A 4-Day and 3-Night Adventure With Friends
Copyright 2022 by Ymgy Gardose Aton
Photo courtesy of the author.
our next plan?” my friend asked.
you might not be that excited if I tell you” I grinned while I
was a common conversation between me and my friends. Before the
pandemic struck, we made a lot of travel plans. It was always nice to
go on a trip with friends. Aside from a thrifty travel, we got to
enjoy moments together.
time while we were having a team meeting, we talked about it. While
one of the leaders was presenting her report, I excitedly interrupted
her and said, “OMG! There’s a seat sale!” The seat
sale is a promo offered by the cheapest airline company in my
country, the Philippines.
was amazed. The presentation was interrupted. The topic was changed
to the trip we were excited about. On that very same day, we decided
to book a flight in advance. Imagine a base fare of Php 99.00 and an
overall fare of Php 645.00 including all taxes and other fees for a
one-way trip. Who would never grab that chance?
30, 2020 – This was the date we have all been waiting for. We
were so excited that after their shift, my friends did not sleep
anymore but went directly to the airport. Our flight departed at 4:00
AM Philippine Time. We already wore masks because there was a threat
of the COVID-19. Although there was no strict protocol yet, we made
the decision by ourselves just to make sure we were safe.
here we go Bukidnon, my hometown!” said one of my friends. Yes,
she is from Bukidnon, a mountainous province in the northern part of
Mindanao. She used to live there and even graduated from her degree
in History. After many years, that was the only time she would come
back to her dearest home province. Soul, as we call her, did all the
talking in the entire journey.
friend of mine was from Mindanao, about a 2-hour trip from Bukidnon.
She grew up in the province of Surigao del Norte but used to live in
the Cagayan de Oro, the place where our plane landed. She had a lot
to share, including her experiences as a supervisor in a
pharmaceutical company before she was hired as a language teacher.
were eight of us in our group. The other six members of the group,
including me, were not from Mindanao, and it would be their first
time to step on the “Land of Promise.” I, however, have
been there since my partner is from Cagayan de Oro City. Our plane
landed at 5:45 AM. My partner was waiting for us at the airport.
had a car rental business, so we took the chance to use one of our
cars for the trip.
to Cagayan de Oro City!”, one of the airline staff greeted us
with a warm mile. We responded with thanks and then smiled back. She
was very friendly.
the arrival area, my partner was waiting. He looked happy to see us.
He drove for us.
was already 6:00 AM and we saw the sun rising. We stopped for a while
and took some pictures. Hungry as we were, we decided to stop by a
nearby roadside restaurant owned by my partner’s friend and we
ate breakfast there. Eating breakfast is very common to Filipinos.
we were ready, we set off to our first destination in our itinerary –
Dahilayan Adventure Park. It was an hour drive from the city center
of Cagayan de Oro. The weather was cold, although it was not winter
in my country. On our way to Dahilayan, we found many pineapple
plantations. My friend, Soul, had been sharing some funny moments she
had when she was still in college. She was naughty and funny. She
would share some jokes and we would laugh. We did not notice that we
already arrived at our destination.
Adventure Park is one of the famous tourist destinations in Bukidnon.
My friends were excited. They booked an adventure package and enjoyed
all the rides, while I was just there waiting for them to finish
since I could not move exaggeratedly due to my pregnancy. Yes, I was
on my first trimester at that time. Despite that, I was happy for my
friends. They got to enjoy the zipline; they even had photos of it.
They got to ride on a luge and had a race. They looked so amazing.
Most importantly, they took a lot of photos to be posted to their
respective Instagram accounts.
was lunch time and we asked a restaurant owner if she could cook
chicken soup for us. The weather there was so cold, and we could see
dense fogs around us. So it was just timely to sip hot soup for that
kind of weather. She agreed. In my local dialect, we call it “tinola
nga bisaya nga manok” which literally means native chicken
were the rides?” I asked my friends when they went to the
restaurant where we agreed to eat.
of my gay friends responded, “It was tiring, but we enjoyed
it.” Then they shared funny experiences.
my friend who was originally from Surigao del Norte, said that the
soup was just relevant for the weather and their hunger. She was
right. Then we ate our lunch altogether. As part of our culture when
eating meals, we shared stories and anecdotes until we finished our
had enough of our Dahilayan adventure. We then proceeded to our next
destination – Pineapple plantations. There was nothing special,
we just stopped by and took pictures. Near the plantations is the
Camp Phillips site where there was a big pineapple monument.
was already past 3:00 PM and we needed to head to our next
destination – Valencia City. It was almost a 3-hour drive from
Camp Phillips. The talkative Soul and Avery were exchanging
conversations about Bukidnon, but my other friends were fast asleep
as the music inside our Toyota Innova was loud enough to make them
last, it was 5:45 PM and we were getting hungry. We arrived in
Valencia City. We decided to eat dinner at a barbecue restaurant
along the highway. Then I heard one of my friends, “I feel so
tired.” Obviously, it was because of their adventure rides in
Dahilayan and the long travel made them tired.
said, “Don’t worry, dear. We are almost at Soul’s
place.” We were going to spend the night at Soul’s
university, Mountain View College. She was able to book a room for
all of us there.
our dinner, we directly went to the college. It was a college on the
mountains with vast agricultural area. The way going up there was
dark, and there were not any street lights. All we could see from the
car’s lights were sugar canes planted on both sides of the road
we were traversing. When we arrived there, I could see exhaustion
from my friends’ faces. They were literally exhausted.
partner and I did not join them; instead, we booked our own room.
“Take a rest now and sleep, we’ll all be early tomorrow,”
I told them.
31, 2020 – It was our second day in Bukidnon. The beautiful
sunrise again brought us a sign that it would be a great day. We ate
breakfast – pandesal and batchoy as we commonly call. It is a
typical Filipino food that everyone would love.
was a beautiful day for all of us. My friends looked fresh and
beautiful after a long tiring day yesterday. On our second day, they
were ready again to explore Bukidnon.
first destination on that day was Lake Apo. It was a little far from
Valencia City center. The lake was quiet. We rented a floating bamboo
cottage. We ate lunch there and we played games. Soul shared her
experiences there again. We all laughed.
was time to go to our second destination – Musuan Peak. Our
group of friends have always been eager to climb mountains and this
was one of the purposes why we visited Bukidnon. Musuan Peak was one
of those mountains that we planned to climb. Unfortunately, I was not
able to join them as I was nauseous at that time. I let them go
they came back, they were cheerful. They were joking too. Bob, one of
my friends said, “This is the only mountain I climbed where I
rode a pick-up truck on our descent.” Then we all laughed.
was already past 5 in the afternoon and we needed to head back to
Malaybalay City for another night to spend. We rented a duplex house
inside the woods. It was a cultural accommodation where tourists can
spend the night at a very cheap price. It was managed by the City
arrived there at 7:00 PM. The place was dark, and we could hear the
birds chirping. Although we could see trucks, cars, and some other
types of vehicle passing by the Sayre Hi-way, the place seemed to be
creepy. There were no other tourists aside from us.
the night went by, we could no longer hear vehicles passing by the
hi-way. We could only hear ourselves. Then Avery started to tell
stories about the place, seconded by Soul. I looked at my friends’
faces and they looked scared. Avery said the place was once a
headquarters of local terrorist groups and that they hate gays.
Randal, one of the gays, reacted seriously.
my God! If they found me here, they’d cut my p*nis.” We
all laughed. He seriously said it as he looked so scared. We were so
noisy. At 11:00 PM, we all slept as we should wake up by 3:00 AM at
dawn for a new mountain climb. We concluded the night with laughter.
1, 2020 – It was our 3rd day in Bukidnon. That
actually the main highlight of our trip. We planned to traipse on
Panimahawa Ridge, a well-known mountain ridge in Impasug-ong,
4:00 AM, we met with our tour guide. He gave us a short orientation
about the dos and don’ts during the trek and when arriving at
the summit. “Leave no trash” is common for climbers.
After the briefing, we started our trek. We had two guides who served
as the head and the tail.
are faster than any other climbers”, said one of the guides.
“We have just started the trek but we are already here after 30
minutes.” He was referring to the first stop where we could see
the lights from the nearby city and the ship sailing on the ocean.
kuya?” I replied. Kuya is a Filipino term we use to respect
those who are older than is. It means “older brother.” I
then continued, “We are actually beginners, Kuya. This is the
second major mountain climb we had after Mt. Hibok-hibok in Camiguin
was amazed. “You are beginners but you climbed Mt. Hibok-hibok.
You aren’t beginners anymore. That was one of the highest peaks
in Mindanao but you were able to climb it”, Kuya said.
the way, we were sharing stories and information about us. We had
been walking for an hour already until we stepped on the foot of the
summit. The way going up was slippery because of the little rocks and
sand. After an hour and a half of trek, at last, we climbed it
top of the ridge was a picturesque view of other mountain ridges. We
could see sea of clouds forming on each ridge’s summit. What
made that morning so spectacular was that we were able to see Mr. Sun
saying hello to us. We witnessed how beautiful the sunrise is.
Picture!” shouted Soul. We took pictures individually and as a
group. The view was magnificent, breath-taking, and Instagrammable as
they say. We ate our breakfast at the summit. We saw other campers
packing their camping stuff. They spent the night there. They told me
that it was cold up there. They were just lucky to gaze the stars at
night. Mr. Sun said it would be a great day for us again.
9:00 AM we descended. The long walk was tiring. Our tour guides were
happy to see us walking fast. Although we experienced rush in our
heartbeats, the climb was worth it. Then it was time for us to go to
our next destination – The Communal Ranch.
the Communal Ranch, the silence was deafening. There was no sound of
music, or a phone signal. My friends were excited to experience
horseback riding. Yes, Communal Ranch offers this activity. The view
seems to be in Mongolia. We looked like cowboys and cowgirls. Indeed,
the Communal Ranch can be considered the Mongolia of the Philippines.
was a tiring adventure indeed. Having no phone signal helped us focus
on ourselves and enjoy every moment we had on our trip. The silence
made us feel more comfortable and relaxed.
had enough of our Bukidnon adventure. Although we still wanted to
explore more beautiful tourist destinations including the majestic
waterfalls, we did not have ample time to do so. We needed to head
back to Cagayan de Oro City for another night to spend because on the
next day, our destination will be to another province – Iligan
the Communal Ranch, we stopped by a tuna restaurant where many
travelers eat and relax. We ate lunch. We had grilled tuna, grilled
fish, and a fish soup. We ate dessert. We already looked tired, but
because we enjoyed our trip, we ignored it. Then we drove for long
hours back to Cagayan de Oro City. We arrived there at 6:00 PM and we
were stuck in traffic jam. At dinner, we ate at their famous food
park where we got to enjoy the live band. We jammed with the singers
and had some drinks. There were a variety of food choices, mostly
conclude our long tiring day, we checked in at a bed and breakfast.
Avery, along with our other friends, went for a massage. They had a
wonderful evening at the spa. When they came back, we were all fast
2, 2020 – It was our 4th and last day. On that
our last destination was Iligan City, known to be a Muslim area. Our
main destination was the Maria Cristina Falls and Tinago Falls. So we
hit the road. My partner used the blinkers of the car that signals
other drivers that we are in a hurry.
arrived there safely. Maria Cristina Falls is beautiful. The strong
current of the water can be felt as it splashed. No wonder this is
the source of Mindanao’s electricity. I just knew about this
waterfall when I was young and saw pictures of it on my books, but at
that time, I personally visited it.
did not spend a long time there. We soon headed to Tinago Falls where
my friends enjoyed it. Tinago in our local dialect means hidden. Yes,
it is hidden. We needed to walk a long way down to get there. My
friends rented a bamboo raft and used life jackets to get to the
waterfalls. The water was deep but they liked it, while me and my
partner spent the time waiting for them inside our car.
long wait was over; my friends came back. They changed their clothes
and we headed to the airport. It was past 4:00 PM. Their flight was
at 9:00 PM. I did not go back with them. I stayed with my partner.
ka diri dam,” my friend said. She calls me Madam and what she
said means to take care. We hugged and I bid goodbye to them. I was
teary-eyed, as I felt I was so lucky to have them as my friends. When
they entered the departure area, my partner and I went back to the
concluded our Bukidnon adventure. It was exhausting, but we had fun.
It cost us a penny, but it was worth it. It was short, but it was
memorable. It was one of the best trips we ever had.
am a language teacher and I always have a passion for writing.
Whenever my urge to write arouses, I just sit in front of my laptop
and write. I also have articles posted in my blog posts, but I rarely
write nowadays. I just try to express my thoughts in writing. I was
once a winner of an international essay writing competition held by
the US Peace Corps volunteers. It motivated me to keep writing. I
also love travelling so I write about my adventures.
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
Another story by Ymgy
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