Sunday - November 15, 2015
I've managed to hike Mt. Maculot several times before, from doing the easy day hike to Rockies to doing a traverse from Grotto. Check out my blogs in the following links:
Mt. Maculot Traverse: Grotto to Summit to Rockies 1.
Mt. Maculot Traverse: Grotto to Summit to Rockies 2.
Mt. Maculot Rockies via Old Trail
Mt. Maculot Rockies via New Trail.
But now that I'm back after almost 2 years not hiking Mt. Maculot, I've noticed changes in the mountain.
Mandatory guides and registration fee
As soon as we arrived at the registration site, I noticed the published rates for the mandatory guides. See photo below:
|the published guide rates as of November 2015|
Because of this major change in the systems, the number of old timers hiking the mountain decreased drastically, while the number of newbies and tourists alike just keep coming and growing, says the guy in the Mountaineer Store. Indeed, there's commercialization going on.
And by the way, the 10 pesos registration fee of before has doubled to P20 per head now.
A summit clearing
Aside from the mandatory guides and registration fee, another big change in Mt. Maculot is the recently cleared summit area. Yes, the summit of Mt. Maculot was cleared by the locals, meaning they chopped down trees and slashed and cut vegetation just to make way for a better view of Taal Lake.
As per our guide, they this did this for the visitors' enjoyment.
|the summit of Mt. Maculot that I used to know. Photo was taken in December 2012|
|the summit of Mt. Maculot as of November 2015. Photo courtesy of Pinoy Mountaineer.|
Old Trail again
A new trail was opened in February 2013 for the reason that the locals wanted the old trail to recuperate from the years and years of over usage. But yesterday, during our hike, it seems that the locals closed down the new trail and opened once again the still recovering old trail.
|back to the old trail|
So what is my stand in all this transformations?
I am dismayed by this mandatory guide system but I'm not entirely against it. If it's the only way to prevent another Victor Ayson from happening again, I wouldn't be against it. And besides, I saw how the guides and newbie hikers mutually help each other. So yeah, I am not totally against it.
But the desecration they did to Mt. Maculot's summit is just unacceptable and insulting. As a nature lover, blogger and advocate for the environment, I condemn this act.