Monday, February 21, 2011

Bukidnon: Asia's longest zipline at the Dahilayan Adventure Park

On the way back to Cagayan de Oro from the Monastery of the Transfiguration, I made sure to stop over at the Dahilayan Adventure Park and Dahilayan Forest Park in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon. Unfortunately, you will need to arrange transportation to get there. So I met up with Tito Mora of Swift Travel + Tours along the National Highway in Barangay Alae. And we proceeded to Dahilayan from there.

To get to Dahilayan, you have to pass through Camp Phillips and the Del Monte Plantations. I heard they serve really good steak at the Del Monte Clubhouse. But I'll reserve that for another trip since we had lunch at Cowboy's Grill up in Dahilayan. On the menu was Ostrich (Php220), Lamb (Php260), Pink Salmon (Php270) and Wagyu Beef (Php450) among others.

After lunch, we proceeded to ZipZone at the Dahilayan Adventure Park for the 840m zipline, the longest in Asia so far. They actually have three ziplines in the park, the 840m (Php500) and 320m & 120m (Php250) ziplines. If you want to try them all, they have an All Ride Package at Php600. Unfortunately (or fortunately) it was quite foggy and drizzling. But we still proceeded with the zipline which was quite fun even if it meant 'flying' through thick fog.

There are other adventure activities further down the road at the Forest Park. I didn't expect that there would be a Zorbit (Php250) all the way up in Dahilayan. But there was. And it was the first thing I got to try. I'm actually motion sick. So trying out the Zorb was a test of my limits. They sometimes refer to the Zorb as the 'astronaut-in-training' ride. I'm not surprised why since I was screaming like hell all the way down, more to get my mind off the motion sickness.

It took quite a while for me to recover from that. But despite the rains, we proceeded with the ATV Trail (Php500). Taking the ATV around the 3.1-kilometer trail in the Forest Park was an experience in itself. It was a challenge driving up the muddy slopes but fun nevertheless.

On sunny days, the Forest Park also offers great picnic grounds and playgrounds for kids. I was told the trees they planted in the park came all the way from New Zealand. So the ambiance and feel of the Forest Park is quite different from that of Baguio or Tagaytay. For those who want to spend the night there, rooms are available from Php2,800 (good for 3 persons). There's a cafe there too which serves some great comfort food. Make sure to try out their pizzas!

Swift Travel + Tours
14 G/F Pelaez Sports Center, A. Velez Street, Cagayan de Oro City
(088) 8573897 / (08822) 727629 / (0922) 8333136 to 38

Dahilayan Adventure Park
(0922) 8801319

Dahilayan Forest Park
(088) 8555346

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Bukidnon: Overnight stay at the Monastery of the Transfiguration in Malaybalay

Have you ever wondered how it is to live a monastic lifestyle? I've heard a lot of good things about the Benedictine Monastery of the Transfiguration in Malaybalay, Bukidnon. While most people just do day-trips to the monastery, I got a chance to stay overnight at the guest house.

The centerpiece of any visit to the monastery is the church designed by Leandro Locsin, National Artist for Architecture. Although Locsin did not live long enough to witness the completion of the church, the plans of the church were the last he signed before he passed away.

If you stay overnight, you can actually join the monks in prayer. They pray seven times a day beginning at 3:40 a.m.

Staying at the monastery is actually a great opportunity to get away from city life and reflect. Personal retreats at the Monastery of the Transfiguration are quite popular. And it's quite affordable too since they charge just Php750/person (Php700 for twin sharing) for a one-night stay inclusive of really delicious meals.

The monastery is quite famous for its Monks’ Blend Premium Coffee (which is the coffee used for a popular ice cream brand), Monks’ Peanut Butter, roasted peanuts, and piniato (peanut brittle).

And it also serves great food which I got to savor while during my stay. With Dom Martin Gomez, OSB, a Kapampangan, in-charge of the kitchen, it's no surprise that the food they serve is superb. I was lucky they served me the Pinutos na Humba which is among their specialties.

In fact, one of the more popular activities they organize at the monastery every second Sunday of the month is Breakfast with the Monks, a sumptuous buffet spread they prepare for Mass-goers after the 8 a.m. Mass. Every month follows a different theme such as Spanish, Chinese, Kapampangan, Ilocano, Visayan, and other types of cuisine.

Another attraction of the monastery is the Museum of Transfiguration Monastery which houses an exhibit of Filipino liturgical vestments. A project of Dom Martin for the Philippine Centennial, it highlights the various weaving traditions all over the country elegantly used in church vestments. Dom Martin or Gang Gomez, was a top couturier before he chose to live the monastic life. I was impressed with the intricacy of the different Philippine hand-woven fabrics and how they were creatively harnessed for religious vestments.

To inquire and reserve for a stay at the monastery, contact Dom Martin Gomez, OSB at (0917) 5105585.

Monastery of the Transfiguration
San Jose, Malaybalay City, Bukidnon 8700
Tel. No. (088) 2212373 / 2214708
Monastery Farm (0927) 3975350
Gift Shop (0915) 9860167
Guest House Reservations (0917) 5105585
Wedding Reservations (0915) 9860167
Breakfast with the Monks (0916) 4545916
Vocation Inquiries (0916) 3650147

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Metro Manila: Birdwatching at the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat

Last December, I joined a guided birdwatching trip hosted by the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP) at the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area along Coastal Road. It's the only remaining patch of mangrove in southern Metro Manila.

During this time, migratory water birds converge in the area to spend the winter here such as Little Egrets, Whiskered Terns and Common Sandpipers. Resident species include the Black-crowned Night-Heron, Chestnut Munias and Collared Kingfishers.

According to the WBCP, "The site was declared by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during Earth Day ceremonies two years ago as a 'critical habitat and ecotourism area.' Little has done been to improve the site and the Philippine Reclamation Authority continues to threaten the habitat with plans for more 'income-generating' developments."

I hope we are able to preserve this critical habitat. Corporate and government greed should be regulated to ensure that both our natural and cultural heritage are preserved as part of our drive towards progress. This area should be protected from greedy developers. Anyway, if you're interested to try out birdwatching as a hobby, you can e-mail Mike Lu at and request to be included in their mailing list for future guided tours.

Boracay via SEAIR & Two Seasons Resort

Suddenly I'm craving for a trip to Boracay again! This photo was taken during my trip last December right at the doorstep of Two Seasons Resort in Station 1. Beach front properties in Boracay, especially those in Station 1, are the best! I stayed a night in Two Seasons right before Christmas and enjoyed the convenience of staying close to the beach.

Of course, I flew to Boracay on SEAIR. I've never had to worry about airport transfers since they take you all the way to Boracay. To book a flight, visit

Two Seasons Resort
Station 1, Boracay Island
Tel. No. +63 (36) 2884384 / +63 (2) 4154652
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