Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Riverfront Camping in Mt. Manalmon

It’s been a long time, I know. Honestly, I’ve been busy doing nothing. I still have few back logs about my solo backpacking in Indonesia last year. Been wanting to post updates, trust me, my spirit is willing but my body is just too weak! Haha. If not for the intense adventure I had last weekend, I wouldn’t have any strength today to start my-first-story-of-the-year.
Unlike my other adventure, this time, it was my beloved boyfriend who organized the trip. This is indeed a new year for me. He started his new found hobby last year, when he and his group of friends went to Anawangin and  Nagsasa in Zambales. Then it was succeeded with another overnight camping adventure in Batlag Falls in Tanay last month. And just last week, I had one of the most extreme and most exciting camping trips ever.

I normally don’t travel on a weekend to avoid the crowd, but since J and his friends has Sat-Sun offs, he didn’t give me much choices.

While planning the trip, one of the major concern we had to consider, is that fact that his friends aren’t actually the ‘climber’ type. They want something adventurous but not ‘too’ hardcore… They want to camp and they want to swim as well. And most of all, the words ‘cheap’ and ‘budget’ must also be taken to consideration.

With all these conditions to think about, we knew exactly where to bring them. Mt. Manalmon.

Mt. Manalmon is part of the preserved Biak na Bato National Park. History said that this is one of the hiding places of Katipuneros during revolutionary era. Now, this part of San Miguel, Bulacan slowly became a paradise for thrill seekers and nature lovers. 

We left Cubao – Baliwag bus terminal at around 930am. Five from the group just came from their respective shifts so we had to wait for them – but it was actually J and I who were late at our meeting place. SHAME! Travel time from Cubao to San Miguel, Bulacan is approximately 2.5 hours. Fare: 117Php/oneway.

Tricycle drivers mobbed us as soon as we get off the bus. It was about lunch time, so decided to take our lunch first before heading to our ‘climb’. One of the tricycle drivers suggested that we take our lunch on our way to the jump off, besides there were no visible karenderia in the bus stop area. So we hopped into the trike and stopped in the next few meters – and ate in a karenderia, where we saw other campers and climbers eating.

J’s friend bought rice for takeout for their dinner. And off we went back to the road. Travel time from bus stop to jump off point is approximately 45mins. Fare: 200 per trike (3persons - in our case, because we had big bags, tents etc.) But normally, for day trippers, trike would fit 4 persons.

When reaching the jump off, these mesmerizing views will warmly welcome you.

Registration area is at the other side of the river and the only mode of transport crossing the river is the balsa/raft. It can carry up to 12 persons, provided they weigh not more than 100kilos each. In short, basta hindi masyadong matataba ang sakay. Haha. Otherwise, manong driver will have to go back and forth for the other passengers. Travel time: less than a minute. Fare: 5php each. Aside from the raft, you can take the more exciting and cheapest way of crossing the river – through the wire. The called it the monkey bridge. Travel time: Depende sa nerbyos at tuhod mo. Fare: 0php (free). Since we were still on our full battled gears, we chose the raft.

option 1: raft: 5php

option two: monkey bridge: free 

We wasted no time after we listed our names in the log book. Tatay Carling,  (0919.574.6470) our contact person in Mt Manalmon reserved us a guide. Guide fee is 300 for a day trip. It gets double for overnight (600php), maximum of 10. We were 11, so they just allow us to get one guide, with the same price, of course. Registration is 5php each.

True to what they say, Mt Manalmon is best for novice climbers – or even just for someone who wants to take a break from the monotonous cycle of a city life. It only took us 45minutes from the jump off to get to the camping area. That includes stops for photo ops and quick rests. It was a piece of cake for most of us, except for the first part of the trek where we had to pass the rather less exciting Madlum/Manalmon cave and was surprised with the massive rock formations after it. I think other than that, everything was a walk in the park. 

 didn't i tell you it's a walk in the park!

There are two camping areas in Mt Manalmon. One is near the river, and the other one is a stone away from the summit. We chose the former because bonfire is not allowed in the summit area. Besides, it’s hard to resist the serene waters of the river.

We set up our tents and settle our things. At that time, we were the only ones in the area, as most of the campers preferred to stay near the summit. The guys wasted no time and took the chance to refresh themselves. While we chose to do the thing we’re most good at – cam whoring! Haha.


We get back to our tent area for a quick rest and a brief introduction for the new joiners. J and his friends have this ‘special thing’ on how to make every outing more memorable and extra fun, in the most ‘lu-od’-way… It’s just hard to explain. You need to join one of their trips to fully understand this entertaining part of the adventure.

Just before the sun down, we started to hit the road again for the summit. If you’ve been to Mt Maculot or Mt. Gulugod Baboy, this part of Mt. Manalmon will be nothing but an effortless 20-minute-hike. 

 the second camping area

We made it to the summit earlier than we expected. The sun was still up, that made us a hard time capturing the beautiful view, salamat sa mga shadow at mga against-the-light moments. Not to mention the strong winds the summit has to offer.

Mt Manalmon has one of the best summits I’ve ever seen. The view of Madlum River lying in the midst of the forested region added much beauty to the totality of the landscape. The sights of Mount Gola and Mount Arayat  are also hard to miss.

view of our campsite from the peak (8x zoom)

J and I wanted to stay a little longer and wait for the sunset – we’re addict to sunsets. For me, there’s just something about sunsets that brings out the deep seated and the most romantic emotions a person can ever feel. In short, nakaka-emo ang sunset. Haha.

But since not everyone in the group share the same emo-sentiments and not everyone has passion for heights, we started our descent while daylight was still on our side.

We then prepared our dinner. We had adobo, and adobo… canned goods and canned goods… Haha. Normally, J takes care of the bonfire. But since, we had a guide, Kuya Al took over and borrowed J’s bolo to gather woods and dried bamboo to make the fire. We finished our fun-filled delectable dinner, and proceeded to the next part of our night – game time and socials.

what's camping without bonfire?

what's bonfire without mallows?

 our guide, Kuya AL: tao ba to, bagay? hayop? nakikita dito?

We had Pinoy henyo where categories must be Mt. Manalmon trip-related and movie charades. Even our guide, Kuya Al joined the fun.We also had random question-and-answer-portion-ala-miss-universe prepared by yours truly, to break the ice and to get to know more each of the participants. And to always wrap things up - they have this thing called, ‘luod-luod’ moment, which can be very funny and corny at the same time. If you wanna what this part is, you need to join us in one of our trips to find out. Haha.

Budgeting Mt. Manalmon
Bus fare:
Tricycle to Sitio Madlum:
860 (4 trike/11pax)
ripped off
Guide (overnight):
(300 for daytrip)
Cave fee:
3 caves
discounted price daw
Tricycle to Bus stop:
800 (4 trike/11pax)
Food, drinks, tip for guide

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