I Kid you Not, Bukidnon is Another Underrated Province


There’s only one option when going to Bukidnon from Cagayan de Oro, and that is the scenic route. Knowing about this from earlier visit to the province, I tried my hardest staying awake throughout our ride.  As soon as I saw the mountain ranges leading to the summit of Mount Kitanglad, I knew we were close to breathing the cool air and smelling the fragrant pine trees and the rest of the verdant Bukidnon forest.

Sarah Aldana
The woven works of the Tagolwanen weavers mirrors the vibrant culture of Bukidnon

Fresh off a couple of water adventures in Cagayan de Oro, we are now ready to embark on a thrilling experience at Dahilayan Adventure Park in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon. Here, we will encounter not just one, but two exhilarating activities that will put either our fear or love of the heights to test.

Feeling the Rush of Gravity at Dahilayan Adventure Park

Mere minutes after arriving at the picturesque park, we quickly got ourselves each a cup of coffee to acclimatize at the cool weather and relish the breathtaking scenery. As I was starting to feel comfortable just chilling and sipping my hot coffee, our guide summoned us to prepare for our first activity.

Marky Ramone Go
I'm shown here as I was being pulled back up for the drop

“What’s the first thing we’ll try?” asked someone from our group. “We’re going to take turns at the Dropzone”, our guide Milo informs us.

Marky Ramone Go
Okay, you can drop me now

Just the mere mention of the word is enough to make you contemplate about bailing out. Our group however, made a pledge that no one will skip it so off we went to the site by following a trail for a 10-minute stroll.

Che Ritual
Zipping like Superman

The Dropzone as the name suggests, involves strapping a person into a tangled of harnesses in a Superman pose and raised up on a towering pendulum swing installation 120 feet high. With a slow pull of a string by the rider dangling on the left side, it will trigger a freefall dropping the rider tantalizingly close to the water of a manmade lake below. 

Drop Zone
Drop Zone area

Julie, who is one of the three Malaysians in our group, was the first person to volunteer. As we anxiously observed, Julie was carefully secured into the harness and raised into the air. The atmosphere was filled with suspense as the Dropzone staff initiated the countdown, screaming "3, 2, 1, pull!" Without hesitation, Julie, displaying her bravery, swiftly pulled the string that initiated her adrenaline-charged freefall.

Armi Valdez
My first time in Dahilayan Park was actually way back in 2010

As she quickly descended, her screams echoed throughout the park. After swinging back and forth in the air, her yells transformed into expressions of delight. This gave each of us courage, confirming that the Dropzone is indeed both a thrilling and gripping activity.

Groufie against the mountains of Kitaotao, Bukidnon

I was the next to be strapped and lifted in the air. As I stare down at the waters below and listened to the countdown, a surge of electricity coursed through my body. Without hesitation, I instinctively pulled the string, and I descended into the rewarding embrace of gravity, feeling the powerful rush of wind against my face.  It really feel like becoming Superman for a minute tops.

After the Dropzone, the 840-meter zipline that zooms past a canopy of giant trees at 60 kilometer per hour capped off our Dahilayan adventure.

Giant Kaamulan Headdress

We detoured to this unusual place in the municipality of Impasug-ong to see the giant statues of ladies donning a distinctive headdress before continuing on to our next destination.

Sarah Aldana
The fine sculptured statues donning the Giant Kaamulan Headdresses

It turns out that these are the work of Mindanao-born artist Kublai Millan, whose signature giant sculptures have made him famous around the world. These include the Kampilan in Sultan Kudarat, the Risen Christ in Tagum City, the Lantapan Monument also in Bukidnon and the giant Durian at Francisco Bangoy International Airport in Davao City, just to name a few. 

Armi Valdez
Drone view of Dahilayan Park

These statues in Impasug-ong are called the Kaamulan Headdress, named after Binukid word "amul" which means to gather. Kaamulan is also the name of the ethnic cultural festival held in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon as a way to gather and celebrate the culture and tradition of the seven ethnic groups in the province namely: Bukidnon, Manobo, Umayamnon, Tigwahanon, Higaonon, Talaandig and the Matigsalug. 

Marveling at the Woven Creations of the Tagolwanen Women

We also had the opportunity of visiting the Tagolwanen Women Weavers Association (TWWA) showroom located in Malaybalay, Bukidnon.

Sarah Aldana
Colorful creations by the Tagolwanen women of Bukidnon

The group behind this social enterprise currently consists of over 80 weavers from the Bukidnon-Tagolwanen tribe. The weavers primarily utilize sodsod grass, which is native to the wetlands of the Bukidnon highlands, to create exquisite mats and other household items. These creations are adorned with vibrant colours and intricate patterns, resulting in stunning pieces of artwork.

Sarah Aldana
Sarah, holding a couple of beautiful bags

Make sure to visit this particular place along Sayre Highway in Malaybalay. Every purchase you make here not only allows you to bring a piece of the Tagolwanen People's culture into your home, but also contributes to the education of Tagolwanen children. Additionally, your support will inspire more Tagolwanen kids to get involved in the art of mat making.

Sarah Aldana

Strawberry Fields Forever

After our two-day trip exploration of some parts of Bukidnon, we concluded our journey to the province by visiting the beautiful Taglucop Strawberry Hills. This cold weather haven is located in the highlands of Kitaotao, Bukidnon. As the day's remaining light faded and the foggy evening settled in, we arrived just in time to be greeted with a comforting glass of Strawberry Ice Wine and a grazing platter of freshly picked fruits and cheese.

Sarah Aldana
Welcome platter

Before long, a delightful dinner was served, featuring a wide array of organic dishes, many of which were sourced directly from the farm on the property. We had the opportunity to enjoy more wine and engage in a conversation with the owners, during which we learned about the fascinating origin of Taglucop Strawberry Farm.

Sarah Aldana
Dinner spread

An elevated glamping site because it not only features spacious geodesic dome tents perched on uneven hilltop terrain enveloped by towering pine trees, most also comes with a private outdoor jacuzzi and a patio perfect for morning coffee or stargazing.

Sarah Aldana
My glamping dome is directly atop the pool and also has an outdoor jacuzzi

In 2016, the property was purchased by the current owners, Ferdinand, and Jenny Taglucop, who initially had no specific plans for the land. After planting hundreds of pine trees, the pair became interested in cultivating a variety of berries, including strawberries, mulberries, and blackberries.

Sarah Aldana
The strawberry farm

Soon the couple who also operates a travel company, would source different varieties of strawberries in their travel and learn the process of winemaking as well.  During the pandemic they expanded their vineyard, created their own line of wine, and came up with an all-natural menu to feed their guests.

Sarah Aldana
The cold bed weather is real here

Breathing fog, I returned to my geodesic tent and crashed into a relaxing sleep until waking up just before sunrise and coming out of my tent to a sea of clouds. A few minutes later, we proceeded to our morning activity; an ATV ride to a higher hill top and a hike to a nearby waterfalls. Just before we bid goodbye, we promised the owners to come back for a longer stay next time.

Sarah Aldana
Riding the ATV and hiking to a nearby waterfalls are just two of the many activities here

And definitely, I would be. The cold temperature and the warm comforts of Taglucop Strawberry Farm seems to be a perfect combination for a writer like me to tap into my creative energy. “I could finish a film screenplay here”, I thought to myself.

We then head out to Davao City.