Palawan is not only about being the best island, or having the underground river which is included in the new Seven Wonders of the World; it has beautiful and challenging mountains as well. Mt Mantalingahan also known as the “Mountain of Gods” due to its difficulty is a bucket list to most mountaineers. So when a certified mountaineer friend from Manila invited me for this adventure, I instantly said “Yes”. I always wanted to challenge myself to do the impossible, the things beyond my imagination.  And this experience is beyond doubt, the most challenging that I had so far.

It was raining days prior the hike and a typhoon strike the country, particularly in Samar Region which eventually made her way to Palawan making it even more difficult and dangerous for our climb. I am experiencing mild anxiety attacks, not sure though if it’s because of the new job that I just signed in or the difficulty of the mountain which is 9/9. The hardest climb that I had was 4/9. I’ve took a big step up without physical training/preparation for this ‘hardcore’ climb. For the record btw, this part of my blog was written (typed) during our van ride to Quezon early morning of December 14.

As per our guide, the real name of the mountain is Bukid Malnu, from the Palaw’an dialect meaning “smooth” referring to the surface of the mountain which looks like it from afar. It was then named as Mt. Mantalingahan after it was declared protected by DENR.

Mt. Mantalingahan is home to indigenous Palaw’ans and is the highest peak along the central spine of mountains in southern Palawan. The new protected area is within the territorial jurisdiction of Bataraza, Brooke’s Point, Quezon, Rizal and Sofronio Espanola. It is claimed as the most difficult mountain in the Philippines by mountaineers with non-existent trails, we called it as “NPA trails”, since there is really no pathway but boulders, jagged rocks, muddy slopes, mossy forest, narrow path and the knife edge canopy walk!

QUICK FACTS

Southern Palawan
Major jump-off: Bgy. Ransang, Rizal, Palawan

Exit point (Traverse): Bgy. Malis, Brooke’s Point, Palawan

LLA: 8°48’″N; 117°53’40″E; 2086 MASL
Days required / Hours to summit: 3-5 days / 15-20 hours
Specs: Major climb, Difficulty 9/9, Trail class 2-5
Features: Indigenous tribes, ultramafic forests. Unique fauna and flora

WHAT TO DO / ACTIVITIES

  • TREK
  • Camp
  • Swim in iced cold falls
  • NPA life feels 😀
  • Reconnect with nature
the bumpy ride to Rizal

WHERE TO EAT

Obviously, you have to cook your own meals. You must bring your cook set and food supplies; Eat on designated campsites on your way to the summit and onto the exit point in Brooke’s Point. Bring enough food including trail food 🙂 There are water source along the trail and usually near campsites making it the least of your concern. 🙂

This is the part where I almost feel like dying of hypothermia -____-

HOW TO GET THERE

Mt. Mantalingahan is 7.5 hours away from Puerto Princesa plus 4 days trek.

VIA DIY PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

  • Fare is Php10.00 per person
  • Fare is Php 200.00 per person
  • 2.5 hours travel time
  • Permit must be arranged in advance prior the actual day of visit; you can do it through call or e-mail
  • From DENR you will walk for 5mins less to the terminal)
  • Fare is Php 100.00
  • 3 hours travel time
  • Last trip is 4pm daily

We are kinda hopeless after visiting the Rizal MDRRMO office having been informed that the last van/bus leaves at 4pm. It was 4:10 when we got there due to the bumpy ride -___- We tried to contact every bus/van company but it really didn’t went well. Thank God, we met a medical team at the road, they are waiting for their rescue vehicle/ambulance and they are also headed to Bgy. Ransang to rescue a patient.

We hitch-hiked and it was a really fun-filled bumpy ride because Ate Tess (midwife) had a lot of fun stories to share from her experiences both from her personal and medical field.

WHERE TO STAY

Tent! Bring your tent and sleeping bag. You will need it for 3 nights. Make sure that the tent is waterproof 🙂 There are designated camp sites so you don’t have to worry where to pitch your tent. However, these campsites are not like those in Zambales.

our campsite under the century-old trees in a mossy forest
our restroom! hahaha

ITINERARY

DAY 0

 

0620H – Cab from San Pedro to San Jose Terminal

0700H – Van ride from San Jose Terminal to Quezon, Palawan

0930H – Arrival in DENR CENRO Quezon / Register

1000H – Groceries at local market (we left our backpacks in DENR)

1145H – Back in DENR to claim backpacks and walk to the terminal

1200H – Lunch in carinderia near the terminal

1240H – Van ride to Rizal, Palawan; This is a bumpy ride as the road is under construction

1545H – Arrival in RIZAL MDRRMO Office / Register (This is really the procedure)

            Note: Bus/Van Ride’s last trip is 4pm

1735H – Ambulance ride to Bgy. Ransang (We’re late so we hitchhiked at the ambulance hahaha, thank God)

1830H – Arrival in Bgy. Ransang; Head on to the barangay for registration

1854H – Walk to the campo / army – registration

1915H – Trek to Balin Balin

2005H – Arrival in Balin Balin / Prepare dinner / DINNER / Rest

            Note: We slept in a kawayan built house inside our sleeping bags haha

at Balin-balin campsite

DAY 1

 

0500H – Wake up time / Breakfast

0550H – Register at Balin-balin

0625H – Start TREK

1155H – Lunch

1300H – Resume trek

1700H – Arrival in Cabugon Campsite / Pitch tent / Shower at the nearby river (8-10mins walk/trek)

Note: We we’re on a slow pacing due to the muddy trails, thank you Urduja for making it even more difficult! -____-

1800H – Cook dinner

1900H – Dinner / REST

 

DAY 2

 

0530H – Pack up / Breakfast

0850H – Start trek

1130H – Lunch

1230H – Resume trek

1540H – Arrival in Paray-paray camp site

1600H – Pitch tent / Shower at water source (8mins walk; ice cold water with breathtaking view of Rizal!)

1700H – Cook dinner

1830H – Dinner

1900H – Rest

 

DAY 3

 

0500H – Pack up / Breakfast

0900H – Start trek to SUMMIT (We started this late because of the heavy rain -____-)

1100H – Mt. Mantalingahan Summit <3

1300H – Late lunch / Pack up

1330H – Start trek

1730H – Arrival in Pisa-pisa campsite

1800H – Cook dinner

1900H – Dinner / REST

DAY 4

 

0430H – Pack-up / HEAVY BREAKFAST

0800H – Start of traverse to Brooke’s Point (So help me God)

1130H – Lunch

1200H – Resume traverse

1920H – Arrival in Bgy Malis, Brooke’s Point

1940H – Shower / Pack up

2200H – Overnight near the Barangay Hall

Note: We weren’t able to catch the last trip so we stayed the night in Brooke’s Point

Hello Brooke's Point! Survived 🙂

DAY 5

 

0500H – Van Ride to Puerto Princesa

0730H – Stop over in Narra, Palawan / Breakfast

0900H – Arrival in Puerto Princesa City

CONTACT PERSONS

MT. MANTALINGAHAN / DENR QUEZON

 

  • Ms. Yvette Garganza
    • 0907-2505150
    • mmpl_palawan@yahoo.com
    • FB PAGE: @mtmantalingahan
 

MT. MANTALINGAHAN GUIDE/PORTER

 

  • Kuya Matio and Jopper
    • 0909-6434525

I have high respect and admiration to our guide and porter during our 4-day Armageddon in Mt. Mantalingahan. They remained strong, calm and cool despite the heavy load they carry as we go up and down the mountain; walk through ridges, steep and muddy slopes and never-ending cliffs for days. With bare foot or their already worn-out slippers, they remain. Plus, I really appreciate their love for the mountain and their work. To the point that they even collected and carry the trash left behind by the irresponsible mountaineers before us. Staying true to their oath that is to leave nothing but memory. I hope others will learn a thing or two for these men – RV Doromal.

PERSONAL NOTE

  • Permits should be accomplished weeks prior the official climb
  • 5 days allowable for hike; for those who want to trek beyond 5 days you should seek for BOD’s approval
  • Guide/Porter Fee is Php 500.00 day (minimum of 5 days per trip)
  • There are 15 local guides for Mt. Mantalingahan trained by DENR
  • Take anti-malarial meds (You can get free medicines in local health centers)
  • Bring insect repellent and apply as often as possible, haha
  • Bring waterproof bags and stuff
  • Bring wet wipes!!! 🙂 There’s no decent restroom in the camp sites
  • Cellphone signal is available up to 2G only
  • Bring power banks
  • Bring flashlight, rain coats/poncho
  • Bring gloves (optional, but you’ll definitely need it)
  • There are water source in most camp sites so you can just bring at least 4L per person then make refills as needed
  • Clean as you go! Don’t leave your trashes
  • This is a difficult mountain and prior training is required BUT with strong will power even beginners can make this hike. FACT: This is Vonn’s mother mountain. 🙂

EXPENSES

  • Cab Ride to San Jose Terminal – Php 10

  • Van Ride to Quezon – Php 200.00

  • Conservation Fee at DENR Quezon – Php 100.00

                Note: Php 200.00 for foreigners

  • Groceries – Php 1,900.00 (good for 5 persons including guide and porter) divided by 3 paying – Php 634.00

  • Van Ride to Rizal – Php 100.00

  • Conservation Fee at Rizal MRDDMO – Php 100.00

  • Bgy. Ransang Fee – Php 50.00

  • Porter Fee – Php 500 x 5 days x 2 persons = Php 5,000.00 (Php 1,667 per person)

  • Van Ride to Puerto Princesa – Php 320.00

    TOTAL – PHP 3,181.00 per person

 

 

It was beginning to drizzle so I pulled myself up and started packing.

This was my morning routine during the 4-day hike. We get up as early as 4am, pack-up even if it’s raining, cook foods, eat heartily with dirty hands and unwashed containers. We even experienced waking up in drenched tent because of heavy rain, wore wet clothes and black bags as raincoats, trekked through non-existent trails and never-ending assaults, slid off number of times due to muddy slopes,  got cuts from thorny plants, almost-died of hypothermia because of the strong cold breeze; but above all our misfortunes, we learned to just laugh it off and push ourselves even more.

We we’re still blessed for witnessing the beauty of Mt. Mantalingahan summit, standing above the clouds, hugging century-old trees, and for arriving home safely and stronger than before.

This situation reminded me of how important it is to have a positive outlook for dealing with bad things happening beyond your control. Acknowledge the fear, but don’t dwell on it. Take logical actions. Don’t focus on the end solution, but take small steps in between. Accept that there’s a possibility of failure, but you gotta do it anyway. And of course, pray. 🙂

-M