Mount Napulak, Iloilo Province

Story and Photos by Alvin Novilla and Friends

Mount Napulak in Igbaras, Iloilo stands 1,200 feet above sea level.  This is the only mountain in the country shaped like a breast of a lady with a massive stone head atop. When a University of the Philippines Visayas Mountaineering friend asked me if I could join them for a climb to Mt. Napulak, I immediately said yes, knowing that it's been a while that I was able to climb a mountain since I got stuck on my work. Every day as I jogged in our farm in Miag-ao I always want to behold Mt. Napulak closely.

It was a cold-breezy morning of February 25, 2005, at about 6:30 a.m., when six backpackers from the UPV Mountaineering Group (myself, Leonardo Mooc, May Marcellana, Novy Katherene Yulo, Mae Acero and a guest mountaineer from Ateneo, Gabriel Gunio) started the trek, with the backpacks, tents, foodstuffs and of course the reliable digital and video cameras with us.

The group left the UPV Campus in a tricycle that brought us to Barangay Banbanan, Miag-ao, about 8 kms from the town proper of Miag-ao. We were dropped at the hanging bridge where our journey to Mt. Napulak started.

It's about 7:00 a.m. when we started our river trek through the course of the Tumagbok River. We braved the hot mid-day sun to make it to the foot of Mt. Napulak. It took about 6 hours of grueling heat when we reached the foot. Reaching our first pit stop at Mang Berto's house, we ate our lunch and took a short rest, for the next four hours we will be taking our climb to the summit of Mt. Napulak.

We were supposed to take the UPV Moutaineering Trail but we did not find it, perhaps the massive slash and burn (kaingin) employed by the farmers destroyed the trail. Anyhow, we took the DENR Trail which lead us to more grueling hours of heat and tiring climb.

On our way to the Mt. Napulak's summit we passed by the largest flower in the world, the Raflesia sp.

On the other hand, taking our trek up to the summit and with the time target, we've done the fast pace short rest technique in order to reach our target on time. Reaching the first ridge and witnessing the beautiful sunset as the sun disappear from the western sky it was totally exhilarating.

Reaching the summit on our target time it was totally indescribable feeling having at the top of Mount Napulak. It was cold shivering up there with a slight drizzle. We pitched out tents near a thick cogon grass in order to prevent a strong wind from blowing away our tents.

Tired and exhausted of the 10 hours trek, we slept, but our girl companions took effort on preparing our meal for the night. We were awakened to take our special dinner on the summit of Mount Napulak.

That very evening with the moon up above we have this panoramic view of the Iloilo Straight and the glittering skyline of Iloilo City.

It was a bright Saturday morning but it was cold and breezy we have the clear panoramic view of the entire Iloilo straight. It was totally exhilarating. The mountain ranges of Antique, as well as the Antique Straight can also be viewed atop Mount Napulak. Spending an hour at the very summit of Mt. Napulak brings the feeling like you're the King of the World.

As we started again our journey back to the lowlands of Igbaras that Saturday morning we were treated with a sumptuous lunch at Mang Berto's house, eating and savoring every inch of the "tinolang manok" (native chicken) especially prepared for us. Going back home with the experience up in the summit of Mount Napulak is such an accomplishment for us taking into consideration the grueling heat, aching backs and tiring foot we got from this journey.

The Mt. Napulak journey is such a beauty of nature I have never seen before. It's really a "Wonder of Nature".

Alvin Joseph M. Novilla
University of the Philippines Visayas  Mountaineering


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