Birthday Hike at Mt. Matutum (Tupi, South Cotabato)

I woke up at 2:30 AM, ahead of the alarm, excited to meet another mountain. I had just turned a year older. Thankfully, my youthful enthusiasm for nature remains unchangedThough I've been feeling the effects of aging with the slowing metabolism and white hair popping everywhere,  I'm happy I could still hike, though my pace is much slower than a few years back. :) This time,  I'm heading to Mt. Matutum, an active volcano in the municipality of Tupi, South Cotabato province.

Read : Celineism  | I Spend My Birthday in the Mountain

My hotel in General Santos city was next door to a 24-hour branch of Taps & Mix, a restaurant serving Filipino comfort food that has become a new favourite. The menu looks like something people enjoy eating when they have a hang-over.  Some of the items in their menu includes gambas, sisig, TAPSILOG, chicken wings & chopseuy . Though I did not get enough sleep the night before, I made time for brewed coffee and an early morning breakfast. #priorities :P 

At a little past 4:00 AM, the bus left Bulaong terminal in Gen San for Tupi. (Tip : Be at the bus terminal by 4:00 AM and ride the bus with a signage "MARBEL - 2 Stops". This is bound for Koronadal, Marbel's new name). After an hour or less, I arrived at Kablon crossing in Tupi where I met with my guide, sir Toto Mateo. (If you're not familiar with the area, just ask conductor or driver to let you off at Kablon Crossing. While there are no obvious markers, the crossing has a waiting shed and a habal-habal or motorbike terminal nearby.

The jump-off is 30 minutes away on rough road, passing Dole's vast pineapple plantation.  The view is beautiful and calming with Mt. Matutum as a backdrop.

start of our hike via Glandang trail
We had a short stop at the home of a barangay leader to show my permit. By 6:00 AM, we were making our way up the mountain via Glandang trail, passing Glandang Elementary school. At the time, only one other group was in the mountain and they had camped the night before.

The first part was not as easy as I expected. The trail is clear but narrow and gradually inclined. Add the lack of sleep and I was out of breathe early on. I adjusted my pace - slower with a max 10 second rest - just enough for my heart not to jump out of my chest. My guide, sir Toto could have effortlessly made his way up but he patiently waited for me. We were about 10-20 feet apart most of the time.  

The slower pace was enjoyable. Numerous times I paused to admire the fog, the fungi, moss-covered tree branches and the orange flowers along the trail. We even spotted a  bird perched on a tree. Thankfully, no snakes. Hehe! 

In 1 hr 47 minutes, we reached an area called Phase 1. It's a wide area that serves as a resting spot. By the time we get there, I was dizzy from hunger. All the food I ate that morning had left my system in the first 30 minutes of the hike! Sir Toto and I ate a quick breakfast, his first, my second. :P  I would have preferred to stay longer as we were ahead of schedule but it got so cold, we had to move again.

Mt. Matutum's mossy forest
After phase 1, the trail transitioned from steep to incredibly steep, making the hike up even more challenging, but seeing its beautiful forest, it was hard not to smile! The light rain and fog made the shade of trees and plants more vibrant. There's plenty of roots and branches to hold on to, I didn't slip.  The soil was wet but because not many people went up here, the ground is stable. We did see limatik but they were not aggressive. 

Our slow and steady pace worked. We barely stopped for a rest. After another 2 hours from phase 1,  we finally reached the summit! If not for the markers, you'd think it's just another resting area. Fog was everywhere and there was nothing to see. Still, I was elated to have reached the summit. Some 30 minutes away, there's another area called Peak 3 where view is supposedly awesome but with the bad weather and cold, we decided to head down after about 10 minutes. 

At Mt. Matutum's cold and foggy summit
Before 2:00 PM, we were already making our way back to downtown Tupi where we had late lunch. Farmers bread has delicious panic  lomi and bread. It's just across Tupi Public market and bus terminal where I rode back to Gen San. (Tip : If you love coffee, check out the public market for native coffee. There's a stall near the entrance selling it.)
post hike lunch at Farmers Bread with my new found friends from Tupi.
My guide, sir Toto is the guy in grey, while the rest of the guys are also hikers, his friends we ran into on our way
down the mountain.
This hike is part of my week long birthday trip. Hope you can also take the time to read my other posts on this. :) 
Leg 1 : El Nido Experience with Northern Hope Tours | Walking Around El Nido Town (to follow)
Leg 2 : Birthday Hike at Mt. Matutum (You're here!)
Leg 3 : Overnight in Maguindanao (Part 1) | Overnight in Maguindanao (Part 2)

Here's my itinerary and travel info:
Matutum Day Hike Itinerary via Glandang Trail (from Gen San)
Note : Contact guide ahead of your hike to schedule. In my case, I coordinated with my guide, one week prior. You will also need a permit to climb. If coming from out of town, he can process it for you. More details below.

November 2017 (Sunday)

4:00 AM - ETD Bulaong Terminal in Gen San
5:00 AM - ETA Kablon Crossing to meet with guide and take habal-habal to Sitio Glandang
5:15 AM - ETD Kablon Crossing 
5:45 AM - ETA, Sitio Glandang, show permit to barangay official, final preps, restroom break. 
6:00 AM - Start Trek
6:30 AM - Arrival at the only water source
6:45 AM - Start Trekking again
8:15 AM - arrival at Phase 1
8:30 AM - resume trek to summit
11:00 AM - arrival at summit
11:30 AM - start descent
1:30 PM - arrival at Sitio Glandang, dress up at barangay leader's place and take habal-habal back to downtown
2:30 PM - back in downtown, late lunch at Farmers Bread
3:00 PM - wait for bus back to Gen San
4:30 PM - back in Gen San

Expenses : 
Permit fee - 500 PHP
Guide fee - 1,000 PHP
Guide - Toto (Jefferson) Mateo - +63 (0920) 743 7135

Note : He can assist with your permit. You will need to send the permit fee via Palawan Express (Guide fee to be paid after the hike). Contact him ahead of time before sending the payment. As he will be processing the permit, please consider adding an extra amount on top of the permit fee to cover for his expenses. 
Habal-habal fare from Tupi to Sitio Glandang-100/person, one way. You will pay for the guide's fare.(to and fro, total is 400 Pesos if you're going solo)
Fare from GenSan to Kablon crossing - 40 PHP+/-* (aircon bus, first trip at 4:00 AM) - 
*I forgot the exact cost but it's around that amount.

Where to stay in GenSan? 

- I'm not able to recommend the hotel I stayed in because of noise issues. I do however, encourage you search for a hotel via Traveloka  app (super useful for last minute bookings on domestic travels!) or Agoda. Do check the reviews on the site, via Trip Advisor or run a search on Google. :) You can find rooms for as low as 500 Pesos/night but take note of the inclusions (aircon, private t&b, breakfast, etc) as well as location from establishments and distance from Bulaong Terminal where you will be taking a bus to Tupi. It's easy to get around GenSan via tricycle though some drivers may overcharge you. There's a minimum fare (I forgot if it was 8 or 10 Pesos) and tricycles are for sharing. The driver will pick up passengers that are along their route, unless you request for a special trip.

Side Trips 

You can combine this with a hike to Sanchez peak near Gen San or a trip to Gumasa beach in Sarangani (see Pinoy Adventurista's post here for travel info). 

Past adventures

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