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Mt. Apo – An Extraordinary Mountain

Mount Apo is the highest mountain in the country located between the provinces of Davao del Sur and North Cotabato in Mindanao, Philippines. This volcanic mountain measures at about 3, 143.6 above sea level. The name “Apo” means grandchild.

Mount Apo is flat-topped with three peaks and has been declared a national park. The Mount Apo National Park covers a land area of 64,053 hectares. The peaks are capped by a 500-meter-wide (1,600 ft.) volcanic crater containing a small crater lake. The peak appears to be white due to a crust of sulfur that is released in the mountain emissions. It is also a source of geothermal energy with at least two geothermal plants located on it. However, the date of its most recent eruption is unknown. And so far, none is even verified in historical times.

It is a large potentially active stratovolcano with five distinct forest formations inhibited by hundreds of different endemic animal species. These formations include lowland, low montane, high montane and summit or scrub forest. It is one of the most ecologically rich mountains in the region. It is because of the diversity of its landscape with the influence of the climate, soil, rock formations, slant and drainage. There are different types of plants growing on the mountain.

Plant and Animal Life

There are hundreds of endemic species of plants, including rare and endangered species found on Mt. Apo. In a segment between 300 to 1000 meters above sea level, about 800 different endemic plants have been identified as growing on the mountain’s slopes. These include the rare lauan and the endangered almaciga. Of about 18 threatened species of flowers, including the waling-waling orchid, are seen while trekking on the mountain. You may also notice Lake Venado, which is 19 kilometers up to its slope.

Plants are not the only occupants in Mt. Apo. Its forests are also nested with various species of endemic animals. That comprises 227 vertebrate species including amphibians, reptiles and mammals. Butterflies also inhibit the mountain; of about 118 species have been documented in the area. It also served as a home to 272 species of birds, of which 40% or 111 are endemic to Mt. Apo and two endemic birds are already considered endangered. It includes the Philippine eagle or also known as the Great Philippine Eagle (Monkey-eating Eagle). It is among the tallest, rarest, largest and most powerful birds in the world. It is called “banog” by the locals. Another endangered bird is the abukay or Philippine coockatoo.

The Climb

Despite its height, Mount Apo is one of the most popular climbing destinations in the Philippines for its summit is considered easy to reach. October 10, 1880 marked the first recorded climb, by a party led by Don Joaquin Rajal.