Of all the things I’m thankful for this week, its the mini vacation that me and my closest college friends had last Wednesday and Thursday. Classes were suspended because of the faculty retreat, so we hit the road and head to the mountains.
The first stop was at Dahilayan Forest Park in Brgy. Dahilayan, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon. From Puerto, Cagayan de Oro, it took us about two hours to reach the place. There might be some of you who recognize this place since this is where KC Concepcion and Sam Milby’s Forever and a Day movie was filmed. Its 840-meter cable zipline is dubbed as the longest in Asia. The zipline isn’t their only attraction though. They also have ropes courses, tree top adventures, luge and buggy rides to name a few.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to try the rides and attractions in the place. We were on a tight budget and we only planned to have a joint birthday picnic. My friends who had their birthdays last May and June, and the ones who will be having their birthdays this July and August (including me! :D) blew birthday candles, sang the birthday song, and ate cake.
If you’re planning to do a picnic with your friends and/or your family, you can bring food to the place and rent a cottage for 200 pesos.
We also went to the other side of the park where most of the activities like the zorb ride, hanging bridge, trampoline, and tree-top adventures were located. The entrance fee was 50 pesos since it was a week day. They have different rates for weekdays and ends, and for adults and children too.
Our stay was limited since we needed to get back on the road before the skies darken. We also didn’t get to enjoy much of the place because of the heavy rain. Nevertheless, we had fun taking photos as much as we can. We also tried the fun stuff they have in their park, especially the dogs! They have like five or six Golden Retrievers and they were really nice. I wish I could take them home though haha!
We were back on the road again around 5 in the afternoon and the heavy downpour hadn’t stop yet. The road was muddy and slippery that the car we were riding on skidded. We could have tipped over if our friend who was driving, twisted the steering wheel to the other side. Fortunately, there weren’t any vehicles driving through the left side of the road. It was a heart-stopping experience for all of us, especially for someone who easily freaks out about driving and accidents like me.
We drove through a different road and got lost. Good thing there were kind locals who gave us directions. Also, we witnessed this crazy red sunset while we were driving through fields of pineapples.
It took approximately three hours for us to travel from Dahilayan to RR Family Spring Resort in Maramag, Bukidnon, where we stayed for the night. It’s a good place for reunions and get-togethers since they offer different kinds of rooms to accommodate big and small groups. They also have affordable cottages for groups who prefer to stay at their resort for a day.
The next day, we ate breakfast in Valencia’s city proper and dropped by the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) in Central Mindanao University (CMU) to buy a few bottles of Carabao milk and their famous milk bar. It was mysecond time to visit the place and their products still is a winner.
After our stopovers, we went straight to visit Lake Apo in Barangay Guinoyoran. It took about 30 minutes (or maybe an hour) to reach the entrance of Lake Apo. The long, winding, and rocky roads were worth it when we saw how beautiful the place was!
Lake Apo is a crater lake. Its name means “grandchild” in English. The place got its name because of a legend. According to Wikipedia (lol), there was once a man who lived in the area who assaulted his granddaughter. As a punishment, the mountain deities flooded the area forming the lake.
It isn’t advisable to swim in the waters without a life jacket though, even if you’re an expert swimmer. It’s a fresh water lake which means you won’t float unlike swimming in salt water.
The lake is surrounded with many different kinds of trees. Everywhere you look is picture perfect! We rented a cottage in a bamboo raft for an hour. It cost us 250 pesos. Some of the locals offer their services in pulling the raft to the other side of the lake for a fee. We opted not to hire anyone anymore since we wanted to pull it on our own.
We didn’t reach the other side because everyone was busy with taking pictures and videos, myself included. The pictures didn’t do justice as to how majestic the place is. Fresh air fills your lungs while you take in its beauty. Once again, the experience made me feel small in a good kind of way.
We wrapped up our trip with a stopover at Manna & Quail. The brick walls, handmade copper light fixtures, and photos on the wall gave the place a rustic feel. Their food is reasonably priced and they offer dishes that are good for sharing. Two of my friends ordered their moist chocolate cake for 40 pesos while I ordered their Spaghetti and Grilled Cheese.
I didn’t quite like the sauce on their spaghetti but some of my friends liked it. The grilled cheese was good. The ooey-gooey melted cheese in the middle is just right. It’s a good place to try while you’re in Valencia City. I hope they’ll open a branch in Cagayan de Oro soon though :)
To sum it up, the road trip was what we needed after the grueling months of thesis work, assignments, and projects. The priceless moments (the pee breaks, the heavy rain, the singing-out-loud-to-Avril Lavigne moment in the car) we had during the trip — yes even the skidding incident haha — are one of the countless moments I’d never trade for anything else. It’s nice to experience all these things while we’re young. We’ll look back on these days when we’re 70 years old, sitting in a rocking chair, smiling and thinking “I’m glad I did those things!”
Before I say cheesy things about going out there and having adventures, I’d just like to add that I’m proud of myself for spending my own money for this trip. There’s this weird feeling of satisfaction knowing that I worked and earned money on my own for this. Way to go self! *pats myself on the back*
So anyway, go out there and have adventures while you’re young! Life is short to spend it on a life script that someone has set for you. Like what I always tell my friends, invest more on experiences! :)
I'm Pearl, a digital nomad and wide-eyed wanderer from the Philippines. I like to take photographs and write lengthy blog posts. Long and deep conversations are one of my "things." I mostly blog about travel and anything else under the sun. More?