Bukidnon left quite a mark on me when I traveled there with some friends a few years back. Famed for its rich culture, booming agricultural economy and thriving forests, it is a land of tranquil beauty, full of warm people amidst its cool climate. Having topography of gradually sloping terrain, lush mountains and fertile lands, Bukidnon offers sights that would behold local dwellers and visiting tourists alike. It is an ideal place to visit if you are looking for a brief, but memorable, respite from a busy work life, or simply want to get away from the crowded and noisy city.
|Chapel of the Monastery of Transfiguration|
|Inside the chapel|
One of the unforgettable places we visited was the Monastery of Transfiguration in Malaybalay City. Also known as Bukidnon Monastery, the structure itself is a work of art by Leandro Locsin, the country’s national artist for architecture. Perched up a hill, it offers peacefulness and beauty of nature while relating to the spiritual world. The quaint chapel is surrounded by a burst of colors due to the hundreds of local flowers and green rice fields surrounding it. We were also treated to a picturesque view of the densely forested mountains. It is here where the Benedictine Monks live, work and pray for mankind. The monastery also has a Retreat House, which has accommodated government officials and other influential people. The gift shop sells delicacies, religious items and coffee produced by the monks known as “Monk’s Blend.”
Since the monastery is a holy place, visitors have to wear proper attire to be granted entrance. Shorts and sleeveless shirts are a big NO. Located about 5 kilometers south from the commercial center of Malaybalay City, multicabs and motorcycles can take you there at a negotiable price. Regular masses are being held in the chapel particularly during Sundays and holy days of obligation.
Another remarkable place that offers tranquillity is Kaamulan Park, one of Bukidnon’s nature parks. Quite commendable are the provincial government’s efforts of preserving the culture of the different tribes living in the region. Among the prominent sights in the park are the life-size replicas of the houses of these indigenous people. The park is a popular leisure area where family and friends gather for some bonding time, and health buffs can do their exercises. It is also a great place to do some yoga, meditation and soul searching. What makes the place so breathtaking are the rows of magnificent trees that appear to reach for the sky. However, during the Kaamulan Festival, the park is a bustle of energy as it is where most of the activities are being held, including a garden show, food festival, agri-fair and bazars. Kaamulan Park is also located in Malaybalay City, and is about a kilometer away from the seat of the provincial capitol, just a few minutes ride from the city’s commercial district.
|The author (far right) and friends enjoying the verdant and lush Bukidnon|
Bukidnon may not be one of the more popular tourist destinations in the country, but still I would encourage anyone to go pack their bags and fly off to explore this highland paradise in Mindanao. Go and experience serenity and harmony with nature in Bukidnon.
(Photo credits: http://blog.travelpod.com and http://shoestringsmind.blogspot.com)