The Bukidnon-Davao Highway’s elevation is the silver lining for its now buzzing tourism activities. The highway, passing through Marilog District of Davao City, traverses barangay Buda, where many resorts have been established. Being more popular now than ever, BuDa has been attracting travelers from surrounding provinces, even from outside Mindanao. Consequently, tourists’ attractions in the area have been on the rise, giving locals deserved income but also giving way to price surges.
Shortly before midnight, they, a group of officemates and their significant others, commenced their road trip to BuDa from General Santos City. They were talking and laughing as soon as they took their designated seats. Shortly afterward, sleep took over and the van continued its drive in silence.
At about after 04:00 AM the van hit a small pothole in the road waking almost all of its passengers. After confusions and groans settled in, they realized that they were already in Buda. Thick fogs enveloped the road ahead. They had been driving on slippery roads and nearly zero visibility. It was creepy – and dangerous. As if to validate how dangerous the road had been, there was an overturned truck by the side of the road.
In one instant, what looked like a semi-truck overtook them. They tailed the semi-truck until it made a significant distance and the fogs enveloped its taillights too.
Not realizing that they missed a turn, they continued driving through the foggy road. Afterwards, motorcycles caught up with them as though these motorcycle drivers knew.
As soon as they stepped out of the van, they knew that they had underestimated the coldness of BuDa. After too much shivering and gnashing of teeth, their body began to adapt to the freezing roadside milieu.
In order to reach their first destination, they needed to take a motorcycle ride. But it was not a usual ride. Some motorcycles had katig – two wooden planks on each side where a passenger on each side would balance each other out. Nobody knew if there were other options, but everybody knew it would be fun to ride those, albeit more dangerous.
Hills View Mountain Villa
The villa was the farthest in the series of resorts along the rough road. The ride was more treacherous than anyone had imagined. The rocks were wet from the rain the day before. Potholes had accumulated rainwater. The motorcycle driver though was more confident and basically knew what he was doing.
Unbeknownst to those riding on the katig, some plants have grown tall bending towards the road. Their wet leaves and soft stalks would sometimes bitch slap them. But how often did that happen in their everyday lives?
After over 30 minutes of winding roads and roller coaster ride, they saw the flock of people in the villa dwarfed by pine trees.
Myka & Lyle
Apparently, the villa was always the first stop for almost all travelers in that area. Everybody wanted a piece of sunrise and experience the sea of clouds. Neither sunrise nor sea of clouds happened to be present that day.
The group went to the picturesque locations in the place. It bothered no one that a single piece of rock was attracting long lines because it was the obvious ‘angle-perfect’ location for a snap. It was time to be creative though. Everybody was minding nobody in that place and it was perfect to get lost in the crowd.
However, the mountain formation in the backdrop of the place was comparable to Sanchez Peak, General Santos City, and Kalon Barak Skyline Ridge, Malungon, Sarangani Province. Hill Views Mountain Villa though was terribly cold. Occasionally strong wild would roar; shaking pine trees consequently sending thunderous sounds.
The steps on the place had been slippery wet too. The roots of the trees were likewise slippery making everybody made very careful and slow steps.
The group, which initially conferred about taking a breakfast in the place, decided not to after learning of their prices.
Aren & Kharina
D’ Captain’s Haven and Garden of Gethsemane Mountain Resort
These resorts were quite on the list of the group’s itinerary. But after the disagreement regarding the entrance fees with the resort, the group decided to call a pass on these. Likewise, people swamped these resorts too. They had pools which were inviting despite the cold, but so were other resorts still in the option.
Bemwa Farm was very well-known for their strawberries. Strawberries, being scarce in Mindanao, were sought after in places they were picky to grow up to. Aside from strawberries, Bemwa Farm was also the pit stop for travelers for breakfast. And although everybody would be diffident to admit it, the farm had grown to become an adjective for bad breakfast services.
The group had been hungry at about 09:30 AM when they reached Bemwa Farm. They paid the motorcycle driver P170.00 per head then proceeded to the entrance booth of the farm. After paying the consumable entrance fee of P50.00, they immediately went to the also swamped cafeteria to grab breakfast. With the herd of people coming to the place, you would expect them to have a working system for handling orders. They did not have!
Everybody in the group ordered porridge with a hard-boiled egg. Needless to say, the orders arrived a little after 11:00 AM. They all ate it faster than they could say bummer.
After breakfast, the group deemed it not appetizing to wander around the place for much longer. Also, there was really nothing to see at that moment but the growing lettuces of different kinds.
Seagull Mountain Resort
From left: Marlo, Kyle, Bim, Solem, Joy, Pat2, Aren, Kharina, Myka, Lyle, Mark
Despite the not very pleasant experiences in a previous couple of hours, the group was in high-spirit as they continued their itinerary to Seagull Mountain Resort. The resort, although being quite in the border of Davao and Bukidnon, remained cold as always.
With the 200-peso entrance fee of the resort inclusive of the use of their amenities, the group was able to walk around.
The group then started bumming. Looking around, the place was like the wider version of Camp Sabros in Kapatagan, Digos, Davao del Sur. Or maybe it was the other way around. Camp Sambros was the mini version of this resort.
The resort had so much going on about it that you could just check them via their Facebook account.
The cold and gloomy weather was typical in that area. But the vibe was different. Despite the cold, the group went swimming in their pool and waterfall, but after they had scouted the area.
They spent the next hour having fun in the children’s park of the resort. There were lots of fun things to do in the park. The area happened to give the wide-angle view of the resort and sported some frames overlooking whatnots. Sunrays peeked occasionally giving ample natural lights and remedied the cold for a moment. Even at afternoon, BuDa had proven to be relatively cold.
Not long after, they all shuttled their way to the waterfall.
The waterfall area had pools with flowing water too. There was particularly no one in the area thus leaving the group to enjoy it by themselves.
It should have been expected though, but nobody readied them from the freezing water of the waterfall and the pools. That dip was called for after hours of the tiring road trip and fighting for hunger. Despite the initial complaints regarding the cold, the group had a great time splashing and shivering as they hit the water.
Feeling rather refreshed and unbothered by the cold anymore, the group called it quits as another group arrived in the area. By then, everybody had been hungry again and looking for a bite.
They shuttled back to the resort. Ten minutes later they found themselves taking their very late lunch at Barangay Lorega, Kitaotao, Bukidnon.
The group checked it out as it was right by the highway. There were a café and rental cottages after a minute of walk up. Seeing as there was nothing to do at that moment at that place, they decided not to stay long.
A few minutes right after, the giant Philippine eagle landmark loomed. The group stopped by the work-of-art as it was not to be missed in BuDa.
From Left: Marlo, Bim, Solem, Kyle, Myka, Lyle
Still not ready to call it a day, the group decided to take a side trip in Jack’s Ridge to Davao City. After the dinner at the city, they went straight the place as it was perfect for nighttime city lights. Similarly, the place had a lot to offer but nothing that interested them at that moment.
Passing through the restaurants, down the love locks, towards the gazebo, the group had a great time bonding by the spotlight at the gazebo. From there, city lights were twinkling in the peaceful city of Davao.
It wasn’t as cold anymore. The air smelled of joyful submission to exhaustion.
Silence accompanied them as they traveled back to General Santos City. Despite the weight, much heavier now because of the experiences of the day, the driver swiftly maneuvered the van carrying the group to the safety of their city. There then, the group parted ways; silently agreeing to have a road trip again – very soon!