Amyek Maleh 2013: Mt Matutum Climb


“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

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.

amyak maleh

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.”
V.H. Friedlaender

plan a tree

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


matutum water source

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!

climbing mountain

The trail, especially after Phase 1 was REALLY STEEP.

mountain climbing

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

phase 1 matutum

amyak maleh 2013

Arrival at Phase 1

mountain climbing

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!


Afternoon clouds that met us upon arrival

outdoor gear

“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

matutum flower

Just living is not enough. One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower. -Hans Christian Andersen




Does they look something similar? Clue: Zombies love them!!

More Summit Photo Moments

matutum marker

Mt Matutum Marker


Pitching tents and the freezing atmosphere!

sunrise in mountain

The Descent

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

mt matutum peak

“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

Quotations & Photography: A Bike Ride Into The Sunrise

Early mornings are best for leisure walks and of course – bike rides!

Travel with me down the aisle of photography quotations as I journey into the sunrise – after an early morning bicycle ride, made to calm the soul and unrest the feet – a hobby that I’ve been lately addicted.

bike ride

quote image

sunrise photo

bike in

mt matutum

bike quotes

Taming the Sweet Tooth!

After a leisurely bike ride, we stopped by the popular fruit stands in Brgy. Kablon, Tupi, South Cotabato for an early morning treat!

Lover of the Corn? There's nothing surely more sweeter than this...

Lover of the Corn? There’s nothing surely more sweeter than this…

Endless Rows of Abundant Fruits, only in Brgy. Kablon, Tupi, South Cotabato

Endless Rows of Abundant Fruits, only in Brgy. Kablon, Tupi, South Cotabato

Do you have a sweet tooth? Why not give this pineapples a try!

Do you have a sweet tooth? Why not give this pineapples a try!

To end this, I’d like to share some of more quotes to inspire your day today. Have a lovely one!

photo of sunrise

sunrise picture

Tupi Agten Festival’s Street Dancing Parade

Yet another year, another September 11, and yes another year for the beautiful and bountiful Tupi, my home town.

So to bring to you the chronicles of the colorful feast, here’s a sneak peak of what transpired in the joyous merriment. Let your eyes enjoy the parade of colors!

Agten Festival Street Dancing Photos

Continue reading

3rd Agten Tufi Festival: Truly Beautiful, Truly Bountiful

September 11 is approaching once again! Guess what awaited festival shall I be sharing to you today?

None other than the beautiful and bountiful festival of my beloved hometown, Tupi, South Cotabato!

Agten Tufi: Truly Beautiful, Truly Bountiful Festival

About Agten Tufi Festival

Agten Tufi Festival, a thanksgiving celebration of Beauty and Bounty, is a convergence of various ethnic and cultural dances featuring Tupi as the province’s flower, fruit and vegetable basket and a place where various cultures abode. Held every September 11 in celebration of the town’s foundation anniversary.

For more than a decade, the Municipality of Tupi had been holding” Kasadyahan Festival” as a celebration of its foundation anniversary. Usual to the celebration were replications of the practices of other festivals that it loses its real essence as to creating its own identity, reflective of the aspirations of the Municipality of Tupi as a people. The festival name Kasadyahan is generic to fiestas in the Visayan regions –its literal meaning, ‘merriment’, had been misconceived as a reason for escapism from the stark realities of life and governance because as a whole concept, there is no relevant, more so, pertinent reason for celebration but just that, to celebrate in grandiose pomp and pageantry.

The proposal to rename Tupi’s festival is one executive effort to redirect the visions of governance towards more meaningful celebration of its foundation anniversary. The creation of a concept based on social realities such as cultural heritage and its cultural assets could well define what direction the Municipality takes as it identifies the reason why it has to celebrate – a festival that gives weight to the programs of government, the aspirations of its people, the history of its constituents that creates a holistic showcase of the tri-partite relationship between social/cultural, political and economic institutions as pillars of development.

Why Agten Tufi?

Beautiful Tupi

Agten Tufi is from Blaan etymology meaning “beautiful or bountiful Tupi”. Considering its cultural history, Tupi (tufi), along with Koronadal (kolon datal), Polomolok (flom molok) and Tampakan (tamfaken) derived its name from Blaan origins – making its tribal roots a significant part and parcel of its social history. As such, the tourism and economic potential of its culture is high – if only realized and anchored to programs of the government.

Most Philippine festivals anchored in Culture are most successful. Sinulog of Cebu, Dinagyang of Ilo-ilo, Ati-atihan of Aklan, Pintados of Leyte and South Cotabato’s Tnalak festival to name a few! These festivals had taken off from the usual merriment – instead, these particular festivals became venues for image making and packaging that speak of the existence and aspirations of their respective people, manifested by a strong political will, creating vast opportunities in business and investments. To top all these, their festival names are unique and their respective people had established a sense of ownership that concretized their directions for growth and development.

Agten Tufi attempts to establish the same direction. As a name with holistic meaning, the Municipality of Tupi drives into the very same holistic programs making it one of its vehicles for establishing identity. It becomes the true mirror of all its institutions combined in positive efforts to respect the cultural past that made Tupi what it is now and what it will be in the future. The new leadership’s visions cater to change  – the most imperative change could be the renaming of its reasons to celebrate (the festival) because festivals in the political, economic and social mainstreams are true reflections of a stable governance and a strong political will that establishes a community with right visions and positive directions. In totality, it becomes the main reason to celebrate the goodness and the bounty of the Municipality of Tupi!

Agten Tufi Festival Schedule of Activities

Below is the schedule of activities for the 3rd Agten Tufi Festival.

Agten Festival Schedule of Activities

See you there!