Mt. Manalmon: Crossing thin Lines

Living out of the suitcase isn’t only about catching up a red-eye flight or reaching far-flung Paraisos along the crest and troughs of the ocean waves. Somewhere beyond the horizon of our lens lurk unraveled heavens where most often than not, are yet to be appreciated.

Enveloped by childhood fear, I thought of myself as feeble and meek as a lamb for the longest time. Four walls of the classroom were my bonafide allies, with scrabbles and checkers as my moving companions at home. Such were already simple joys from a youthful age and going outdoors were like potions which transform Pops into a monstrous creature that I always never wanted. Detained I was to my most comfortable zone, in a solitary planet where all I did was envisioning of riding on my own magic carpet, knowing ropes alone and hopping into places I always yearned to set foot on.

As time fleeted, I learned to value time’s worth and that it’s ephemeral existence, especially to precious moments, lasts and will never be revived again. This smells no rebellion, but the realization of having the world be traveled while it is worth roused my senses to redeem those lost chances and start rekindling that burning desire to be part of everyone’s world, of nature’s majestic wonders.

The dawn freshly woke me up during this year’s Hearts Day. Far from the usual dating receptions or having a bite in a luxurious hotel patisserie, unusual from witnessing a well-applauded orchestra performance or immersing into the theatrical screen, I pulled my cargo, prepared my waterproof kicks and don my heavy-loaded backpack towards the zenith of my imagination, off the beaten track. Yes, onto the peak where I can regulate my visions and turn them into reality. To see things as they are, to feel liberty with my emotions, and to make myself the king of it.

Indeed, it is better to travel hopefully than to arrive.

As mister sun was trying to peek its way amidst the twilight, we moved at a good clip going to this-not-so-far-away land. Well, that’s already an escape outside the usual ‘cubicled’ scenario we are in during such weekday. At around an hour and a half, that halt from the bus driver’s pedal seemed to signal us that we were already on our destination. Fresh air welcomed us as it seeped through our skins. The surroundings were adorned with lush green trees all over. Basked in glory, it’s our first time to appreciate the heat of the sun. No doubt, this hinterland expedition promised an exhilarating adventure for me.

Nestled at Barangay Kamias, San Miguel, province of Bulacan, Mount Manalmon stands in the midst as part of the historical Biak-na-Bato National park giving locals and travelers alike an outdoor destination embedded with wide natural landscapes perfect for adventure seekers.

This is EXTREME.

Prior to the plan of ascent, I have plotted my own itinerary drawn from the consolidated blog sites and tips of some friends who have already been there. After an hour of rutted and bumpy tricycle ride from the main road, arriving at Sitio Madlum is but a majestic world worth exploring. It’s like a package trip where you have to experience several first-time mementos: trekking a rocky hill, spelunking a cave and crossing a cable wire.

Going back to the basics is the real game here and trust is the most essential element one must keep along.

With Manong Gerry as our tour guide, we have received all the services we need. Setting foot to the place, the sheer blue-green waters of the Madlum River surprised us, seeming to entice on purpose. Manong helped us cross the waters while we rode on a sturdy raft. Having acquaintances akin to this made the journey more remembering, where I have met strangers who turned out to be another helpful inspiration to carry along my real life’s passage.


Trust those who help you rise from hanging at an edgy cliff.

In almost the same time when the sun shot us with its scorching heat, we have begun the ascent towards the mountain’s peak. Steep terrains periled us to some point, rocky midlands led us to slip over, but with grasping hands from each one, we have survived and reached the zenith of the climb. Beaming atop unraveled Mother Earth’s wondrous aura- She’s robed with elegant features of greenery. Her thick hairs fall perfectly in each stand, a color of hope. Her eyes were glinting like pearls and with breath whispering fresh, thin air of oxygen soothing every piece of me. I was embraced and comforted in serenity. My past wounds have seen remedy.


Before going to spelunk the caves, we hurdled the so-called monkey bridge where you need to cross to the other side through a thin line of cable. In two’s we crossed harmoniously with each step in synchrony with one’s partner. This is the greatest dare I never imagined passing. I did it. And learn from it. That is, to never tire to give trust again. This was the rope thing had taught me.


What more did we learn in trusting? It’s when you are immersed feeling alone in a dark, murky caving. This was the last adventure we had: entering an aged, natural cave where we crawled and rappelled and were bruised by the ‘stalagmitic’ and ‘stalactitic’ formations of it. Sores which embossed strength in us. Wounds which left marks on us, reminding us that traveling isn’t just simply traveling. It is but knowing ropes, crossing even thinner lines and being content atop every zenith.  


As a kid from a TV commercial then once said, “I got stinky; I got dirty, but see I learned.”

It’s true. This journey has changed me. Every journey changes you.


(This is my official entry for WeGO Philippines’  Life-Changing Journey Story Contest, Help by LIKING and SHARING! Click Here.)

 Wego Entry




Mt. Pulag: Heaven at Hand

Fluffy as they seem above the glorious sky, I concocted to hover along the cerulean fields and reside at peace with not a bustle in mind.  At the firmament I scribbled my dreams with the desire to clamber up the peaks and feel unshackled from that entire ambivalent stance fleeting day by day. Cryptic. Fulfilling.

Detached from the strings connecting to the metro’s flurries, my gut feel choked me to release that perilous verdict of pursuing that plan to ascend. Exhausted I was from being deprived to wander and break free, to be one with the world. Asphyxiated, two decades of my existence were spent imprisoned in the four nooks of my safest zone, in my own lackluster planet, secluded inside a well-tended chest of lackadaisical life and dormancy. Now, I want an overhaul. To seek and chase what has been lost. To refurbish and bring back vitality to this soul. To lift what my bespren quoted, “I, soon, will wither. I will inevitably age and I fear to regret the things I should have done.”

Indeed, this is now freedom.

Ever dreamed how the gods and goddesses of Olympus live like?

Majestically standing at 2,922 meters (9587 feet) above sea level, master Wikipedia noted that Mount Pulag is considered to be the highest peak in Luzon (and the second or third highest in the Philippines to some) nestled at the borders between the provinces of Benguet, Ifugao, and Nueva Vizcaya.

That reverie of fluttering above the cottony cumulus is now coming at hand. I have always wished to witness the renowned sea of clouds up by the summit. In my wildest dreams, never did I imagine realizing this experience. To note, I have never set foot to any hill all throughout my juvenile years. And now this has to come to life. Going extremes is what I promise to reward myself after those sixteen “geekful” years- to collect and remark first-time mementos which I have been longing for quite some time.


While subconsciously lulled into a deep sleep, the bus pulled off gently which stirred me up and made me peek by the window. The mist kissing through the glass made me realize that we were already there in Baguio City. That was a quick ride. Everyone’s shivering as the cool breeze seeped through our damp, clammy skins forcing us to take out our knitted gloves to fight the cold.

Nearly half past seven when we departed from the city going to the DENR where trekkers must drop off to settle some registration and environmental fees plus a short briefing lecture about the hike.

1052566_610609818963902_31611253_oThe Power Rangers: (L-R) Nomeo, Kebs, Fonz, Apes, Ielle and bespren Jid

Disembarking at the Ranger Station by noontime, cold yet endurable breeze embraced us cooled more by the drizzles dropping from above. There we took lunch and prepared everything prior to the hike up. As for us, it was the time to rest and took some preliminary shots behind the greenery around the posting.


Before 2 pm strikes, we head on to our quest to the campsite. The trails began undemanding as opposed to how terrible and nerve-wrecking it is as I expected beforehand. The lush greens and grazing lands resembling like staircases under the cliffs generated tranquility during my treads. Of course, you may forget everything behind except for the trail foods, water and Jelly Ace which would bring you salvage in the end. Campsite was reached after two and a half hours of trekking. Rains started to shower down as the tents were built while everyone were already eager to take a nap and rest for the night.





The  ruthless rocks and frosty winds  erode the audacity I savored. We were awakened by the gusty cold winds with drizzling pours at three in the morning to start the pursuit to the peak. With headlamp as our only luminous guide amidst the dark, murky terrain, I could’ve given up and went back, return to my safe and comforting home. Hurdling to the summit is but the real dare. The rustling greens added scare in the middle of the night sky. The winds stormed us away and defied our stance. Enthused to witness the majestic changing hues of the sky at sunrise, we accelerated more than we could to reach there just in time. But unfortunately, rains never ceased and we’ve lost the chance to take a glimpse at the most beautiful sunrise one could ever see.


1047925_610604852297732_292754198_oAtop the summit, I was content with feeling of fulfillment after achieving a dream I just once envisaged to happen.  Overlooking around, the distant peaks surge like islets in the ocean of lofty clouds creating breathtaking scenery.  Clouds gather like a sea within the horizons, almost within reach, as though my scribbled dreams then were right at grasp. Indeed, it is the closest place to heaven, the playground of the gods just like the natives say- literally. For one moment I was immersed into the Olympus and had revelry with my fellow deities. Those souls who were hurdling to ascend to the peak celebrated  the realization of their long-sought visions. And I was one.

DSC_2752Let every climb be the reflection of our surmounting endeavors and dreams to attain. Let every slip and stumbled steps along the steeps remind us of our unwavering zeal to strive and succeed. Let every cliff be a warning sign for us to halt whenever we get out of way. More than the gaiety and fulfillment felt during our quest, the ascent has liberated me from those solitary chains that bind me from my past. Now, I could proudly free myself to open up with the world and say, I conquered it.

After all, it’s neither how you started the climb at the bottom nor how fast you reached the zenith, it’s all about those steps & trails taken in between and new friends gained and seen.