Bukidnon: Home to boundless beauty

Find out why this Northern Mindanao gem beckons thrill-seekers and sanctuary seekers alike.

Photo by Mari-An Santos

Standing atop Mount Kitanglad with the sun warming one’s face and the breeze blowing all around, one can truly appreciate the quiet and calm of nature.

Bukidnon is a province rich in natural wonders and cultural diversity. Sprawling plains accented by undulating mountains—this is Bukidnon’s topography. The air is sweet with the intermingling of the smells of bananas, sugarcane, and pineapples. Seven hill tribes inhabit its mountains and riversides: the Bukidnon, Talaandig, Manobo, Higaonon, Matigsalug, Tiguahanon, and Umayamnon. Each tribe still strives to keep intact its own ways of living and culture, evident in their embroidery, as well as literature and arts.

Mount Kitanglad looms mighty and marvelous at 2,955 meters above sea level, standing guard over the vast fields of rice, corn, flowers, and fruits. It hardly rains here, but the air is always fresh. The days may be sunny, but the nights are always cool—perfect for cuddling.

The City of Malaybalay is still laidback and, like the rest of the province, conducive for long bouts of reflection. The Benedictine Monastery of the Transfiguration is the go-to place for anyone who is in a meditative mood. This is also home to Monastery Farms, which produces the rich Monks’ Blend Coffee, made from coffee beans harvested in the same area. All around, fields are heavy with heads of rice and corn, making the monks and their helpers virtually self-sufficient. Another nearby sanctuary is the Carmelite Monastery of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary also in Malaybalay. The contemplative nuns tend beautiful gardens of different flowers whose colors and unique patterns attract and invite.

Meanwhile, the city bursts with sounds and colors during the Kaamulan Festival from mid-February to March. Kaamulan derives from the Binukid word “amul”, that means “to gather.” During this time, members of the province’s seven hill tribes flood the streets with their musical performances, rituals, and traditional practices. It is interesting to see the distinct qualities of each tribe, from the colors and patterns of their traditional dress to their movement and music.

Another natural attraction is the Pulangi River, the longest river in Bukidnon that rushes straight to the Rio Grande of Mindanao. One can sit for hours by the rambling water while sipping fresh coconut juice.

Impasug-ong, with its high elevation, is planted with organic vegetables like lettuce, tomatoes, and bell peppers.

Valencia City’s wide ricefields turn golden come harvest time. All throughout, there are haciendas planted with strawberries and herbs, with goats and chickens roaming the fields around farm houses and rest houses.

The town of Manolo Fortich is home to the world-class Del Monte Pineapple Plantation. Rows upon rows of pineapples—from tiny to big and bold—stretch out as far as the eye can see. At the Del Monte Golf Clubhouse, families and friends oohhh and aahhh over tender beef steak, with the meat made much sweeter by the pineapples that comprise the cow feed.

At nearby Dahilayan Adventure Park, screams and shrieks essay from exuberant children of all ages. Here, at Asia’s longest Dual Zipline, two 840-meter ziplines with an elevation drop of 100 meters take riders through at speeds of up to 80 kilometers per hour! They feel like birds hovering past trees and overlooking the changing colors from 4,700 feet above sea level. For the more cautious, there are ziplines at 320 meters and 150 meters high.

Bukidnon is a province of choices with a rich culture and abundant nature. It has just what every weary heart and daring soul needs.

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