Mantalingajan Traverse: Prologue

This climb started with a silly promise from my friends, Jet and Fred: Pag umakyat ka sa susunod, sasamahan ka namin. Huwag ka lang tumuloy ngayon. (We’ll go with you on your next climb. Just don’t push through with it now.)

I was all set to climb Mt. Mantalingajan, Palawan’s highest peak, last year but my companions backed out a few days before the climb. Disappointed and heartbroken, I had this insane idea of doing it alone. Solo climb of the toughest mountain in the Philippines? Now that’s brilliant. Jet and Fred were the ones who reined in my stupidest idea yet of getting myself killed. They probably made that promise at the time just to get me to cancel the climb.

But what do you know? Eight months later, they kept their word.

And so our legendary Manta Traverse began.

1200H San Jose Terminal, Puerto Princesa

(Photo by Jet Reyes)

(Photo by Jet Reyes)

From the provincial capital of Puerto Princesa, we had to travel for about six hours to the southern town of Rizal. Most buses and vans only have morning trips, with the last regular trip usually set at 10 or 11am. Fred’s flight from Manila arrived at 11:35am so we had a slim chance of getting a ride for Rizal that day.

When we got to the terminal, there was a van bound for Rizal leaving at 2pm but its last stop will only be at the town proper. The jump-off of the climb is in Barangay Ransang, which is still 45 minutes away from town.

We begged the driver to take us to Ransang even if we have to pay extra but he refused. Good thing there was another van also leaving at 2pm bound for Sicud, another barangay in Rizal. The driver was more amiable and agreed to drop us off in Ransang.

1400H Leaving Puerto Princesa
Long cramped ride passing through the towns of Aborlan, Narra, Quezon and Sofronio Española. Stopovers in Narra and Quezon.

1930H Brgy. Ransang, Rizal
We got off at the house of Kagawad Layacan, a local official in the village. Even before I could put my backpack down, the kagawad delivered the worst news we could get.

Hindi na kami nagpapaakyat ng walang permit (We no longer allow climbs without a permit),” she said. She was referring to the climb permit issued by the Protected Area Superintendent of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Their office is all the way back in Puerto Princesa.

I was floored. I could feel my knees turning into jelly and we hadn’t even started trekking yet.

We had no idea a permit was needed for the climb. Our local contact in Puerto as well as our guide didn’t mention anything about it. Previous groups who did the traverse also didn’t say anything about a permit. I’m usually conscientious about securing climb permits since I’ve already climbed mountains which are declared protected areas. This one completely caught me off guard.

The kagawad wouldn’t budge despite all our pleas so Binoy, our local guide, took us to the tribal chieftain who also happens to be his father-in-law. The chieftain was just as confused about the permit issue which was not a requirement in past climbs. His wife managed to contact a local DENR staff to see what could be done. I talked to the staff on the phone and pleaded our case. I expected a dressing down but he was actually pleasant and agreeable, and best of all, he gave us permission to go ahead with the climb. Huge sigh of relief.

2010H Trek to Sitio Balin-Balin
The trailhead to Mantalingajan is in Sitio Balin-Balin, about an hour’s walk from the main road of Ransang. Balin-Balin is a small community of the Palaw’an tribe and the home of our local guides, Binoy and Tatay Dinio.

2110H Sitio Balin-Balin
We set up camp in the village market, a spacious hall made of nipa and bamboo. On market day, it’s probably teeming with people and produce but on that night, we were the only ones there plus a few curious onlookers.

Advanced cooking for the next day’s meals. (Photo by Jet Reyes)

Advanced cooking for the next day’s meals. (Photo by Jet Reyes)

Our sleeping quarters. Glad we didn’t have to pitch our tents yet.

Our sleeping quarters. Glad we didn’t have to pitch our tents yet.

The night was cool, the skies were clear and the stars were beautiful. We took that as a good omen for our climb. We didn’t know yet what we were in for.


14 thoughts on “Mantalingajan Traverse: Prologue

    1. Tintin Post author

      Buti na lang talaga. Otherwise, dun na lang kami sa bakuran ni kagawad magluluto ng tinola at mag-uubos ng 1.5 kilong adobo. Hehe. Kaya wagas na pakiusapan ang naganap. Medyo chaotic din kasi ang issue ng permit dun, magulong kwento. 😛

      Sige sir, dami pa naman akyat in the future. Pero di muna siguro ako magi-EL anytime soon. Sabit mode lang muna, pahi-pahinga din. 😀

        1. Tintin Post author

          Ayos lang sir. Dayhikes din mas gusto namin kung malalapit lang naman na bundok, yung tipong magba-bus lang papunta. Kakatamad din kasi mag-camp minsan, mabigat sa backpack. Hehe.

    1. Tintin Post author

      I know. They’re awesome (most of the time hehe). I think they also got tired of my constant whining then about Manta so they just said that to shut me up. 😀

    1. jebuzinjamonk

      @Desha, that’s simply part of the adventure, of dreaming big(deam climb kasi)…hehehe..:) Before we arrive sa Ransang, matinding kaba ung naramdaman ko dun pa lang sa sasakyan, un pala un… At meron pa naka ambang mga balakid na beyond ones control but the important thing was despite of those odds we still push our dream and we’d done it! in 4days! hahaha. Tin had already said it in her blogs how’d we’d do it…. So come on, dream big na rin, sasamahan kita! 🙂

  1. Ktin

    Hi! Very informative blog thank you 🙂 Doing Manta this December, can I ask if you took anti-malaria meds and if yes what kind? I’ve been reading about doxycycline and mefloquine but very confused on what to take. Thank you!!


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