Want a challenging climb in the Philippines? Try it right here in Palawan at Mt. Mantalingahan.
Palawan is the last frontier in the Philippines that is why we have featured different tourist destinations here. It is known more for its beaches, marine life, and tourist spots such as the Puerto Princessa Underground River, Honda Bay, El Nido, and Coron to mention only a few. However, Palawan is also the last frontier in Philippine mountaineering as a group of mountaineers call it. The length of Palawan which spans over 600 kilometers is a big potential as a hiking spot. The mountain ranges still have many peaks which are unnamed and unexplored waiting for a visit.
Mt. Mantalingahan, locally revered as “The Mountain of God”, is one of the most difficult climbs in the Philippines and it is graded Difficulty 9/9 by local mountaineering website. Rising at 2086 meters, this wild and mysical realm encompasses the southern towns of Rizal, Brooke’s Point, Quezon, and Bataraza. The usual route starts from Barangay Ransang in Rizal on the south-west coast of Palawan. An average of five days is required to reach the summit, that’s three days hiking to the summit and two days to return to the jump-off. Highlights of the trail include encounters with the Tau’t Bato tribe and the “Knife Edge” Canopy Walk that leads to the summit.
Mt. Mantalingahan was once home to the feared Tau’t Daram, the “People of the Night” who were known for their cannibalistic ferocity. The Tau’t Daram were said to have superhuman abilities such as the agility to leap from tree to tree; the use of poison darts with blowpipes; as well as the strength to carry whole trunks of hardwood. Although this tribe has become extinct with the death of its final chieftain decades ago, its legend lives on, and old accounts of the hike spoke of “shadows” that leapt over the thick jungle at night.
Today, the Tau’t Bato, the “People of the Stone” continue to dwell on its forests, living by hunting birds and animals; gathering forest fruits; and perpetuating the ‘kaingin’ (slash-and-burn) system of farming. Although fast dwindling in number, the Tau’t Bato is perhaps the last tribe to live with the old ways.
The uniqueness of Mt. Mantalingahan has attracted few tourists to take on the adventures. In response to the effects of human activities, the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) of Mt. Mantalingahan Protected Landscape (MMPL) approved a resolution imposing conservation fees for recreational activities in the protected area, including hiking, mountaineering, and birdwatching.
Under the PAMB Resolution 2012-04, a conservation fee of PHP100 for locals and PHP200 for foreigners were imposed for “less than five days of camping, hiking, trekking, mountaineering, birdwatching, wildlife viewing, cultural/educational tour and other similar activities.” Activities that take more than five days will require a special permit from the MMPL Executive Committee. Students can avail themselves of 50% discount, while fees for residents of MMPL municipalities, PAMB members and formally recognized partners are waived.
Conservation fees are one of the usual ways by which a protected area can generate revenues to support management or protection expenses. Prior to the issuance of Resolution 2012-04, visitors to MMPL were not charged any fees.
MMPL is a relatively new protected area, having been proclaimed as a protected landscape only in 2009 and with its 70-member PAMB being convened only in 2010. With a total area of 120,457 hectares, it is the largest terrestrial protected area in Palawan province.
Recommended Tourist Activities in Mt. Mantalingahan Protected Landscape
A. Hiking/trekking/mountaineering trails
1. Peak of Mt. Mantalingahan, Ransang, Rizal, Palawan
- jump-off point: Ransang barangay proper
- estimated duration: 3-day climb to the summit
2. Kamantian, Samariniana, Brooke’s Point
- jump-off point: Kamantian, Samarinia barangay proper
- estimated duration: 5-hour hike to Kamantian peak
3. Maruyog Ecological Park, Tub-tub, Brooke’s Point
- jump-off point: Maruyog Farms and Garden Resort (30-minute ride from Brooke’s Point poblacion
- estimated duration: 1-hour walk to Maruyog Ecological Park
4. Tres Marias Candawaga, Rizal, Palawan
- jump-off point: Sitio Kadulan, Panalingaan, Rizal
- estimated duration: 2 to 3-hour hike to Tres Marias
Tau’t Bato, Barangay Ransang, Rizal, Palawan
- jump-off point: Barangay Ransang
- estimated duration: 7-hour hike to Tau’t Bato caves
1. Mantayob Falls, Bunog, Rizal, Palawan
- jump-off point: Bunog barangay proper
- estimated duration: 2 to 3-hour hike to the falls
- jump-off point: Bono-Bono-Malihud-Bulalacao Multipurpose Cooperative
- estimated duration: 3 to 4-hour hike to the falls
- jump-off point: Pulot Interior
- estimated duration: 2 to 3-hour hike to the falls
- For. Clarissa P. Pador, PA Superintendent, +639093314473, clarissapador(at)yahoo.com
- DENR-PENRO, Sta. Monica, Puerto Princesa City (+639175532868; +639291322499; +639279758658)
- DENR-CENRO, Quezon, Palawan (CENRO Florencio C. Diaz, +639065207052; cenroquepal(at)yahoo.com)
- DENR-CENRO, Brooke’s Point, Palawan (CENRO Emelina Cojamco, +639215715358; cenrobrkspt(at)yahoo.com
Sources: www.conservation.org, www.pinoymountaineer.com, www.en.wikipedia.org