This is in reference to the letter titled, "Needless Risk for Mountain Climbers" (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 10/20/96). 

First, we would like to express our deep regret for the unfortunate incident that befell Thom Burns of Maine, U.S.A., during his climb to Mt. Apo last Sept. 30, when he nearly succumbed to hyperthermia at the peak due to heavy rains and thunderstorms. 

Based on his account, I surmise that the culprit is some kind of communication gap and maybe his enthusiasm in getting to the peak. Burns, in his excitement, seemed to have failed to go over the guidelines written on the clearance which he signed at the municipal hall on Sept. 30. Ben Mallorca, our tourism officer, briefed Burns on the rigors of climbing Mt. Apo. 

Regarding his complaint that there is "no adequate shelter" at the peak, the local government is very serious about preserving our natural park. Man-made structures -- for shelter or other purposes -- are not constructed there for they destroy the natural scenery. 

There is no shelter at the peak and there are no equipment, such as tents and sleeping bags, for rent in Barangay Ilomavis. This is the reason we suggest in our brochure that climbers sleep at Lake Venado just below the peak. We also advise climbers to bring along necessary equipment and supplies such as sleeping bags and tents. Without them, no one will enjoy the trek. 

Our registration fee (which includes the Certificate of Successful Climb) is only P50 for foreign and P20 for local climbers. The jeepney fare from Kidapawan poblacion to the nearest jump-off point is P20 and porterage fee is P120 per day. Are these fees exorbitant? 

We have taken cognizance of Burns' complaints regarding the inefficiency of our porters. We will try to improve their services. (Several other tourists have been all praises for our porters' honesty, swiftness and ease in carrying luggage.) But our porters are not tour guides. Burns perhaps wanted a tour guide who could brief him and give information about the scenery and the flora and fauna there. And that is what we lack: tour guides. 

Burns himself said in his letter, "There is no need to die on Mt. Apo or any other peak due to poor preparation." So, to would-be adventurers who want to conquer the country's highest peak (10,311 feet above sea level), properly equip yourself and enjoy the climb -- preferably during the months of October, November, February, March and April. 

I would like to take this opportunity to correct the common misconception about Mt. Apo. Apo is not in Davao, it is in Kidapawan. 

November 12, 1996 Letter to the Philippine Daily Inquirer from Jun F. Piņol, Information Officer, Kidapawan, Cotabato 

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