On March 17, 1957, Mt. Pinatubo, the Presidential plane of President Ramon Magsaysay, crashed in the vicinity of Mt. Manunggal. The President together with 26 other passengers died in the tragic accident. Nestor Mata, of the Philippine Herald is the lone survivor of the plane crash. Rising at a height of 1,003 meters above sea level, Mt. Manunggal is located in Barangay Magsaysay, Balamban, Cebu.
On my recent trip to Cebu last weekend, me and my friend, Mike of The Traveling Panda decided to climb this historical mountain. From Ayala Center in Cebu City, we took a passenger van bound for Balamban (110 PHP). It took us 45 minutes to reach the jump-off at Barangay Gaas. Just don't forget to tell the driver to drop you at the jump-off. It is located on the right side of the road, around 1 kilometer away from Adventure Cafe.
The trail is relatively easy; it can be reached either by foot or with a vehicle. We started the 5-km trek to the crash site at around 12:00 noon. It was quite hot with the scorching heat of the sun, but the cool climate kept us company.
Climbing Mt. Manunggal does not require a guide, the trail is an established road with some parts still rough, while the other is already cemented. There's one fork at the start of the trail that might mislead you, just take the left side and continue walking. Then another fork at the last 500 meters of the trail, just take the right side of the trail. There's a community along the way, so if ever, getting lost will not be a problem, just ask around if ever you're not sure where to go. There are also some trucks that pass by; luckily, we were able to take a hitch on the last 1 KM of the trek to the crash site.
It took us about 1 hour and 30 minutes to reach the resting area. Then we took the stairs going down to where the engine of the plane, Mt. Pinatubo is located. Names were engraved on a marble marker which commemorates the passengers who died in the tragic plane crash.
After a few minutes of picture taking, we continued walking to the monument of President Ramon Magsaysay. This is also where the campsite is located. It's a huge, rolling grassland with several tall trees around. During our climb, there is an on-going repainting of the statue and cleaning of the campsite in preparation of the "Annual Death Anniversary Climb" every March 17th.
Knowing the historical significance of Mt. Manunggal, climbing it is a rewarding experience. To get to the actual site of a place you just read on text books is truly memorable. I am so happy to visit another historical site. So if you're visiting Cebu and looking for some adventure, relieve history by climbing Mt. Manunggal.
HOW TO GET THERE
From Cebu City, take a passenger van at Ayala Center bound for Balamban. Tell the driver to drop you at "Barangay Gaas", the jump-off to Mt. Manunggal. Travel time is about 45 minutes and fare is 110 pesos.
Getting back to Cebu City is a challenge, it's either you wait for quite some time at the hi-way for a passenger van to pass by which is full most of the time or go to Balamban Terminal to take a ride back to the city.
READ ALSO: Top Best Hotels and Resorts in Cebu
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