Saturday, May 15, 2010

Mt. Matutum

Mt. Matutum is an active type of volcano located 15km north of Polomolok and about 30km north-north west of General Santos city. It rises 2,286 meters above sea level (asl) with a base diameter of 25km. Mt. Matutum is a part of the pacific ring of fire. It's last eruption was in March 7, 1911.

Dawn in June 7, 1996, our small group of 8 individuals namely: Sir Dennis, Kuya Dudz, Kuya Arniel, Kuya Rey, Donald Omeng, Tammy, Jovy and I headed towards General Santos city and arrived there in time for lunch. After a quick lunch, we took a ride to Polomolok and from Polomolok we rode another jeep to our jump off site - the "Ulo Landan". "Ulo Landan" are two native words in which I forgot the meaning except for the "Ulo" which means - head.

We were welcomed by the tribal leaders there, talked to us and offered us an abandoned "kubo" or nipa hut for us to settle for the night. Natives are really very warm people.

From where we stayed, we had a very good view of the conical feature of what we are there for - the Mt. Matutum. That scene gave us the kick of excitement.

Can't wait to start our mission, we were up early the next day, in fact, so early that it was still dark. It was sir Dennis who first stood up and checked the surroundings when he saw an old woman sweeping the road. When he realized that it was so unusual, he called kuya Rey. When almost all of us was abut to see for ourselves, sir Dens and kuya Rey said that it looks like a white lady. Everybody ducked down immediately in fear of being spotted by the so-called white lady. How crazy we were, hehehe... What a spooky start huh?! Because of the commotion, the detached bamboo door of the nipa hut fell on our heads but everybody were laughing and excited.

Finally when the sun came, we were ready to start our march to Mt. Matutum. After an eventful trek, we reached the base of the mountain slope at nearly night fall. We realized that there were settlers there because our guide shouted and greeted them announcing our arrival. They had a conversation in which we didn't understand because they were using their own dialect.

After they talked, the guide told us that we cannot continue our trek up even if it (the camp site) is already near because there are gurdians ( mountain rangers) ahead of us and they might mistakenly identify us as poachers or enemies, whatever. So we just trek for about 3 to 4 hours to find a good spot for us in the forest to fix our tents. We didn't cook, we only ate the ready to eat meals we have since we were all tired and exhausted.

We continued our way up after breakfast the next day. After hours of trekking, we reached the campsite of the so-called guardians. We left our things there and after 20 minutes, we reached the peak - Ulo Landan side peak. We only stayed on the peak for only few minutes because the area was so small to accomodate us all.

The trek down was surprisingly fast and easy. Maybe because of the daylight, we had a good and sure watch of our bearings. Along the way, we saw the cliffs that we passed through the night before and realized how dangerous it was to pass through it especially in the dark. The narrow path was I think a foot wide that we can only pass in a single pile. Both sides of the way had avery deep drop that makes you feel like you are being pulled down. So scary!

We reached back Ulo Landan in the afternoon of our second day. The first thing we did was to take a bath. Water was so scarce in the forest that we didn't even have some to brush our teeth. The natives had a water spring in the nearby woods where they get their supply. We went there and again we encountered another spooky incident. During the bath, when some of us was still halfway and others just started, the water suddenly stopped flowing when Omeng was so noisy, shouting and fooling around. We all fell silent and after awhile blamed Omeng in whispers of being so unrespectful to the peacefulness of the place. We felt that we intruded something and ask Omeng to say sorry. When he did, the water begun flowing again and we continued what we are doing in silence. It felt so eerie.

On our third day, we didn't have breakfast as we left Ulo Landan. We bid goodbye to our host the night before so we didn't see them when we left. Transportation there are scheduled so we were forced to trek several kilometers to reach the nearest terminal.

On our way, we passed by the wide pineapple plantation of Dole. We saw a rejected pineapple and when we're sure that it was still okey, we ate it. It was sweet even if it's rejected. It was our breakfast, hehehe... Kuya Duds carried both Jovy and me when we were to cross a shallow river. We don't want our shoes to be wet since we're on our way home.

At past one pm, we reached the Polomolok plaza and camped there for awhile to cook for our lunch. A lot of people were so curious of us and of what we were doing. After the late lunch, we were on our way home to Davao. Every time we part after an adventure, I always feel sad. Maybe because I always want to feel the thrill of being in an unfamiliar place....

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mt. Apo The Second Climb

It was not long since my first climb to Mt. Apo that my big brother (Kuya Philip) came home from Canada. For more than 12 years, it was our first reunion. Perhaps the love for adventure is really in our blood for Kuya Philip asked us (his 3 siblings and some of our cousins) to climb Mt Apo. At the time of my first climb in April, my younger brother (kiboy)and my cousin (kingking)had also climbed via Kidapawan trail. Maybe our mom told Kuya about it that's why he was encourage to climb also. And so everything was set.

In May 7, 1996, Kuya Philip, Kiboy, A-an (our younger sister), our cousins Indik, Kingking, Amil, Arjay and me left Davao early that afternoon. We visited first our aunt (Kingking's mom) in Makilala and spend our night there.

We woke up early next morning (May 8) and we went to Kidapawan. From Kidapawan we rode a PUJ (public utility jeepney) to PNOC (Philippine National Oil Company)- our jump off site. Mostly of the Kidapawan trail is river trekking. It has a very long river with a criss- crossing path and we crossed it like 7 times I guess. We passed the Marble River, the Mainit Campsite, the 87 and finally reached Lake Venado at around 3pm.

I was so surprised when we reached the edge of Lake Venado. Contrary to the last time I was there, the place was almost empty. It was like we're the only people in the world so, so isolated. It was a new experience for me, at least I have experienced how eerie it feels when Venado is so still and quite. We chose a good spot for us and we settled for the night.

The next morning (May 9), delegates from the Department of Education, Culture and Sports(DECS) arrived for their clean-up drive activity entitled "Oplan Wow DECS at Mt. Apo". Their activity aims to gather as much trash left behind by the climbers in the recent climbing season. The garbage is to be brought down to Kidapawan to be sorted out and to be recycled. TRIMMOC (Tribung Mindanaw Mountaineering Club, Inc.)- my mountaineering organization is also participating in this kind of endeavor. In fact, during our orientation before my first climb, we were told not to leave any trash when we climb.

Kingking and I were tasked to cook for lunch and to man the campsite, while Kiboy is to accompany the others to the peak. We estimated that they will be back in one and a half hours since the peak is not that far from Venado. After about 30 minutes, I was surprised to see them emerging from the tree line. Kiboy said they were lost, they cannot find the trail up. Poor Poor guys...!

After our lunch was cooked, Kuya decided we go home already. There's nothing much to do there so we agreed. We traced our steps back to PNOC. We rode the PUJ back to Kidapawan and from Kidapawan we took the bus for Davao City.

That was actually my briefest climb to Mt. Apo- could be considered an overnight climb to the highest peak of the Philippines.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Dream Come True


I have chosen my blog under "My Adventures" obviously because I love adventures. The wonders of nature give me so much pleasure that I could temporarily detached myself from the hustle and bustle of city life.

My passion really began when I was still in my 5th grade. On a clear sunny day in our school, I was struck with an awe as I stare into the most marvelous and amazing sight of the Philippine's highest peak- the mount Apo. There it stood in its majestic sculptured like features. Its bluish color so, so eye soothening. I was so captivated by it's beauty that I've said in mind, "I will go and visit you one day." Even today, I could still clearly remember how it crossed my mind.

Though I've dreamed of so much adventures since then, the realization finally came when I was in college particularly when I took up the subject- Ecology. Ecology is the study of ecosystems where living organisms interact with each other and with their non-living environment. Our lessons includes the exposure to places where we could fully understand and study these things practically. And so the adventures begun.


Our first assignment was to study the grassland. Our CI (class instructor) brought us to a coastal area in Matina Aplaya, Davao City. It was a clear moonlit night when we trekked a shore line filled with mangrove trees. The white sand was illuminated by the moon light and so it paved our way to the study area. We had a great time with the activity as it was not just learning but also enjoying.

Second is the Estuarine. It is a place where salt water and fresh water meets. It is usually the end part of a river where it meets the sea. For this, we went to the then Tagum Davao Del Norte (now a city). The water in the estuarine are usually brackish- a mixture of the two types of water. As a side trip we went bird watching in a swampy area of Tagum. We've seen egrets and other migratory birds stopping by to rest before continuing their long journey to find a suitable place for them.


Thirdly, we had the forest exploration. The Matigsalog tribe in Buda (the boundary between Davao City and Bukidnon in the south), were our very hospitable and friendly hosts. They welcomed us warmly and have their tribal head as our guide for the exploration. Our trek started at 7 am and ended at almost 5 pm. On the last part of the trek, we have found a small waterfall. It was really really a dream come true! It was so small that you could compare it to a bathroom shower. So, so funny! The base of the drop was just an ankle level.


Last but not the least, the fresh water. This was the most exciting one. Epol, Marilog District of Davao City was the perfect place. It was the training ground of the local mountaineering group- Tribung Mindanao Mountaineering Club, Incorporated. Our guide was their member. For the first time I felt like I am already a mountaineer. We had a night trek lesson trailing a difficult and treacherous way. That was the very first time I ever felt so elated despite having a hard time finding my footings. It feels so so good! There I've experienced for the first time to sleep in a tent while listening to the sound of the falls nearby.


On the following morning, we had a river trek going to what they call "the cascades". True enough we saw the curtain like drop of water, streaming through a 40 degrees angled slope of marble stones. The base drop is several feet deep. It formed a pool in the base actually. There we swam to the goodness of our lives. We also entered a cave beside the falls.


From then on, I've started going to places where I could enjoy the nature's best. I'll be posting pictures soon.