Mount Banahaw still restricted, PAMB upped entrance fees

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Mount Banahaw still restricted, PAMB upped entrance fees

1 Mount Banahaw as seen from Lucban Quezon MOD

Mount Banahaw is still one of the known lenten destinations but the environment department expects fewer pilgrims during the Holy Week.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources Region 4A CALABARZON Regional Executive Director Reynulfo Juan reiterated to the public that Mount Banahaw is still closed to trekkers and pilgrims and that religious activities will be allowed only in designated portions of the Protected Area.

Juan, concurrent chairman of the Protected Area Management Board of the Mounts Banahaw-San Cristobal Protected Landscape (MBSCPL-PAMB), revealed that there were suggestions to totally close Mount Banahaw to any human activity for it to heal completely. The DENR Calabarzon chief said that human activity has caused the deterioration of the 'holy mountain' but closing it completely will be somewhat difficult since Mount Bnahaw traditionally hosted cultural and religious practices for ages. 

"The PAMB," he explained, "recognized the religious character of the mount but passed a resolution to restrict human presence in most part and to allow access only in specifically designated areas." 

He lamented the intrusion of a group of pilgrims into a restricted area and who triggered the burning of a sizeable portion on March 20, last year 2014. He said the group led by a sexagenarian were arrested, detained and charged in court.

 

While he warned that trekkers, visitors, including pilgrims, will face legal sanctions for acts in violation of environmental laws and the PAMB resolution, he said, "I pray that the pilgrims, everybody, do their share to help heal the holy mountain."

 

Juan has made several visits to the mountain to monitor protection efforts and supervise the rehabilitation and refurbishing of the Protected Area Superintendent headquarters in Barangay Kinabuhayan.

He had the chance to view the protected area up close from the air during the helicopter surveillance of the fire damaged-area last year and said that he was amazed with the beauty of the mountain and was glad with the remarkable recovery, except for that portion damaged by the pilgrim's fire. 

Forester Ramil Gutierrez, Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer of Pagbilao, also observed an improved vegetation of the then visitor-disturbed areas. "Floral species were also observed recovering. The Rafflesia banahaw has bloomed again in Mount Banahaw," he said.

Since the PAMB allowed entry into identified areas in Barangay Kinabuhayan and Sta. Lucia, Protected Area Superintendent Salud Pangan, reported to Juan that Bantay Banahaw teams of volunteers have been mobilized to help the PAMB protect the park during the Holy Week. The volunteers will come from the Association of Volunteer Fire Chiefs, Philippine National Police, 1st IB Philippine Army, Philippine National Red Cross, Quezon Provincial Healt Office and the Municipal and Rural Health Offices of Dolores, Tayabas, Sariaya and Lucban; PDRRMC Emergency Response Team, SEAL Tech Rescue Team, Tayabas and Sariaya Mountaineers, and San Pablo (Laguna) Mountaineers, Tau Gamma Phi Triskelions and Tanggol Kalikasan.

PASu Pangan said the volunteers' main role will be to maintain order, protect the park from vandalism and destruction; to ensure safety of the park visitors, prevent entry into the restricted areas, and ensure that the visitors and pilgrims will be allowed only in the designated camping areas.

She revealed that she expects fewer visitors since the PAMB has resolved to increase entrance fees. She said a registration team will collect a day fee of P50.00 per individual who would be staying for up to 12 hours, P100.00 per applicant for an overnight stay or up to 24 hours. Those who would pitch up tents will have to pay P100.00 per tent for a day stay and P150 for an overnight stay.

"This PAMB ruling will be strictly imposed. Those not willing to pay will not be allowed entry," she stressed.

She also warned mountaineers and trek or climb organizers to refrain from advertising Mount Banahaw as an open climb destination. She said, "They will be restricted only to the allowed areas in portions of Kinabuhayan and Sta. Lucia, with the pilgrims."

The MBSCPL-PAMB Kautusan Blg. 001-2014 issued on April 2, 2014, extended the closure for another three years, taking off from an earlier resolution issued in 2012, Kapasyahan Blg. 002-2012. Declared off limits in Mount Banahaw starts in the upper part of Kinabuhayan towards the approach to Kristalino Falls to Dungaw up to Tatlong Tangke on the Dolores-side; and in Puesto Pagbuga in Brgy. Bugon and Bagong Ilaya in Brgy. Concepcion, Pinagbakuran and Concepcion Banahaw on the Sariaya-side.

DOs and DON’Ts in Mounts Banahaw and San Cristobal Protected Landscape
1. Do your share to protect and conserve Mount Banahaw.
2. Do segregate your wastes into biodegradable and non-biodegradable and bring your own bag and bring out your own garbage
3. Do pocket plastic wrappers of candies and crackers
4. Don’t litter, throw, dump waste matters in public places such as roads, sidewalks, canals, esteros or parks (Section 48 No.1, RA 9003/DENR Administrative Order No. 2001-34
5. Don’t dump and bury biodegradable or non-biodegradable materials in flood-prone areas (Section 48 No. 6, RA 9003/DAO No. 2001-34)
6. Don’t leave any non-biodegradable litter in the mountains, seas, lakes, ponds, and natural pools.
7. Don’t smoke and throw cigarette butts in the forests, waters, lakes, ponds, streams, seas, pools, canals and esteros
8. Don’t destroy or cause any damage or injure the trees, ornamental and flowering plants, orchids and other plants.