Hikes | Travels | Food

Mt. Pulag's Akiki-Ambangeg Trai

A day hike to Luzon island's highest peak

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Climbing Mt. Manalmon

I  enjoyed Mt. Manalmon because in less than 24 hours, we were able to :

Cross on cable wires suspended 20 feet over the Madlum river which according to locals claims at least one life annually. The cable wires was around 75 meters long. We had to cross this or we walk 1 KM to the Madlum caves. We decided to take the road less traveled and do the cable crossing. Geez, that road was less than an inch thick.

Do some spelunking on Madlum cave – a historical site where a shrine of San Miguel was retrieved. The cave also served as a hideout for Japanese soldiers during WWII. According to our guide, this is also where 9 Filipino soldiers successfully assaulted around 300 Japanese soldiers.

Bouldering – Wohoo! I had a great time doing this. Outside the Madlum cave overlooking the river, we spotted some boulders and climbed on it.

Ride a bamboo raft and clung for dear life. We needed to cross Madlum River to get to the jump-off of Mt. Manalmon and we had two options – cross using a raft or two - cross the river through the cable wires again. Hmm..not in a hurry to do that again. Unfortunately, the bamboo raft was done hastily and was not stable enough to support 7 of us plus our guide and our heavy backpacks. None of us got to relax during the ride because we had to continually shift positions to keep the raft steady. We were all in a tensed mode because slight movements caused the raft to sink in one portion.

Carabao Dipping in Madlum river. Yes Carabao dipping not swimming because the current was a bit strong so me and my friends just immersed at the shallow portion near the rocks. None of us are strong swimmers.

Get a feel of the Military balikatan exercises since it was the same trail they used for training.

Last but not the least – Weird Experience : (I have at least one for every travel) Me and another friend – Laurence got interrogated by a soldier who was holding an armalite. He didn’t point it to us directly but it was positioned in a threatening manner. We had just finished registering at the Barangay tanod wife’s eatery and this soldier called on us. As we walked towards him, he suddenly took out his armalite and asked us “Ano bang pakay nyo sa bundok na yan?” We told him, we just wanted to climb it and he said “Yun lang? Aakyat lang kayo tapos babalik uli?” We said yes. Then he accused us of being activists. Hello!!! I know my legs are muscular but I wondered how he came up with that idea… our clothes were pretty normal and none of us wore anything that would suggest our involvement in any leftist group…Anyway, after laughing at his accusation, he let us go. If he only knew, I don’t get intimidated with big guns..I happen to find it sahhhxyyy! hehehe

Updated Mt. Manalmon IT - Based from Nov 2007 Climb

November 17, 2007 Saturday--------------------
6:30 AM Assembly (Baliwag Bus station, Cubao)7:30 AM ETD – Baliwag Terminal9:30 AM ETA - Brgy. Kamias, San Miguel, Bulacan TIP: Ask bus conductor to drop you off at the Tricycle Terminal in Brgy. Kamias. This is near the highway where you will get off.
9:35 AM ETD – Brgy. Kamias TIP: Along the way – you can ask the tricycle driver to make a stopover at carinderias where you can buy food and additional supplies.
9:35-9:55AM – Buy Supplies and food
10:40 AM – ETA : Madlum River
10:40 AM-11:00 AM : Ask the locals for Mang Carding. He lives in a house across the Madlum River which you need to cross either by walking through cable wires suspended 20 feet over the river or by borrowing a raft from the locals. Luckily, Mang Carding found our group by the river but we had to cross the cable wires anyway to get us to the Madlum Cave. A less adventurous option is to trek your way to the Madlum cave which is around 1KM from Madlum river (I’m not sure if this is still open though). Mang Carding was also nice enough to carry our packs across the river since we could barely keep our bodies stable through the wires.

11:00AM-12:00PM – Cross Cable wires over the river to get to Registration Area
12:00PM-12:10PM – Register in Mang Carling’s house, pay guide fee to Madlum Cave and leave packs
12:10PM-12:40 PM – Explore Madlum Cave
12:40PM-1:40 PM – Bouldering outside Madlum Cave
1:40 PM-2:40 PM – Eat lunch, rest in Mang Carling’s house
2:40-2:45PM – Trek to Madlum River
2:40 PM – Ride Raft to jump-off (Mang Carling is also our guide who led us to the summit)
2:40PM-3:15PM – ETA : Madlum river extension, Stopover to swim
3:15-4:15 – Swim
4:45PM- ETA : Campsite Near Summit

November 18, 2007 - Sunday------------------
7:00 AM Wake-up call8:00 AM Breakfast9:30 AM Break camp11:00 AM ETA Madlum River - Jumpoff
12:00 PM ETA Take a Trike to Bus Station
12:45PM-1:15PM Stopover at Resty’s Carinderia for Lunch
1:30 PM – ETD: Ride bus to pasay
4:00 PM – ETA : Cubao

Actual Expenses : Bus : Cubao to Brgy. Kamias, San Miguel, Bulacan – 100 pesos (one way)

Tricycle from Brgy. Kamias to Madlum River : 200 pesos (for 3 persons); 60 each for 4 people); you need to make arrangements with your tricyle driver to have you picked up on your way back since tricycles seemed to be rare in Brgy. Madlum.

Bus : Brgy. Kamias, San Miguel Bulacan to EDSA Boni – 107 pesos (there are buses to Cubao and Pasay plying the highway before the tricycle station in Barangay Kamias)
Entrance Fee to Madlum cave : 150 pesos for 5-7 people
Guide Fee : Overnight – 600 pesos for 5-7 people;

Tips and Trail :

TRAIL: We climbed November 2007 and the trail was very slippery. It’s 70% uphill. Mang Carling, our guide said that the old trail was close already and the one we used was the trail for the military Balikatan exercises. Whoa! No wonder some parts of the trail seemed like nobody has stepped on it in years.

Prepare to get your shoes wet because at some point, you will need to cross a river, which won’t take 10 minutes but better bring sandals too. Most of us wore shoes which was useful in several instances where we needed to cling on branches, boulders and vines to support our weight going down.

GEAR : Make sure your tent is waterproof especially if you’re climbing during the rainy months. Two of my friends bought the 2-person Coleman Weatherlite tent and it got through 5 hours of heavy rain which we all successfully went through. It’s light, cheaper than your usual tents (around 2,600 pesos – Paris correct ba ako?) and very spacious. The 2-person capacity is based on American size so it can fit as much as four people if they’re petite. You can also get lucky and buy a cheap tent like mine which is less than 2,000 pesos. Just check if the flooring and walls is waterproof and if the material can hold the wind. I was advised by my friend to avoid using poles made up of fiberglass because they can shatter and is hard to repair – you wouldn’t want to deal with that when you’re in the middle of nowhere.

WATER SOURCE: The nearest water source from the campsite is the river - about an hour away, if I remember correctly.

CAMPSITES : The nearest campsite near the summit is actually less than a minute away from the summit. It’s in a small grassy area which can fit about 6 tents. It’s just a small area. I also saw a flat land which can fit more than 20 tents – 30 minutes away from the summit.

Friday, November 16, 2007

What Football Taught Me

 I discovered football  when I was 13 years old. It was a weekend and I was in school for a project. I was walking in our building and from the veranda, I saw uniformed kids in the football field. At first it was just the colors of the uniform that caught my eye – dark blue, neon green socks. Then when the game finally started, I instantly felt attracted to football. I’m not sure what it was – maybe it was the way they pass the ball with their foot or how they move aggressively towards their opponents but I knew it was the kind of game I wanted to play. I stared at the game intently for a few minutes and then it was time for me to go and work on our group project. 

After several months, football tryouts were held. At first I was hesitant to join. I didn’t know crap about football but I wanted to learn how to play it. Plus, I have phobia on athletic teachers. I hated PE since I was a kid because my previous PE teachers were all mean. It was traumatizing for me. They would correct me bluntly about the way I do jumping jacks, etc. Geez, give me a break. It was just grade school PE! Anyway, what gave me guts to go to the try-out were two things a. My friend Valerie who was also trying out told me that the coach was really nice b. I wanted to play soccer so badly!

One afternoon, in my sneakers, I finally showed up at the football field and met with the rest of the team. Instantly, I felt at home. Not a lot of teens showed up and there were several seniors leaving the team after graduation so almost all of us who attended the tryouts were accepted in the team after undergoing rigid training. My flawless, white legs slowly turned into dark brown with scars. My calves went from plump to firm to muscular. My pale complexion got burnt too but I never regretted joining the football team. It taught me to always fight for what I want, to be assertive and aggressive, to be more passionate, to protect my teammates and to overcome fear – to face every opponent – no matter how taller or bigger they are.

For me, football is not only a game of intelligence (utakan?! Hahaha) and strategy, it is also a showmanship of passion and bravery. If you don’t get what I’m trying to say, try watching one football game so you can see the way football players struggle for each goal. It’s really very attractive and fast too. Some people say that they feel bored with football because it takes too long to score a goal but what they miss seeing is the beauty in the way each goal is scored. That’s why it takes long.

Aww..I miss football. It’s so hard to find people to play with now that I’ve moved to a bigger city. I joined the office football tournament but I will have to miss it this Sunday due to commitments I made in advance. Oh well. Beach football is coming up next summer so it shouldn’t be long until I get to play again. Yo Rufangssss…san na kayo?! Miss you guys...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

My Version of A Great Weekend

Last Saturday, I went to Ultra for my usual weekend jog. I was really excited to go because I only get to jog there twice a week. I considered it as my version of quality “me time” because for most of the week, I’m never alone. However, as I approached the back entrance, this tall, muscular guy in black shirt blocked the gate and asked where I was going. I found it weird because they don’t normally have bouncers by the pedestrian entrance. I considered walking past him but he is almost twice my size and he looked like he can throw me back to my house. As confident as I could, I told him I’ll be going to the track and like a secret password he let me in. He must have thought I live there since there are dorms in Ultra. Much to my disappointment, it turns out that the track is closed to the jogging public until December 5 because there were several events being held. I felt really crushed. I have been looking forward to go there all week. I loved sitting on the cement, watching the sky, the grass, the soccer players, the tall buildings and most of all - the male swimmers by the pool (hahahahaha). It’s one of those places where it doesn’t matter if you’re sweating profusely or if you’re all muddy.

Defeatedly, I sat down by the bench and thought of my plan B. I really wanted to run so badly but I didn’t know where. I thought of running around Ultra but quickly dismissed it since there seemed to be a lot of cars coming in and I didn’t feel like dodging those. I sat on a bench and sent text messages to my friends to rant because I was really pissed - so much for my “Me Time”. Suddenly, ideas breezed through my head – Plan B – I’ll try wall climbing (which is in Power Up near Ultra. FYI – I’ve been wanting to try wall climbing for the longest time but I’ve always placed it at the back of my priorities. I figured that it was the best time to get started when I was really driven for some action. Never mind that I have never tried wall climbing or that I don’t know exactly what belay meant. I’ve climbed trees, cabinets, appliances and oh yeah – mountains. Wall climbing should feel familiar to me. Hehhee..wishful thinking..tsk tsk

Plan C – I’ll text my friend Mau and ask if he wants to go to Sunken Garden in UP Diliman and jog there instead. Freak! I just wanted to sweat! Kahit anooooo naaaa lang! I received a text from Mau a few minutes later saying that he wanted to jog with me. Hmmm…. At least I can laugh and talk to someone else. I decided to go with him so I walked another kilometer to the nearest MRT Station, squeezed my way through the Saturday crowd of commuters and rode another jeep to UP. Geez…so much effort just so I can run. I reached UP in about an hour and it was dark already. Again, I was disappointed. I was really hoping to run while the sun is setting and gaze at nature after my jog. With darkness overpowering the Sunken Garden, the only natural thing I would be able to witness is procreation. Even so, I had a great time with Mau. I jogged, he walked. We were able to circle the Sunken Garden for 50 minutes straight at a turtle’s pace. We laughed and talked about our lives and our plans for the future. It was really stress-relieving. It’s really true that the best things in life are free. I’m normally a happy person and the best moments of my life involved all those instances where I spent talking and laughing with those closest to my heart - over a cup of coffee, on the pavement while running, during a climb, in the pool, on the dinner table, in the soccer field, and wherever!

Thank you Lord for these relationships.


Went to Sunken Garden again to jog. I guess my warm-up wasn’t enough because after 20 minutes, my knees started to hurt pretty badly to the point that I was limping already. I would stop a couple of times to stretch and run again (not sure, if that was a good idea though). I was actually planning to run for 60 minutes but I realized it was not going to happen that day. Instead, I aimed to last a few more minutes until I reach this particular post – stretching my limit as far as I could. My knees were really hurting a few meters before that post but I had already set my mind to reach my little goal. I was not going to give up. I realized during the run that if I focus hard enough, my body and mind deviates from the pain. Olympics mode?! Hehehehehe! I really went at it and after a few more seconds, I finally reached my little goal. Wohooo! I realized that this calls for a little celebration despite being alone. Salivating and sweating, I bought fishballs and buco juice at a nearby stall and sat on the grass at the Sunken Garden to eat. Ahhh..sarap! Finally I had my “me-time” for the week. A few hours later, I met with friends and we went to Metro Walk to eat barbeque in Yohoo – one of our favorite places to eat – casual ambiance and great food - the best!


Waaaahhh! I miss camping and climbing mountains. I miss packing my stuff and getting dirty. Can’t wait for this coming weekend. Manalmon – here we comeeeee!

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