“Malay Mo” . . . “Malay Ko” . . . Malaybalay!

I’ve just gotten back from the Monastery of the Transfiguration up a small hill on the outskirts of Malaybalay.  It was the least I could do to save the day after having my plans of heading first to Dahilayan to ride the zipline (currently Asia’s longest) skewed-up.   Coming from Cagayan de Oro, the original plan was to get off at Camp Philips and head to Dahilayan Adventure Park to spend the rest of the afternoon then proceed to Malaybalay.  At the Agora bus station, I was told by the security guard at Jollibee where I had brunch, that all transport to Camp Philips has since been transferred to another station.  At the bus bay, an air-conditioned Rural Transit Valencia-bound bus was waiting to fill-up with passengers.  The security guard said it wouldn’t pass by Camp Philips.  What he did not tell me was that I could get off at the junction just past the quarantine station then take a  multi-cab to there.  Aaaaaaarrrggghhhhhh!!!

Heading to Lantapan to the Talaandig was also out of the question as it was 3pm and there wouldn’t be any transport back.  Between staying holed-up at Small World Travelers Inn and Gaisano Mall, the only option was to head to the monastery even if I wasn’t too excited about it.

I flagged a multi-cab at the street beside the inn.  The driver wanted Php 300 at first but I managed to bring it down to  Php 250 including waiting time which was still quite expensive as my Malaybalay contact had said that it should only cost about Php 100.  At this stage, I just wanted to get out of the city and do something!  Maybe I expected too much from Malaybalay.  I had conjured up a Sagada-like town all surrounded by hills where a few steps would lead you to patches of green.  Not so.  Right now, I’m in an internet cafe surrounded by punk teen-agers yelling their heads off over some online games. There is a Gaisano Mall, a Jollibee, and a Mercury Drug.  Cool mountain air?  More of hot smoking fumes.  Well, it is the provincial capitol after all.

From the highway, we turned-left to an unpaved road then climbed a hill.  We  headed uphill to a small church  that seemed chocked by the structures surrounding it.  It was empty save for a stack of plastic chairs and some scaffolds which suggested it was under renovation.   I told the driver that it looked nothing like the picture which showed a large structure surrounded by an expanse of green.  This one was the same pyramid-shaped and no walls but it was way too small.   “Oh, that’s the new church,” the driver said.  So we headed down and followed the path with the sign “new monastery” but not without stopping by the store to pick-up a small bag of  Monks Blend coffee and some angel cookies.

The tree-lined path wound around green fields and there it was, the pyramid-shaped church looming on top of a hill against a pretty landscape of grass and flowers  with the rolling mountains of the Kitanglad range overlooking it.  I had to put on a grey skirt which as I wasn’t wearing pants.  A girl had just gone down the steps from the church and the security guard took the skirt from her and handed it to me.  I was a bit flabbergasted.  The girl was amused.

The church is really pretty as everything is of wood inside.  When the small group of guys had left, I was all alone and it was so serene and peaceful.  It was a really perfect place for a prayer.  A convoy of vans were heading-up the hill as we drove down to return to Malaybalay.

Back at Small World where for Php 380/night I have a tiny room just enough for a single bed, a small tv, and a wall fan.  The balcony overlooks some used clothes shops and the plaza. It’s clean but the shared bathrooms could be better.  At least the staff are really friendly and glad to be of help.  There’s really nothing much to do here except perhaps try some of the small restaurants near the plaza.  Mindy’s comes recommended by blogs.  At least the attached internet station at the inn is cheap (Php 20/hour) and fast.

I should have at least checked a map of Bukidnon or double-checked with someone before I got on the bus to Valencia from the Agora terminal in CDO.  I was really looking forward to this first visit to  Bukidnon.  After the rebel raid scare in Medina in Misamis Oriental a few days ago, I was glad to be out of there and heading here.  Medina was a nice quiet place by the sea with lovely Duka Bay but I was a little sleepless and couldn’t help  imagine hearing gunfire as the place we were staying at was so close to the municipal hall which was just strafed with bullets the night before I arrived.  This morning, I finally heaved a sigh of relief as the van brought me and a couple of others back to CDO.  And here I am heaving a sigh of frustration as I survey my surroundings.

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