Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mt. Manalmon Revisited

Mon, who celebrated his birthday last month at Mt. Sembrano with The BACKPACKERS, arranged for a Mt. Manalmon trip. He sent out immediate invitations for people to join him. A couple of days before the target date he got a confirmation from two co-backpackers, Angel and Weng, some of the members of PLUS and three of The BACKPACKERS' most recent guests during our climbs: Sheryl, Mina and Freddie. Add to the  gang were Sir Freddie's wife and friends. 

Check out their adventure in the easy but equally amazing Mt. Manalmon:






Missing Madlum
by: Weng Topasi 


DAY ONE

Madlum River
Madlum adventure is definitely something not to be missed. Last September 1, the three BPs Angel, Mon and Weng revisited the beloved place with another group PLUS and other guests that we christened MINUS. We left ES Transport Cubao bus station at around 9AM. Luckily we arrived at Kamias in San Miguel, Bulacan just before 12PM despite the unexpected traffic in McArthur Highway. After taking lunch at a nearby carinderia we prepared ourselves for another trip via rented jeepney to Sitio Madlum. It was a peaceful travel; endless houses and clean air greeted us. My heart was filled with excitement upon seeing the familiar Madlum River and its huge rocks.

Lunch time with BPs Weng  and Mon with Sir Mina (center)

The weather was gloomy as the sun hid behind the clouds but it did not stop us to accept the first challenge: the monkey climb. While Mon registered and arranged for our guide, Angel and I crossed the steel bars, we tried to encourage the guests but most of them preferred to take pictures. It was Jay, Amben, Elaine and Steve who accepted the challenge. Though it was my second time doing the Tyrolean my heart was still beating as fast as the first time I crossed it. We prepared and cooked our meal on a small resting place beside the river to save time. Our guide, Kuya Bodjie patiently waited for us until we were ready.

BP Angel crossing the monkey bridge




The First Step

BP Weng maneuvering through the muddy trail
We started the trek to Mt. Manalmon at around 2PM. We avoided the usual trail which crosses the river for safety reasons. During summer, you can see the bottom of the river and the water is just knee-deep but on rainy seasons the river water becomes murky and will reach your chest. The current was too strong during that time. We followed the trail near the cave area. You need to ascent on a slippery rocky portion on the first part of the trek,  then you need to go down holding the sharp stones and plants to avoid slipping. The trail became muddy making it difficult to move your feet. It was supposed to be an easy trek if the weather cooperated. We were drenched by the rain. However we did not hear any complaints from the guests who were all first timers in this place.


A muddy Mt. Manalmon trail
A beautiful flower along the trail

We reached kuya Bodjie’s hut at 4PM and decided to camp there since other mountaineers were already camped near the summit and some beside the river of Mt. Manalmon. Tents were pitched in front of the hut. We prepared the food for supper while others kept themselves dry and clean. We used the water from the river in washing our utensils. The mountaineers that camped beside the river made an improvised well instead of getting water directly from the river. Though our bodies were already soaked by the rain, The BACKPACKERS and PLUS together with Sheryl, Freddie and Mina never missed the opportunity to enjoy the icy cold Manalmon river.

Enjoying the Madlum River
Photoshoot at the river
Freddie's Angels: Weng, Sheryl and Angel



On Unconditional love and other views

The members of PLUS
Stephen, the PLUS Lead with BP Weng
After the delicious sotanghon meal and some rest… the socials began. Two bottles of GSM Blue was not enough to tackle Steve’s survey of unconditional love and what women want in a man, Mon’s lovelife, some biology terms and anything in between. It was indeed a hilarious and intellectual conversation that we even requested our guide to buy another bottle of Emperador. After the third bottle we called it a night.






Day Two


At the base of the twin peaks: Mt. Gola and Mt. Manalmon


Mt. Manalmon Conquered


We started to climb Mt. Manalmon after the breakfast preparation. The trek was easy; we reached the summit in less than 30 minutes. We were able to see the other mountaineers camped near the summit, it was Sir Ding’s team, the Layas Backpackers whom I met on Day 1. The summit never fails to give us a good view of Mt. Gola and the river below. We took our time enjoying the scenery and photo sessions before deciding to go down.

Mt. Manalmon summit view
At the summit, The BACKPACKERS with PLUS and MINUS
Sheryl and Mina
Meet Elaine of PLUS, at the summit of Mt. Manalmon
BP Angel posing on top of Mt. Manalmon
BP Mon marveling at the view
Meet Ruby of MINUS
Backpacker Weng!

We left kuya Bodjie’s hut after breakfast. The trek back was the same as yesterday’s except that the muddy portions became wider. Other guides put ropes on the rocky and steep portion to avoid accidents. There were a lot of people who wanted to see Mt. Manalmon that day; most of them were students walking barefoot. We left our things at the sari-sari store near the registration area.





Bayukbok Sidetrip

Spelunking Team
Everyone was excited to do spelunking but it was Ma’am Shalom who decided to stay behind because her slippers was not good for caving. We hired two guides: Kuya Bodjie and his brother Winston. We left the registration area around 2PM after crossing the river through the raft. We were welcomed by the steep sharp rocks at the beginning of the trail but this time with warm sunshine. The mountaineers that camped beside Madlum river were also having their spelunking session that time but our group headed first. We did not forget to pray for our safety. The rocks were slippery due to the rain making it more dangerous. We went in by buddies so we can watch each other.






Everyone’s covered with mud as we embraced the rocks and contorted our bodies to fit through the narrow passages. Even the stalagmites and stalactites were covered with mud. This was not an easy task especially for first timers but everyone seemed to be having a lot of fun. This activity will not be possible without our two helpful guides. We met the second mountaineering group as we headed the mossy exit. I was surprised to see that the youngest of them is just 13 years old. I forgot to ask his name but I heard that
they really brought him on purpose so that they can teach him to value nature at an early age. We left the cave at 4: 10PM.



After the tiring activity, we prepared to go home. Steve, Amben, Mon, Donna and Jay found time to dip their bodies on the river and tried to do some  rock climbing without any harness, unfortunately no one made it on top of the rock. We left Madlum past 5PM, tired but happy. It was indeed a successful climb and spelunking despite of the weather because everyone chose to face the challenges and have fun.


Note: Tricycle fare to Sitio MAdlum is P240 per four persons but if you are more than 10 it would be best to hire a jeepney . You may haggle at a nearby jeepney station just request the bus driver to drop you off there and not on ES Transport terminal to avoid conflict between tricycle and jeepney drivers. 
The BACKPACKERS who revisited Mt. Manalmon
Weng Topasi, Angel Cawaling and Mon Sarmiento


Thanks for being with us:
+PLUS (Propelled by Learning via Unbridled Synergy)
Steve Dayandayan
Amben Mendez
Elaine De Guzman
Donna Christine
Jay Felix

-MINUS (opposite of PLUS)
Freddie Fernandez
Thrasher Mina
Sheryl Dalagan
Shalom Magya Macli—ing
Tintin Roperez
Cyruz Pangan
Ruby Manliclic 



PHOTO CREDITS: Angel and Elaine of PLUS






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The BACKPACKERS' previous Mt. Manalmon Adventures:







The BIG 5's Mt. Manalmon Recon climb and Madlum Adventure
To read the adventure, CLICK HERE


The third challenge of The BACKPACKERS' Three Peaks Adventure: Acing Mt. Manalmon

To read the adventure, CLICK HERE







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