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PART 3 – Hiking in Bukidnon (November 18, 2008)

Since sharing space is a huge problem for me, I didn’t get much sleep at the hostel in CDO because I felt paranoid for my safety. I woke up at about 5:00am, grateful to be alive. I checked my stuff, everything seemed to be in their right place. I looked at myself – no rope burns, no slashes. I looked at my roomies – they looked normal. No one looked like they turned into Sadako the previous night. I breathe a sigh of relief and as quietly as I can, made my escape at the hostel. Well, I did drop by the commissary for my free breakfast. I may be a little insane but my stomach knows its priorities.
After asking around from the people in the hostel, I hopped on another jeep (7.50 pesos/head) towards Agora Bus terminal. There are jeeps passing by – a few blocks from Mass Specc which can take you directly over the terminal, just ask around.
I arrived less than 20minutes later and immediately spotted aircon buses to Bukidnon. I was told the trip would take 2 hours. The ticket costs 155 pesos – one way to Malaybalay City – Bukidnon’s capital. I had no real plans – just the prospect on stepping in a place called Malaybalay brings me a sense of excitement.
While riding the bus, I decided to drop by the Benedictine Monastery which was recommended by a friend. Only, I didn't know where it exactly was. I  asked the conductor to drop me off where the monastery was and he informed me that I had to pay an extra 35 pesos because it was farther.
After several minutes, he lets me out into a highway and told me I just had to cross the street and walk towards the monastery.
I looked at the path where I’m supposed to walk. It was a path covered with soil and tall grasses on both sides. I shuddered. Having watched tons of massacre movies growing up, tall grasses always remind me of hiding places for crazy people with bolos. I had to get assurance that it was safe to walk amidst this path. I then went around the vicinity asking people if it was alright to walk alone. I trust locals. They are the best source of travel information. The Pinoy’s innate helpful and hospitable personality makes it easier for people to go around even without any plan.

I was able to ask someone and they said it was safe. I had to take a deep breath. The corn fields were freaking me out!

After 10 minutes of sweating – both from the heat and my nervousness of walking alone amidst the cornfields, I finally reached this signboard...
After a warm greeting from the guard at the gate and asking for some directions to the chapel, I wasted no time exploring the place. A few more minutes of walking and sweating (I was carrying my huge backpack filled with clothes for 8 days), I arrived at the chapel and spent a few minutes of silence. I was tired, sleepy, hungry but I prayed anyway to thank the Lord for helping me get to Bukidnon and to ask for more protection and guidance as I continued my journey and to protect my love ones who were left back home. After several seconds of praying while the wind was moving around me, I felt the Lord’s invigorating touch soothing my tired body. I felt relieved of the heat and felt that I was enveloped in God's loving embrace. It was a magical moment.

Then it was time for me to move out and explore some more.
Walking a minute out of the chapel led me to the monastery’s souvenir shop. Here you can buy the famous coffee beans called Monk’s blend. It’s sold at 80 pesos/pack if I remember correctly. You can also buy the St. Benedict’s medal and key chains, some rosaries, peanut brittle, unique shell necklaces (sold at 10pesos each), and lots of other stuffs.
After I exited the monastery and walked back out into the cornfields, I hopped on another jeep (7 pesos/head) and got down at Lindungawan Cafe . It's along Sayre Highway, Barangay Casisang, Malaybalay City. They sell handicrafts made by the locals and is a source of income for them. It's a great way to spend your money. They also offer local delicacies and some not so common food finds like cheese flavored banana chips, pineapple candies and taro chips. If you've got good timing, you may chance upon Mr. Erlow Talatala in the cafe and have a brief chat with him. He is the founder of ALAB (Association of Local Artists of Bukidnon). He can give you information on festivals in Bukidnon.

I left after buying a couple of treats to bring home. I rode a bus back to CDO and braced myself for another adventure - my first long boat ride to Cebu. 

This post is part of my 8-day birthday backpacking trip from Mindanao to Luzon. Click on Part 4 to read about by Cebu trip! :)

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