Mount Kanlaon: A Heaven That Bisects Negros

Mount Kanlaon, Canlaon City, Neg. Or.

Mapot-Mananawin Trail

February 6-8, 2014

I didn’t expect Mt. Kanlaon to be my second climb. I was thinking of something easier inside my mind.

But when friends from my first climb asked me to come with them climb the mystic mountain, I immediately said yes. The only thing that pulled me back was the climb expenses since I am only a student. But then, my willingness to go up the mountain cannot be overpowered by my financial constraints. In short, I found a way.

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These were my buddies during my first climb in Mt. Mandalagan last December 2013. But only five of us climbed Mt. Kanlaon: Sir Neo, Maam Joy, Sir Phedz, Maam Norz and I.

Maam Bonny was the climb leader, and our friends from Cebu were generous enough to process all the necessary permits for the climb. Thanks to them! Thank you also to the tourism officers of Canlaon City for letting us climb even though we are more than the maximum number of individuals per team.

From Bacolod, Canlaon City is three (3) hours away via Ceres Bus. We rode the 10 AM bus going to Canlaon City and arrived at exactly 1 PM, just in time for the final preparations and orientation. There is no problem with the transportation since there is a bus going to Canlaon City every 30 minutes. The regular fare is P 108/ head.

After having lunch and Sir Jigz Santiago’s final orientation, at about 2:30 PM, we headed to our jump-off point at Sitio Mapot via Habal-habal (local name for the motorcycle used for public transportation). The fare in the habal-habal is P 100/head for two people in one motorcycle, or P 150/head if you are riding alone.

We arrived at the jump-off point at 3 PM and started trekking to the Base Camp or Camp Mapot.

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At the jump-off point, Sitio Mapot, Canlaon City. Photo from Maam Joy Clarence Debuyan

It was only a two-hour trek in an open trail which gave us a clear view of Canlaon City, parts of Negros Oriental and even the Island of Cebu.

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Go-pro image by Sir Ethan Uy just as soon as we arrived Camp Mapot

When we arrived at around 5 PM, we took a moment to enjoy the wonderful scenery viewed from our campsite. Indeed, nothing beats the view from above. We then pitched our tents and started cooking our dinner. There is a water source nearby that provided for our water necessity. At around 7:30 PM, we had our little fiesta (celebration). We were divided into three groups and each group had their own dish to share (and boast).

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Our dinner was comprised of tuna pasta, adobo, liempo, fried fish, ‘halang halang’ and cucumber salad. Photo by Maam Ghalaii Berdin

After a really festive dinner, we had a little socials just to lessen the coldness of the night.

The next day, we had to wake up early, at around 5 AM to prepare our breakfast and lunch which will be eaten later on trail.

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Getting ready for long trek ahead. Photo by Sir Ethan Uy

At around 8:30 AM, we started the day’s trek proper. The first part of the trek was in an open trail where we walked through huge lettuce, carrot and sayote gardens which resemble the strawberry gardens in Baguio City. As soon as we got deeper into the forest, the temperature was also gradually falling.

We had lunch at what the guide’s refer to as Bangko-bangko since it was already around 12 NN and we can’t wait until we reach Kutitap to eat our lunch.

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Another excellent Go-pro shot by Sir Ethan Uy while we were having lunch

After a really brief break, we composed ourselves again and started trekking. Our next stop would be the Kutitap Water Source where we will be refilling our water containers.

When we arrived at the Kutitap water source at around 3 PM, Kuya Islaw treated us with the world’s best coffee experience ever. The native coffee, locally, Kapeng Barako, energized us for the second part of the trail. Kuya Islaw told me that the coffee beans were only gathered in Mt. Kanlaon, and they themselves (locals) process it. It was really good and its aroma is really tempting.

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Team Neo is first to arrive at the Kutitap water source

We had to refill our water containers here at Kutitap since our next water source is at Margaja Valley which we do not plan to go to. So we decided to just thrift our water provision and reserve it for cooking. A 10-liter container filled with water is really a burden for the men in our team especially Sir Neo. So he, and Sir Adrian took turns carrying the load along the way.

30 minutes away from Kutitap water source is Makawiwili Peak. It is said to be the highest peak at MKNP. It was really cloudy up there and we really enjoyed catching the scenery below every time the clouds move aside and give us a clearing.

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Our faces after seeing the island of Cebu from Makawiwili Peak. Photo by Maam Joy Clarence Debuyan

Since we were trekking in a very slow pace, we had to do a little night trek. Twilight is the darkest time of the day for me. It was really dark even though I had my headlamp on because my eyes aren’t really well at the moment. We arrived at the East Saddle Camp at 7 PM, three hours delayed of our itinerary.

We ended cooking and eating our dinners at around 10:30 PM. East saddle camp is an open camp site, the reason why it was really cold. The temperature reached as low as 6 degrees celsius that night. We hadn’t had the guts to go out of our tents so we had to sardine ourselves (10 of us) in a 2-person tent just to have a little socials. It was really an effective thing to do if you want to retain the heat within the tent.

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Sir Phedz, Maam Diz, Me and Maam Joy inside the tent during our mini-socials. Photo by Sir Neo

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Ma’am Arlyn, Sir Neo, Sir Adrian, Sir Yaman, Ma’am Noriza and Sir Phedz at the other side of the tent. Photo from Maam Joy Clarence Debuyan

Our third day at Mt. Kanlaon was spent going to the summit/ crater.

We had to wake up at around 5 AM to fix our breakfast and prepare our lunch which will again be eaten on trail. We did all the cooking inside Sir Adrian’s tent because it was really freezing outside. His tent is really abused but it was all worth it.

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Sir Neo and I cooking Macaroni Corn Soup for breakfast. Photo by Maam Joy Clarence Debuyan

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Sir Adrian and Maam Joy cooking scrambled egg for breakfast. Photo by yours truly.

While we were cooking, we were also secretly praying that the mountain will be cleared of clouds so that we can reach the crater. Maam Joy said that we’ll wait until 9 AM for a clearing, if not, we should start descending. And so we waited.

After we finished cooking, we had another festive breakfast shared with everyone in the team, including the guides. Sir Phedz, Maam Norz and Maam Joy had a little project. It was a dessert prepared for everybody. Supposedly, it should have been Mango Float, but then mangoes aren’t season now so they just turned it into Graham Float which is still perfectly delicious.

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Heavy breakfast with the whole team. Delicioso! Photo by Sir Ethan Uy

After eating breakfast, a short clearing was noticed by our guide at the trail going up the crater. It’s not a hundred percent visibility but sure it will suffice for our going to the summit. It only took us about 30 minutes to reach the crater. While hiking farther up the crater, you will notice the lessening of the flora. The thinning of the flora as you go up the crater just proves that Mt. Kanlaon is indeed top 3 of the most active volcanoes in the country.

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Going up the crater. Photo by Sir Ya Man

It was a short but tiring ascent to the crater. If I estimate it, it’s about 30 to 40-degree of continuous ascent. I also noticed a little thinning of the air towards the summit causing our noses to run. Trail signs such as rocks placed above each other like a tower can be found along the trail to guide climbers towards the crater.

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Trail signs towards the crater. Photo from Maam Bonny

Reaching the crater was both holistic and intoxicating. At first it feels as if you’ve been renewed, completed as a person. Next it feels like you don’t ever wanna get down from where you currently are. It was a successful summit even though the clouds weren’t really kind enough to show us the totality of the Kanlaon crater.

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A foggy Go-pro shot at the crater by Sir Ethan Uy

The descent from the crater was really an adventure. While we were on the crater, the guide told us that when they were once surveying the area with some other guides, they discovered a solo (backdoor) climber, with no identifications or other paraphernalia, dead after hitting his head to a pointed rock. After hearing this story, I tried to be very cautious doing my descent. My experienced comrades, Maam Joy and Sir Phedz, were holding my hands making sure I do not step on unstable rocks. Thanks to them!

It was really an awesome experience, sad to say we had to descend from the mountain already.

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Team Neo, waiting for the other teams to get ready to descend from the mountain. Photo by Maam Bonny

Just when we thought the adventure was over, the descent was only beginning. It was already 1 PM when we finished breaking our camps and fixing our packs. The Mananawin trail was an open trail with Cogon grass all around. The trail itself was both descending, and mud-wait-for-it-dy. So what’s the best thing to do with trails like these? Slide, ofcourse! (Padidit in Bisaya, Padanlog in Hiligaynon). While we were on our descent we had both accidental and non-accidental slides and trips which hurt both ways. We discovered a lot of sliding techniques such as knee slide and butt slide.

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Short bushes thrive along with Cogon grass at Mananawin trail. Photo by Maam Joy Clarence Debuyan

This is actually when I discovered I like the descent part of the climb better. Why? It’s much easier than the ascent and it doesn’t hurt your heart so much. I can also say that descent is much better because of what Sir Phedz told me to do: Side Steps. You can really balance your body when you do side steps.

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Sir Phedz, Maam Norz and I on our descent. Photo by Maam Joy Clarence Debuyan

The guides said it’s going to take us about 5 hours to reach Sitio Mananawin where our habal habal ride is waiting to drive us back to Canlaon City proper. But for slow pacers like us, it took us 7 hours. Maybe this is also because of the two lunch breaks we had along the trail.

We reached Sitio Mananawin at 6:30 PM, where our habal habal drivers and Sir Jigz Santiago has been waiting for us since 2 PM. That night, one of the guides, Laddie Lamis, let us stayed in his house since we will be heading to Bacolod early in the morning the next day.

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Before I end my blog, I would like to extend my gratitude to the people behind the success of this climb: Maam Bonny, Sir Neo, Maam Joy, Sir Phedz, Maam Norz, Maam Arlyn, Maam Diz, Maam Ghalaii, Maam Jamie, Sir Ethan, Sir Halourd, Sir Bebz, Sir Ya Man, Sir Adrian, Sir Choy. Thank you to our guide Kuya Islaw, and the two others I didn’t have the chance to know. Sir Jigz Santiago, thank you for letting us climb! Sir Laddie Lamis for adopting us after our climb! Thank you to my family who has always supported me to my trips! Thank you God for the mountains we are capable climbing, the bodies strong enough to do physical work and friends selfless enough in their own way.

The mountains called, and I came.

Planning to climb Mount Kanlaon, too? Visit Mt. Kanlaon’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MountKanlaon