Marinduque Sidetrip: Climbing Up Mt. Malindig
Marinduque is a mountainous island. It’s not a flat island, rather it’s an island with hills and mountain tops at the center surrounded by pristine white beaches along its coastal lines.
The highest peak in Marinduque would be Mt. Malindig located in Buenavista.
Originally, we have planned to climb up Sibuyao in Torrijos. We read in Sidetrip Magazine that it was the place less explored by tourists but which holds its own unique charm. Plus, there was a nearby falls – the Hinulugan Falls.
However, since the resort we got was nearer to Mt. Malindig, we decided to climb this mountain. And of course, so we can say that we reached the highest peak of the island.
Technically, we only climbed until the cell sites of Smart and the AFP Radio Control Tower. It was not the summit itself of Mt. Malindig. The summit was covered with trees and there was really not much to see at the top, except for forest cover. But nonetheless, it was a challenging climb – especially for a first-timer like me.
To climb Mt. Malindig, one has to take a tricycle from Buenavista town proper to Brgy. Sihi. Once in the barangay hall, ask around for a local official to help you look for a guide. Guides are usually barangay officials themselves (tanods or kagawads). That is their protocol. You only need to pay P50 as environmental fee to the barangay hall. They’ll give you an official receipt for that. Then you need to pay your guide which is P300.
In our case, they gave us 2 guides. We gave them P400 total. Our guides were really helpful and were patient with us plus they treated us to some freshly picked coconut when we were on our way down.
The climb is mostly uphill and there’s very few tree cover. We started climbing at 8:30AM. We were informed that the best time to start the climb is at 5AM. Because of the the few tree cover, we had to climb wearing our jackets and hats to protect us from the sun. Also, whenever we wanted to rest, there was no shady place where we can sit down so we just sat down at the nearest rock under the scorching sun.
The mountain is mostly a graze land with cows and carabaos grazing on rolling spots of grass. The place is also a farm for most of the locals so there are plantations of carrots, radishes, peanuts, etc. There are also a lot of coconut trees around.
My mom claimed that there must have been some illegal logging in the past and now the people have converted the barren mountain into a farmland. This can be very dangerous during rainy season as it could cause landslides and floods.
Indeed, along the way up, we saw patches of land which were burned. When I asked our guide about this (who also happened to be a farmer in the area), he said that they had to burn the land to get rid of the weeds to allow for the crops to grow. They also claimed the burned weeds act as fertilizer for the crops.
When we reached the top, we observed that most of the mountain side was indeed covered with farmlands. The only part of the mountain with natural tree over was the summit. The rest were covered mostly with grasses and coconut trees. This is true even for the adjoining hills.
It led me to wonder – is this simply the natural fauna of the place or have they really converted a thriving forest into a farmland? The caretaker of the AFP station at the top did mention that the government had awarded tracks of land to the locals.
But beyond this observation, the whole climb was breathtaking – in two ways. It was breathtaking because the climb was all uphill and we weren’t even half way when I was already tired and panting. Tip: bring lots of water because there are no refill stations. It was also breathtaking because the view was simply amazing. You can see on in the middle rolling hills with patches of green grass and on both sides are coastlines with crystal blue waters. It was simply amazing.
The climb down was even breathtaking. It was faster because we were going downhill 99% of the time (and at one point it got scary because you might feel you would roll all the way down). It was also breathtaking because the view was even more magnificent since you were climbing down and you can see the entire view.
Our Mt. Malindig climb was the highlight of our entire trip. It was simply wonderful.
The people we encountered were also great especially our guides. I was just concerned that one of them did not see the beauty of their place since he asked me why we took the pain of climbing up the mountain which to him is not that ravishing. But he had wisdom with him when he said that after our trip, we would be going back to our usual stressful lives and in that sense, he is lucky to be living in a carefree environment.
After all, who would say that the farmers of Marinduque are not well off? The barangay of Sihi were dotted with magnificent stone houses one would not think would be present in the mountain tops. The farmers of the mountains own their own lands and some even had nine carabaos! They are rich, in their own ways.