Limitless Adventures: 9 Tourist Spots to Visit in Bukidnon


Anicycling in KampoJuan


    “#LimitlessAdventures,” said May Unchuan, regional director of the Department of Tourism (DOT)-Northern Mindanao, when asked of a hashtag to include in our social media posts that would pertain to our upcoming four-day trip. “Limitless Adventures” is Northern Mindanao region’s tourism tag line.

    Through the Influencers Program of the Philippine Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), I joined other travel content creators on a trip aimed at promoting the reopening of local destinations and reviving the industry knocked over by the pandemic. Our team were to go around Bukidnon, the largest province of Northern Mindanao.



    “Bukidnon” literally means “mountain dweller.” In the past, the term referred only to the people who lived in the mountains of an area called Malaybalay that formed part of the erstwhile undivided Misamis province. Today, the term indicates both the Province of Bukidnon and an eponymous ethnic group, one of the seven indigenous tribes, that call Bukidnon their home.

    Next to Palawan and Isabela, Bukidnon is the country’s third largest province in terms of land area, covering a wide plateau and mountainous borders in the north central part of Mindanao island. Due to its elevation, Bukidnon’s main draw is the panoramic mountain range and its climate akin to Baguio City. However, there is more to Bukidnon than the scenery and the icy breeze.


    Klook.com


    Dahilayan Adventure Park

    In Manolo Fortich town, Dahilayan Adventure Park nestles a thousand meters above sea level, at the foothills of the Kitanglad Mountain Range. For its grove of pines and mountain lodgings, the park is comparable to the City of Pines. In fact, Dahilayan is one of Mindanao’s favorite summer escapes.

    Drop Zone ride of Dahilayan Adventure Park
    Drop Zone ride at Dahilayan Adventure Park

    The eco-adventure park is home to “Asia’s longest dual zipline” that stretches 840 meters across a rainforest canopy. This breathtaking ride zooms up to 90 kilometers per hour while its couple riders are in Superman position. However, it is not yet the most exhilarating. The park prides itself as “Mindanao’s Favorite Extreme Playground” and by “extreme” they mean the Dropzone, a 120-foot free fall into the surface of a man-made lake. Tandem riders are tied up in a harness, hoisted, then unbuckled and left swinging à la pendulum until it slowly come to a halt.



    Tandem Drop Zone riders in harness
    Tandem Drop Zone riders in harness
    Drop Zone riders hoisted on top
    Drop Zone riders hoisted on top
    Drop Zone riders up close
    Drop Zone riders up close


    Dahilayan Adventure Park in Bukidnon
    Dahilayan Adventure Park in Bukidnon


    Dahilayan Forest Park

    For a milder thrill, Dahilayan Forest Park, located right beside the Adventure Park, has rides that don’t suspend anyone in midair. They have ATVs, luge, go-karts and bumper boats among others.

    Go-kart ride at Dahilayan Forest Park
    Go-kart ride at Dahilayan Forest Park



    KampoJuan

    Another thrill-inducing spot in Manolo Fortich is KampoJuan whose flagship ride is called anicycle, “Asia’s first-ever sky bike” as KampoJuan professes. The ride entails pedaling across a 300-meter cable suspended over a dizzying gorge, connecting both ends of the craggy ravine where a placid river flows below. It is a heart-stopping nature trip.

    Anicycle ride in KampoJuan
    Anicycle ride in KampoJuan

    KampoJuan is also an eco-heritage resort. Within its forested property, there is a four-story mansion that once stood in Pangasinan for over a century. KampoJuan’s owner purchased the ancestral house, dismantled it, brought it to Bukidnon piece by piece and became the first and only of its kind—a transported house—in Mindanao. The mansion is full to the brim with almost a thousand historical artifacts. It functions as a museum and a tourist lodging that gives its visitors a stay with a patina of the colonial times.

    READ ALSO: KampoJuan: Eco Adventure and Cultural Heritage Trip in One

    KampoJuan ancestral house
    KampoJuan ancestral house
    Inside KampoJuan's ancestral house
    Inside KampoJuan's ancestral house

    Among the noteworthy pieces on display is the original copy of the first Tagalog translation of Noli Me Tangere. There are only two surviving copies of the translated novel, the National Museum in Manila keeps the other one.




    Talaandig Soil Painting Gallery

    In Lantapan, the Talaandig Soil Painting Gallery houses a handful of artworks with subjects centered on nature, child and women empowerment and the rich culture of the Talaandig tribe. Visiting the gallery may include a meet-and-greet with Salima Saway, one of the known soil painters whose works had graced international exhibits in recent years. The gallery, where Salima resides and paints, also serves as an art school where Salima ensures that the art using Bukidnon’s rich soil as medium is being passed on to the young generation.

    Talaandig Soil Painting Gallery
    Talaandig Soil Painting Gallery
    Salima Saway
    Salima Saway



    Tagolwanen Women Weavers Association

    Another tribal art worth saving is the ikam, Bukidnon’s sacred practice of weaving. Since time immemorial, Bukidnon has produced elaborately designed banig (mats) using sodsod, a type of cogon grass endemic to the region, as the main material. The mats, which the Tagoloanen people (sometimes “Tagolwanen”) traditionally give as a wedding present or as a condolence in funeral ceremonies, are being sold at the TWWA Tagolwanen Handwoven shop in Malaybalay City. The souvenir store is managed by the Tagolwanen Women Weavers Association (TWWA), a social enterprise that saved the vanishing art, helped preserve the Tagoloanen indigenous identity and provided a living to the weavers since its establishment in 2012.

    READ ALSO: Tagoloanens and Their Weaving Tradition

    Tagoloanen weaver
    Tagoloanen weaver


    Abbey of the Transfiguration

    Far from the concrete jungles of Bukidnon’s capital, situated on a hill in San Jose, Malaybalay City, is the hushed environs of the Abbey of the Transfiguration where the highlight of every visit is an architectural marvel. The monastery’s pyramidal church is a masterpiece of National Artist Leandro Locsin who did not live long enough to see the magnificence of what has become his final piece of work.



    Abbey of the Transfiguration
    Abbey of the Transfiguration

    The Benedictine monastery also keeps an exhibit of liturgical vestments made from indigenous materials. The vestments are creations of Dom Martin de Jesus Gomez, a sought-after couturier known to the fashion elites of the 1970s as Gang Gomez before he chose to live the monastic life. Gomez authored the award-winning book “Worship and Weave” which highlights this vestment collection.

    Aside from the church and museum, the Benedictines cultivate a tract of land that produces Monk’s Blend, a premium coffee brand. Monk’s Blend, available at the Abbey’s gift shop, deserves a spot in everyone’s coffee nook.



    Binahon Agroforestry Farm

    A guided tour around the 30-year-old Binahon Agroforestry Farm in Lantapan is quite a fun and learning experience. It is interesting to know about the farm’s methods of agricultural production, forestry and biodiversity conservation. To make the farm tour more delightful, Binahon let their guests experience harvesting crops such as cabbages and carrots. Another unique experience, unless you are already on a clean diet, is snacking on the farm’s organic fare.

    Sweeping view of Bukidnon's mountains from Binahon Farm
    Sweeping view of Bukidnon's mountains from Binahon Farm


    Harvesting crops at Binahon Farm
    Harvesting crops at Binahon Farm



    Philippine Carabao Center at CMU

    In Maramag town, within the 3000-hectare estate of Central Mindanao University (CMU), is yet another fun tour on agricultural production. The Philippine Carabao Center at CMU is home to hundreds of Bulgarian Murrah buffalo that are raised for their milk. Aside from learning about the buffalo breed, they let farm visitors try hand milking the carabaos, that is, if they are not yet milked using a machine. At Bukidnon Dairy, the farm’s product outlet, tourists can visit the laboratory where the raw milk is processed into more palatable fresh milk or chocolate milk drink.

    Philippine Carabao Center
    Philippine Carabao Center
    Processing carabao milk at Bukidnon Dairy
    Processing carabao milk at Bukidnon Dairy


    Taglucop Strawberry Hills

    While many travel-related businesses ran at a loss or completely shut down since the onset of the pandemic, there are some ventures that just started such as the Taglucop Strawberry Hills, a strawberry farm and glamping site in the highlands of Kitaotao. Alongside the ruggedness of nature and chilly Bukidnon weather, Taglucop’s geodesic dome tents that can comfortably fit up to eight people are complete with the convenience of electricity, cushy beds, outdoor Jacuzzi and en suite bathrooms.

    READ ALSO: One of a Kind Glamping at Taglucop Strawberry Hills

    Taglucop Strawberry Hills
    Taglucop Strawberry Hills

    Glamping in Taglucop is a total relaxation—a wintry weather throughout the day, bonfire, s’mores and strawberry wine come night time, and a vista of the sea of clouds in the early morn. Just like what The Beatles said in their psychedelic hit “Strawberry Fields Forever”, when in Taglucop Strawberry Hills, there is “nothing to get hung about.”


    This is an incomplete list of what to do in Bukidnon. Four days, or even five, as our newfound friends from DOT-Northern Mindanao asserted, are not enough to cover every inch of the landlocked province. But that is Bukidnon’s charm: the seemingly unlimited adventures that are in store for its visitors. Aside from coffee, carabao dairy, banig and strawberry, you will be going home with so much reasons to come back.

    This was originally published in the February 2022 issue of Enrich magazine.





    About the Author

    DJ Rivera is an I.T. professional, entrepreneur, blogger and travel writer based in Rizal province, Philippines. He juggles writing softwares and feature articles, managing his small businesses, and teaching software development in the academe. He contributes travel-related write-ups to several publications and websites, and narrates his experiences traveling around the Philippines in his own blog, PinoyTravelogue.com. He finds himself most engaged in chasing hidden waterfalls and rummaging through the history, arts and culture of the places he's been to. Click here to know more.


    Let's connect:     

    Powered by Blogger.