MT. PULAG: the 3rd Highest Mountain in the Philippines
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 attraction of the site, are considered Philippine national cultural treasures under Presidential Decree No. 432.
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).It is part of the Cordillera Biogeographic Zone and is a National Integrated Protected Areas Programme (NIPAP) site.
The National Park is inhabited by different ethnic groups such as the Ibalois, Kalanguya, Kankana-eys, Karao, Ifugaos and the Ilocanos.
Because of its high elevation, the climate on Mount Pulag is temperate 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. 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. The only recorded incidence of snow was in the late 1800s.
Fauna and Flora
Mount Pulag hosts 528 documented plant species. It is the natural habitat of the endemic Dwarf Bamboo, (Yushania niitakayamensis) and the Benguet pine (Pinus insularis) which dominates the areas of Luzon tropical pine forests found on the mountainsides. 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. 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.
As the highest mountain in Luzon, Mount Pulag attracts a lot of mountain climbers.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.
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.
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 at 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 site have declared a fire extinguished later that day. Cases were afterwards filed against the perpetrators of the fire. Park rangers estimate that it will take at least 6 months to 1 year before the area recovers holistically.