The stifling heat of the summer sun has been a detriment to fun travels these past couple of weeks. So when the chance to head someplace cooler presented itself, we hopped on the back of my uncle’s pickup truck and went off to Bukidnon.
Our ultimate destination was to be the Monastery of Transfiguration. As I’ve hinted countless times in our Facebook and Twitter pages, I was born and raised in a devout Catholic family, the kind that will travel for four hours to visit a church.
Malaybalay City, Bukidnon is a long four-hour mid-speed drive from Davao City so we had to head out very early. We left Davao City just as it was waking up to a sunny Sunday morning, going south via the Davao-Bukidon Highway. The sun was barely touching the treetops as we zipped by the suburban communities in this part of Davao City.
The early morning air was cold; the thin fabric of my cardigan was no match for it. By the time we reached Marilog District, I was already shivering. But the views were just too awe-inspiring to ignore. I wish I could describe how beautiful the valleys looked partially enveloped by fog but I know that words will fail me. Pictures won’t work either; we were traveling nonstop so I did not get the chance to take a proper photo save for a few taken in haste on a moving vehicle.
We stopped after two hours to have breakfast at a sari-sari store by the road. Much to the children’s delight, a group on men on horseback passed by as we were having our breakfast of tocino, hard-boiled eggs, adobo and other Filipino classic breakfast items.
The morning wore on while we sat cramped but excited at the back of the truck. Two hours after breakfast, we arrived at the Monastery of the Transfiguration.
The Pyramid Church
From the narrow dirt road leading to the church, it looked like a typical building with brown-tiled roof, surrounded by trees which could have hidden the rest of the structure. I know from articles online that it is shaped like a pyramid but the actual sight still blew me away when we finally arrived.
The Monastery of the Transfiguration Church sits atop a gently-sloping hill. The unique pyramid-shaped church is an architectural masterpiece of National Artist Leandro Locsin. Dominated by the iconic roof, the church building’s entrance is through any of the open glass doors/walls. The interior is hollow; the high, slanting ceiling terminates at the apex of the pyramid.
The inside of the church is very simple and interesting at the same time. The altar is uniquely fashioned from a huge boulder and the pulpit is made of carved, polished wood. But the main draw of the Monastery of Transfiguration (aside from its design) is the miraculous image of a black and gold Madonna and Child which is said to be from Egypt.
The image is the focal point above the altar and there is a very narrow staircase hidden at the back of the altar which leads to the foot of the image. Churchgoers are allowed to approach the image, touch it and rub handkerchiefs and towels on it. The caretaker urges visitors with illnesses to pray at the foot of the image; according to him, every single person who prayed for healing from the image recovered from whatever they were suffering with.
Shop And Sleep
The Monastery of the Transfiguration is run by the Benedictine Monks. They live in the monastery nearby and are known for the Monks Blend Coffee made used for the Selecta Coffee Crumble Ice Cream and other products like peanut butter and peanut brittle. These are sold in the souvenir shop a short walk/drive from the church. Aside from the coffee and peanut products, religious images, trinkets, rosary beads, book and other items can be bought from the shop.
Most visitors just visit the church and go but those who want a personal retreat may stay overnight in the guest house. The serene ambiance of the place is perfect for reflection or for simply getting away from it all.
The guesthouse has 15 rooms, all with single beds and very basic furnishings. For P900 or P1000, a guest can stay overnight, enjoy three sumptuous meals and maybe even get to meet the monks. Staying overnight is perfect for those who want to attend the Second Sunday Mass at 8AM, after which they may have breakfast with the Benedictine Monks.
We left less than an hour after we arrived. We decided to have lunch the RR Family Spring Resort which was packed with locals rowdily splashing in the pool in desperate attempts of fight off the heat. I almost forgot we were in Bukidnon; I never experienced the cold mountain air it is famous for. I know it was high noon in summer but still.
The trip Summer Capital of Mindanao was altogether an excellent idea. Although the purpose of our impromptu family road trip was more spiritual than anything else, we had a lot of fun. You know what they say about the journey being more important than the destination itself? I’m now convinced. I saw more interesting stuff on the way than when we entered Bukidnon but it was worth the bum-warming ride. Plus we got to buy cheap pineapples and veggies!
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