Mt. Manalmon – Mt. Gola (Bulacan)

With the thorough assimilation of social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) into the lives of people in the now generation, it is no longer a shock that these sites have been a ground for creating new friendships, and at the same time, reconnecting with old friends. Social media is packed with various means for people to join (and even share) in what other people are doing. Case in point — traveling/ weekend climbs/ party invites and the like.

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Before FB and IG came into the limelight, I have found friends in Multiply and MySpace then. My urge for climbing mountains was actually inspired by some people I have met through Multiply. I am proud to say that the once stranger’s I started connecting with through these social media, eventually became good friends to this very moment.

My recent twin-hike in Bulacan was actually made possible by friends I have made through social media. To cut the story short, an IG friend (I haven’t met in person) invited me to do this climb. Since I myself, was looking for a weekend climb, I without batting an eyelash, gave an affirmative response. Just like how I have always viewed traveling, one favorite part is meeting a diverse range of people.

Here are the highlights of our twin-hike in San Miguel, Bulacan.

MT. MANALMON and MT. GOLA
Within the Biak-na-Bato National Park are several outdoor destinations. The natural estate is home to Mt. Manalmon, Mt. Gola, the very clean Madlum River, and several caves like Bayukbok and Madlum. Because of these features, the place is a favorite destination for adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts.

Our Itinerary:
03:00 am – Meet Up (Five Star, Cubao)
03:45 am – ETD to San Miguel, Bulacan via CISCO Bus
06:15 am – ETA in San Miguel, Bulacan

We asked the driver to drop us off at Jollibee where our friend Denmark met us, and where our group had a very early breakfast. Since Denmark brought with him his own ride, we had to skip that part where we have to take a tricycle going to Madlum.

07:00 am – ETD to Sitio Madlum
07:30 am – ETA at Sitio Madlum

Upon arrival, we had our vehicle parked. It was a Saturday so it wasn’t surprising to see a great number of people who came to climb.

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08:00 – Registration/ Payment of necessary fees/ Guide designation/ Orientation

Please note that before coming to Biak-na-Bato Park, one should have sent an email (to rrboyflorencio@yahoo.com) or called from the said details below for safety and security purposes. The email should contain a request of intention to climb. These are the rightful individuals and numbers one may contact: Tata Carling (Coordinator) – 09195746470; or Ms. Cecille – 0907779667.

08:30 am – Start of Trek
Immediately after our guide gave a brief orientation about the 2 mountains we were to climb that day, we started our trek to Mount Manalmon. The entry point is a short walk inside the Madlum Cave. After which, a short river crossing lies ahead. The rest of the trail going to the peak of Mt. Manalmon is pretty easy, almost like walking around the park. It becomes a little challenging near the summit. The topmost part of the mountain offers a 360 degrees view. Mount Arayat in Pampanga and Mount Mabio are also visible from atop.

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09:15 am – ETA at Mt. Manalmon’s Peak (after several cam whoring along the trail)

We spent quite some time taking photos. We would have wanted to take more pictures, however, more and more groups were approaching the peak and a queue was building up so we had to go down and proceed to Mount Gola.

09:45 am – ETD from Manalmon peak to Mount Gola

The descent was much like the way up through a different trail that leads to Mt. Gola. We had to cross the river one more time. The trail to Mount Gola was a little more challenging compared to Manalmon as there are rocky portions that require a bit of clambering. We found ourselves taking more rests (to eat and to get to know each other more).

10:30 am – ETA at Mount Gola peak.
The summit of Gola is much wider than Manalmon’s, thus it is able to accommodate more people. Just like Manalmon, the view remains to be breathtaking. We had a great time taking more photos – from the usual poses to some creative and censored. After satisfying ourselves with what we think are Instagram-worthy captures, we decided to descend.

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11:15 am – ETD to jump-off

Instead of experiencing Madlum River’s cool waters at the jump-off, our group decided to have some swimming time at the foot of the two mountains we scaled (since there were fewer people, and as advised by our guide too). After that refreshing cool down by the river, we proceeded back to the registration site where we went on to do the exciting monkey bars crossing.

11:45 am – ETA at jump-off; start of monkey bars activity

Besides reaching the peaks of Manalmon and Gola, crossing Madlum River via monkey bars was that one activity I have been looking forward to doing. It was such a delightful experience. If not for a long queue for this activity, I would have done it repeatedly.

12:30 pm – Wash-up

01:30 pm – Went back to San Miguel town proper and looked for a place to eat for our late lunch.

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We had a sumptuous dining experience at Batchy’s before heading back to the metro.

Breakdown of General Expenses:
Bus fare from Cubao to San Miguel (Php 117 one-way x 2 = Php234)
Guide Fee for 2 mountains (Php600 divided by 6 pax)
Lunch (Php150/pax)

It was yet another awesome day spent in the great outdoors. This twin hike has to be one of the easiest and most relaxing climbs I did. But what made this weekend getaway more amazing is the fact that among us travel enthusiasts, there is a certain camaraderie built. We may have started out as strangers to virtual/ social media friends but we sure understand each other.

Thank you Tutz (rochi_b._), Sam (sadofi_), Bry (bryehero), Den (denmarkisthename) and Rob (wandrianrob). I had a great time spending my weekend with you all. And yes, worry not, our “usapang krass” will remain inside my wanderlust soul. Til our next adventure. Don’t be a wasted soul, be “juan”derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’…

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