Caesar Perez and Sto. Tomas, Batangas through Mayor Edna Sanchez. Major supporters include the Calamba Water District, Laguna Water District, National Power Corporation, First Gen Holdings, LOBSET, Laguna Rescue, Philippine National Red Cross, Philippine National Police, South Supermarket, Nestle Philippines, Inakay and Fujitsu outdoor clubs and many others.

Rules and regulations

Roberto P. Cereno, MCME Deputy Director and MIM over-all coordinator, emphasizes that a set of rules and regulations will be implemented to promote responsible hiking and camping ethics. All visitors will be required to undergo briefing about Mount Makiling conservation and safety tips prior to entry. After the briefing, a pass will be issued. Without the pass, one cannot proceed to the area.

Camping is allowed only in pre-designated campsites and only those with basic camping gears will be given camping permits. Liquors, dangerous drugs and firearms are prohibited, including cutting implements that can be used to destroy trees and other forest resources. A deposit-claim system will be implemented for those materials normally allowed during other periods but prohibited during the Lenten Season.

Littering is likewise not consented and thus the Los Baños Anti-Littering Ordinance and the Sto. Tomas Cleanliness Ordinance will strictly be imposed. Campers are required to pack out and dispose of their garbage when they return to the entry point. Accordingly to Cereno, before this project, every post Lenten season clean-up of the mountain yielded one ton of garbage. In the past four years of project implementation, this was drastically reduced to less than 100 kilograms.

Access to the mountain’s critical areas are limited. The wilderness zone will be closed to visitors from 3 p.m. to 4 a.m. This policy is aimed at minimizing night-time accidents and further safeguard forest resources against fire and damage. Likewise, the Makiling Traverse connecting the two towns via the summit is temporarily not open during the week.

It is an exhilarating experience to travel by foot and move freely in the open spaces out-of-doors. Therefore, if you look forward for a different type of happenings, there would be no other nature closest to you. Make Mount Makiling as your mountain destination but keep in mind to be nice and responsible to this gratuitous gift from God for others to enjoy!

For further information, please contact: Makiling Center for Mountain Ecosystems, University of the Philippines Los Baños. Telefax: 049 5363572 E-mail: makilingforest@gmail.com (PNA) ALM/PR

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