Barangay Madlum of San Miguel in Bulacan is the home of Mt. Manalmon, the Madlum River, and numerous caves. It offers a variety of activities to excite the adventure-seeker in you.
At 196+ MASL, Mt. Manalmon may go unnoticed; unremarkable for some, even. To up the ante, we did a night trek of its 2-kilometer trail. In less than an hour, we passed through the Madlum Cave, crossed over a roaring river and trekked uphill to a campsite capacious enough for fifty. Early the next morning, we went to the highest point of the mountain which is a 5-minute scramble over a sloping rocky formation from the campsite. The views may not be grand, but it still offers a magnificent 270-degree view of the verdant San Miguel terrain and the snaking river below.
The Madlum River has clear waters which are shallow on the left side and gradually deepens to the right. The rightmost portion has towering rock walls that line the riverside. Past these walls is a wide riverbank with sandy shores. The barangay offers picnic tables and river rafts for rent. Another attraction for visitors is the monkey bridge that locals use when the river swells during the typhoon season.
Aside from the Madlum Cave, the area has other caves open for exploration, most popular of which are Bayukbok and Victoria. We spelunked the Bayukbok Cave whose opening appears after a one-hour trek from the Madlum Training Center. The exploration of the cave was a welcome treat for us and was what I considered personally the highlight of the weekend. At the opening of the cave, we had to rappel off a 10-meter wall. Once inside the cave, we had to carefully maneuver our way through slippery (and sometimes wet) footholds and painstakingly squeeze through narrow openings. Up and down, through and about, over and under; we twisted, turned, stretched, contorted, crawled and climbed over and under rocks to finally emerge at the other end of the cave after nearly an hour. We came out of the surprisingly clean cave (with the absence of bats, did not reek of poo and urine) with dirty shirts, minor scratches and bruises, scraped knees and huge smiles on our faces.
Here is our actual itinerary:
06:30 ETD Manila
08:00 ETA Brgy. Kamias, San Miguel, Bulacan
08:45 ETD Total Gas Station in Kamias
09:15 ETA Brgy. Madlum, San Miguel, Bulacan
09:30 Registration for Basic Mountaineering Course
12:00 Lunch break
15:00 Orienteering Challenge
17:00 Prepare for trek
18:00 Night trek of Mt. Manalmon (196+ MASL)
19:00 ETA campsite
08:00 Breakfast and break camp
09:00 Start of trek
10:30 ETA Madlum Training Center
13:00 ETD Bayukbok Cave
14:00 ETA cave entrance
15:30 ETA Madlum Training Center
18:00 ETD Manalmon
21:30 ETA Metro Manila