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Exploring Malaybalay, Bukidnon Jan 23-30, 2013

Exploring Malaybalay, Bukidnon

In Search of Cool Climate
Since I left my mountain hamlet in Sagada, I'd been inquiring where else in the Philippines is there cool climate where one can settle. I got a few responses - Tagaytay (too expensive), Valencia, Negros Oriental (been there, done that for a year), Baguio (too polluted and too crowded) and lastly, Malaybalay. Being smack on the equator, there aren't really too many such places in the Philippines with cool climate. There are other highlands, but they're far too isolated or outright inaccessible. The most do-able for me so far, was Malaybalay. Finally, I'm now here.

In a Nutshell
From Davao City, it was a pleasant 5 hours and 45 mins of paved and winding travel up to the mountain city of Malaybalay, Bukidnon. I somehow expected a rustic mountain town - like Sagada. But it's really a small city with all the tricycles you often see swarming in any Philippine city. Initially, it came across as Baguio 25 years ago - smaller, not too congested, not too polluted, clean crisp mountain air. The climate is cool given its elevation of 575 meters. With the Bukidnon State University, there is a strong student flavor to the city, not unlike Dumaguete (with its Silliman University). There is one major mall, Gaisano, but no movie houses. Chow King and Jollibee have their iconic presence, but not too much of the national chains. Eating places are everywhere and they are cheap, catered mostly to students. Mode of transport within the city is tricycle - P7. There are many places to stay, but even the most prestigious, the Pine Hills Hotel, already shows signs of ageing. Interestingly, wifi in Malaybalay is exceptionally strong - the signal in Plza View Tourist Inn is one of the fastest I've experienced in any hotel.

Missing Out
I stayed in Malaybalay for nearly 1 week, concentrating mostly on the main drag, the Fortich Ave. With its strong wifi, it was my chance to gain momentum on work. While I was accomplishing much, I was also missing out on much - I was in Malaybalay with all the things it has to offer, but I'm inside my inn doing work almost 15 hours a day. I love what I do, so it's not really work, but there's something wrong about missing out on what's out there.

Malaybalay in its own Sweet Time
The city itself is its own thing, caring less about the progress happening outside its borders - perhaps that's a good thing. I talked to nearly every hotel trying to interest them to what I do, but just like Davao, it seemed abstract. The internet seems like a technology for Facebook and email - but not for launching internet initiatives like search-engine-optimization or vertically integrated online marketing campaigns. Given my set back in Davao, I kinda expected it. Malaybalay has its own pace, its own rhythm, and accepts or rejects things under its own terms. Perhaps in time, it will do business differently. But since I can't find a roof over my head on an ex-deal basis, I was essentially hemorrhaging money. It means it is time for me to leave. There is always a place out there that's ready for what I'm putting on the table.

Bukidnon Tourism
I talked to the tourism head of Bukidnon. She loved the idea and saw how it could serve her mandate in giving Bukidnon a jump start in its tourism initiatives. But everyone was busy with the coming fiesta, the Kaamulan Festival. She said she'll arrange a meeting with me and the establishment owners to pitch my plan - after the Kaamulan. I insisted that if that should take place, the attendees should only be decision makers - not rank-and-file staff who can't make decisions. I learned that the hard way in Davao. She saw my point. In her own words, "I will make you my mission after Kaamulan"

Ending Thoughts
I had a chance to squeeze-in a short visit to the Monastery of the Transfiguration before I left. But as I left Malaybalay, I felt I shorhchanged myself for not indulging in everything it could offer. I also had my hands tied. My funds were low and I had to take care of business first. Perhaps next time, when the invite arrives from the tourism officer, I'll get my chance to sink my teeth into everything Malaybalay has to offer.

--- TheLoneRider

ps - If you want me to objectively cover the features of your city or municipality or barangay for this website (fiesta, waterfall, mountain trail, lake, river, cave, food, islands, beach, etc.), email me.

How to Get to Malaybalay from Davao City

  1. from the Ecoland bus terminal in Davao, there are plenty of buses going to Cagayan de Oro, passing through Malaybalay round the clock. P375, Rural Tours aircon bus, 5 hours 45 mins. There are jeeps and tricycles (called 'rela') from the Malaybalay bus terminal. Rela is only P7 and you can hail it like a cab.

Attractions in Malaybalay and surrounding areas

  • Monastery of the Transfiguration
  • Mt. Kitanlad
  • Carmelite Monastery
  • Mt. Capistrano
  • Kaamulan Park
  • Roxas Monument
  • Nasuli Spring
  • Dalwangan Centennial Marker

Hotels in Malaybalay

  • Plaza View Tourist Inn - Tabios corner Rizal St., (088)221.2503, single fan room common cr P250, family room a/c ensuite washroom PP850
  • Villa Alemania Inn -, contact: Julie Di Adayo
  • Small World Travellers Inn - Rizal corner Tabios St., (088)813.1206,, P380 single room 2 pax fan, P900 a/c
  • Sunflower Guest House - Cudal St., single P350, double P500, family P800,
  • Maiple Pension - 0917.796.1023, (088)813.3106, P300
  • Haus Malibu - Bonifacio Drive, (088)221.2714, (088)221.3318, 0905.336.2860, Engr. Jeoffrey Go
  • 1st Avenue Apartel / Inn - Propia St., P400-P800, (088)221.3224, 0926.432.5382, 0917.722.9850, / Eileen: Front Desk / Mr. Roy
  • Pitcher Plant Farm - 0912.949.2800, Mr. Volker,
  • Yellow Petals - Propia Luminton Sts., (088)813.3071, P200 - P400/room/2 pax, Mr. Hernani
  • Pine Hills Hotel -, PT Town Center, Fortich Street, (088)221.3212,
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