Saturday, February 24, 2007

Learning from Mt. Pulag

Ana Margarita Zapanta of First Gas, one of the 91-strong Lopez Group-led mountaineers who climbed Mt. Pulag last February 15-16, came up with this observation, “If you want to get to know another person better, climb a mountain with him/her.” Indeed, we will derive lessons from Mt. Pulag and our climb not only about how people behave in certain conditions but also in how to manage and lead businesses.

First, some backgrounder and environmental analysis.

Mt. Pulag straddles portions of the provinces of Benguet, Ifugao and Nueva Vizcaya in Northern Luzon. It is roughly 50 kms or 3 hours by car north of Baguio City. It is also accessible by foot from the capital town of Bayombong and located towards the boundary of Nueva Viscaya and Benguet.

Along the way from Baguio, you will pass the very powerful Ambuklao Hydroelectric Dam and crisscross the scenic upper Agno River that feeds the dam. Ambuklao is the biggest rock filled dam in Asia and is considered one of the huge projects that happened in the Cordillera area in the 1950s. The other dam along the upstream of Agno is Binga Dam.

Mt. Pulag is home to different indigenous tribes such as Kalanguya, Ibaloi, Karao and Kankana-ey. According to the Department of Environment and National Resources (DENR), these tribes regard the mountain as a sacred place. “They have a rich folklore about ancestral spirits inhabiting trees, lakes and mountains. Agriculture, both subsistence and market oriented, is their major livelihood. Crops grown include rice, cabbage, potato carrot, beans, snow peas, tomato, lettuce and sweet potato.”

The Mt. Pulag National Park covers about 11, 560 hectares of public domain that lies on the north and south spine of the Grand Cordillera Central Mountain Ranges in the municipalities of Bokod, Kabayan and Buguias in Benguet; the municipality of Tinoc in Ifugao; and the municipality of Kayapa in Nueva Viscaya. It stands majestically at 2,922 meters above sea level and the highest point in Luzon, second only to Mt. Apo in Mindanao standing regally at 2,954 meters, a difference of only about 32 meters.

It is managed under the National Integrated Protected Areas Programme (NIPAP), a joint project of the Government of the Philippines through the DENR and the European Union (EU). It could use a lot more assistance from every Filipino.

DENR says Mt. Pulag has a large diversity of flora and fauna, many of which are endemic to the mountain. “Its wildlife includes threatened mammals such as the Philippine Brown Deer, Northern Luzon Giant Cloud Rat and the Luzon Pygmy Fruit Bat. One can also find several orchid species some of which are possibly endemic to Mt. Pulag, and other rare flora such as the pitcher plant.

“It has floral affinities with those of temperate continental Asia, Australasia and to some extent Peninsular Malaysia. Studies show that Mt. Pulag contains 528 plant species and 42% of which are endemic to the area. The park is habitat of 76 bird species, 14 species of which are migratory, 9 are endemic to Luzon and 30 species are endemic to the Philippines. Also, 14 bird species have a global distribution of less than 50,000 sq. km. and 9 are threatened species.”

Next columns, let’s discuss lessons from our climb and from the experiences of the climbers led by Lopez Group top honcho, Oscar M. Lopez, who at 76 is the oldest to climb Mt. Pulag with not a scratch or hiccup and is ready to challenge Mt. Apo soon.

ASTD 2007. The American Society for Training & Development International Conference and Exposition will be held on June 3-6 at the Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, Georgia. The plenary speakers are Jim Collins, Keith Ferrazzi and Tom Rath. When you register, you may use delegation code (20070256) to avail of discounted registration fee. You may also join the Learning & Innovation Team for discounted travel package. For details log on to for details.

(Moje consults on business excellence and talent management. Her email addy is

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