Metropolis of the Mountains

          Of all the sublime places in Bukidnon, why choose MANOLO FORTICH?

          Fish out your dog-eared Mindanao map and look for it. This municipality, nourished by pineapples and plump with local wonders, is perched on the the northern peak of the Bukidnon highlands. Manolo Fortich is dissected into twenty-three richly forested barangays. Have you seen it? In the map, Manolo Fortich may look vast, as if on the edge of becoming the first city amidst the sierras

          On the outside, where there’s no map you can trust, a young local like me could say that Manolo Fortich is a quaint but well-built town, complete with its own hospital, banks, libraries, bakeries, gyms, recreational spots and schools down to its booming marketplace which noisily operates on steamy Saturday mornings. The only things left to build are a theater and a mall.

          When my kin moved here in 2007, what I saw in its center were dime eateries and rickety, bamboo boards to display fish and meat, a collection of businesses bound by a looming hall whose columns were seriously cracked and fissured.

          For the last two years, under the mayor’s leadership to fulfill the frustrated public, the spider-webbed and dismal halls were scooped away to give birth to a food court and emporiums for wet and dry goods, now hammered with gleaming steel rails and concrete stalls.

          The hiss and belch of machines signify the coming of a new and improved terminal for the community. Until now, the sight of them always makes me think of urbanization finally putting its big foot down to my town!

          Taking you away from the cluttered heart of Manolo, there are still places here without a streak of petroleum or a scratchy hum of wheels. There are places here where a heart could sate itself with adventure and a soul could shed all its exhaustion.64_big

          When armed with the right directions, one could reach Dahilayan Forest Park and Resort pretty fast. Dahilayan Forest Park is nestled at the foot of the rugged Kitanglad Mountains. It was constructed with the vision of helping develop the rising tourism industry in Bukidnon and the whole Philippines as well.

          During the fine, misty morning, a horseback ride accompanied by the sight of dawn leisurely flooding the countryside will surely settle peace in one’s being. Under the midday sun, try riding the zip line, then jump off to bungee jumping, and ride through rappelling. At the end of the day, these activities shall gladly stir the blood and reassure the wallet that it was worth the thinning.

          Kampo Juan, like its rival Dahilayan, has championed in fraternizing our old-fashioned Nature with a kick of adventure. Named after agricultural maven Dr. Juan Acosta, it includes the Philippine’s first (and only?) Anicycle chained to a 600-ft cable hanging on 100-ft deep ravine. It is a destination where man could constantly glimpse on Nature through activities benefiting the mind and body.

          Locally handsome marvels are the age-old rivers of Mangima and Kumaykay. A family or two might try to sneak into their yearly budget a three-day vacation beside these crystalline torrents encircled by native mystery and legend.

          Word could paint experience, but experience itself is far truer, greater, deeper. In trying to explain Manolo Fortich in little, nuanced sentences, my hold of giving it a perfect image has loosened. It endows us with blessings we must gladly receive. It has flaws we must accept. When one grows to love a place, one would not be in need of explanation.

           I look up once more to the sun setting in my town, shield my eyes and feel its warmth on my palm, breathe in, and walk to where the mountains are.

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