Press "Enter" to skip to content

Octagenarian conquers Philippines’ highest peak

SINGAPOREAN citizen Chee Han Chong AKA Peter Chong is the oldest climber to conquer Mount Apo, the country’s highest peak. At 80 (turning a year older come July 4), he was able to scale 9,692 feet (2,954 meters) from May 17 to 19 via the mountain’s Barangay Kapatagan Trail in Digos City, Davao del Sur. 

Peter Chong at the peak of the Philippines’ highest mountain

“The climb was so exciting that I’m lost for words. I just told my companion that I may have to learn English again to be able to describe Mt Apo (properly), ” he excitedly shared. 

Chong has climbed several mountains in different countries, including those in Nepal, Australia, and New Zealand. 

Having a “feast” prepared by his guides
Taking a peek at the crater lake

“In comparison to Mt Apo, the other mountains are a walk in the park,” he said. 

Since he resigned as an executive in  Singapore Airlines in 2002, Chong has been based in Baguio City. 

Chong considered himself a “latebloomer” in mountain climbing, having conquered his first peak at 69 years old. His first mountain was Mt Pulag, located on the triple border of the provinces of Benguet, Ifugao, and Nueva Vizcaya. He has climbed the Philippines’ third highest mountain thrice since then. 

“When I was younger back in Singapore, I only play golf and squash,” Chong shared. 

Chong with guide Jowayn Paul Bagaoi, this writer, and Digos City tourism officer Perla May Demafeliz Griffin

Mount Apo is his first mountain in Mindanao. But upon learning that the second-highest mountain in the country, Mt Dulang Dulang (the country’s second-highest) is in nearby Bukidnon, he said that he might be tempted by another feat.

Still peppy in spite of the fact that he just came from the climb during this interview, Chong shared his secret to staying fit. 

“Im very active. In Baguio, I walk every day at least 5 hours. For two years in the pandemic , I was stuck in Singapore. So, I did a lot cycling, going as far as 50 kilometers a day,” he shared.

Chong as welcomed by the Digos Tourism Office after his descent

As for his diet, he is not picky with food but he consumes them in moderation. 

“I like fish and chicken particularly, not for health reasons but just a matter of preference,” replied Chong. 

Chong also credited his well-trained guides Jowayn Paul Bagaoi and Allen Dale Griffin, along with porter Cejie Castillo, who made sure he was safe and well-fed during his three-day trek.

“In fact, they prepared a feast for me, ” he cheerfully recalled. 

Come November, Chong is planning to go back to Nepal for another climb – for the third time. 

“You know, age is only a number. I will continue climbing until I dont want to do it anymore,” he said.

So, will he be back for another rendezvous with Mt Apo, taking another trail, perhaps? 

“I might be crazy enough to come back,” Chong quipped.


Powered By ICTC/DRS