By Jana Tabligan

Like wildfire, the news of Mt Apo in flames spread throughout the country fast. As a person who longed to reach the peak even as a child, it is disheartening to hear that at least 300 hectares of forests was sent to the flames. But despite the speculations, the fire was not caused due to volcanic activity nor excessive heat caused by the weather but rather of irresponsibility.

When the news was reached last Saturday, March 26; Mt Apo was not the only one engulfed in flames. The people; especially us in Mindanao, were also set ablaze. Our hearts went out to the mountain we prided ourselves with as the highest peak of the Philippines. Many have dreamed of reaching the summit, to feel the cold embrace of the wind, to experience the breathtaking view overlooking the mountain, to smell the earth and feel your feet against it, and to see the billowing clouds around you.

And now, how can we be worthy of that pleasure, when we neglect to bring importance to our mountain? How can we appreciate the view of what we are blessed with when nothing awaits us but the ashes of what remained? How can we continue to be proud of something when in a few decades from now, when this still goes on, there will be nothing left to be proud of? To those unidentified climbers who were suspected to have caused it, we do not blame you.

Do not burden yourself with guilt of what you could have done but instead, may this awaken the awareness in each of us. Climbing is not just a hobby to participate in carelessly but rather a responsibility to uphold. Yes, you might be venturing in uncharted territory but the mountain’s condition is also put at risk.  It only takes seconds to start a spark, minutes for it to catch fire, but it takes a days, maybe even weeks to put out and a lifetime to restore.

Let us also take this into something more familiar. We get a new smartphone from our parents, with the latest apps and hardware that could beat all of its competitors. Of course, a gift from our parents will always be the apple of our eyes and so we buy a screen protector and a casing for it. If then we are so meticulous for something as such a piece of technology, then we must also be capable of doing the same not only for Mt. Apo but also for nature as well.



Photo courtesy of the Philippine News Agency