Hey there! From
now I take you to that time when I climbed Mt. Napulak aka the Nipple Mountain!
My first job after passing the Civil Engineering board exam was in Iloilo, Philippines. New place, didn't know anyone except my bestie who invited me to work there, and a native language (Ilonggo) I knew nothing about! Yes, I was young, naive, and damn brave for starting a new chapter in my life in a foreign place.
Fast forward a couple of months later I made some awesome friends at work, learned the language so they won't talk behind my back, and traveled to a lot of places all over Iloilo. But the exciting part was getting back to my favorite activity at that time which was climbing!
Mount Napulak sits at 3,936 feet above sea level in Igbaras, Iloilo. Just another famous climbing destination among local climbers. Surrounded by breathtaking mountain ranges, its trail will lead you to a thick forest, grassy slopes, and rock formations. But what makes this mighty mountain unique and attractive? Two things! First is the 360-degree view of Iloilo and Antique Province. Second, the famous "nipple" rock found at the very summit.
No wonder many will try to conquer her peak. There are two jump-off points to choose from: Brgy. Bagay or Brgy. Tigbanaba. We went through Brgy. Tigbanaba for a very special reason so read further!
We were just joiners for this specific climb so everything was already planned and arranged by an organization. We only had to pay Php 1,500 or $30 for the whole thing. Of course, food was on us. But being a joiner makes it a lot easier with nothing to think about but just enjoy nature and reach the summit!
We started early during that day. The trek was relatively easy for the first part. From Poblacion, it took us about 1.5 hours before reaching Brgy. Tigbanaba.
Libro Ko, Libro Mo
The main reason why I joined this adventure was because of the CSR project called **Libro Ko, Libro Mo** organized by the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP) - Hamili Chapter which was held in Barangay Tigbanaba. Climbing Mount Napulak was just a bonus for the whole trip.
Once we got here, the organization went straight away to hand over the donated books, school supplies, art materials, and goodies. A short program was held for the kids which involved some games, book reading, and coloring their artbooks. It was a fun and memorable experience. Seeing the children smile and enjoy our short visit was worthwhile.
Ascent to Mt. Napulak
After 2 hours of spending time with the kids and eating our lunch, we took on the challenge to conquer Mt. Napulak. It started with a less tiring trail surrounded by some rice fields and a few houses. After an hour, we finally entered a thick forest. Some parts of the trail were slippery, some were steep. There were parts where either side of the trail was covered with tall plants. It was estimated 4 to 7 hours before reaching the peak through that route we took.
As usual, I was falling behind. The rest of the group was already a few kilometers ahead of me. A friend or two slowed down to be in pace with me. And this I'm not ashamed of because reaching the top is never a race. I always knew the ascent was always my challenge but I also knew that in order to conserve energy I must climb at a steady pace. And that was exactly what I did.
Three hours into our hike, we finally found a large clearing where we took a break. And it was a long break because right before our eyes was the breathtaking mountain ranges of Mt. Napulak. We were in awe and overwhelmed with the immense beauty we were seeing. Every mountain I visited was different and yet so beautiful and this holds true for Mt. Napulak too.
The Nipple Rock
It was now the final leg of the ascent. An hour to go before we reached the summit and yet in that remaining time, we were still surrounded by mountain ranges that made our jaw drop in wonder. Then we entered another forest and got stranded for a couple of minutes because it rained.
And just a few more minutes before reaching the campsite, I and Lolong exchanged our backpacks. The bag was heavy and told me it was more than 60L of weight. I carried the bag for the remainder of the climb.
Dark clouds were looming once we got to the campsite. It was drizzling now and then. It was already late in the afternoon. The other climbers already have pitched their tents. And despite the fog engulfing the peak, I finally got a visual with what they called "Nipple Rock". This geological rock formation looks like a woman's nipple when seen from afar and the slope we were camping was compared to a woman's breast.
Despite the poor visibility and no clearing, we still pursued to stand on Nipple Rock. The only access to it was a ladder made of bamboo and wood branches. Not safe and yet we didn't have any other choice. Others left their slippers behind and I can't remember if I did the same. Nonetheless, we were estatic for conquering the summit.
It was raining hard that night and the wind was banging on the walls of our tent. And yet I slept throughout the night because my body was so tired. The next day we still managed to stay for an hour or two at the peak because we finally had a clearing. That 360-degree view? Yes, we saw Antique and Iloilo Province all at once. So we took our time taking photos, mingling with the rest of the people, and enjoying our last moments at the top.
After breaking camp, we descended through the other route exiting at Brgy. Baray. We were lucky enough to find several Rafflesia Speciosa flowers along the way, which are only native to Antique Province.
Phones died, bodies tired. It was another scenic route that we took with no photos to serve as memories but perhaps it's a sign to climb this mountain again in the future. We shall see.
So, have you been to Mt. Napulak?
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