Matalingajan is the highest peak of Palawan. It’s one of the most difficult climbs of the country. The jump off point of the climb is at Ransang Barangay, Rizal. Lonely Planet describe Rizal as a “extremely remote town” and warn that if you go further south you’re in the realm of modern pirates.
From Ransang there’s 3 days of mountainous hiking before you’ll reach the final campsite at Palay Palay, from there it’s another 2-3 hours to summit. The first 3 days of the hike is below 800m altitude, it’s here that night time camping in particular will expose you to some serious insect annoyances. If you’ve taken your Mefloquine tablets, Mosquitos will be only a portion of your concern. I was stung twice by wasps, Rolando was stung by a scorpion and Christina my partner was bitten by a poisonous centipede.
I strongly recommend bringing a box of fresh fruit & veges from Puerto Princessa with you on the bus ride. Unless you’re there on market day (Tuesday) it’ll be hard to find in Rizal.
The guides are prepared to just sleep under trees or in makeshift shelters but for about P640 you can buy a very strong 4m by 4m tarp. In Tagalog the word tarp is “trapal.” Learning to pronounce trapal is recommended because even the Filipinos who speak fluent English misunderstand the word tarp. The shops in Rizal have tarp for sale, make sure you also bring about 30m of rope to tie the tarp to trees. The rain can be unbearable in the tropics so it’s recommended to have this tarp set up over your tents and campsite.
An issue to consider when climbing a remote peak is the prospect of equipment failure, bring lots of plastic bags at least 50 litres in volume, particularly if hiking in the rainy season. Only 2 days into the hike all of your equipment could be completely saturated, it’ll be most important to have a change of dry clothes at all times, seal them in a separate plastic bag. Once you reach the summit you have to hike back down to sea level, this can take another 3 days.
Hyperthermia is a killer in the jungle. The Tua’t Bato have a remarkable ability to light a fire in the wettest conditions, but this may give you only a limited opportunity to dry your clothes. I recommend taking a gas stove because the Tua’t Bato campfires can be very smoky.
The Tua’t Bato are the bests guides for Matalingajan but finding them & communicating with them will be a challenge. The Tua’t Bato villages have no electricity and often zero cellphone signal, Mrs Layacan the Barangay Captain will be easier to contact. Her house is on the dirt road at the start of my vid. She has daily contact with the local Tua’t Bato.
There’s stories in the Philippines of mountaineers who died from hyperthermia due to heavy rain. This is normally because they attempted big climbs like G2, Halcon or Mantalingajan unguided. The trails of the Philippines are unmarked & unmapped, they consist of mazes of wrong turns in every direction. Lots of these big climbs would be impossible unguided. Permits for climbing Matalingajan are obtained from the Rizal Municipal Hall where you’ll meet the acting tourism officer.
Grace, Tourism Officer: +63939916 6272
Dinio Castom, Tua’t Bato Guide: +639488977464
Fidel: English Speaking Guide +639099111600
Bads Ombion: Mechanic & owner of motorbikes for rent, also recommended as 4WD transport +639105852897.
Mrs Layacan: +639122561128
-Charring vans are recommended as transport from Puerto to Rizal P300 per person. If you want to travel cheaper take the Cherry bus for P220 but they’re old buses and much slower.
-4WD from Rizal to Ransang P1500
-Jeepney, Rizal to Ransang P40 pesos per person
-Tricycle, Rizal to Ransang P500
-guides P500 each per day
Cherry Bus Terminal, Puerto: 9’47’01.9″N 118’44’41.6″E (not recommended)
Charring Bus Terminal, Puerto: 9’47’02.7″N 118’44’37.6″E
Bads Ombion’s House: 9’01’49.4″N 117’38’34.4″E
Tourism Office, Rizal: 9’01’11.1″N 117’38’53.3″E
NAMES OF GUIDES
Palawan is one of the most undeveloped parts of the Philippines and the southern part is even more undeveloped. In this region few people have maps, GPS’s or compasses. The large hole that you see at the end of our video is known to many as the position of the “summit” but unfortunately it is only a false summit. About 1km north-north east is a higher peak (the true summit) that you would not be able to see in thick fog. Sadly for me I realized this only once returning home when I synced my GPS to a computer. From images and videos I’ve seen online I now know for a fact that many foreign and Filipino climbers have been led to this false summit. I don’t doubt the honesty of the guides and suspect that as children they may have been led there themselves & taught that “this is the summit.” In south Palawan there is a lack of reliable records that we take for granted in the developed world. One day I may return to Palawan to re-attempt Mantalingajan