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....

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