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
Heinz Lopez Alvarez
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!
BIG 1: SPELUNKING AT BAYUKBOK CAVE
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.
BIG 2: TYROLEAN TRAVERSE – THE MONKEY WALK
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.
BIG 3: NICE AND EASY, MT. MANALMON
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 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.
BIG 4: SWIMMING & ROCK CLIMBING AT MADLUM RIVER
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.
BIG 5: SUPERMAN ZIPLINE!!!
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.
Photo Selection and Captioning by: Heinz Lopez Alvarez, Jr.