Monday, March 21, 2011

MINDANAO 1-2-3 (2008)

Mt Kitanglad as seen from Mt Dulang-Dulang
Blogger's note: This is a recollection of my Mindanao 1-2-3 expedition in October 2008.

Part One: Mt APO
My whole Mindanao experience began on Oct 27, 2008 when I set foot on Paliparang Pandaigdig ng Lungsod ng Davao (Davao Int’l Airport). I took the bus for Kidapawan and spent the night at an OK economy inn (P200 for a shared bathroom)! I was planning to take the Kidapawan trail for Mount Apo only to know, at the last minute, that my guide hails from Kapatagan in Digos. That's the thrill with no-plans plan--you get to be in a place where you're not supposed to be and you have fun, and you learn…yes you learn. And this is basically how BMC is modified and polished—through constant learning. So i headed back to Digos Cty (about an hour away from Kidapawan) on the 28th--my big day!

securing my medical certificate in Digos City
At 9 am, I went to the city hall to get a medical certificate which took me a long time to secure on account of my high blood pressure. Well, you could always tell the medical practitioners that it's your first time in Mindanao and it's your birthday and their hearts melt. So I got the permit (paid P550 all-inclusive). I was so lucky I was alone cuz i got to hitch a motorcycle ride from my guide (Onel). I arrived at the guide's place at 1100hrs and had adobong kabayo for lunch. We started the trek around noon time and got past Godigodi campsite around 1500hrs.

emergency camp amidst the boulders
When we got to the boulders, my legs failed me so I called for an emergency camp. Luckily (before sundown) we were just about 20 meters away from a flat area that was just enough to accommodate one Coleman Pioneer2. It was a grotesquely fascinating view of a blue tent amidst a vast area of sharp-edged igneous boulders which reminded me of Lex Luthor's idea of Newfoundland. We supped on beef noodles and daing na tilapia--the best I could serve on my 28th birthday! At 0600hrs the following day (29th), after a quick painit, we headed for the summit. The summit was less than an hour away from my e-camp.

I was so unlucky that my memory card got corrupted when I connected it to a computer in an internet café in Cagayan de Oro. The virus ate all my summit pictures but I was able to salvage a photo of me on the crater lake!
We headed back down and got back at 0900hrs and I was at the Kapatagan transport terminal around 1300hrs. Fast eh?! When you’re alone, the journey is really quick! And Kapatagan trail is a very easy trail. Once you get past the boulders, you can prance your way down to the jump-off. At Digos City, I got my certificate of climb and then I took the bus bound for Davao where I immediately took the night bus for Malaybalay City. I Spent the night at an economy inn (for P180 you get a room with a private bathroom at Maila’s Lodge).

Part Two: Dulang-Dulang—Kitanglad (D2K)
My initial plan for my birthday trip was just Mt APO and Camiguin. But I had always dreamed of conquering the three highest peaks of Mindanao in one single journey. So, on a dare, while on top of Mt. Apo (on the 28th) I texted Michael Jan ‘Mijan’ Pizarro (the authorized D2K guide) about the possibility of doing a D2K. Just my luck, he said there was a group of mountaineers from Davao scheduled to do a D2K on the 30th. He gave me the contact number of the expedition leader (Orson of DCMEC) but Orson told me "Puno na man mi bai!" (There are no more slots!). At first, I didn't understand what he meant ‘cuz I just wanted to do a ‘sabit’...there's always room for one more sabiteer. Later Mijan told me that the authorities in Dulang-Dulang and Kitanglad only allow a maximum of 15 climbers (including the guide) at a time. Mijan said "Akong bahala sayo!" (I got your back!). Then he told me to get to Malaybalay as soon as I get back down from Apo. On the 30th, Mijan picked me up at Maila's Lodge. Again, luck was with me ‘cuz when we got to Panahik Outdoors shop (the assembly place), I was told that 2 climbers from Davao had backed out. There's enough room for one more. So I was in. The group was composed of 9 climbers from Davao, 3 from Cagayan de Oro, Mijan the guide and me.
atop Mt Dulang-Dulang
The trek started at Sitio Lantapan (Malaybalay, Bukidnon). We spent one night by a river (Alanib River if my memory serves me right). Then we spent another night at Manny's Garden…so named in honor of the late Manny Serina who introduced Dulangdulang and Kitanglad as mountaineering destinations to mountaineers across the country. I want to write a separate article about this great man. I talked with some mountaineers who are lucky enough to have shared moments with the pillar of mountaineering in Mindanao. The following morning the Davao contingents, along with the porter and Gena from CDO, had to trail back to Lantapan. They had to be with their families during the "Undas". So there was only me, Mijan, Francis (CDO) and Karl (CDO) left to do the traverse to Kitanglad. The trail down D2 was really steep and treacherous. You have to be there to understand what I'm trying to say. We had lunch at the ridge between D2 and Kitanglad. The trail up Kitanglad was even steeper. At one point, there was a rope laid along the trail as the trail was already vertical. I don't trust ropes so I had one hand on it and another one negotiating with the thick cogon grass. We reached the summit of Kitanglad at around 4:30pm.

Part Three: Behind the Scenes
traverse trek to Kitanglad
What I haven't told you is that that D2K traverse almost never materialized. At Manny's Garden, the group was discussing the matter over. They were actually looking forward to doing a D2K thinking that the first night would be spent at Manny's Garden at once and the second on top of Kitanglad, which was/is actually doable. They were really pushing for a night trek during the first day but the guide advised that the group camp at Alanib River. The group finally decided to call the traverse trek off. They would be heading back to Lantapan the following day. Apparently there was some miscommunication. Ronan (Panahik Outdoors Shop proprietor) the middleman between the guide and the group had purportedly initially told Orson that the expedition would only take 3 days and 2 nights, which was not the idea of the guide. So I talked with Mijan and told him that I would really love to do a traverse to Kitanglad. He said, Walang problema jan! Sasamahan kita. (No problem buddy! I’ll accompany you!). He was really determined too to do the D2K. But in the end, Mam Gena and I were able to dissuade him, saying that he has to take care of his name as an authorized guide. It would have been very unfair if he accompanied me instead of the group who contacted him. His biggest market is Davao mountaineers.

a view from Mt Kitanglad overlooking Bukidnon
I then considered, taking the porter as my guide. Later at night, I talked with the two other guys (Francis and Karl) from CDO, expressing my interest in the traverse trek. I needed them as source of courage because the porter didn’t know the traverse trail very well. To my surprise, Karl and Francis were also feeling the same...they'd do the traverse come what may. So I found my companions.
An even bigger surprise awaited me that night. In the middle of our socials, the Davao climbers insisted on taking the porter as their guide on the trail back...we just had to cover the third day extension fee. Deal! So the following morning, at around 9:30 am, the group descended back to Lantapan while I, Mijan, Karl and Francis, took the traverse route.

All things considered, that Mindanao 1-2-3 expedition could never have been more fulfilling and rewarding! It was a clear testimony of how Whim and Luck play their tricks.

hanging out at Chaibodia
But there's more to my Mindanao experience than this Mindanao 1-2-3 expedition! And this one's what I cherish the most—my Palanay (lazy) days in Cagayan de Oro City. After my Mindanao 1-2-3 expedition, I lingered in CDO before my flight back to Manila. I was planning to go to Camiguin but I was told I’d spend a lot of money there. So, I decided to just spend the rest of my Mindanao vacation in CDO. During the day I hung out at two outdoors shops—Viajero and Camping Hut, and at night I would be boozing up in Divisoria or Chaibodia with the movers and shakers of the mountaineering in Mindanao. If you know the names Johnmurs, Nolibaks, Dalvec, Falsis, Jackie (Lou), Mijan, I know you’ve climbed in Mindanao! The City of Golden Friendship didn't fail to live up to its title. And I fulfilled my promise when I returned in 2010. Although Camping Hut had already closed down and Chaibodia had turned into a hip-hop bar, some things remained the same—the cool company of the city’s warm and friendly people!


  1. pareng adonis a.k.a mr. t. thanks for spending ur time with us...sana maulit muli...miss u men...salamat din sa article mo..hindi mo kami nalilimutan..sana maka pasyal din kami diyan sa manila...pare...pahingi nang number mo..

  2. If you don't mind sir would you please share me your guide's contact# for Mt Apo

    Best Regards,

    1. nice article sir..

      we're doing Apo this Feb 22 - 26, 2012.. do you have any tourism contacts in Kapatagan?

      any info would really help..

      thanks a lot

  3. @kabsat Here's my guide's number in Kapatagan: 09197515988. He treated me good but my friends had a terrible experience in Mt Apo because of him. I think he is also one of those 'colorum' guides. So I suggest you coordinate with the tourism officer in Digos City: 09196777064. But I really strongly recommend the Sibulan trail. Why? please find 'guide' and 'hold-up' this article:


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