Mt. Purgatory-Mangisi: The Mossy Gateway


Mt. Purgatory-Mangisi (commonly referred to as Mt. Purgatory) in Bokod, Benguet doesn’t have the dramatic peak of the neighbouring and more famous Mt. Pulag. It holds its own charm and its own quiet magic. The official Mt. Purgatory-Mangisi traverse is composed of five peaks. Throughout the trek your guide will likely point to a landmark a couple of mountains away and, say that, it will be the next stop.

A key feature of Mt. Purgatory is its mossy forest. Miles of trees covered in moss, the dense undergrowth muffling your footsteps and the thick forest ceiling blocking off most of the light. Purgatory’s mossy forest is a strange world, sometimes the rays of the sun finds its way into the undergrowth and bathes everything in soft light, making dews in the mosses glow.  Sometimes the sun is shut out completely and the fog creeps in, making everything look eerie.

Before the climb, I was mildly curious about a mountain named after a place of sin and suffering, but, I didn’t have any expectations aside from taking a few pictures and posting them on Facebook.

But now, when I think of Mt. Purgatory, I remember the families who live there, the village kids who tumble around the hikers and their faces lit by the orange glow of the campfire. I think of the fevered heat that greeted us on the first part of the climb and then the blessed coolness brought by the trees growing close together as we went deeper into the mountains. I think of the springs we passed, where the water was sweet, cold and clean.  I remember the locals nonchalantly drinking directly from the mountain spring and my own sense of wonder knowing that most fast-food-eating city dwellers will never know the taste of water the way nature intended it. But most of all, I think of a community doing their best to preserve the mountains and their culture.

In some way, I finally understood that, we don’t climb mountains just for the view, we climb it hoping that on the way to the top, we discover something that changes us. 

The Mt. Purgatory – Mt. Mangisi 4th Traverse was held on November 2014. The activity was hosted by the ABADEG (Association of Bokod Adventure Eco-Guides) and the local government of Bokod.

Saving Mt. Purgatory is a project implemented by the Jaime V. Ongpin Foundation and supported by the PTFCF (Philippine Tropical Forest Conservation Foundation). The project aims to strengthen local capacities on forest governance and ecotourism for the sustained protection, management and conservation of the Mount Purgatory ecotourism area.

– Flynn V. Ayugat