Sunday, January 1, 2012

Climbing Mt. Manalmon in Bulacan

Right after Christmas, my two sons, 2 nephews, and I embarked on a fun trek at Mt. Manalmon in San Miguel, Bulacan. After leaving my mother-in-law's home in the neighboring town of San Ildefonso at 5:45 am, we've had a forgetable breakfast of congee in a bus stop along the Cagayan Valley road. Then turning right at a road opposite a Total gas station, we reached Sitio Madlum, part of barangay Sibul along the Madlum river by 7:30 am.

Lower than Taal volcano, the world's smallest active volcano, below are the technical specs of Mt. Manalmon according to Pinoy Mountaineer website:

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 head of the local guides ferried us at the opposite side of the river through a bamboo raft. At the picnic tables along the riverbank, we registered and paid Php 5/head, then a guide named Mel was assigned to us with fee of Php 300 per day hike. We are the first group who will climb that day. I asked for Carlito Carpio, their former head whom I communicated with prior to the climb, but he's not in the area that morning.

Above is a view of the river near the registration area, which reminds me of the limestone cliffs in Palawan. The monkey "bridge" of two cable wires are barely discernible on the photo.

Guide Mel brought us first to the small Madlum cave, which is part of the trail before crossing the narrow part of the river behind it. Water is only up to knee deep, but the current is quite strong that the slippers of the two boys with us got swept by the current. Good thing that Mel knows where to retrieve the slippers downstream, not far from our crossing place.

The trail is very easy, mostly flat, with lots of tree cover. Sadly, there are lots of "kaingineros" (slash & burn farmers) who produce charcoals on this area, as observed along the trail like in the photo below.

We took a long break to the part of the river with big boulders and a small "beach", flanked by two hills on either side. 

Here's one of my favorite shots during this climb, a very serene, wallpaper-quality type of picture. Lots of nice photo opportunities on this area.

After this area is the assault part to the rocky terrain with some bamboo trees, where we've had our second break. The campsite and summit is just about 15 minutes far from this assault part. The climb to the rocky summit is a bit treacherous, as a slip or fall on the east side would probably send the climber to a 200-m. drop to the river below.

The reward after our 50-minute hike? Fascinating views from the summit, like the snaking Madlum river in the northwest.

Mt. Gola on the north across the Mt. Manalmon summit

The top view of the Madlum river upstream from the east side.

The taller Mt. Mabio on the southeast, currently off limits to mountaineers due to a mining company that gets white and red marble from this mountain. The "white rock marble" on its face is partly covered by vegetation on the photo.

The inviting Mt. Arayat from the west, one of my target climbs for 2012.

One of the guys in our group planking near the edge of the summit, with Mt. Gola and Madlum river on the background.

We took a different route on our way down which is less steep, and with a glimpse of the summit.

The boys lingered on the river crossing on our way back, throwing stones on the river, searching for fishes and crabs, etc. 

Trees with roots clinging to the rocks are common sight here as well.

The bended rock layers inclined by 20-30 degrees, showing the tectonic shifts during the area's geologic history.

We like to see the Bayukbok caves for another hour of tour for additional Php 150, but guide Mel has only 2 headlamps which is insufficient. Their zipline which crosses the river is not available, due to bamboo branches blocking the zipline path. So the boys just enjoyed swimming at the river after our descent. 

Washrooms are available at the jump off area for Php 10 per person.

By the time we left Madlum by 12:00 noon, there are lots of groups who arrived to take a swim in the river, while some would stay overnight at Mt. Manalmon.This is a very good introductory climb for beginners, especially if you want to experience rivers and caving at the same time.

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  1. wow! parang madale lang akyatin to ah. hmmm.. pwede tong target this year. hehe.

  2. Yes, this is a very easy climb even for kids. Medyo malayo lang if coming from Manila.

  3. hello po,may i ask the contact number of your contact there?

  4. You can contact Mr. Carlito Carpio at 0919-5746470, the former president of the guides in Mt. Manalmon.

  5. Thanks for the reply.. :) we've been there... You're nice there :) Thanks again :)

  6. Nice to learn that you also enjoyed the place. My kids are asking me to go back there during their summer break.

    Were you able to do caving or spelunking?

  7. Been to Mt. Manalmon last Jan. 22, and I agree, a fairly easy hike, I made it eh, hehe...though my first time again, after more than a decade. :)

    blog hopping, and a new follower here. :)

  8. Thanks for the visit, Pinay Wanderer.

  9. mga sir - pede pong malaman kung magkano ang budget per head? - thanks po!

  10. From Manila, I guess Php 500/person is enough to cover round trip bus and trike fares, registration and guide fee share (at least 5 persons), and food budget of around Php 150.

  11. sir,

    still safe even we have a bad weather? were planning to go this sunday at manalmon.

  12. I think its still safe. I'm also San Ildefonso, Bulacan now and the weather is relatively fine. Not sure though if you will be able to read this reply, as you plan to go there today.

  13. Actually, we never conquer a mountain--we are its temporary guests--we are just lucky if the mountain allows us to climb, enjoy the view, and stay for a while. Then we have to go down, and the mountain remains.

  14. True, we cannot submit a mountain to our will. Its more like a personal conquest of our own body's stamina, doubts, fears, and challenges.

  15. keep on posting



  16. Thanks Geejay. I also came across your blog a few times.

  17. Great hike! Spectacular view!

  18. Nice, We are planning to visit Mt. Manalmon tomorrow.