When you are visiting the Philippines, Malaybalay City is definitely one destination that is worth visiting. Known as the city in a forest and the summer capital of Mindanao, Malaybalay receives visitors from all over the country and abroad with warmth and hospitality that is uniquely “Bukidnon”.
The festival is a major annual event in Malaybalay that gathers thousands of local and foreign visitors at the Kaamulan grounds to witness the colorful ethnic dances and costumes of the seven indigenous tribes, namely, Bukidnon, Higaonon, Talaandig, Manobo, Matigsalog, Tigwahanon and Umayamnon.
Bounded by the municipality of Impasug-ong on the north; Valencia City on the south; by Mount Kitanglad to the west and the municipality of Cabanglasan in the east, Malaybalay is located in the central part of the Bukidnon Province and the gateway to the cities of Davao and Cotabato.
Separating the provinces of Agusan del Sur and Davao del Norte from the Province of Bukidnon is the Pantaron Range, one of the few remaining dense forest covers in Mindanao.
Malaybalay City’s climate is cooler the whole year round compared to other places in Bukidnon. Heavy rains during the months of May to October marked the rainy season. Rain still abounds during the dry season which is from November to April.
The cool climate and the abundance of rain in this region are perfect for many kinds of vegetables and cut flowers. The city has approximately 108,200 hectares which is about 13 percent of the total land area of Bukidnon Province. Three quarters of this is rolling forestland or timberland and the remaining areas are flatlands suitable for agriculture.
The indigenous people of Bukidnon are scattered all over the province with Malaybalay City as its converging point. The natives or “Lumads” are friendly and very trusting, much to their dismay, a trait that is often exploited.
Many of them lost their ancestral domain to scheming settlers who took their lands in exchange of a sack of salt or for a paltry sum of money. With no education and inherent trusting nature, many have retreated deep into the forest to live on what they could produce from the soil.
The indigenous peoples have their own political system and grievances are settled through a symbolic tribal ritual called “Tampuda” or sacred pact. The feuding clans agree to settle their differences and end their strife by starting anew and forgiving the trespasses committed by both parties against each other.
After an agreement has been reached, the parties concerned goes down by the Sawaga River to perform the rites. The opposing clansmen hold the ends of the stick pinning the neck of a live chicken underneath while a representative of the tribal elders chops the stick with a jungle bolo. The chicken’s blood is then smeared on the hands of both clansmen and they shake hands. The dead chicken and the stick are thrown into the river. The ceremony is witnessed by the Council of Elders composed of the Datus of the seven tribes and their families. If the stick does not break, the feud continues.
Malaybalay City is about 91 kilometers from the nearest airport in Cagayan de Oro City, about two hours by bus if the traffic from the road maintenance does not delay you for hours. Daily flights from Manila, Cebu and Davao take hundreds of visitors to the city for business or leisure.
When in Malaybalay, transients can stay at several lodging houses dotting the city. Pine Hills Hotel is located along the national highway. It is a popular place that is very accessible to everyone. The rooms are at par with the big hotels in the big cities and a favorite location for beauty pageants and wedding pictorials.
Haus Malibu, located along Bonifacio Drive is an alternative for guests who like a quieter place to stay. And Plaze View Tourist Inn located within the heart of the downtown area fronting the Rizal Park is close to all the commercial establishments and government offices.
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Short for National Summer Linguistic, Nasuli Spring Resort is located in Barangay Bancud, some 20 kilometers from the downtown area. The resort is a favorite weekend hangout of locals whenever the stress of the city life gets too much. The unruffled waters of the spring and the verdant foliage covering the area are a good balm to sooth the tight nerves and anxious soul.
Located on top of a hill in Barangay San Jose, the Monastery of Transfiguration is a quiet and serene place where one can do contemplation and soul-searching. This landmark is a splendid example of a work of art done by Leandro Locsin, the national artist for Architecture. Owned by the Benedictine Monks, this pyramid-shaped structure is surrounded by mountain ranges and glorious growth of flowers and shrubs that lend to the overall beauty of the monastery.
Site of the annual Kaamulan festival and the place where the Provincial Capitol Building is located, the park is surrounded with tall pine trees in gentle slopes. Several tribal houses were built on the high ground overlooking the amphitheater.
Famous for its historical value, this mountain located in Barangay Managok, some 18 kilometers from the city proper is a favorite hiking ground and nature trekking retreat. This area was known to be the evacuation site of the indigenous people during the World War II. This craggy terrain provides a surmountable challenge to climbers and the peak offers the panoramic view of the vast cornfields and rice fields below.
Named after General Nicolas Capistrano during the Filipino-American War in 1901, the caves in this peak offered a safe haven for the Filipino patriots who took shelter during the Japanese-American war.
This is the Mt. Kitanglad Bird Watching Site where one can view the rare and endangered Philippine Eagle. Located in Sitio Lalawan in Barangay Dalwangan, approximately 6 kilometers from the National Highway, bird watchers are treated to a fascinating display of the different species of Philippine birds such as the hanging parakeet, Brahman Kite and other sub-species of birds and fowl endemic to Mt. Kitanglad.
There are many other places of interest to see in Malaybalay. One only needs to be adventurous and appreciative of Mother Nature. When the oppressive heat of summer gets you down and the beautiful countryside is your cup of tea, Malaybalay City is the place to be.