Mt. Madjaas - Highest Peak of the Antique Mountain Range

One album from my classic climb photo collections before the dawn of the age of digital cameras. This day marks the date of my climb in Mt. Madjaas, 10 years ago in 2002.

Mt. Madjaas is the highest mountain in Panay Island, Philippines. The mountains' name translates to "Mataas" in Filipino (or high in English). It is one of the three prominent peaks of the Antique Range, the others being Mt. Nangtud and Mt. Baloi.
The mountain range of Antique
Climbed this mountain in 2002, as invited by Philippine Peaks Mountaineering Club, with orgmates from MITMC - Kuds, Carl, Dax and Didzey. We called ourselves "Bulaga Mountaineers" during this climb, because we confirmed that we will be joining the climb two days before departure. We have to haggle at the pier to secure ferry tickets to San Jose, Antique.

Before the climb, permits must be secured from the provincial police, the municipality mayor and also the military. There were concerns about me climbing the mountain, as female climbers is not common to them. Like most of our unexplored mountian ranges, there are threats from NPA's and other related insurgencies. But being in the company of 20 grown men (18 climbers, 2 guides), i felt safe already. 
The start of climb (Day 1) needs to be as early as 5:00AM or earlier depending on your pacing. The start of trail is an easy hike along rice paddies. Then to the hills that locals call "Tinangisan" (root word visayan word Tangis or Cry in english). It is called so because the climb on this trail is difficult and exposure to the sun is just unbearable. Dehydration is very apparent along this trail such that start of trek should be before daylight.
The Tinangisan trail that will sure make you cry.
The group's first rest was on a hill where we chose a small tree to provide us a bit of a shade. A much needed rest we had, because after this, we were  inside the thick forest cover of the Antique mountain range. Climbers in this photo are Mike, Dawe, Vhong, Kuds, Didzey, Marvin and Carl (top left to right then left down). I took the spot underneath the small tree. Radny in the foreground and our guide Mang Josue in the background.
Treeline after the Tinangisan trail.
Mt. Madjaas have a unique trail variety. The first part is the unforgiving Tinangisan trail.  We saw series of beautiful waterfalls from a distance when we entered the forest in Day1. In Day2, what was unforgettable to me on this climb was the trail ascent with only thick roots (or as it seemed to me) as footing. I was careful to not lose balance and footing as my foot could get stuck on the root (or branch) system of the plant unknown to me. The root trail went on for what feels to me as two hours. Then after that, the guides set up a rope on a particularly tall outcrop to climb higher.   The rope climb was a dangerous one because there is a ravine to the left which is probably more than 250feet deep.
Summit climb is on Day3. The way to the summit is a rolling ridge hike along bonzai forest. We might have seen "Rafflesia" flowers along the trail which is said to be endemic to Antique, Philippines. 
View of beautiful waterfalls along the trail.
The peak was just a small one.  The group cramped the tiny summit space for a group pic, then one by one for a solo souvenir shot. However the clouds wasn't cooperating at that time so there was no view and no way of telling if this was really on Mt. Madjaas. The rest of Day3 was descend to the jump-off in Brgy. Flores. We climbed Mt. Madjaas in two days and descended it in a day.
The Philippine Peaks Mountaineering Club who tagged the Bulaga Mountaineers along. 
Mt. Madjaas is not a popular climb destination (at least back in 2002) but frequently climbed by local mountaineering clubs such as the Iloilo Mountaineers and Antique Mountaineers. This mountain is for the experienced climbers only. When I climbed this mountain, Mt. Halcon suddenly stepped down in my mountain difficulty ranking scale.

Several years after our climb in Mt. Madjaas, there were news of a mountaineer who got lost at a trail junction during descent. There were harsh news regarding our guide -Mang Josue to have plotted the kidnapping of the said climber. Though my interaction with Mang Josue was a short one, it was enough for me to tell that he is a kind person. When asked what he will do with the guide fee we paid him, he said he will buy hollow blocks for one corner wall of his house. The conspiracy was proven false later on and Mang Josue goes on to guide more eager climbers in Mt. Madjaas. 

Photo Credit:
Scanned photo prints from Dax.

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  1. Jonie, is this you?? So surprised to come across your blog. That, plus the fact that I have a pic right smack in the middle of your blog.

    This is great! Your article brings back so much memories! Thanks for documenting our trip.

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