DAVAO CITY – A total of 199 kilos of trash were collected by mountaineers who volunteered in a five-day cleanup drive conducted in the Cotabato side of Mount Apo last month.
Shirley Uy, chief environmental officer of the President Roxas Sub-CENRO Field Office said they held the cleanup activity from Feb. 22 to Feb. 27.
“Officially, 199 kilos of trash were collected. These were composed of plastics, food wrappers, and liquor bottles,” Uy, who is also the Deputy Protected Area Superintendent (PASu).
She said the volunteers had to break the bottles into pieces and were transferred to plastic containers to make it easier to transport.
Uy expressed her frustrations on irresponsible climbers.
“Minsan pala ang iba sa kanila only say that they are nature lovers but they are irresponsible mountaineers. They can afford to just throw away the garbage there,” she lamented. “Ang masakit pa dun, tinatapon dun sa ilalim ng mga berries para hindi masyadong makita,” she added.
She also said a lot of mountain boulders were vandalized. The volunteers had to cover them with cement during the cleanup drive.
“We brushed it with cement so that another batch of moss can grow,” she said. A total of 132 volunteers who were divided into two batches joined the cleanup activity.
The Cotabato trail has been closed to mountaineers since the middle of 2019 after an earthquake hit the province. “Dalawang batches ‘yan, tag-tatlong araw sila. We have two trails na dinaanan, ‘yung Bonglanon trail dito sa Magpet at ‘yung Mandangan trail sa Kidapawan City,” Uy said. She said they held the cleanup drive as part of their preparations to open the Cotabato trail this April. “Alam ko maraming gustong umakyat dahil sarado nga kami and this year we are planning to open it up. We wanted to clean up first from the top hanggang pababa para accounted ang lahat ng garbages and trash na makikita after that,” Uy said.
Uy said they will conduct a thorough assessment if they will push through with the opening of the Cotabato trail. “Kasi kung palaging ganito po ang mangyayari, baka it will take another year for us to open it again for them to enjoy nature in the peak of Mt. Apo,” she said.
Uy clarified that this is only for the Cotabato side. “Yung Davao side they have already opened sometime in the last quarter of 2020 and siguro dapat magkaroon na rin sila ng assessment whether to close it,” she said.