Here is to another adventure location located just two hours away from Manila. Not only that you will get to hike a mountain, you will also be able to travel back to history, go caving, try the monkey bridge, swim in a river and do a whole lot more.
The legend there is. Once there was this couple that was about to get married. Because of their want to give a feast on their wedding day, the man decided to go for a hunt and was able to reach this part of Bulacan which is now the Mt. Manalmon. He saw a deer and shot an arrow to it not knowing that the deer is the diwata’s (fairy) pet. The fairy punished the man by submerging half of his body at a rock found at the summit of the mountain. When the man’s soon-to-be wife found out about what happened, she decided to plea for forgiveness and ask the fairy on what she can do. She was told to offer nine jars full of fruits sap or nectar. The woman did try to scout all parts of Bulacan in search for every fruit-bearing trees, but she was only able to collect eight jars and a half. What she did was, she added water onto the last jar, and gave it to the fairy. When the fairy found out about it, she got more furious, and turned the woman into a bird and the man was permanently swallowed by the rock hence the word Manalmon or “Manlalamon” o “Mangangain.”
How to get there: Mt. Manalmon is located in Sitio Madlum in Brgy. Sibul, San Miguel, Bulacan. Going there is pretty easy, you will just have to board a bus bound to Cabanatuan at any of the bus stations at Baliwag in Quezon City or in Pasay. Tell the conductor afterwards to drop you off at Kamias in San Miguel and from Kamias, take a trike to the jump-off point at Brgy. Madlum.
It was around 6am when we boarded the bus to Cabanatuan and it was only me and Ate Bing. It was my first time to do a trek with only one companion around but I felt secured since Ate Bing had been there for three times already (and she is a pro).
0600 ETD from Cubao or Pasay
0800 ETA at Brgy. Kamias in San Miguel
0830 Arrival at the registration area
0900 Start trek
1000 At the summit of Mt. Manalmon
1030 Start descent
1045 Arrival at the river or junction to Mt. Gola
1115 Back at the jump-off point
1300 Caving at Bayukbok Caves
1430 Swim at Madlum river
1530 ETD from the jump-off point
1600 ETD from Brgy. Kamias
1800 ETA at Manila
Trail: You can either take the easy trail during the ascent and the balikatan trail during the descent or vice-versa. For us, we took the easy trail first and we got to pass by the Madlum Cave then the Madlum River, a plain then the rocky part where most of the assault is going to happen.
The trail is easy, though the scorching heat of the sun may get on your way. The view at the summit is truly a sight to behold as you will also be able to see the mountainous range of Sierra Madre, the neighboring mountains, Mt. Gola on the left and Mt. Mabio on the right and the beautiful Mt. Arayat.
During the descent, we took the Balikatan trail, it is harder compare to the easy trail if you choose it during the ascent. There we passed by another part of Madlum River where campers get to pitch their tents. There is also another camping site near the summit. The river separates the two mountains, Mt. Manalmon and Mt. Gola. You can actually do a twin day hike for an additional fee.
The trek to the summit took us 45 minutes, probably the shortest I had and the trek back to the jump-off point was around an hour since we did stop at the river, and we had lots of quick breaks due to the heat.
Now, for the budget. Here is a breakdown of our expenses:
Bus to Kamias, San Miguel Bulacan: 117 php
Trike to Brgy. Madlum: 200 php per trike divided to the number of pax per trike (4 pax maximum but they put a sign that a trike can only accommodate 3)
Registration Fee: 5 php
Bamboo raft Fee: 5 php
Guide Fee: 300 php for a group of 8
Caving at Bayukbok Caves: 300 php additional
additional for Mt. Gola: 300 php but you can haggle it to 200php
Trike back to Kamias: 200 php
Bus back to Manila: 117 php
Having a guide is mandatory though the trek is not that hard. But what’s a 300 php fee if you can already feed one guide’s family? Locals get their living out of farming and sometimes it isn’t enough. And your 300 php won’t go to waste since guides there were briefed with the history of the place and are knowledgeable of the trail.
Side trips: Mt. Manalmon is not just about hiking up a mountain. It has a lot more out of its sleeve. The activities one can do, compensates the fact that trekking up to the summit can only take for about an hour.
The Madlum Cave is where most of the gerilyas seek refuge way back Aguinaldo’s time. It is also where an 18th century relic of St. Michael was found and the same location where the TV Show Mulawin was filmed.
What makes the cave interesting are the pieces of signs and materials used by a cult. When we were there, we found the Illuminati’s Eye of Providence symbol on a piece of wood.
The Madlum River which is not only beautiful, but is home to different adventure activities as well. One can try the bamboo rafting or the cliff jumping or just swim around. There is a monkey bridge that is a must-try and by the way it is free.
The Bayukbok Caves 1-6 and 7-8, the numbers represents the chambers and they are of varieties. There is one chamber that is called as the Music Room, one full of stalactites, there is one with a rappel, and one they call as the Ladder.
I enjoyed spelunking a lot and I consider it as my favorite part of the trip. Not only that it is my first legit caving experience, the experience challenged me, and it showed to me that caving is not that easy.
We may have spent much more since there were only the two of us, but the experience was priceless. For a short period of time, the locals of Sitio Madlum became our family. They were probably one of the nicest people I have known. If you are going to ask me if I will be going back, the answer is a big YES.
Contact number of guides:
For the permit, kindly contact Sir Carlito Carpio (President of the Madlum Guides Association) at +639195746470.
The requirements and procedure to get a permit are as follows:
5 days before the activity/event email your letter of intent and the names of the participants to the following addresses:
Wait for their reply or call these numbers to follow-up your application:
0447640154 – Municipal Office of San Miguel Bulacan
09053726148 – Boy Florencio (Municipal Tourism Officer of San Miguel Bulacan)
Note: Call during office hours only!
Let them know if your permit has been approved or leave your number when you send your request.
To make your arrangements call or text the following before entering the park:
09195746470 – Carlito “Tata Carling” Carpio President M.A.D.L.U.M. Inc.
09434440033 – Rexel Marketing and Promotions officer M.A.D.L.U.M. Inc.