Monday, February 21, 2011

Mount Manalmon (Bulacan): One day Affair

At the summit of Mt. Manalmon, Sitio Madlum, San Miguel, Bulacan

The trek to Mt. Manalmon is not that gruesome (a.k.a challenging) if you would happen to compare it to the  trails  that we have experienced in Mt. Isarog in the Bicol Region or perhaps the treacherous turns of Mt. Makiling in Laguna. Nevertheless, the view on top is one of the most breathtaking I've seen, comparable to the postcard view of other mountains in Cordillera. The surge of fresh air is welcoming and the serenity of the place is one to be envied.The summit offers 360 degrees spectacular view of Central Luzon's unending plains, Mt. Arayat's towering height, Mt Mabio's Rocky limestone peak, and Sierra Madre's mountain ranges. 

Honestly, I wasn't expecting that kind of beauty that awaited me there. The place is so underrated, and certainly it deserves a distinction for something...

From Cubao, we rode a bus (ES) going to Bulacan (via Cabanatuan) and stepped off at Kamias Street in San Miguel, Bulacan. It was a 2-hour bus ride, with endless view of rural plains and green ricefields (Bus fare around Php120  one-way). Oh well, because of that late night rendezvous we had in Eastwood, we slept mostly in the bus and never got to enjoy the sceneries outside. Through a series of half-awake-half asleep-moments, I caught a glimpse of golden rice fields and sleepy rural communities.

The inviting water of Madlum River, with its infamous monkey bridge...

We passed by several Bulacan towns like San Ildefonso, San Rafael, Bocaue...  (I was kind of amaze how near Bocaue is to Manila). Arriving at the bus stop in Kamias, we hired a tricyle to take us back and forth to Sitio Madlum (for Php 400), the jump-off of the trek. My advice is to hire vehicle that is well equipped for a rough road, because going to Sitio Madlum is a force to be reckoned with. hahhaha. Meaning to say, that almost 30 minutes ride for us in that crappy looking tricyle we rented was unforgettably rough, painful (especially for me since I'm beside the driver). and exhausting (since you will make "tulak" (push) if the tricycle can't make it through higher grounds. The "Tulak" part was a nice experience at first, but later on, it lost its shining glory... =)

After almost half an hour, we passed by a crossroad (we headed to the right, going down) and viola after a few minutes of maneuver, Madlum river greeted us with a deluge of...Men? Coming closer, I realized that those men were army soldiers having a good time... stripped down to their skimpy swimming trunks and frolicking in the cool waters nearby. (Madlum before is said to be haven of NPA's but has now become a training site for army's tactical combat exercise. From the  looks of it, the place is safe, so let's not delve further into that.) I must say, hard  physical work/exercise really equates to glorious human body something that any gym won't be able to replicate. By the way, Anj and Janet, my climbing friends, had a REALLY hard time deciding whether to purse our trek or stay in the company of those men. hahhaha. 

Janet: "Minsan lang ako nakakita ng ganito karaming hubad na lalaki, marvin! pagbigyan mo na kami ni anj! hehhe" 

The daring escapades of those who don't know how to swim...

There were nice rock formations visible from the jump off area. The rocks are actually made up of marble and are sculpted by the green river to give an eerie feeling of those limestone rocks  you'll see in El Nido Palawan... Though a bit corrupted because of it being frequented by campers and picnic goers, the marble formations and cool waters is still a must see. I would have loved to dip into the waters if it weren't for the tight schedule we have. Afterall we're behind schedule. Thanks to the endless googling. hehhehe.

We crossed the other side of the river through a "balsa" (well, some part of the river is about 8 feet high). Anj and Janet tried the infamous "monkey bridge" ( two stable cable wires attached to each side of the river, a rough version of a hanging bridge.) to cross to the other side but were unsuccessful in their daring attempts. Their arms can't just extend,hold, and grip enough to last the traverse. We also learned that they have created a zipline there (although a bit short to create enough adrenaline rush, still a daring attempt to elevate entertainment). And the place is ideal for rock climbing and rapelling. Though, one must bring his own equipment because the local village at the mean time doesn't have enough for the curious type.

Tina: "Kuya hanggang saan ang lalim ng tubig na to?"
Manong: " Aba Ineng, eh ang tinatawiran natin ang pinkamalalim na parte ng ilog..." 
Marvin/Janet: "Anoooo..! Anj wag ka nga malikot sa pagsagwan jan at ibigay mo na yang kahoy na yan ni kuya! Tama na ang photo-ops!" 
Anj: "keribels lang yan, kayo namn masyadong matatakutin, tingnan niyo napaka-green kaya ng tubig, ni hindi ko mkita ang dulo sa lalim...hahahhaha"

After buying enough water in the nearby sari-sari store, the four of us, with our guide, started our trek. (Guide fee = Php 300. we believe this amount is too much for a trail that is well established, but we didn't voice anything. Afterall, in any climb, it's still best to have local with you, I just think they should lower the price a little.) Actually, the travel guides and other outdoor activities  being offered are treated as part of the community's  livelihood activities promoting the place as an easy way to adventure. Of course they can never go wrong in this direction since the place really has alot to offer. I haven't started telling about their caves, right?

Near the summit is a place where you can just sit back and contemplate..
and feel how small we are compared to the rest of God's creation.

The actual trek is an easy a,b,c... you're at the summit within 40 minutes, that is without the usual photo-ops... Well, if we have to include that pictorial sessions, you'd probably have at least 1 and half hour of leisure climb, like what we had. Our guide would always say, take your time... because if we rush, we could cover the whole area in a flash. hahaaha. The sun was at its peak when we started walking. It was so intense and scorching hot that day,  and our already dark skin turned another shade darker... so much for that prized  and dreamed  about mestizo/mestiza complexion. hehehhe.

We passed by their own Station of the Cross, Madlum Cave  entrance (where an image of St. Michael the Archangel was found), crossed the shallow part of madlum river, and went straight up passed a small dried golden grassland, low lying trees, and wild flowers... Afterawhile, we stopped atop this gigantic rock, like a living rock (buhay na bato) as others would say. Atop this, youl'd have a spectacular upper view of Madlum river and the nearby Mt. Mabio. You'd imagine yourself  in "Lion King" scene, filling your eyes with the kingdom that is yours.

A few more vertical ascent and you'd go straight to the camp site; A small clearance where you could actually pitch a tent. It surrounded by a few shrubs and trees, so the area is partly shaded. It would have been great to spend the night there because the surge of wind is so inviting and absolutely refreshing. For a while we laid our backs, stretched out in the flat rocks, and let our eyes feast on the sceneries before us. The Siera Madre mountains is a nice backdrop to an already alluring river system. In the distant, Mt Gola is also a view to behold. 


            Lazy afternoon and quiet moments... when everything seemed simple.

After eating our lunch underneath the shades of unknown tree with cherry blossom like flowers ( thanks to Tina for that mouth watering adobo), we headed to the highest part of the mountain. The summit offers a heaven of sights...neighboring mountains, the green plains, the river system, the blue sky, the distinctive cloud formations, and the golden grasslands. I took massive random shots. I can't seem to control the surge of ethusiasm. It was heaven up there. 

A few minutes more, we had our own version of Project Runaway...something that can never be forgotten. Of course Tina became our resident photographer. I had to part time as model/creative director/photographer (too much to handle if you ask me, hehehe). Thanks to Janet and Anj for being game all the time, and to Tina for being so dear. I must admit, it was so intense...the sun, the setting, the people, and concept... ( that I would have to write a different blog about it)

Manong: " Aba, kala ko jump shot lang ang uso dito"

Anj: " ahh, kuya ngayon ka lang ba nakakita ng mga mowdel... hahaha"

Manong: " OO nga eh. First time kayong gumawa ng ganyan dito... maganda nman pala."

Janet: " Sympre kuya, ibang level kami..." 
Tina : " Hindi naman kayo prepared diba? Hindi kasi halata... hahahha.  "

Going down and saying goobye to place seemed to be too hard. This is what I hate about day treks. I never get to maximize my time, no matter how I try.The sun was setting when we crossed the river. I was hopelessly taking multiple shots of sunset. After taking some more pictures of the lowlands especially the marble rock formations and now the very cold running water, we called it a day and headed to our crappy looking tricycle in the other bank. I guess "tulak" time is here once again. 

And viola, I was not wrong.

It was 8pm when we left San Miguel via ES Bus. At 10pm I was headed to back to Sta. Rosa on JAM bus. 


The peak of Mt. Mabio as seen from the foothill of Mt. Manalmon


Thoughts that that lingered:

1. Bulacan's chicharon is awesome. My mother's instant favorite...
2. Mt. Mabio is definetly next on my wishlist.
3. I have to give that monkey bridge a return try.
4. Will have to choose another concept on project runaway.must.
5. The guide has the eye for good shots. Bravo!


  1. friend~~!! <3 di ko pa binabasa lahat. (bitter ako eh.hahaha) pero ayun. ang ganda mo! hhehehe... imy!~

  2. Thanks Angel... There's always the future. Gagala din tau togther... I'll be waiting. hehehe

  3. i so love the pictures.. especially the summit with a perfect view of Mt. Arayat. :) keep on keeping the memories thru awesome photos. keep on climbing. Keep on dreaming :)


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