Monday, April 4, 2011

Mt. Manalmon

San Miguel, Bulacan
Major jump-off: Sitio Madlum, Brgy. Sibul, San Miguel
LLA: 15°15.11'N; 121°1.22' E; 196 MASL
Days required / Hours to summit: Half-day / 1 hour
Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 2/9, Trail class 1-2

The Backpackers:
Ivan Ignacio
Heinz Lopez Alvarez
Jovy Duremdes
Liz Honrade
Ralph Flores

Mt. Manalmon and 
the Big Five Madlum Adventure
By: Ivan Ignacio

The Backpackers Big Five - Ralph, Jovy, Liz, Heinz and Ivan stopped a bit for a pose by the Madlum River's entry point.

The five backpackers were greeted by the sight of Biak Na Bato and the Sierra Madre mountain range. Jovy was baffled because she did not expect that we will be climbing a mountain that day. And what seemed to be an ordinary day became an adventure packed day!

Upon seeing the view of Madlum river at the end of the rough road, the small group dazed at the beautiful sight in front of them. And everyone forgot about Anawangin, Sembrano or their respective abodes – all hearts were set in conquering this majestic place, Madlum!



Madlum is supervised and protected by MADLUM Inc, an association which basically is run by the people of Madlum themselves. They require all adventurers to be with a guide when exploring the place, especially when camping in its mountains. We immediately put our things in the training center, hired a guide (Kuya Al) and hiked for a good 10 – 15 minutes up to our first adventure: Crossing Bayukbok Cave 2.

Plotting the activity at around noon was just perfect because going under the cave gave us an excuse to explore the place without being bothered by the scorching heat of the sun. And yes, it was cold down there.

For three of the five backpackers, it was their first spelunking experience. Not bad, because Bayukbok cave 2 is somewhat challenging but one of the safest. The group had some decent crawls under the cave walls; there were some portions wherein they needed to squeeze themselves in the walls, passing through hundreds of stalactites and stalagmites in the process. There was one section of the cave where a remains of a person was resting. Heinz attempted to get a souvenir bone but eventually returned it after realizing that the good soul of the dead might haunt him. There was one portion wherein the Backpacker sweepers Liz, Ralph and Heinz were greeted by a winged creature – a bird inside the cave! The feeling inside the cold cave is just astounding, definitely an experience that one should try.



A structure that the locals use to easily cross Madlum river the fastest became an instant attraction and gained popularity for the mountaineers who frequently visit the place. Two long cables stretching above Madlum river wherein you use one rope for your hands, the other for your feet, crossing it like a monkey. Seems fun right?

Ivan started the traverse as the others watched while assessing themselves if they can do it. Of course everyone responded to the challenge, Ralph, Jovy, Liz and Heinz crossed the cables slowly but surely. An exhausted Liz could still feel her heartbeat after crossing the monkey walk. Good thing Ralph was there to comfort her when Heinz almost gave her a heart attck when he crossed the cable while she was still in it.

After cooking the rice at the training center, everyone geared up to face the highlight of the adventure which is the hike up to Madlum’s pride, Mt. Manalmon.

Standing at 196+meters, this mountain is not higher than the other mountains conquered by the group but the sights above are definitely worth it.

 The start of the trek was interesting because the group had to cross yet another cave, the shortest in San Miguel, Madlum cave. After a walk around the park for 20 minutes, the group reached the base of the mountain. Mt. Manalmon stands face to face with its rival mountain, Mt. Gola.

The two towers give drama to the majestic Madlum river below it which was dramatically green and blue that time. After getting water from an improvised brook, the group started the steep but short ascent. And in not less than an hour Kuya Al and Ivan were joined by the rest of the gang posing at the black rock facing the sun and a familiar Mt. Arayat.

 The group left their packs at the campsite and headed towards the summit where everyone, including Ivan who had been there already two years ago, was amazed and stood in awe by the sight from above. The majestic Sierra Madre mountain range arching the eastern portion of the view led by Mt. Gola and including Mt. Oriod, Bulacan’s highest peak. Mt. Mabio and Biak na Bato on the Nortrhwest and Mt. Arayat on the west side. But the wonder of the summit was not just with the sight of the mountains circumventing it. The view of the pink clouds with the setting sun behind it and the path of the Madlum river below, the great height and the wind that was brushing everyone’s faces - all worked for the group's delight.

 It was very nice to seize the moment and reflect on top of Mt. Manalmon. After several photo ops, a mighty hawk was spotted flying arrogantly in the sky. Ivan tried to shout and an echo was heard from the other side of Mt. Gola. The view was worth it considering that it did not even involve a grueling hike. It was worth it and it was the best. The group had socials that night. They glimpsed at the summit for the last time the morning after that day, broke camp and waved goodbye to Mt. Manalmon.


At the base of Mt. Manalmon, the group rested for a while the boys refueled their waters at the improvised brook. After several minutes, Ivan and Liz spearheaded an exploration over the big rocks that surround the area. They climbed and hopped on to these rocks for a good photo opportunity and a hearty exploration. The heat of the sun was not bothersome, as the place was just amazing.

 Then the group proceeded to camp at the base of Madlum cave where a beautiful rock formation surrounded by a piece of the river was situated. Jovy and Liz took charge of the kitchen while the boys set out to bathe in the river and explored the rock formations. The rocks had edges but that made it easier for the boys to climb it as it acted as support. The boys could smell the aroma of the viand over the rocks and they decided to go down as lunch was served by the ladies. A refreshing soda with ice completed the meal.

 When it was time to clean up the kitchen, Ivan went to the river while Ralph was taking a bath. When Ralph finished, Ivan spotted a long creature wiggling in the river water – it was a leech to his surprise. It’s fifty times the size of the regular mountain leech or the dreaded limatiks. Good thing that none of the boys were victimized by these bloodsuckers. After the satisfying meal, everyone dozed off and slept in the sand peacefully communing with nature as they close their eyes. That was the most relaxing quick nap that everyone had in their lives! After two hours, they went back to the training center to tidy up and prepare for their last adventure!


To end the adventure with a bang, they packed their things, paid Kuya Al the guide fee, and headed towards the tower for the ride of their lives – zipline across Madlum river!
While the locals were still setting up the facility, a local pointed to the group a snake crawling at the bamboo tree. Carabaos, cave bird, a hawk, leeches, river fishes and a snake – not to mention dogs (the group had a very loyal and nice dog, Bantay which was Kuya Al’s) and chickens in the area, they definitely became close to the vicinity’s fauna and flora. The locals assured them that the snake was harmless.

And the zipline facility was already set. Ivan was the first to experience the ride. The harness was set as his heart pounded louder and louder…and so were the others. It was not your regular zipline where you will already be lying down initially. You have to stand up at the edge of the plank, and JUMP for your dear life! Only then will you be forced to lie down, flying over the Madlum river like Superman! The locals were telling Ivan that the key is to jump off the ledge and assured him that it will automatically place him in the superman position. He was hesitant at first, but did eventually jumped, screaming not out of fear but out of excitement as the adrenaline rush circulated his system. That was one amazing and breathtaking ride!

The hesitation of jumping to the ledge was also a concern for the others, but everyone mustered and gathered up the courage to face the river, jump and fly to the other end. The individual photos just captured the intense, exciting and thrilling moment – that were offered by the Madlum zipline.

After eating halo halo and a last blast of photo ops, the group waved goodbye to Kuya Al, Bantay and the beautiful Madlum.

 We will definitely go back here!

And by that time, the Backpackers are complete!

Photo Selection and Captioning by: Heinz Lopez Alvarez, Jr.


abeng said...

nice post..punta kmi dito nxt month sana good weather dayhike lang


Thank you for visiting The BACKPACKERS' site Abeng! We're hoping that the weather will be on your side when you visit Mt. Manalmon so that you'll get to witness the majestic views offered by its summit. =D

Don't forget to try the sidetrips offered by the park: the Monkey Bridge, the Zipline and Spelunking! Have fun and take care!