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.|
CROSSING DILA RIVER
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.|
CROSSING TAGOLOAN 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.|
THE ROAD CALLED PERDITION
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.|
CROSSING JORDAN RIVER
Another bamboo raft ride comforted me.
|A bamboo raft crossing the clear Jordan River.|
|The tempting Jordan River.|
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.|
A MORNING SCENERY
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.|
HIKING THE OPPOSITE SLOPE
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.|
TREKKING TO MOUNT 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.|
|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.|
TIME TO GO HOME
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.