“You never climb the same mountain twice, not even in memory. Memory rebuilds the mountain, changes the weather, retells the jokes, remakes all the moves.”
— Lito Tejada-Flores
Yes. I know I’ve been there before during my high school years because of a scouting encampment.
But after almost 10 years, I found myself again about to set on a journey to a mountain that they say had one of the most challenging trails in the Philippines (even MORE DIFFICULT than Mt Pulag and even Mt Apo) – none other than the MT. MATUTUM.
About Mt Matutum
Rising to 2293 meters (7522 feet) above sea level, Mount Matutum prominently resides at the southern end of The Philippines southernmost province of Mindanao. Although only 70 km SSW of the country’s highest peak Mount Apo, this isolated dormant volcano dominates the landscape from all 360 degrees.
Thanks to the Amyek Maleh 2013 celebration I was given another opportunity to have my body endure another adventure to conquer this known landmark in South Cotabato.
What is Amyak Maleh?
The name Mount Matutum is derived from the local Blaa’n tongue “Amyak Maleh” meaning climb and plant. Indeed, all trekkers are required to plant a tree while visiting the Mountain.
The Mountain and its surrounding landscape are protected through a Presidential Proclamation issued March 25, 1995 by President Fidel Ramos.
Amyak Maleh is being conducted each year as one of the events that formed part of the weeklong celebration of the declaration of Mt. Matutum as “protected landscape”, or the Linggo ng Mt. Matutum.
Amyak Maleh 2013
Hundreds of mountaineers coming from all over Mindanao flock to the municipality of Tupi, South Cotabato to join this year’s Amyak Maleh.
March 22, 2013 – the day started early with the registration of the participants.
After which, a brief orientation had been given and all mountaineers are transported to the jump off point in Glandan, Brgy, Kablon, Tupi, South Cotabato.
Amyak Maleh Itinerary
Here’s the detailed itinerary for the climb.
Day 1 (March 22, 2013)
4:00 AM Wake up
6:00 AM Registration, Orientation and take service to Sitio Glandang
8:00 AM ETA Glandang
8:00-9:30AM Tree Planting
9:30 AM Start assault to Phase I
12:00 NN ETA Phase I
1:00 PM Ascent to Summit
4:00 PM ETA Mt. Matutum Summit and start pitch tent and sightseeing / picture taking
6:00 PM Dinner and Inato Social
11:00 PM Lights off
Day 2 (March 23, 2013)
5:00 AM Wake up
7:00 AM Breakfast / Sightseeing/ picture taking
8:30 AM break the camp and descent preparation
9:00 AM start descent to Phase I
12:00 NN ETA Phase I (Lunch)
1:00 PM descent to Sitio Glandang
4:00 PM ETA Sitio Glandang
4:00 PM Take service to Municipal Hall
6:00 PM Mountaineers Night (Free Dinner)
Registration Fee: 300.00
Inclusive: Souvenir T-shirt, Certificate, I.D., 1 Meal during Socials and Transportation from Mun. Hall to Sitio Glandang
Amyak Maleh Tree Planting
The climb started with a tree planting activity on the foot of Mt Matutum in Glandang.
“My heart is glad, my heart is high
With sudden ecstasy;
I have given back, before I die,
Some thanks for every lovely tree
That dead men grew for me.”
The Journey to Mt Matutum
After the tree planting, it is now time to start the battle.
The climb almost lasted for 6 hours, 3 hours towards Phase 1 and another 3 hours to the Summit.
Your first stop will be in this marker, here you will get to refill your bottles for water from a free flowing spring. The next water source will still be at the peak
6 long hours of dodging from twigs, ducking low, crawling in between trees, holding branches tight, and sometimes slipping on slippery rocks. We even met a cobra along the way! Yikes!
The trail, especially after Phase 1 was REALLY STEEP.
There are even moments when you are in the middle of your trek, when you get to stop, pause, and ask yourself,
“Why ? Why, why, why do I do this ???
Arrival at Phase 1
But as they say ‘That which does not kill you will make you stronger.’ Hopefully this will. Haha!
And yes, I am a living witness to the statement that
the trail to Mt Matutum is indeed MORE DIFFICULT THAN MT. APO or MT PULAG
“To put yourself into a situation where a mistake cannot necessarily be recouped, where the life you lose may be your own, clears the head wonderfully. It puts domestic problems back into proportion and adds an element of seriousness to your drab, routine life. Perhaps this is one reason why climbing has become increasingly hard as society has become increasingly, disproportionately, coddling.”
— A. Alvarez, The Games Climbers Play.
Arrival at the Summit
But as they say, once you get to the peak, it’s all worth it!
“The bizarre trend in mountaineers is not the risk they take, but the large degree to which they value life. They are not crazy because they don’t dare, they’re crazy because they do. These people tend to enjoy life to the fullest, laugh the hardest, travel the most, and work the least.”
— Lisa Morgan
It’s Not Too Late To Live
What’s even more amazing is that during our trek to Mt Matutum, a couple age 57 and 59 years old came with the group and successfully conquered the mountain up to the summit!
When asked what their reason for climbing is, they only said, ‘Better do it now before it’s too late.”
Inspiring indeed. It reminds us all that it’s never too old or too late to have an adventure and live.
Mt Matutum Flora and Fauna
More Summit Photo Moments
But of course, you cant’ just stay on the summit.
What’s even more arduous is the descent, especially that it rained the night before. Scary slippery!
“Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.”
— Ed Viesturs
“If adventure has a final and all-embracing motive, it is surely this: we go out because it is our nature to go out, to climb mountains, and to paddle rivers, to fly to the planets and plunge into the depths of the oceans… When man ceases to do these things, he is no longer man.”
— Wilfrid Noyce