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
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.
Before we even climbed there, we took pictures as we were amazed of our favorite mountain.
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.
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.
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.
There 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.
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.”
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.
And of course, you wouldn’t want to miss taking a picture on this angle.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
Because we couldn’t get enough of the beauty of Palaopao…..
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)!”.