Monday, June 15, 2015

BONTONGON VILLAGE: An "Uphell" Paradise


Bontongon is the least populated hinterland barangay of Impasugong, Bukidnon. It is wonderfully situated at the neck of a mountain. It is an exhilarating picturesque, adorned with view of rolling hills and twisting rivers. This barangay, I must say is also the most difficult to travel. It is not as far as Bulonay nor Hagpa, yet going to this barangay is a 2-hour arduous "uphell" from Poblacion. Bontongon can be reached by crossing three grand rivers. Habal-habal is the most preferred transportation. If given an ample time, I would rather trek than take a ride getting there.

Q: Aren't you afraid?
A: Of what?
Q: Of bullets.
A: No... Not of bullets, of the road rather...

This was the conversation I had with a local staff of Impasugong.

I had to undergo an official activity in the barangay--- to conduct a peanut processing training, which was postponed due to tragic death of the former mayor.

A month after the tragedy, I finally decided to push through the training. The municipal engineer negotiated for my ride. Since no 4-wheel vehicle could uphill the newly rain damaged road, I had to resort to a habal-habal ride which would surely beat my whole body.

Habalhabal took me to the place. It was fully loaded with training materials. 
Habalhabal ready for take-off.

The municipality of Impasugong is truly a picturesque. Communal ranch is really a wower. The view of the rolling hills is an entertaining part of the trip.  
The unpaved road crossing private farmlands.

Communal Farm of Impasugong.

A scenic spot along the way.

A spillway crosses Dila River. Passing through here is yet easy. The rocky river streams to Dila Falls in Impalutao. 
Crossing through the spillway of Dila River.

Approaching Tagoloan River is the start of the difficult road. It is a downhill curve with rocks, gravels, pebbles and occasionally running waters. Habalhabals may slip anytime and fall off the cliff on the side.

This gate approaching to Tagoloan River marks the beginning of a bumpy road.

The winding road downhilling to Tagoloan River.

The rocky, rough and wet road to Tagoloan River.

Passing the river requires a bamboo raft ride. Both riders and motorcycle ride on the raft pulled by a raftsman requiring a fee. A wonderful ride, anyway.  
Bamboo raft facilitates river crossing.
The raftsman operating the raft.

This is not the road to perdition. This is perdition itself. 
Right after crossing Tagoloan River is the start of treading through hell. The road is at its most difficult. It crosses to the top of the mountain. The uphill was so dangerous and bumpy.  
The occasionally muddy uphill.

Water trails crisscross the muddy road. I held my breath as the motor gave its loudest roar. Some areas have cliffs on both sides. Without getting outbalanced is an abnormal trip in that part of the road.
Motorcycle gives its loudest roar on the difficult, zigzag uphill.

Though fear dominated over me, I couldn't close my eyes and miss the wonderful scenery around.
Atop the hill after a bumpy ride.

This is the part where the phenomenal ambush took place. READ THE STORY HERE. 
A little wooden cross marks the spot where the former mayor dropped from his motorcycle after being hit.

Before the indescribable hell of a 2-hour bumpy and smoky ride culminates, the view of the barangay on the next mountain comforted my eyes.
The view of the barangay reveals after 2 hours of bumpy ride.

Yes, the barangay is on the next mountain. And it levels to the mountain I was on. 

Crossing from mountain to mountain means another downhill ride. A deep cliff invites on the side. I held my breath in a dangerous apprehension. The stunning view compliments to the difficult winding rocky road. The fear and the sights were breathtaking. LITERALLY breathtaking that I breathed so heavily...
A dangerous descent to Jordan River.

Another bamboo raft ride comforted me.
A bamboo raft crossing the clear Jordan River.

The tempting Jordan River.
The bumpy ride did not end yet. A short rocky uphill needs to be hurdled. I held my breath while the motor gave another loud roar. 

I dismounted from habalhabal in relief. The view of the hills and mountains wowed my overwhelmed spirit. In the afternoon, I explored for a beautiful spot.

A scenic view from the village.

Morning in Bontongon is so relaxing. The serene view of the opposite hill is so wonderful. Mt. Kitanglad Range casts its magnificent beauty.

A zoomed view of Jordan River

Sunlit hills with Mt. Kitanglad Range on background.

Catching the sunrise.

When the sun was up, I trod on a trail lining the sloping terrain heading to another village. I haven't reached the village, though, since it would take a very long hike. 

Facing the inviting trail on the slope.

The trail lining the slope.

Local kids picking macopa fruit.

After a long walk, I felt I was not moving so I decided to trail back.

The inviting peak of Mt. Manalinga.

I decided to trek a mountain to suffice my climbing desire. No one from the locals got interested to go with me. So I did it all alone. At first I easily followed the trail trod by farmers to their farms. Nearing the peak, I trailblazed under cogon and other grasses beyond my height. 
The start of ascent.

A wonderful view of the Jordan River bordering Impasugong and Malaybalay.

A local farmer gathering abaca fiber for selling.

On the way to the peak.

On the background is Mt. Kiamo in Kibalabag, Malaybalay.

Almost halfway, I'm taking a rest planning which portion to blaze afterwards.

Overlooking southwest.

The view of the peak.

A closer view of the peak.

The trail I blazed.

Locals say this is the spot where an NPA sniper fired the brgy. hall which damaged its roofings.  

A trail at the summit heading to Manalog, Malaybalay.
Heading to the summit.

At the summit with Brgy. Manalog on the background

The view of Manalog. Malaybalay.

Mt. Sulongsulong towers beside Mt. Manalinga.

Taking a short rest before descending.

Starting to descend through the other way.

The peak of Mt. Manalinga. On the far left is Mt. Sulongsulong.

Amor seco seeds sticking on my leggings.

Going home was a heartache. I felt it too soon to leave the paradise. Besides, I had to pass through hell again. 
Crossing Jordan River on the way home.

Closer view of a bamboo raft.

Uphilling a rocky trail past Tagoloan River.

An eyecatching view along the way.

Having reached the national highway was a real survival. A very deep breath of relief followed after dismounting from habal-habal...

Note: In case you find the title or the description "hell" offensive, feel free to tell me. 

Thanks to LGU-Impasugong for the ride; barangay government of Bontongon for food and accommodation; and to God for the safety.  


  1. I sooo love the photos, Sir! I want to dip my body in the river :)

    1. Tnx, kit. I also feel the same way...

  2. hi, do you have contacts for the habal habal that took you to that place? am a gurl, is it safe to go there alone?

    1. hi, anonymous. there are lots of habal-habal operators in front of impasugong municipal building to whom you can make a deal with. i have no contact numbers of them, though.

      the place is safe. there are no lodges nor homestays but you can approach any brgy. official and request for a stay...

  3. KaTsada sa view ani Sir!

    I'm currently looking for a place na mahike this coming Holiday paguli nako sa Cagayan de Oro. This one caught my attention. Nice kaau!

    1. thank you, NiL! you will surely enjoy hiking in bukidnon...

  4. so wow! this is just my favorite place and hills in bukidnon :)

  5. thanks, Grace! soon this will become everyone's favorite.

  6. Sir Tupe, was looking at the terrain map around Impasugong and Mt. Tago was identified as the highest peak, where's the best baranggay to start the trek? Thnx

    1. Hi, Sir Butch! Mt. Tago can be accessed through Brgy, Guihean. You may coordinate with the local government for further guidance.

  7. Sir, it's really nice, I'm coming home soon, naa bay guide if ever, or registration, kung mag hike dha? Anyway, Thank you for sharing this sir.

    1. Hi, Gialyn. Tnx for reading. Brgy. bontongon is open to all. No guide, no reg fee. It's just an ordinary brgy with extraordinary scenery and is truly worth a visit.

  8. Hi,

    Beautiful blog you got sir. Who do we need to contact prior in going there? Can we camp overnight?

    1. thank you, klau. the people there are so friendly. sure, you can camp if you want. you may contact brgy. captain,09355219857 Ms. REMA---09355219857.

  9. Hi sir! we're planning to camp here.. where ang jumpoff point to hire habal2x and how much and habal2x price from jumpoff to bontongon? thanks!

    1. hi... you can hire habal habal in front of impasugong municipal hall or crossing patulangan. habal-habal pakyaw rate is P1,000. really expensive but you can try using your negotiation skills.