February 9, 2023

Officials of Kabayan, Benguet said consultations are ongoing for the conduct of an international race in Mt. Pulag, which was initially set on March 25 to 27.
Mayor Basilio Louie Daoal, Jr. said the organizers have coordinated with the municipality but the staging of the event is yet to be approved by town officials and the Mt. Pulag Protected Area Management Board (PAMB).
Daoal said a meeting was set with the PAMB on Feb. 18 since the approval would come from the and the board, which is responsible for the upkeep of Mt. Pulag.  
He said the conduct of the Altitude Obstacle Course Racing World Series-Asia would depend on the alert levels given to the community.
Kabayan Tourism Officer Fernand Bangonan said there would still be consultations to be conducted with the residents and other tourism stakeholders.
“There is still no memorandum of agreement signed between the municipality, the community, and the organizers so it is subject to changes,” Bangonan said.
The matter will also be discussed during the Kabayan Municipal Inter-Agency Task Force meeting on Feb. 21.
DENR-Cordillera Executive Director and PAMB Head Ralph Pablo said they have received communication from the organizers regarding the event in December last year. However, the meeting with the organizers pushed through only last January.
“Binusisi naman namin lahat. They said there will be no alteration in the area so there’s nothing to rehabilitate after since the obstacle course would be removed after,” Pablo said.
PAMB has given the green light for the organizers to proceed with the event, subject to the approval of local government units covering Mt. Pulag.
“Hindi ibig sabihin na kapag cleared na sa PAMB ay OK na,” Pablo said.
“The legwork is with the organizer to talk with the LGUs,” Pablo said.
He also clarified that Mt. Pulag is open only for residents of the surrounding municipalities covered by the national park and not to tourists.
Luzon’s highest peak, Mt. Pulag national park straddles the towns of Kabayan, Bokod, and Buguias in Benguet; and Tinoc in Ifugao; and Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya.
The event is organized by the Pilipinas Obstacle Sports Federation (POSF) and World’s Highest OCR. It is recognized by World Obstacle Internationale de Sports d’Obstacles with the participation of Spartan Race Philippines.
POSF Event Manager Tin Ferrera, in an interview, said they have initially met with Kabayan officials on Jan. 31 where they were told, as per the municipal council resolution, that the event will be allowed provided only those coming from alert level 2 areas can join and there will be antigen testing and bubble format.
She said the details of the event are subject to the ongoing consultation and collaborations they are conducting with the LGU, the PAMB, the community and the barangay where the event will be held.
The POSF has also pledged donations for the community outreach activities, professional training of mountain guides, athlete grassroots project implementation and repair of tourism facilities within Mt. Pulag.
The target is to invite around 300 participants with 150 athletes per day during the event. Slots will be given for local athletes especially those from Benguet and nearby provinces surrounding Mt. Pulag.
The top 50 male and 50 female athletes will qualify for the altitude OCR world finals in Mount Toubkal, High Atlas Mountains in Morocco in July 2022. – Ofelia C. Empian