After a brisk hike up Mt. Manalmon in San Miguel, Bulacan, my hiking buddies Julian Canero, Jo Steven and I took the rough road towards Mt. Mabio, after noticing its prominence from the summit of Manalmon. The prospect of exploring what seems to be one the higher points in the Biak-na-Bato National Park seemed more attractive that quickly assaulting nearby Mt. Gola, or having to all the way just to have another hike – as in Mt. Balagbag in San Juan del Monte.
We stopped at the junction, with one part of the road heading southeast, and the other heading northeast – towards the mountain. After parking our vehicle near the junction, we followed the northeast road. At the advice of some locals who we encountered, we took a right turn amid a patch of mango trees. If we had gone straight we might have reached the other side of Mt. Mabio, where an old quarry site stood. This path may also have a way to one of the peaks.
Everything was surrounded with bamboo – different species, different stages of growth and decay – it was like a twisted version of the Tinikling, as the Iron Lady, Jo Steven, put it (she has climbed over a thousand mountains around the world and Mabio would be her 44th or 4th mountain in the Philippines!).
Finally, midway, the trail was gone. Our only guide was our vision – we scrambled amid the melange of bamboo, thorny plants, and jagged rocks, scaling a total of about 200 meters until we emerged at the top of one of the limestone Pinnacles of Mt. Mabio. The elevation was just below 400 MASL – more than twice the height of Manalmon and impressive enough for a Bulacan mountain.
The views were stunning at the top, and of course the rock climbing / scrambling was a great experience. We only expected a very easy dayhike of Manalmon, but atop the Pinnacles, we were rewarded with great views of Biak-na-Bato National Park and surrounding towns, as well as the vast Central Plains of Luzon with the towering presence of Mt. Arayat.
It would be hard to make a detailed itinerary of the Pinnacles of Mt. Mabio – and nearby peaks like Mt. Susong Dalaga which I think also belongs to Mt. Mabio. The reason is there are no trails, and there are no guides. However, considering the beauty and challenge posed by the cliffs, I am sure there was, and will be interest to do more explorations of this mountain especially since it lies so close to Manila.
After the climb, the southeast road turned out to be a horrible, car-wrecking path but thankfully we were saved by a detour one the most impossible, impassable segment. We were literally out of the woods by 1600H. A visit to SM Baliuag ensued and there we had our postclimb feast of lemon chicken and mango shakes!
Some pictures courtesy of Julian Canero.
Hiking matters #126: Mt. Manalmon, nice and easy
Hiking matters #127: The stunning Pinnacles of Biak-na-Bato N.P.