Bukidnon: A Dream Destination Without A Beach
Aris Mape | May 08, 2016
I was told of Camp Phillips and pineapples picked along the highway, and the talk-of-the-town adventures in Dahilayan. I was told of a local movie starring Sam Milby and KC Concepcion filmed in Manolo Fortich, and another movie of Piolo Pascual and Angel Locsin shot in the picturesque Impasugong.
Ask a friend what to see in Bukidnon and, more or less, you’ll be told the same. But, to truly experience the best of the province, one has to get out of the old beaten path, explore the countryside, the deep ravines, and the thickly forested terrains of the Philippines' fourth largest province.
HOW TO GET THERE
Bukidnon is a landlocked province bound by six provinces: Misamis Oriental, Agusan del Sur, Davao del Norte, Cotabato, Lanao del Sur, and Lanao del Norte. The best entry point is either through Cagayan de Oro City (CDO) in the north or Davao City in the south. You pick, depending on the locations you want to visit.
- By sea—Transasia, 2GO, and a number of shipping lines have regular trips to CDO. From the port, take a cab or motorela to the Agora Bus Terminal.
- By air, through CDO— From Laguindingan Airport, it can take one hour by van to reach CDO. Fare to the Agora Bus Terminal is about P200. Then, from CDO, you can take a bus or a van to Manolo Fortich (i.e. Camp Phillips, Dahilayan) and start the adventure going south.
- By air, through Davao City—The bus ride will take you through the long and winding Bukidnon-Davao (Buda) Road. In two hours, you can reach Kitaotao and start exploring Bukidnon to the north.
Del Monte’s Vast Pineapple Plantation
At 8 AM, I was already in the van to Camp Phillips. I didn’t have enough time to research the directions, so I had to strike a conversation with the lady next to me. I introduced myself. Grena, she answered back with a smile. And then a long chitchat followed, about taking a habal-habal, where to go next, and even what makes our lives busy. A few meters away from Camp Philips, she got off the van, and I was left to explore the place on my own.
The sight of pineapples neatly planted in rows, with narrow brown patches of earth running through the green beds—that was refreshing at the same time overwhelming! Picture-perfect indeed, which also makes it a popular location for prenuptial photoshoots. Had I been there earlier, and I mean earlier by six or seven years, I would have taken that private plane to get an aerial view of the place. (Someone used to offer plane rides here, but ceased operations around 2009?)
OF COURSE, THE CRAZY RIDES....
Go Extreme at Dahilayan Adventure Park
Dubbed as “Mindanao’s Favorite Extreme Playground”, Dahilayan Adventure Park offers exhilarating rides perfect for both the adrenaline junkie and the acrophobic. At P600, you get to try all their zip lines and zoom through lush greenery of pine trees and bushes. (Their 840-meter zipline is the longest dual zipline in Asia.) If you’re into getting hung up in the air swinging like a pendulum while screaming at the top of your lungs, the Dropzone is best for you. Dahilayan also has rope courses and, the latest addition to their rides, a bungee-jumping-like Skytower Base Jump.
The Luge and Zorb Ball at Forest Park
Adjacent to the Adventure Park, Dahilayan Forest Park also has a lot of options for outdoor rides, a hanging bridge, wide picnic grounds, function rooms, ponds and lagoons, a café, and a jacuzzi. You can roll down the slopes inside a zorb ball or race down the winding tracks while maneuvering a luge.
Dahilayan Forest Park
Opens 8AM-5PM Weekdays, 7:30 AM-4:30 PM Weekends
Entrance fee: P100 Adult, P50 Kiddos
Biking in the Air at Kampo Juan
If you haven’t had enough of those rides, a short habal-habal trip can take you to the less popular Kampo Juan, also in Manolo Fortich. The place is actually a demo farm for a variety of plants, with some rides here and there. There’s a 360-feet long hanging bridge that swings crazily in the slight blow of the wind, a vertical rappelling course at 180 feet high, and zip lines as long as 2520 feet that cross deep ravines. Kampo Juan takes pride in its anicycles. You can bike in the air and cross 600 feet for another adrenaline-pumping adventure.
Quiet Moments at the Monastery
From Manolo Fortich, I took a two-hour bus ride to Malaybalay--and I regret I missed to drop by the must-see Impasugong. At that time, the capital of Bukidnon was bursting with crowd because of the Kaamulan celebration. After hopping off the bus and gobbling a chickenjoy at Jollibee, I took a jeepney to San Jose about 10 minutes from the city. From the highway, I hopped on a habal-habal that went through a winding path under the pine trees, passed by some some ricefields, and then parked uphill. The next destination: the Monastery of the Transfiguration, a chapel known for its elegant pyramid design, a masterpiece of National Artist for Architecture Leandro Locsin.
At the entrance of the monastery, a sign greets visitors: PEACE TO ALL WHO ENTERS. At the monastery, the monks spend most of their life praying, raising livestock, and working in the farm. No doubt, it’s a perfect place for prayer and reflection. On weekdays, early morning mass is held at 5:20 AM, and on Sundays at 8 AM. Every second Sunday of the month, the monks also celebrate a farm-harvest breakfast for less than P200. Don’t forget to get a taste of their homegrown coffee brand “Monk’s Blend” at the retreat house and take home a few packs from their souvenir shop.
Horseback Riding at Quadra
If you’re up for some horseback riding and a sumptuous meal, the perfect location is a restaurant at Sumpong, Malaybalay. This restaurant in a ranch comes by two names—Quadra and D’Stable. It is easily accessible by multicab from any part of the city and is popular for its open air wooden cottages perfect for celebrating with friends and the family. Next time you come by this place, enjoy that salo-salo or beer moments by all means. And don’t forget to try my favorite pancit canton.
More Destinations in Bukidnon
For more details on other destinations, please check the full article in my blog: Breathtaking Bukidnon: What Lies Beyond Asia's Longest Zipline? Despite having no beach, this province in Mindanao remains a dream destination for travelers, especially those who seek adventure and a unique travel experience. One of the activities starting to get attention is the vertical bivouac in the white rock wall of Kiokong in Quezon. Mt Kitanglad, a number of lakes and waterfalls are not to be missed. Read more....
WORD OF MOUTH
Here's what other travelers say about Bukidnon....
Jacob Maentz, Documentary & Travel Photographer
"The Bukidnon plateau is home to seven of the 18 different indigenous groups found in Mindanao. We spent most of the week with a Manobo community high in the mountains of San Fernando. To get to this particular community we had to travel 45 kilometers on a motorcycle from the main highway and then hike about 5 kilometers straight up into the mountains. That trip was perfect for the short amount of time that I had and has opened a lot of avenues for future visits. Not only that, I started to get a better understanding of the struggles and issues facing many of the indigenous peoples in the country." Read more
Sheila and Gian Jubela, Travel Bloggers
"Bukidnon in Central Mindanao is a haven for adventurers. We're not just talking about beautiful sceneries, historical sights, and cultural heritage, but real adventure! Conquer your fear of heights by ascending hundreds of feet on the gigantic Kiokong White Wall Crag. Climb the majestic Mt. Dulang-dulang and Kitangland, two of the highest mountains in Bukidnon and reward yourself with majestic views. Not contented with those mountains? Head out to the peaks around the Kalatungan Mountain Ranges. Also considered as the watershed of Mindanao, Bukidnon has plenty of mysterious ravines, towering waterfalls, and roaring rivers. The massive array of exciting outdoor adventures that you can do here is what makes Bukidnon a truly unique, must-visit destination."
Tupe Diaz, The Trekero
"A cool place with warm people, there’s no place like Bukidnon. It's at the very heart of Mindanao and never fails to fascinate tourists, visitors, and passersby. Being home to 4 of the top 10 highest peaks in the Philippines, it’s a dream destination of mountaineers and travelers. Even from the highway, you can witness the grand vistas of hills, mountains and canyons. Lakes, rivers and waterfalls calling for a cool dip....caves for both light and extreme spelunking and a lot more of unexplored natural wonders. Bukidnon also has a vibrant culture celebrated in the annual Kaamulan Festival, the only "authentic ethnic festival" in the country."
Aben Garlan, Adventurer
"Beautiful and breathtaking. I never thought of Bukidnon that way when I was still living in Manila. I thought it’s all ricefields, the literal meaning of “bukid”. Later did I know that Bukidnon means highlander or people from the mountains, referring to the ethnic tribal groups of the province. On my first visit, I got captivated by its beautiful terrain, and that’s when I started looking at Bukidnon from a new perspective. I learned that Bukidnon is also the food basket of Mindanao, being a major producer of the most important crops and fruits—rice, corn, pineapple, banana and sugarcane—in the country. What I also like is the retreat houses with a beautiful view of nature where you can spend hours or days of blissful escape from the bustling city life."
Read more about Bukidnon and other Philippine destinations in my blog, D'yan lang, the most-voted travel bog in the 2015 Bloggys Philippine Blogging Awards. It also won the 2015 Best Cebu Travel Blog and Best Cebu Photo Blog given by Cebu Bloggers Society. D'yan lang advocates local travel and mobile photography.
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