a journal on hiking and traveling around the Philippines

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Great Bukidnon-Cagayan De Oro Adventure

June 30, 2010

It’s my fifth day, traveling alone on business here in Mindanao and I'm feeling lonely.

I’m not complaining though. The past few days were filled with adventures which were a bit more extreme than what I usually do and I feel thankful that I get paid to explore far flung places around the Philippines with all the expenses shouldered by our company. I also met a lot of nice people – my hosts from Ohana Adventures, who treat me like family and I got to see a lot of sites both in Cagayan De Oro and Bukidnon which I wouldn’t even know about if I traveled by myself.

So what is work?

I am a professional guinea pig for adventure tours. Seriously! But that’s just another part of my job. My main job is to set up a company, develop and arrange logistics for adventure tours and test everything before marketing it to people. You know, make sure it’s safe for people to do it. So it’s like – if I get killed while testing it, then we won ’t market it. The irony, hahaha! It can be both fun and toxic at the same time.

I’m currently checked in at Pitcher Plant Farm in Barangay Kalisungay, Bukidnon. It’s an eco lodge which not a lot of people know about, even the locals. There’s no aircon nor fans, television (there’s wifi though, how cool is that), processed rain water is used for the shower and the toilet, several of the lights are motion-sensored and I can’t hear anything but crickets. The surroundings are filled with trees and mountains are our neighbors. (I think paying 1,000 pesos a night for a huge studio room complete with a kitchen and a relatively huge bathroom is worth it).

Earlier this morning, I spoke with the owner and he toured me around his enormous garden which houses different species of Pitcher Plants from around the Philippines and everywhere in the world. I now have an appreciation for Pitcher plants which has admirable biological mechanisms for catching insects. He also showed me some Venus Fly traps and this other plant that looks like it has dew drops on its stalk but it’s actually a trap for insects. It was really amusing. Now, I’m back in my room blogging but will need to go offline again in a few minutes to concentrate on work. Hihihi!I feel a slight pain on my back and I saw several bruises on my legs, but who wouldn’t incur such with all the things I’ve undergone. Allow me to share with you what I’ve been doing since I arrived here. :P

Day 1 : Saturday - June 26, 2010

Right after I exited Lumbia airport in Cagayan De Oro and grabbed a bite at Mc Donald’s, we headed straight to Sumalsag Cave in Bukidnon with my new friends/adventure guides, Doc Chi (former Marlboro Adventure team member) and Ben (a local outdoor shop owner) for some water and spelunking adventure. I’m not really into caves but I’ve had some prior experiences with different caves around the Philippines and you know what, this one tops as the best caving experience I’ve ever tried. Sumalsag cave is just amazing. It has gours, stalactites that glistened in the dark, enormous pools where you can dive from a rock and more. What made it extra special were the great company I was with though it was just the three of us. I had a great time bonding with Doc Chi and Ben who are also football fans. We did a lot of wallowing in the water and unlike with other caves where you crawl out all muddy, we get out swimming through a small hole - all wet and clean again.

Photo taken by Doc Chi

Day 2 : Sunday - June 27, 2010

We made a quick stop at the Cuadra Resort where I was able to ride a nice, big horse that actually competes on show jumping events. Since there wasn't enough time, I was only able to ride it for a few minutes which turned out to be an inexplicably amazing experience.  It's like a combination of feeling  helpless (because you're just a passenger on top of a huge creature) and powerful (because you get to control the horse up to a certain extent). I can't wait to ride again - which is pretty weird for me because I used to detest horses.

After my brief experience with the horse, we proceeded outside of the town proper for our main adventure.

The amiable Doc. Chi, made me and Ben climb two waterfalls. The first waterfall was nerve wrecking. We had to go down a ravine, cling on roots and vines , trek on water, slippery boulders and suck in all our fear. Oh yeah, we also had to fight off the strong current of the falls. On the second waterfall, I almost got washed away by the current had it not been for Ben who was able to grab me just in time. That got me a little nervous but I think it would have been also cool to get swept away because I was only going to fall less than 10 fee and I was wearing a helmet and a vest so I’d probably be alive after that. I mean, I’ve survived more intense falls than that hehehe! Location to be unveiled soon. This will be part of our adventure package for Bukidnon. :P



Day 3 : Monday – June 28, 2010

I finally got to try whitewater rafting in CDO ! Together with my two guides from Red Raft – Everson and Dudex, we did a four hour whitewater rafting trip along the Cagayan River starting from the advanced rapids to the beginner’s ..Yeah, can you believe it, there was just me and two funny, knowledgeable professional guides in the raft. I drank a lot of water while body surfing (jumped from the raft and let the current sweep me away) which got the two laughing because I burped so loudly after that. I was so beat up after that but it was so worth it!



*Still have to retrieve my actual whitewater rafting pics from Red Rafts, wasn't able to get my copy from them.

Day 4 : Tuesday – June 29, 2010

Tried the longest dual zipline in Asia which is 840 meters long in Dahilayan Adventure Park nin Manolo Fortrich. I initially thought ziplines are boring because all the pictures and videos that I’ve seen about it weren’t enough to convince me how exciting it can be. Plus, I’m acrophobic and still trying to get over it. You know, there was a time when I thought I was cured from it, then when I crossed a foot bridge in Q.C., the fear went back full force and I barely made it through the other side of the bridge.

The zipline in Dahilayan is not to be missed when in Bukidnon. I was surprised to see lots of clients traveling on SUV’s on a week day. When I finished, there were several other groups waiting for their turn. The adventure park is situated up in the mountains at more than 1000MASL (can’t remember the exact figure, Doc. Chi has a Suunto watch which has an altimeter that’s why I knew). On your way there, you will pass by the Del Monte plantation which offers a great view of the Mt. Dulang-Dulang and Mt. Kitanglad Mountain range.


Later, I’ll go back to CDO then fly back to Manila via the CDO-Cebu route of Cebu Pacific. I miss Cebu so hopefully I get to do a little sight-seeing even if it’s just inside the airport before I get back to Manila. Then Thursday, I’m back to the office but not for long because I still have to go explore two more destinations in the coming weeks.I dare not say back to reality because fortunately – this is my reality.

By the way, I'd like to share with you some travel information about Bukidnon:
HOW TO GET TO BUKIDNON

1. Get a flight from Manila to Cagayan De Oro via Philippine Airlines or Cebu Pacific
*not sure about the other airlines
Price : Round trip ticket costs about 4,600 pesos inclusive of travel insurance, cheaper if you book about 6 months ahead. I booked the ticket three days before the flight.
*there are no direct commercial flights from Manila heading to Bukidnon

2. Upon arrival in Lumbia Airport, CDO you may take a cab to Agora Bus Terminal which is about 15-20 minutes away. This will cost 300-350 pesos. A cheaper alternative is to ride a jeep outside the airport (not sure how many jeeps you need to ride, just ask the locals, they'd be more than happy to help you out). You can also get a cab outside the airport and request them to use a meter. Actually, they ought to use the taxi meter but it does not seem to be a regular practice here when you're coming from the airport.

3. At the Agora terminal, ride a bus going to Bukidnon - this will cost you 130 pesos - aircon. Capital of Bukidnon is Malaybalay city.

*not sure about the time of the bus trips. Travel time from Cagayan De Oro to Bukidnon ranges from 1.5-2 hours.

ACCOMMODATIONS IN BUKIDNON

1st Avenue Appartel
Address : Propia Street, Sumpong, Malaybalay City Air-Conditioned
Room Rates :Single Bed – 600 pesosTwin Bed – 750 pesos
Non-Air Conditioned Rooms :Single Bed – 400 pesos
*All rooms have :Free wifi Colored TV with CableToilet, bath and showerContact Numbers : Number : +63 (88) 221-3224 (landline)+63 0926-4325382 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting +63 0926-4325382 end_of_the_skype_highlighting (mobile number)*12 air-conditioned and 12 non air-conditioned rooms

D’ Stable Eco Resort (also known as Quadra)

Address: Sta. Cruz St., Malaybalay City (near Shepherds Meadow) Owner: Mrs. Carmencita David Tel No. (088) 221-3338Rates : 4 Family room (good for 5)1,200 pesos with toilet and bath Campers : (bring own tent)150 pesos per headcommunal restrooms

Pine Hills Hotel

Address: Fortich Street, City of MalaybalayTel Nos. (088) 221-3211to13 / 813-2055 Rates : 1,200-2000 pesos Additional Person : 200 pesos/head Extra Bed : 200 pesos Children aged 9 years and under (max of 2) are free of charge when sharing the room with their parents

Fully air-conditioned, with individual bathrooms w/ tubs, cable TV & phonesFree local calls Credit cards honored: VISA, Mastercard, Diners; Check-in time is 1:00 pm and Check-out time is 12:00 nn *Mostly wealthy guests stay here.

Pitcher Plant Farm (An Eco Lodge)
Location: Purok 2, Kalasungay*3KM from Malaybalay cityBy appointment only
Website : http://pitcher-plants.com/
You can book via email which I did. Range : 1000 pesos-2000 pesos with free wifi (no aircon or fans here)
Meals must be arranged in advance at 150 pesos per meal (good deal) The guy who runs the place is German and is very warm and friendly.

OTHER ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS : click here

OTHER TOURIST SPOTS IN BUKIDNON:
1. Alalum Falls – located in Sumilao, Bukidnon; very tall powerful falls, view deck is located a few steps from Sayre Highway. Easy to miss if you don’t know where it is. I didn’t see any signboards either. (more information about it here : http://outoftownblog.com/alalum-falls-in-sumilao-bukidnon/)
2. Mt. Dulang-Dulang
3. Mt. Kitanglad Mountain Range
*A traverse from Dulang-Dulang to Mt. Kitanglad or vice versa is possible and is actually highly recommended by the locals so you can maximize your trip.

Go to these site for climbing information :
http://www.pinoymountaineer.com/2007/09/mt-dulang-dulang-2398.html
http://michaeljanpizarro.multiply.com/photos/album/39/Mt._Dulang-dulang_traverse_Mt._Kitanglad

4. Canyons – they have three canyons and unlike the one in Nevada, their canyons are filled with trees.
5. Caves – I was told that there are about 90 – most of them are unexplored. I’ve only been to Sumalsag cave which is a must see in Bukidnon. But if you’ve got serious hydrophobia, you should bring tons of nerves to survive this one because you will get wet and to exit the cave, you will have to submerge your head in water for a few seconds.
6. Del Monte Plantation – located in Manolo Fortrich
7. Monastery of Transfiguration (Benedictine monks) –perhaps the most popular destination in Bukidnon; you can buy souvenirs here such as Monk’s blend coffee, St. Benedict’s Medal – believe to protect the wearer from evil spirits

To get more information on the above destinations, kindly go here:
But seriously, to see more than the Benedictine Monastery , you have to hook up with an adventure company to bring you where the action is. Bukidnon is a huge province with destinations requiring some tedious road travel. And I’m not saying that because I work with a tour company, hehe..it’s just that people here are so used to their natural resources that they don’t really see it as a destination so when you ask them where you can go, they’d just point you to the Benedictine monastery.

WHERE TO EAT IN BUKIDNON (one of my fave parts of traveling)

1. Pinutos sa Kanto - Don’t miss the roast beef stew. I normally stay away from unprocessed beef because I’m having difficulty digesting it but this one should be an exception. Easy to chew and does not taste like the normal beef. It’s located in San Miguel, Manolo Fortrich - about 45 from Malaybalay City. You can see this one from the right side of Sayre highway coming from CDO. I was told that the bake shop across the street also sells yummy pastries. Price ranges from 70 pesos above net per meal - drinks excluded
2. Edward’s – serves Filipinos dishes; has a wide Price ranges from 70 pesos above net per meal - drinks excluded.
3. Mindy’s – located at the Malaybalay City town proper – serves chicken meals ; very nice place to eat; reminds me of Hard Rock Café – backpacker’s rates and stylePrice ranges from 70 pesos above net per meal - drinks excluded
4. Amadeo – high end restaurant in Bukidnon
5. Cawayanon Clubhouse  - inside the Del Monte Plantation. I haven't tried the food here but my friend swears it's amazing.

DRINK:
Bukidnon Brew Cafe
Location:51 Bonifacio DriveMalaybalay, Philippines, 8700
Open : Mon - Sat:8:00 am - 9:00 pm Sun:3:00 pm - 9:00 pm
You can also add them in Facebook. Just search for Bukidnon Brew Cafe.
*You can also bring your friends and drink at Edward’s and Mindy’s

By the way, here's a map of Bukidnon for your reference. Got it from this site. This map is way too small so just go to the link I gave to get an eye-friendly copy.

12 comments:

  1. hi, i envy you... is there such a job like yours? who would consider that an actual job? thanks for the tons of info, i would like to travel to bukidnon tipid-gala lang kc limited ang budget... i am kurt, quezon city-based but originally from Iligan City.

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  3. Good post. Thanks for posting these pieces of information. I am just wandering around looking for some information about booking and came across yours. My family will be going to Bukidnon next week. I hope the information here are still the same til now.

    Mariel from Cagayan de Oro (http://www.cdokay.com)

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  4. Hi Mariel! Thank you for dropping by. :) Happy trip! Miss ko na Bukidnon and all their great food and vast mountains.

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  5. What a job! do you have an opening? haha.

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  6. @Marky - wah, nagresign na ako dyan last January.. :) Sayang, nakakuha na ng pumalit sakin. hehe

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  7. Hi. Thanks so much for this post! It helped me a lot when I went to Bukidnon for the first time last summer. I actually stayed in the Pitcher Plant farm and had a great time. I also followed one of your recommendations: climbing Mt. Dulang-Dulang. But I have yet to explore Sumalsag Cave and the waterfalls. Thanks again!

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  8. @Nagbabasang Pinoy - Hi Kristine! :) We have the same name, only mine's spelled differently. Glad I was able to help. I also want to do some hiking in Bukidnon pero no schedule yet in the future. May iba pang travels nakapila. Oh if only we could have all the time and enough funding! hehe

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  9. Cagayan is one of my favorite place.

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  10. i want your job! hahaha! anyway, if you happen to be in CDO again, do the mapawa river trek. it's going to be a memorable adventure!

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  11. Thanks sa info lalo na sa places to eat......

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