Have you ever wanted to try to hike but never really had the chance to go to one for fear that it'll be too difficult for you? Then you may want to start your hiking adventure with a trek to Mt. Gola and Mt. Manalmon.

Both mountains are located in Sitio Madlum in San Miguel, Bulacan, and is just a few hours away from Metro Manila, the Philippines capital. The hike is definitely ideal for beginners.

Now, the trek may look easy for advance hikers but if you're a beginner, and have not really hiked a mountain yet? Then it is recommended that you try Mt. Manalmon first, then go back for another day to try Mt. Gola. If you really like a challenge though, then you can climb both. Now, if you're a cheapskate like me, then I highly recommend not hiking alone. Instead, join a tour. I joined a tour group as a solo joiner, and only paid Php 650 for the trip that included a hike to both Mt. Gola and Mt. Manalmon. Feel free to join any tour group on Facebook, some may offer a more expensive rate, but it probably is because of the included rates for the side trips - Cave Spelunking, Hanging Bridge, and some may also offer food as part of the package. I went for the 'hike-only' package. I was too tired and sleepy to join the spelunking anyway. Maybe I would next time.

The Climb

On the way to the mountain, our group went through Madlum Cave. I curiously think the cave's name is just a play on words for Madulum which means dark, so my guess is a long time ago the cave was referred to as the dark cave going to the mountains, where most trekkers need to go through. It felt so much like a special rite to passage for most beginners. Going through the cave and coming out into the light at the end of its narrow cavern is quite exciting. It's a pity though that the wall of the cave is now filled with vandals from unruly people.

The River

Once you're on the other side of the cave, your trek to the two summits begins. You'll need to cross the river on foot, and it can be quite deep so get ready to be soaking wet.

Mt, Manalmon

According to our guide, the name Mt. Manalmon really came from the word Manlalamon or Devourer. The story says that a mangangaso or a hunter once killed an usa or deer in the forest. And it turned out that the deer was enchanted, and as punishment the mountain devoured the hunter and he was never seen again. Today, you no longer see deer in the forest, and the mountain devouring a soul to avenge the killing of a deer has turned into a legend to scare the kids from exploring the forest unguided.

Mt. Gola

The summit of Mt. Gola used to serve as a watchtower to guerrillas a long time ago. Getting to the summit is way more challenging than that of Mt. Manalmon, and there aren't many trees or shades along the path so it is highly recommended to scale this mountain first to avoid the noontime sun, and to make sure to hydrate well when you're at the summit. Still, once you reach the peak, you'll be rewarded with a great view of the Sierra Madre mountain range.

The hike to Mt. Gola will take you an hour to the summit, unless you're coming from Mt. Manalmon, then it'll probably just take you a good 45 minutes. Unlike the hike to Mt. Manalmon, you're required to do the GPS move when you go up to Mt. Gola. GPS means "Gapang para safe" which is the tagalog for "Crawl for Safety". So be safe when you climb this mountain. Better crawl if needed especially if it is raining.

Things to Bring and to Remember:

  1. Remember to bring with you your camera so you can take tons of pictures. Bring a powerbank in case you need to charge along the way.
  2. Bring trail food and enough water to last you the trek. There is no refilling station at the summit or on your way back to the jump off point. So make sure to bring enough to last you the hike.
  3. Bring cash to the hike. It may not be included on your package but once your in San Miguel, Bulacan, there are other activities that you can do like go spelunking in Bayukbok Cave, or visit the Monkey Bridge. You'll need about 200 pesos for the cave, and 30 pesos for the bridge. That's additional 230 pesos for both activities.

That's it. Travel safe everyone.