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I woke up from a long nap just before we entered a major zigzag section of the Pan Philippine Highway that is more popularly known as the “Bitukang Manok”. That literally translates to “chicken innards or intestines”, which is how many travellers would describe the alignment of this section of the national highway network. We decided to take the “old zigzag road” instead of the “new diversion road” since the latter is known to be already congested especially as trucks and buses take this road instead of the zigzag.
Expectedly, the road offered all kinds of curves and grades throughout. I was glad to see relatively new barriers already installed or constructed along the entire length of Bitukang Manok.
Here is a particularly challenging section combining sharp hairpin curves with steep inclines.
We caught up with this rider along a relatively straight and level segment of the road
There are flagmen strategically deployed along the most difficult parts of the road including this one that might lead inexperienced or erring drivers to drive/ride straight off a cliff.
Here’s another hairpin curve; this time on the way down from the mountain.
The final turn of the road before it merged with the diversion road
Sign at the other end of the road showing travellers the divergence of the national highway into the “old zigzag road” and the “new diversion road”. Notice the platoon of southbound trucks at right.
I remember Bitukang Manok as a dreaded section among travellers before not just from the safety viewpoint but also because many can get sick (e.g., motion sickness that may result into throwing up) going through the section especially if the driver is not as smooth in manoeuvring the vehicle through the zigzags. There were also long distance bicycle races before where the Bitukang Manok featured as the main challenge to the best cyclists and the winner of that leg of the race was pronounced as “king of the mountain”.