Mt. Palaopao in Sumilao: A Rocky Adventure

Not in Scotland, Ireland or New Zealand. This rocky adventure turned out to be a great blessing for me. With Palaopao as my favorite mountain, I can always say “Wala’y makalapaw sa Mt. Palaopao (Nothing beats Mt. Palaopao)!”

 

Location:  Mt. Palaopao, Sitio Palaopao,  Sumilao, Bukidnon

Access Point: Sumilao Public Market/Bus Terminal, Sayre Highway, Sumilao, Bukidnon

Mode of Transportation: Bus/Private Ride

Arrangement: You need to ask permission from the Purok Leader of Sitio Palaopao.

Entrance: Php 20.00; Guide: Php 250.00

Activity/Attractions: Hiking/Trekking

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Photo credit: PH Locator

Since I was a child, Mt. Palaopao has been my favorite mountain and it has captured my heart since the first time I saw it.  Standing at 836 ft above sea level, it is also dubbed as Palaopao Hills because of a chain of mountains in it. When traveling to CDO, I can always see this from the highway and it made me feel like it was from another place outside of our country, like those seen in the movies. I didn’t know a lot of people hike here, especially during the Holy Week, until my best friend asked me to join the climb. I said yes of course!

I saw someone who posted on facebook about Palaopao Hills with a caption “not in Scotland, Ireland or New Zealand… but in Mt. Palaopao”. True enough, this rocky mountain resembles those mountains seen in the aforementioned countries. With this fact, I couldn’t help but go and climb this mountain for the love of exercise, hiking, photography, nature and God. Why go to these countries when you haven’t been to Palaopao yet? But of course, I would love to visit these countries someday.

Bukidnon is home to 4 of the Philippines’ top 10 highest peaks– Mt. Dulang-dulang, Mt. Kitanglad, Mt. Kalatungan and Mt. Maagnaw. If you are not yet prepared to climb these peaks, or do not have enough time, most hikers/bloggers would recommend you to climb Mt. Palaopao and Mt. Capistrano. I also added Mt. Musuan (Musuan Peak) to the day hike list.

From Valencia City, we took a bus going to Sumilao. We started traveling at 7 am and arrived past 8 am. Before starting our this rocky adventure, we stopped by and ate our breakfast at the food court of Sumilao Public Market.

To be able to go to the mountain, we need to hike through the wet market. In here, we were able to observe the way of life of the people.

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Wet market with Palaopao Hills on the back.
Before we even climbed there, we took pictures as we were amazed of our favorite mountain.

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With my best friend, Ai-ai, who also loves to climb mountains.
We passed by the rice fields and were able to observe the livelihood of the people living here.

At this point, we were able to have an overview of Mt. Palaopao. As one blog stated “it is deceitful yet breathtaking”. It is deceitful because you need to go down into a gorge, then go up again to a community to be able to arrive on the foot of the mountain.

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Just wow! What a beautiful view! The first 2 mountains on the left side is where we will be trekking.
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Hiking down, a lovely view awaited us. We passed the Kulaman River through a hanging bridge.

We finally arrived at this small community in the foot of the hills for about an hour.

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We had to wait for a few minutes for the Purok Leader so we can get the permit. This is necessary so that the purok leader will know that a group of people (with names listed) went up the hills and also for security purposes. We also asked a kid, Marvin, to be our guide. We started our hiking at past 10 am and passed by these places.

2015-10-02 09.25.05-1There were only three of us who hiked in this mountain plus the guide. Since this was planned just a day before, we weren’t about to prepare physically. So that I really palpitated. On day hikes, especially for open trails which was very hot for us, it’s very important to be well hydrated to avoid or minimize discomforts. Thankfully, nothing happened to me. We just hiked at our own pace and my buddies were very patient enough to wait for me. So that it’s really important to have a regular exercise program.

We had a glimpse of of the rocky mountain on the first part of our hike.

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Not in Scotland, Ireland or New Zealand.

We arrived on the top of one hill and saw this wonderful view with the thought in my mind, “If God can make the nature beautiful, then He can certainly make our lives beautiful too.”

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Going further is the cross stationed on this hill.

On our right side is the rocky part of the mountain. One can notice this when you are traveling to Cagayan De Oro city along the highway.

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On this side of Mt. Palaopao, the lime stone wall.
And of course, you wouldn’t want to miss taking a picture on this angle.

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Lime stone wall of Mt. Palaopao.
We hiked further going to the top of that rocky side. You can see the community on the foot of the mountain from this part here.

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Finally we arrived on the top of the mountain. It took us about 2 hours from the foot of the mountain (with rests). We spent at total of 3 hours together with the waiting time and our hike from the public market. We discovered through an article that, before,  the top part of the mountain was covered with virgin forest. The side contained caves, rock shelters, lime stones overhangs containing wooden coffin and artifacts which can be traced back to metal age. Wow, this must be like Sagada before.

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The locals also told us that the place used to be submerged in water (perhaps hundreds/thousands of years ago). Thus, the term Palaopao from the Cebuano word “lapaw” which means spill or overflow. This would also explain the rock formations which are coral-like; thus, it may really be possible that this place was submerged before.

We arrived past 12 pm and ate our lunch at this rocky top. I settled myself on a tree where I enjoyed the view. My buddies settled themselves on the rocks.

We cherished the time spent here by meditating, reading, relaxing and sleeping for 1 hour plus. It was worth it!

Beware: There may be snakes around here so just be careful. We find one but we saw it first and it was a bit distant from where we were hanging out. Thankfully, we weren’t harmed and this didn’t hinder us from enjoying.

Reflections:

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    “I am the way, the truth and the life…” John 14:4
    The only way is the way to the cross. People come here during the Holy Week as their pilgrimage. Such is paralleled with our Christian walk. Life is a journey; but the only way for us not to be lost in this world is to look to the cross for this is the only way. On our way going up, we saw the cross and we were sure we are going the right way.

 

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    “The Lord is my rock…” Psalm 18:2
    I always love to read while in nature. This made me more receptive to spiritual lessons. In time for this rocky adventure is the statement I came across with, saying, “Are our feet planted on the rock of God’s immutable word?” This is a thought-provoking and sobering question. Do our daily decisions reveal that we are founded on God’s immutable word? or do our reading of His word not manifested in our lives at all?
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    “I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
    Where do weary hearts go? To the mountains. Why? Because Jesus is there. Don’t get me wrong here. But I believe that when we are in nature, we think of the Creator and it makes us more likely to contemplate about Him. Hiking means work and obstacles. So that being at the top of the mountain means success, overcoming and REST. At this time, I was able to find the solace and rest that I needed.  Indeed, I purposely came here to take away the stress as science would prove it very helpful. But most of all, I came here to commune with my Savior, the only One who can give me rest.

It was past 1 pm when we started going down.This is the view on the top of the mountain with my trekking buddies.

We went back to our trail.We need to cross again this area in order to go back.

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Friendship Goals.
Because we couldn’t get enough of the beauty of Palaopao…..

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…..we took pictures again.
We stayed for awhile in the community, rested and asked for water. We crossed again Kulaman River Bridge.

This rocky adventure turned out to be a great blessing for me. With Palaopao as my favorite mountain, I can always say “Wala’y makalapaw sa Mt. Palaopao (Nothing beats Mt. Palaopao)!”.

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The mountain in four vantage points.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Musuan Peak: The Most One

It was told that two lovers committed suicide in this place. As time went by, the place where they were buried rose up and became a mountain. A foreigner visited this place and was accompanied by the natives. When the foreigner arrived at the top of the peak, in utter amazement of the view, he exclaimed, “the most one”.

Location:  Musuan Peak, Central Mindanao University, Musuan, Maramag, Bukidnon

Access Point: Sayre Highway, Musuan, Bukidnon (Near Philippine Carabao Center)

Mode of Transportation: Public Utility Vehicle (Bus, Jeep, Multicab)/Private Ride. *Can be hiked if you are from CMU, Musuan or Valencia City.

Arrangement: Entrance Php 20.00 with free use of Comfort Room. No need for a guide.

Activity/Attractions: Hiking/Trekking/Biking

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Musuan is located in Maramag, Bukidnon. Photo credit: PH Locator

We always tend to go to far places to discover them but I also believe that discovering our own place can be very exciting and fun. So I intentionally write about an attraction in my hometown in order to share to other people that they can come visit here. If you are living around Musuan or Dologon or even in Valencia, one’s eyes can’t get off Musuan Peak for it can be seen from these vantage points.

 This mountain is actually one of the 22 active volcanoes in our country belonging to the Pacific Ring of Fire according to PHIVOLCS. It stands at 2, 119 ft (646 m) above sea level. There were reported eruptions in 1866 and 1867; and seismic activities in 1976 and 2011. I used to hike Musuan Peak when I was still small and even promised at that time that I will not go back to this peak again. You see, “love your own” never occurred to me at that time. But I never fully appreciated this peak until I grow up and engaged myself in hiking and tripping. I think I’ve climbed this peak for 20 times more or less. Bukidnon is home to 4 of the Philippines’ top 10 highest peaks– Mt. Dulang-dulang, Mt. Kitanglad, Mt. Kalatungan and Mt. Maagnaw. If you are not yet prepared to climb these peaks, or do not have enough time, most hikers/bloggers would recommend you to climb Mt. Palaopao and Mt. Capistrano. And I would like to add Mt. Kalayo (which means Fire Mountain) or Musuan Peak (Mount Musuan) in that list should you have shorter time or if you are just starting your hobby on hiking.

A brief legend of Musuan Peak goes like this. It was told that two lovers committed suicide in this place. As time went by, the place where they were buried rose up and became a mountain. A foreigner visited this place and was accompanied by the natives. When the foreigner arrived at the top of the peak, in utter amazement of the view, he exclaimed, “the most one”. He found everything very beautiful from the top. The natives kept repeating what he said but because they couldn’t speak it the way that he did, they pronounced it instead as “mus-wan”. Later on, this became the name of the peak, thus Musuan Peak. As what they said, this is a legend.

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The start of the trail going to Musuan Peak.

Upon entrance to the peak, you will pay your entrance fee and write the names of those who will go for hike. You can find on your left side, beside the entrance, a Zoological and Botanical Garden although this wasn’t really maintained through time. Be sure that you have your drinking water with you because there is scarcely a water source at the peak. You may also use the comfort room for your convenience before hiking.

Be sure to bring a hat if you are hiking during midday or afternoon. Musuan peak is one of those very accessible peaks especially for impulsive hikes or nature trips. It can get very crowded during lenten season or holidays. But normally, you can enjoy the peak on your own on non-peak season.

There are two ways to climb the peak. You can go by the main road (where you can also go biking). This is good for relaxed or leisure walks where there’s no time constraint. You may be able to reach the peak in 1 hour with rests.  The second way is that you can trek at the short cuts though this can cause tachycardia (fast heartbeat) on your part. This is applicable if you want an intense hike or if you want to reach the peak in 3o minutes more or less.

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The shape of Musuan Peak is likened to this Conical Shaped Rice Farmer’s Hat.  Photo credit: 123RF

The shape of the mountain is likened to a conical shaped rice farmer’s hat. Upon going up the peak, you can start to see different wonderful views, the plains, rice fields, highways and the adjacent peaks. It’s nice to have a morning walk here where you can see the sunrise and experience the freshness of the air.

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Overlooking CMU and the rice fields.
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The hardly recognizable sea of clouds from afar.

This is on the way to the peak after conquering the base part of the mountain. Sometimes, it can also get foggy here depending on what season you climbed.

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Nearing the peak, you can see pine trees along the way.

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There is also a short cut here.

When you are almost on the top, you can see clearly the surrounding mountains, view of CMU, Valencia and the Sayre highway.

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Bukidnon feels.
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Last curve going up.
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The view when it is foggy.

And finally, after how many minutes, you are able to say “Thank God” upon arrival at the peak at the same time wiping your sweat. You will be welcomed by the barking of the dogs here but they are tied.

There are cottages where you can eat, sit and relax. And view decks too.They are located on the lower and uppermost part, so you can just choose wherever you want to hang out.  You have all the time here to do whatever you like. Just be mindful of not leaving any trash behind.

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View deck and cottage on the uppermost part near the tower.

This is also found on the lower park of the peak.

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It isn’t surprising to see vandalism here on the cottages though it is highly discouraged. Perhaps, people come here to vent out their feelings which may not be socially and environmentally acceptable all the time. I strongly discourage vandalism but reading through some of what the people write in here makes me laugh sometimes.

 

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It says, “Wala’y 4ever (forever)”. The person who wrote this don’t believe in the concept of forever such as that popularized by the Philippine soap opera Forevermore.

Reflections:

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The view of Musuan Peak from College Park, Musuan, Bukidnon.

I don’t know about the others who went here, but for me, going up in this peak has always been therapeutic. The ambiance, cool breeze, surrounding views, being able to reflect, the comfort of being in your hometown– all these contribute to “the most one” concept.  Granting the Musuan legend is true, the foreigner must have these things in mind (at least) when he said “most one”. This place has really been the most one. Truly, this peak, the view, is scenic, giving you a soothing relief from all cares. So when you are up in the peak, do not go down right away. Enjoy the peak, the view and live for the moment and listen to what God wants to impress on your heart of the spiritual lessons from nature.

 

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A view of Musuan Peak from Lumbo.

There may be other places where we can say “most one” though Musuan has really gotten it’s title. But when I think of the concept of “most one”, I couldn’t help but attribute it to God- our most one (who can give us “most one” and Musuan), lover of our soul and the one with the greatest love able to sacrifice everything for us. When we talk of the place where we can say it is the most one, it is truly in the feet of Jesus where we can cast our burdens and cares. How wonderful it is to be able to reflect God’s love in my own Musuan Peak. It’s just reassuring. Sweet. And tranquilizing.

So as we enjoy Musuan Peak, may we also enjoy God– the most one.

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View of Musuan Peak from Pacangan.

Going down the peak will usually take 15-30 minutes. This means a lot of control on your part going down since it seems to be unstoppable sometimes.

And finally, there is a feeling of accomplishment when you arrive at the entrance.

For those who usually climb this peak, you may notice the new tire swing on the side.

If you are not vegan, you can visit the Philippine Carabao Center and drink fresh milk and some of its products which is just nearby Musuan Peak entrance.

Enjoy Musuan Peak! And don’t forget to come again.