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

Mt Pulag: Trekking Luzon’s Highest Peak

A journey to the clouds – that’s what I aimed for my birthday trip this year.

Picturing myself standing in Philippines’ third and Luzon’s highest peak with a sea of clouds behind me is how I wanna start this 2013 – aiming for the highest as high as the clouds in my remaining travels and adventure.


Taking Up the Challenge

The trek to Mt Pulag is a long and arduous one.


No, there were no heavy snowfall, gusty winds or mighty boulders along the way, but heavy forest mist and a tough trail instead when we went there on Friday, February 1. These can be quite challenging for first-time hikers.

In addition to that is the freezing weather that looms as you reach higher and higher.


There’s even a recent news that the climate in Mt. Pulag had reached below zero-degree. Wow! Imagine that!

But for sure Adventuroj wouldn’t let that stop a dream of climbing the third highest peak in the Philippines!

Challenging Rough Roads

To reach the top you have to pass through several pit stops –

  • a 4am meet up at the Victory Liner Baguio City with the group we’re coming with
While waiting for the group .. a quick coffee at 7/11

While waiting for the group .. a quick coffee at 7/11

Trying the Taho at Baguio City

While waiting at Victory Liner I’ve had my first taste of the popular Strawberry Taho in Baguio. Indeed a must try for the sweet tooth!

strawberry taho

  • After the meet up, we boarded a 4×4 Jeepney then proceeded to the Mt Pulag Tourism Office for the registration and the orientation.
Pt Pulag First Stop

Pt Pulag First Stop

Mt Pulag Tourism Orientation

Mt Pulag Tourism Office

Mt Pulag Tourism Office

Mt Pulag Orientation

Mt Pulag Orientation

mt pulag tourism

  • Then off we go for another zigzag slippery ride on a narrow road that with just a single mistake will send your Jeep rolling on a cliff. Scary huh?
4x4 Jeepney Ride to Mt Pulag

4×4 Jeepney Ride to Mt Pulag

Aboard the jeepney, one could also witness the unique construction of the houses here to combat the cold weather.

Unique Houses in Benguet

Unique Houses in Benguet


4×4 Jeepney Ride to Mt Pulag

  • After a challenging ride, we reached the 2nd stop at the Ranger Station.
Mt Pulag Ranger Station

Mt Pulag Ranger Station

Mt Pulag Ranger Station


Here the trekkers will be dropped off and the hike will start.

Mount Pulag

In the ranger station also is where you’ll hire your tour guide to accompany you through the night and towards the peak.

  • Tour guide fee – 500 / guide / group

You could also hire a porter to carry your things if you want the trail to be a lighter one.

  • Porter fee – 500 / porter

*Tents can also be rented at 200php.

Hike to Mt Pulag: The Start of the Adventure

At around 1pm, the hike began.

Hiking to Mt Pulag

Hiking to Mt Pulag

At first an easy one, enjoying ourselves to the luscious green and scenic view from the mountain tops.


Mountain Climbing

What to do in Philippines

Mountain Climbing Philippines


baguio mountain

Where is Mt Pulag


Wild Berries in Mt Pulag

Wild Berries in Mt Pulag

But as time passed, our bags got heavier.

We realized we should just opted for a porter. Probably that way we could have enjoyed the hike more.

Reaching Camp 1

Mt Pulag Camp 1

Mt Pulag Camp 1

Camp 1 Mt Pulag

Camp 1 Mt Pulag

After 2 or more hours, we reached the first camp.

Here one could rest in a man made shelter, and could also set camp if you want to spend the night.

Spending the Night at Camp 2

Mt Pulag Camp 2

Mt Pulag Camp 2

But we proceeded to Camp 2 and stayed there for the night, an hour or two away from Camp 1, but nearer to the summit.

Sunset Snapshots at Camp 2

We were also lucky to witness the sunset at Camp 2 , and so here are some photo ops.

Mt Pulag Sunset

Mt Pulag Sunset






The Fatal Challenge: Surviving the Night

The trek is nothing compared to the challenge we’ve endured as night time approached.


Night-time be a true test of grit with the cold reaching near-freezing levels. I even thought that I’ would die in the cold.

Having 5 shirts and a thick jacket plus 3 jogging pants sure DID NOT made me warm enough to have a comfy sleep. The winds are horrible and scary, they are howling making as if the tents will fly away in any second.

Rising Up for a New Journey to the Summit

But we did it! We survived the freezing atmosphere!

The heavens were filled with a cacophony of stars as we woke up at 4 am to bravely make that trek towards the summit to catch the sunrise. It was awe-inspiring.

We were awoken by our guide for the early trek to the summit in expectant of a sunrise and to see the majestic sea of clouds that every Mt Pulag climber wishes to see.

A Slippery and Wet Journey to the Clouds

But as we proceeded the weather didn’t seem to cooperate.


It started to drizzle. And when we reach the summit it’s freezing though it’s already 6am.

Zero visibility and yes – NO sea of clouds 😦

A Rewarding ‘Heavenly’ Experience

Although I did not get to witness the sea of clouds, the journey, however, is more than rewarding.




The experience of a rich flora along the trail – it’s like entering an entirely new realm as the sight of wide open slopes give in to that of closely-huddled trees, ferns of different shapes, and other rich vegetation.

Alas, even a most courageous heart is no match for the elements when one is not properly-geared. Warm clothing and sturdy shoes aside, though, one can never match the company of people with happy dispositions when taking on such a tough adventure. Bring lots of them when you make that journey to the clouds.

For those who’ve reached Mt. Pulag’s peak, meanwhile, the reward, as they say, was “heavenly.” And they’re being literal about it.

At 2,922 meters above sea level, after all, reaching Mt. Pulag’s peak is like reaching the heavens. They have photos of the clouds behind them to prove it.

Mt Pulag Philippines

Mt Pulag Philippines