Our Mt. Manalmon trip last September 28-29 was a jampacked! This is one of those open climbs that we’ve got a huge number of guests. Probably because they’ve already heard stories of what this mountain showcases. Just a brief background, Mt. Manalmon is at 196+ MASL, it’s a low lying mountain in the area of San Miguel, Bulacan and is usually referred to as a hill by some mountaineers. It got nearby sites like the Bayukbok Caves (wherein you need to cross a river to get in) and the Madlum Caves. We coupled our itinerary with a sidetrip of these two to maximize our Biak na Bato experience.
The trip started with a major delay in transportation. The bus that we rented which we expected to arrive at 0430 to pick us up at Shaw Blvd apparently arrived at 0700 due to an engine defect. But we were sooo lucky to have guests who were really patient and stayed positive that time. Though I know that some were really disappointed with what happened, which is understandable and we were really sorry about. Imagine the hassle of waking up early in the morning only for you to wait for another 2 hours and a half, which you could’ve spent in sleeping more instead. But likewise, the climb could’ve been aborted if not for the positivity of the people there, be it members or guests. 🙂
This is also the climb that I got myself familiarized with all the roles and responsibilities of the officers in a climb: be it TL, STL, ATL, Scribe, Medic, or Sweeper. Together with Aizel, our Team Lead for this climb, I was tasked to be her assistant in organizing all the requirements for this climb. Aizel, being a second timer of this mountain (this was also her first climbed mountain btw), took charge of the itinerary. So I was really confident that she’ll do good as a Team Leader for this Open Climb. True enough, she has proven that she’s not just another beautiful face, but someone who also has the character and leadership skills. Meanwhile, being a graphic design hobbyist, I took charge of the publicity efforts for this climb as well as the IDs and certificates.
I dragged along Lucky and Marvie, my friendly housemates, to be my guests. I got stoked when they said yes because I’ve been really wanting them to feel the thrill and excitement that I feel towards mountain climbing. So to all my friends there whom I keep on inviting, your yes would really mean sooo much to me. Haha 🙂
We arrived at the initial jump off point at around 1100 and started with prayer and our usual stretching routines. The weather was good despite the rains days before the scheduled climb. The trail was gradual which barely took an hour and a half to reach the peak. We went on to alternating uphills and downhills.
After the summit photo ops, we ate our packed lunch then started with our descent to the river to prepare for our spelunking. Here comes the exciting part!
I’m actually not a fan of spelunking but the Madlum Caves gave us that ultimate adrenaline rush feeling. The inside was really muddy and slippery so you really have to wear a good pair of trekking shoes or sandals. A headlamp is a must since the inside was really dark. Wear gloves to improve your grip on the rocks that you will be grasping the whole time. It will test your flexibility since you have to squeeze in your body through the small cracks. You have to crawl in just for you to fit in those lowly elevated stalacmites. You have to rappel down and use those rope skills else you’ll be left atop. You have to maneuver both your legs and arms to pass each phase. And lastly you have to pull out those big grin still despite the sticky messy mud all over your body.
The whole spelunking took 3 hours and we went out the cave really dirty. It was almost 1700 that time that we opted to not proceed with the second set of caves anymore since our itinerary is already delayed due to the morning bus incident. Also, the river that time was raging and the balsa which was supposedly our mode of transfer across the river would not be enough for the strong water current. We then took our chance to cross the famous monkey bridge just to experience it.
Afterwards we headed our way to the Pavillion of the Biak na Bato National Park where we will be staying overnight. The place is covered and the floor is tiled so you should bring a tent that is free standing because you won’t be able to pitch it in if it’s not.
This is the climb wherein I first used my newly bought cookset and stove. Finally, I’ve completed the basic equipment of what a mountaineer should at least have to be self-contained. But being a people person that I am, I honestly don’t prefer going solo, be it in meals or in tents. I haven’t thought of going on a solo climb yet either. I believe that mountain climbing is at least a 2-person sport.
We had pork adobo for dinner which I precooked the night before the climb. We then just reheat it and cooked the rice instead. We also prepared the rice for our breakfast cooked as well already so we can have a sinangag in the morning. Best partnered with our spam and corned beef meal. Yum!
After dinner, then we had our most awaited socials! We were kinda doubting that time if the guests would still be keen to it since most of them were really already dead tired from spelunking. Surprisingly, they were all very participative still in all the games that we prepared: Longest line, Pass the message with a twist, and of course our favorite Seven-up!
We set the wake up time at 0530 to prepare for breakfast and the second part of our caving. This time, they said that it’s not going to be as difficult as the previous. We crossed a river that is above the knee deep, there’s also a rope provided across to help you through the flowing water.
Our Day 2 caving is more of a tourist mode type since we don’t have to do the exhibitions that we did during Day 1. It was actually educational since the guides were telling us historical backgrounds of the cave. On how Emilio Aguinaldo took refuge on the caves of Biak na Bato just to hide from the Spaniards and how they can detect if an enemy entered the perimeter of the caves just by hearing the sounds of what their feet makes. We even had this follow-the-chant activity wherein we all burst into laughter after the guide delivered the punchline. I won’t expound it more for you have to experience the fun for real!
We left the cave just in time for some swimming in the natural pool inside the BNB Natural Park. We had our pre-ordered lunch served by the ate(s) there wherein we paid P120 per head for a full dish meal: rice, fish, tinolang manok, gulay, and buko pandan. Sulit na sulit! We had our post climb afterwards then distributed the certificates to our valued guests.
In behalf of Batch Trese, we would like to thank all the members and guests who supported this activity! Yeyy! And congrats to sis Aizel Docog for a very well organized climb! Thank you to my batchmates for supporting this: Mau as our Medic and the entertainer of my guests with his jokes and punchlines, Marc Santos as our Sweeper, Ric our Scribe, to Bryan who volunteered to print the IDs and certificates of the guests (very much appreciated), to Cha and Eduard who relentlessly assisted this open climb as well, to Rose who also guided my guests all throughout the climb, to the couple Carlo and Lea who never get tired and never missed any of the MMS climb yet, to our Senior Team Lead Papa Ding Prudencio for guiding us, to Sir Al for sparing us your energy in spearheading the socials which made it really really fun, and to our batchmates who were not able to join but still supported us in spirit (we know)! I hope you guys would continue to join the future open climbs of MMS! Wiiii! 😀
Photo credits: Jan David Morta, Eduard Velasquez, Carlo Tuazon, Tristan Santos