Northern Mindanao Trip: The Amazing, Surprising and Exciting Adventure

To start with, I must say that there’s no perfect travel trip. Months of preparation and research will not guarantee the success of a well planned escapade along the way there are circumstances that will arise that will attest the excitement and faith to continue travelling and also it all depends on how you guys will handle the current situation to make the unexpected scenario be a memorable and happiest event to date. On that note, let me share to you guys, my point of view in my recent Northern Mindanao Trip.
White sand Island | Camiguin
DAY 1:Trip to Camiguin Island
January 16, 2014 around 4 o’clock in the morning, 9 brave souls who are committed to travel in a distant land where few dare to explore and willing to experience the wonders of Mindanao gathered up at NAIA Terminal 3 Gate 2 for the much awaited yearly out of town trip of the gang. Fair weather in Manila but the forecast of PAG-ASA, Cagayan de Oro will have Low Pressure Area together with its neighboring provinces. Still we have high spirit to push thru with this once in a life time adventure.

After our quick breakfast in a fast food chain inside NAIA, we headed in the aircraft bound to CDO and after an hour and a half of air travel we’ve reached the skyline of the said province but due to the rain, the captain announced that we’ll wait till the clouds is visible and passable. After an hour we've finally set foot in Laguindingan International Airport. Here we go

We waste no time, we’ve asked and confirmed to the tourism officer how to go in Camiguin. Outside the airport there are lots of vans with different signage [bound to Iligan, Bukidnon and Cagayan de Oro – Agora Market]. The usual fare is 199 pesos; we've talked with other drivers and got a fair deal of 120 pesos off to Agora Market. This is it, bound to the City!

Almost an hour of land travel we've arrived at Agora Terminal. Gladys and I politely inquire with the drivers along the area that we’re bound to Bolingoan Port and agreed for 100 pesos per head. According to our driver Manong Samboy, we’ll be taking an approximately 2 hour’s travel off to the said Port with traffic along the way. To fill the dead air, I throw questions about the most visited places and tourist spot alike in CDO and in the near province; he energetically answered me with his visayan twang. My eyes are loaded with the countryside beauty of the place as well as the old and new structure.

Just in time, the van stopped and we’re now in Bolingoan Port. We’ve paid terminal fee and if my memory serves me right the ferry fare is 175 hops to Benoni Port [Camiguin]. I’m literally excited to see myself the famous Sunken Cemetery but due to the unexpected weather in CDO our itinerary changes it course, we need to adjust the places that we will visit with strict time frame. An hour of sea travel flew so fast and we've transferred to a local jeepney that we've rented bound to Pabua’s Cottage, our overnight safe haven in Camiguin.
Bolingoan Port [Cagayan de Oro]
It’s actually a compound where big and small bungalow style houses are located with air-conditioned and LCD cable TV. We reserve a room for 1800 pesos spacious enough for us. Fare deal

first resto in our first day of vacation
Since we’re all starving to death and its pass 3 in the afternoon we've inquired with the locals where to eat in the area and they unanimously offered Northern Lights Restaurant.

The two storey high Nipa house inspired structure caters American – European with Filipino twist cuisine that will capture your delectable taste buds. Indeed, a must see and try when you’re in Camiguin. All the food that served to us is all delicious. From Pizza to Sinigang up to the Porkchop with an affordable price range.

Right after our feast, we’ve decided to relax in the near hot spring – Ardent Hot Spring.

Fresh lukewarm water comforts our retiring body. It’s been a day of air-land-water travel and we've enjoyed the company of each other by updating ourselves with hilarious stories and jokes that we've missed since the last time we met.

To wrap up the day we've takeout pizza and pasta at Luna, an Italian restaurant near our inn and after cleaning and changing clothes we've shared our food. Yeah let’s call it a day

DAY 2: Wonders of Camiguin Island 
Ladies of Camiguin
January 17, 2014 Friday, we woke up early and headed in the bay where we will meet with the boat man and they are an hour late. We’re all optimistic with our schedules and first in our list – White Sand Island.

3 minutes boat ride from the bay and we set foot in the white powdery sands surrounded by pristine crystal clear emerald blue green water of Camiguin. This place is beyond my expectation truly amazing wonder of nature.

According to my research and as per testimony of our boatman the shape of the said island differs from time to time depending on the schedule of the tides. Sometimes it shapes in letter “U”, “L” and “C”. I just remember the Naked Island in Surigao del Sur and the Vanishing Island in Batangas and Cagbalete Island in Quezon. They all posses significant beauty in my eyes. Surprising!

We took our solo, group and wacky pictures and immediately uploaded it in our social networking site to be shared to our love ones in Manila, truly amazing spot in Camiguin.
Poser alert | Solo picture at white sand 
Since we’re all following a strict calendar, we’re now off to Sunken Cemetery. The waves hinder our speedy travel so we patiently voyage along the tides of Camiguin. Bad Weather it is.

What excite me, is the moment I saw from a distance the eminent structure of a cross standing tall signifying the sunken cemetery of the Island. Jaw breaking scenery that only found in this province.
Sunken Cemetery
After framing the perfect angle of the cross, we went to the other side of the monument and we’re all off to Guiob Church also known as the Ruins. A good 10 minutes walk from the shore. Located near the cliff and the façade tells a once enormous structure that spread Catholicism in the area. Flashing back some photographic memory of the ruins and the bell tower of Agusan del Norte also found in Mindanao

Parallel to the structure is a souvenir shop so we seize the moment to buy t-shirt and other stuff. We waste no time and headed back in the bay area. An accommodating local assisted us in getting our wacky picture with the cross as our background funny it may seems but he’s good in instructing us what poses to do to frame cool photos.
Wacky pose at the Ruins
Upon our arrival in Pabua’s Cottage, we paid our bills and locate an eat all you can restaurant for 99 pesos. Leaving the place with heavy stomach we’re now headed to Vjandep bakery to buy Pastel for our Mirienda in our next destination place – Katiwabasan Falls.
Katibawasan Falls 

The said falls stood at 250 feet with little catch basin, located near the town proper of Mambajao a truly stunning wonder and must see in Camiguin. Outside the restricted area, we ate a local delicacy made in Casava with coconut syrup to sweeten - Yummy. Right after our food tripping we’ve travelled again now off to the port area. We wished to visit Mantigue Island but due to the weather condition and the big tidal waves, no one is allowed to transfer visitor and tourist alike in the said island. Better luck next time.

We’ve just decided to wait in the port lounge to catch the last ferry ride off to Bolingoan Port [CDO].

Around 5:30 in the afternoon we’re looking from afar the famous island of Camiguin. Promising myself that in the near future will spend longer time and explore other hidden treasure of the said famous place in Mindanao. Come Again

The rain pours when we arrived in Bolingoan Port, we’re all exhausted and wanted to rest our body. We waited patiently in the bus terminal and just in time we’re all seated comfortably in the coaster going to CDO – Agora Market Terminal. Arem and I shared and updated ourselves with different topics that popped up along the way later did we know we’re in the City proper and the rain is much stronger here. Lucky us that the next hotel that we’ll be checking-in is inside the said station – Min Win Transient Inn

Our room | Win Min | Agora Market 
Spacious with class, I must say with an affordable rate. Highly recommended to all back packers out there, every centavo is worthy here.

DAY 3: Exploring Cagayan de Oro
According to plan and time table, we've checked out in the said hotel around 6 o’clock in the morning, January 18, 2014 and ate heavy breakfast in the near fast food chain. Just in time the jeepney that we’ll fetch us arrived in front of the food store with rubber boat on top of the vehicle.

Our day 3 adventure starts here, we’ll be trying Cagayan de Oro’s famous and extreme White Water Rafting adventure double thrill due to the rain and deadliest flow of the river.

Together with other adrenaline slash adventure seeker, we've listened attentively with the short course courtesy of the company that we've chosen to deal with which is First White Water Rafting Company.

Since we’re 9 young brave adventurers, we've decided to divide the group into two. Team A, Julius, Gladys, Paolo, Karen and Yap with a Canadian joining them. Team B, headed by yours truly, Arem, Edward, Paula and Felix, a new found friend of ours who’s a Malaysian National. There’s two other sets of group that will be experiencing the once in a lifetime ride that we've availed for 1000 pesos each inclusive of all the safety harness and rubber boat usage with two seasoned rafter plus free lunch after the activity and soft copy of photos during the course.

Rapids | Adrenaline rush | rafting
To start with, I love any means of water activity it really thrills me to the bone with so much pleasure plus the fact that it’s my first time as well as my friends to try this expensive but worthy wet trip.

Our guide instructively reminded us to follow his command. To paddle forward or backward when it needs be and to stop paddling just go with the wild flow of the river if necessary.

Along our way our boatman tells us that Cagayan River separates the province of Bukidnon in the right and Cagayan de Oro in the left and somewhere across unites Cagayan and Bukidnon River. Trivia

Since it raining, the flow of the river is really extreme and dangerous plus the fact that we’ve chose Advance 1 course of water rafting the usual 3 hour ride will be cut into 2 hours due to the fast flow of the water and according to our other guide we’ll be taking 21 intense rapids.

almost thru
We've started with splashes and hitting the river waves in our rubber boat but with our team roar “High Five” the nervousness relieve with enthusiasm to conquer all the challenging swifts of Cagayan River.

What freaks me out is when our guide directed us to look in one of the Rock Wall like formation with live green python hanging in a vine somewhat hiding to catch a prey.

To lighten up the atmosphere they've changed topic and we've talked about monkeys. Before Monkeys used to stay near the river but because locals hunts the said animal to eat and sell they outgrow in numbers. Said story.

We survived the 21 rapids | White Water Rafting
Suddenly a massive wave hit our boat and a whirl pool gets us causing our vehicle to circle in motion. Thanks to our boatman they acted fast to get us out in that scenario. Indeed, a breath taking incident we've paid in the name of adventure.

The last three rapids was the most memorable part for me because the rapids are more difficult to maneuver and the waves hits harder that cause us to hold each other to keep safe.

All the finisher of the 21 rapids of the white water rafting are all smiling hoping for a longer ride bringing fresh memory of a new definition of extreme activity. I highly propose to everyone to try and include this in your itinerary when visiting CDO.

Kagay - anon Restaurant | CDO
After lunch we've check-in to Victoria Suite. All the six boys are together in the first floor while the three girls stay at the third level. After taking bath and fixing our belongings we’ve explored the City roaming around the streets of Divisoria, mall hopping in Gaisano Mall, Centrio and Limketkai Center. We ended up having dinner in Kagay – anon Restaurant inviting Felix to join our company.

Early that night we bought cinema ticket to support KimXi loveteam we’ve watched Bride for Rent for 130 pesos imagine so cheap compared to 250 pesos in Manila. Forgetting all the busy schedules, demanding workload and trainings we laughed as if there’s no more tomorrow. The movie gave us happiness, you should watch this one.
Movie time | Centrio | CDO
Night life in CDO, yes we've also experience it. There’s lot of selection, from high end cozy bar to grill type resto just pumping and extending the night to the fullest.

DAY 4: Define Bukidnon
at Bukidnon 
Breakfast on wheels to save time, that’s how we begin our day 4 in CDO [January 19, 2014] and we’re off to Dahilayan Adventure Park in Bukidnon to experience ourselves the longest zipline in Asia and the nerve breaking drop zone plus other outdoor activities.
Still raining and it getting worse but due to our desire to journey we've pursue the activity.

Almost 3 hours land travel and we've reached the site with so much energy for a day of tremendous physical event.

Our smile turns to a null face when the cashier told us that the drop zone ride is not available because it’s dependent in solar energy. Since it’s been two weeks of continuous raining in the region there’s no sun to fuel up the said machinery we’re still optimistic, instead we've avail the all in zip line package. We all tried the 3 zip line in the park.
zip line
First in our list the longest zip-line in Asia, we’re unanimous hoping we have gopro camera with us to capture the scenery beneath us while moving so fast. A minute of screaming and smiling with panoramic view of seeing the beauty of Bukidnon – fast and furious.

I've personally saw river, forest, and the pine apple plantation. Hey! yell if you want no one cares to bother, after all shouting “Thank you Lord I experience it” is the most joyous and memorable feeling to be shared.

After the third ride, there’s a cable car waiting to all the finisher as well as when getting to the highest point of Dahilayan Park to start the first superman position in zip lining. It’s inclusive in the 600 pesos package.

plantation | clubhouse | Del Monte
We've grabbed our photos and certificates and headed to Del Monte Country Club for photo op and have our lunch in the near restaurant. Still raining.

Next in our list, Malasag Eco-Tourism Park. Gladys, Arem, Edward and I plus our hotel driver went to the said park to roam around and just talked about missing to try the drop zone. We humbly requested our driver to visit a near cave in CDO to add up some must see places. He agreed right away to our plea and explored Macahambus Cave, a good 30 minutes ride from the Park.

Small opening with big hall inside, a well preserve and protected area benefiting the local government that promotes Eco-tourism in the area. At the end of the cave is a cliff overlooking Cagayan River bringing back our own tails of the white water rafting.

Caving | CDO
We've arrived in the hotel before 5 in the afternoon and by turns we took bath. I slept after drying my body and wearing my sleeping clothes. I woke up around midnight and my friends invited me if I wanted to join them for a walk and to have a late dinner.

So we've decided to eat in a fast food chain carrying our dead tired body due to our activity earlier that day.

DAY 5: Iligan City, missing in action
Still with high hopes that the weather will be fairer in our day 5 in CDO [January 20, 2014] but PAG-ASA declared signal 1 warning in the area but no one can stop us from journeying and exploring.

Our rented van routes to Iligan, we will be seeing two famous waterfalls - Ma. Christina and Tinago Falls.

Mimbalot Falls
The first falls generates hydro electric power and the second was famous because of local Filipino movie scene filmed in 2010.

In the entrance of the Maria Christina Falls an officer told us that the vicinity is temporarily closed due to recent land slide and stated “your safety is more important than the view”. We waste no time and locate directly the Tinago Falls.

Upon our arrival two locals announced in their dialect that the path going down the falls is too dangerous for visitors. Wrong timing it is.

According to our driver there’s another falls in the area named Mimbalot Falls. We've travel for about 10 to 15 minutes and reached the road off to the said spot. We need to walk for about 15 minutes in our final destination with pouring rain along our way.

Just in time, we’ve seen Mambalot Falls a tourist officer assisted us to their main office uphill and informed us that there’s other attraction in the area. We paid 20 pesos each for the entrance fee and seen a connecting bridge from one mountain to another. Hey there’s a zip line as well.

We paid 150 pesos two way. Overlooking the waterfalls, river, mountain and the sea [Fantastic view up there]. Well we might miss the opportunity to explore the two falls but we enjoyed our stay in Iligan.
Julius and Gladys in Motion
We’re so hungry and decided to try the famous bulalo somewhere in the area and we ended our day in a cold spring just enjoying our last few days of vacation.

Must visit pasalubong center in Iligan are Cheddings and Michelle Kitchen. Famous with their Peanut products and silvanas respectively. And that’s a wrap we’re off to CDO again.

DAY 6: Cagayan de Oro bound to Davao
Last day of our CDO tour [January 21, 2014] and we allotted this day buying pasalubong. We went to Monster Kitchen to buy some goodies made in Cagayan and off to Limketkai Center to see other pasalubong center. A coffee shop caught our attention in our Day 3 night hangout so we’ve checked it and found out that they sell pastries, pans and other delicious food. We’ve decided to have our lunch here and bought pastel as well, the name of the place is Missy Bon Bon.
four cheese pasta | Missy Bon Bon
To kill time, we wander inside the mall and Arem bought cheaper items that pricey in Manila.

Around 2 o’clock in the afternoon we bill out in our Hotel and bound to the airport, along our way we received an SMS from Cebu Pacific stating that our flight is cancelled due to weather condition. We've still pursue to negotiate because we really wanted to be home as soon as possible.

Upon our arrival in the airport tons of people with different emotions fall in line to re-book or cancel their transaction with their chosen airlines. We as well discuss with the Cebu Pacific representative to get as flight the earliest possible going back to Manila and told us that there’s no guarantee in their part due to the expected storm downfall in CDO.

We have no choice but to grab the offer to schedule our trip 2 o’clock the following day and we should travel way down to Davao. An estimated 9 hours bus travel.

Our driver was kind enough to wait us to settle our transaction and immediately proceed in Agora Terminal to catch the next bus off to Davao.

The group had a discussion what to ride. Bus or Van, van for speedy journey and bus for safety and assurance, we chose the last one and around 6 o’clock that day the bus starts its engine towards the unexpected place that we will be visiting.

Never did I imagine that I will be setting foot in Davao this year thanks to the turns of event and our vacation is officially extended.

The whole duration of travel we’re just sleeping and the shout of the bus conductor awaken us that we’re now in Davao. It’s already pass 3 in the morning and we’re clueless in the area, Edward who’s twice been in the place knows only about the main city. To be safe, we just stayed inside the terminal and rented folding beds to continue resting.

DAY 7: Davao City and our way Home
When the sun shines that’s the time all the bed should be cleared in the terminal and we’ve decided to travel in the city specifically the pasalubong center – aldevinco. 

It’s too early to roam around so Paula and I went to Hotel Uno to get an air-conditioned room to change clothes and prep up.

We bought more Davao goodies and Pomelo, we’re expecting to exceed our baggage here.

After our shopping spree, we’re off to the airport. In my short visit in Davao I’ve personally noticed the speed limit rule that all the drivers are all aware, the clean and green environment plus the polite locals and I’m planning to visit this province soon. That next time I’ll be staying longer.

We've arrived in Davao International Airport and I’m really amazed with its first class facility. Yeah! We’re now bound to Manila.
I heart Mindanao | Goodbye Davao
AUTHOR’S NOTE: we've traveled by Air, Land and Water reached a wonderful island, conquered the longest zip line ride in Asia, dine-in in different restaurant and been in places that we’re not familiar with all in the name of adventure but I must also confess the reality that not all journey has a happy beginning or ending along the course there are challenging situation that will attest your will to continue. We all managed to be optimistic despite the unexpected weather, we’re just planning to revisit the province and will make sure that the sun shines brighter. Thanks for reading my post and till our next trip!

***** other photos *****
Gentleman of Camiguin
Beauties | Bukidnon Country Club

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