Saturday, December 4, 2010

Destination: Mt. Manalmon

Who would choose mountain trekking over a free photography workshop? Me.  I am a self-confessed freebie addict, and just as I RSVPd to one free photography workshop last November 20, I chose Mt. Manalmon over that.  Totally no regrets!  Read on and you’ll know why.

They call themselves as Watak Wasak Akyat Group, and one of them invited Paulo, then Paulo invited me, that made me part of the ‘friend of friend of the group’ category (or guest climber? haha!)

Our meeting place was at Five Star bus station in Cubao.  Fare was Php114 one way, and after roughly 2 hours, we arrived at Camias, San Miguel, Bulacan.  After a little shopping for food and other necessities at the local market, we decided to hire a tricycle to get us to the jump off point.  It was actually cheaper if we hire a jeepney, but with the way the tricycle drivers are behaving, we figured it will be best to hire them, and that means we saved one jeepney driver from being beaten by half-a-dozen tricycle drivers.  Tricycle ride costs Php200 one way, maximum of 4 persons or Php50 each.  Heads up:  these are hell drivers!!  Do not hesitate to remind them that you’re not participating in a race! Stress level 10/10.  Though, they were really nice to offer to pick us up the next day, which I thought was great and of course convenient for us.

First on our itinerary was cave spelunking.  River trek!  We crossed a small river to get us to M.A.D.L.U.M Training Center.  After we have settled our belongings, paid Php5/each for registration/donation to the baranggay, and another Php30/each for cave spelunking, we’re all set!

In order for us to get to Bayukbok caves, we were faced with 2 options, it’s either cross the river using the balsa, or challenge yourself to cross a single cable!  I did a similar thing like this in Cebu, the difference is there's no harness in Madlum!  The only 'safety harness' you'll have here is a 20-feet drop in the water!  How's that?

Of course, we chose to cross the monkey bridge and hang on for our dear lives!


Kuya Abel, one of our tour guides, told us that Madlum cave served as hideout for Japanese soldiers during World War II, and this is where 9 Filipino soldiers successfully assaulted around 300 soldiers. As triumphant as it sounded, good thing Kuya Abel told this story after the 30-minute trek (not before the trek) because I tend to magnify paranormal things in my mind, hehe. Anyway, what interests us is the music room, where different rock formations when tapped will emit different sounds. I wasn't able to pay attention to this one though, because I was so busy minding my steps and my head.  

It could be the adrenaline rush that even if at past 4 in the afternoon, we did not actually mind not having lunch.  Our ultimate goal was to see the sunset at the summit, but with the estimated 1.5- to 2-hour trek to summit, we refuse to hold our hopes high.  True enough, the sun sets when we were still on the riverbanks!

That means.. night trekking!

I was so excited, it was my first time to do night trekking! After roughly an hour of trek, trying to create trail marks or signals for the group behind us (as if they'll even notice, haha), stepping on mud and hoping that it is really just mud, and a kilig moment with Paulo when we saw fireflies (it was like a scene from a koreanovela), we arrived at Madlum river extension, approximately 20-minute trek before the summit.  We settled near the river for dinner and socials.  BTW, guide fee for overnight camp was Php600 each guide, and because we're quite a large group, we had 2 guides. :)

Our short stop in Madlum river extension became a portal of like a different dimension.  It was a place where we laid on our blankets and/or bags (in my case, on Paulo's arms), chilling and enjoying the moment when we became one with nature.  Full moon, great halo, a few stars, and just the sound of the night and water from the river ~ perfect!  I recalled expressing how thankful I am that we get to experience that rare moment.

While waiting for our food to be cooked, we feasted on light snacks and some vodka.  And just before the adrenaline rush subsides, I was tipsy to even notice it!

I swear I'm in this photo.. I can see my toes.. haha!

It was such a challenge for me to continue the trek to the summit while admittedly being drunk and all I hope was not to fall off the cliff!  And hooray! We safely arrived at the campsite, and we immediately pitched our tents.  While most of them enjoyed each other's company and endlessly share their thoughts through the night over a few bottles, I went straight to!.. and waited until the next morning to get a glimpse of the spectacular view Mt. Manalmon has to offer.

It showered a bit, and the next day the sun did not show up, but that didn't stop us to enjoy the view, it was such a treat!

at the summit ♥ (in my pajamas)

great view from the summit (Photo credits to Alexis de Rivera)

The view from the summit was like an analgesic!  It was such a rewarding scene that all pains and abrasions from the climb were gone. 
Addict much?

And seriously, who would make carbonara in the mountains?

.. and bring cream cheese and parsley for this?

Happy birthday, Allu!

How's river trek, monkey bridge, balsa ride, cave spelunking, night trek, fireflies watching, moon and star gazing, and carbonara for the first climb?  It was crazy!! The whole experience was remarkable and super fun!  And I wish to join them again.  Now, I'll ask you this, "Who would choose mountain trekking over a free photography workshop?"

I bet you will. :)

Until our next climb,

Photo credits to: Allu, Kris, and Eugene

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