La Palmera Mountain Ridge: This Nature-Sculpted Mountains is Something to Behold | Sultan Kudarat


I concur with Scarlet Letter author Nathaniel Hawthorne when he wrote, "Mountains are Earth's undecaying monuments." As proven by my travel recollections, images of the highlands usually conjure an impression of pristine time and wonder. It's as though the mountains were the first to rise from the sea as the Earth gradually transformed into a habitable world. 

Anne Eliz Gumiran
Nature's work of art indeed

When someone asks whether I’m a beach or a mountain person, I’d imagine myself pushed into exhaustion hiking a mountain before answering with “I’m a beach person now”. That answer is a cliché and inaccurate one since when I take away the climbing part, I remain a mountain person at heart forever in awe of its craggy shapes and verdant vegetation.

Milet Miranda
One can choose to pitch a tent or stay at one of La Palmera's humble huts for the night

I’ve seen my fair share of spellbinding mountain ranges. From the picturesque peaks I’ve hiked in my youth, to the rice terraces of the Cordillera, to the barren slopes of Mount Sinai, the snowcapped tips in Sapa, the seemingly endless summits of the Sierra Madre Mountain range, and a lot more here and there, I’ve come to fully embrace the idea that mountains are indeed our planet’s lasting headstones.

Sultan Kudarat’s Carved Monument

God's broad strokes and steady hands are in bold display in the landlocked town of Columbio in Sultan Kudarat. Tucked away deep in this area of Central Mindanao lies a stunning landscape of undulating peaks and verdant valleys.

Members of B'laan community performing a traditional dance

If Frederic Edwin Church's painting "The Heart of the Andes", provided art connoisseurs with an all-encompassing portrayal of the landscape around a mountain range, La Palmera gifts visitors a surreal glimpse into a sculpted, corporeal representation of nature.

Alex Pajarilo

The B'laans, an indigenous group of people from Southern Mindanao, used to tend a plantation at the location now known as La Palmera, which is now covered in a sea of swaying cogon grass.

Coming from an earlier trip to Pangadilan Falls located in the same municipality of Columbia, we headed straight to La Palmera as we continued our SOCCSKSARGEN (a region that includes the provinces of South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos) exploration. After bouncing around on the back of a pick-up truck for what felt like an hour over a long stretch of dirt road, we arrived to an awaiting group of B'laan men and women who welcomed us with an entertaining cultural dance and musical performance.

As an emerging tourist destination in Sultan Kudarat, the members of the B'laan community have benefitted from the veer of tourists that has since visited the place. From cultural performances to making native delicacies to transporting tourists on "skylab" tricycles, the municipality's economy has seen a steady growth.

"I wish I could stay here even for a night," I thought to myself as I set out on a long trail that led to a few forks that led down to the other mountains. There appear to be numerous paths to choose and explore. Because we only have an afternoon here, I took advantage of the opportunity to fly my drone camera and capture a view of the mountain ridges from above.

Landing my drone and packing it inside my backpack, I hurriedly ran up and down the trail for one last time savoring the strong winds as it brushes against my face. Stopping to catch my breath, I paused regaling at the surrounding scenery. Needing no more convincing, I promised to at least spend a couple of nights next time I find myself in the Soccsksargen region.

With the manner mother nature fashioned yet another masterpiece in the form of the La Palmera Mountain ridges, it certainly validates the notion that mountains are indeed “Earth's undecaying monuments.”