Mount Apo is the highest mountain in the Philippines and one of the most popular climbing destinations. It towers over Southern Mindanao and surrounded by Davao and North Cotabato. The mountain’s name means “grandfather”or “master.” Because the summit is easy to reach, lots of mountaineers have already climbed to its top. The summit was first conquered on October 10, 1880 by a group led by Don Juaquin Rajal.
Their climb has an interesting story behind it. Before doing the expedition, Don Juaquin had to ask the permission of Datu Manig, the Bagobo chieftain. The datu agreed, but on the condition that the group give a human sacrifice to the god Mandarangan. Don Juaquin persuaded the datu to waive this demand and they successfully climbed the mountain five days after they started.
The mountain has three peaks, with a volcano crater that has a small crater lake. Mount Apo is is blessed with abudant flora and fauna, and has more than 270 bird species. There is a formidable range of landscapes in the mountain. Mountaineers will encounter virgin forests, volcanic structures and mossy swamps. Because of the temperate climate, Mount Apo can be climbed at any time of the year.
Mount Apo has was declared a national park in May 9, 1936 by President Manuel L. Quezon. Efforts are underway for the mountain to be included in the UNESCO world heritage list. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources, together with mountain climbing groups are working to free Mount Apo of the rubbish accumulated in some of its parts.
There are several trails that can be taken to reach the summit, but the easiest route is through Kidapawan City. It will take climbers to Lake Agoko. One will have to spend three hours in crossing the river before reaching the Mainit Hot Springs, the location of the first campsite. The next campsite, Lake Venado, is about six hours away. From Lake Venado, it will take around three hours of trekking before the summit area is reached. Before descending the mountain, one must go to Bongolanon Falls in the Bobbong campsite. A swim in the refreshing waters is the best way to cap off a memorable Mount Apo experience.