Before beginning my adventure trip, I had the chance to take a city tour, courtesy of my relatives from CDO—the Tamparongs. Since it was my first time there, they showed me around the old town and to the different places of interest. The nice thing about being toured by locals is that they know which places to take you and they have accompanying trivia about it.
Day 1: The Old Town and Divine Mercy Hills
The town church and plaza is always a nice start-off point whenever I visit a new place. We drove by the St. Agustine Cathedral, which is the main church in the area that has seen several restorations throughout the years.
St. Agustine Cathedral during daytime
Despite the changes, they were able to preserve the stained glass windows that are over a century old. These colorful windows depict different scenes from the life of Jesus. On a regular day, the church area could be quiet—perfect for a time of reflection and prayer. During Sundays, though, it’s a totally different scene. It exudes this fiesta vibe where you will see lots of churchgoers and sidewalk vendors peddling just about anything—from flowers to candles, plus popcorn and fruits.
St. Agustine Sunday mass
From the cathedral, we headed to another religious shrine found in the Divine Mercy Hills, which took about thirty minutes drive time from the town proper. The main attraction there is the 50-foot Divine Mercy statue that was designed by multi-awarded artist Nicanor “Nick” Reyes.
Divine Mercy statue
Aside from this magnificent sculpture, the other attraction there is the healing water source, which is believed to have miraculous benefits. People from all over go to this side of CDO to just get some of the water. They even bring their own bottles and get as much as they want. I did not hesitate to say the prayer before drinking the water and leaving its effect on faith. This holy place is said to heal both the body and the spirit. Instead of flying over to Lourdes in France to be healed, why not book a trip to CDO next time?
Drinking some healing water
Day 2: White-Water Rafting
If my first day in CDO was devoted to my spiritual side, my second day catered solely to my physical side. White water rafting was one of the main reasons why I wanted to visit this part of northern Mindanao. I’ve never tried it before and it has always been on my wish list.
Standing up a raft is not that easy
I booked a white water rafting voyage through Kagay (www.cdorafting-map.com) and just signed up for the beginners course (P700), which actually takes you on a rafting journey through fourteen rapids in about three hours time. That was more than enough for a first-timer like me. But before we headed to the “put-in”—the starting point—I made sure to wear light clothes over my swimsuit. I also decided to wear an old pair of sneakers because I know that it would get wet while on the raft. Wearing flip-flops is not a good option because there’s a big chance that you might lose them in case your raft flips over. The best kind of footwear is a pair of aqua socks or the strap-on sandals that are similar to what mountaineers use.
Before riding the raft, we were given a helmet, vest, and a paddle each. They also provided us with dry bags for our valuables. When everybody was geared up, the river guide had a brief orientation about what to do while on the boat. I listened intently as he stated the options of what one can do in case he falls off the boat. The one thing that stuck to mind was “don’t panic!”
White water rafting in the rapids
I discovered that it was easier said than done as we headed to our first rapids and found ourselves in the water, as our raft flipped over. It was a scary experience during that moment, but we were laughing our heads off about it after a while. There were four of us in the boat, plus our guide, King, who also pointed out the amazing flora that surround the Cagayan river. He effectively steered us past the ripples and rapids, and shared some trivia about the place while we were in still waters.
At first, three hours seemed like a long time to be in a raft, but as we neared the “take-out” or the end point, I silently wished that it would not be over so soon. This is one experience that I would definitely repeat. I’m seriously thinking of getting the advance course next time.
Day 3: Dahilayan Adventure Park
As if I haven’t had my fill of adventure, my white water rafting friends and I decided to head to Dahilayan Adventure Park in Bukidnon, where the longest dual zip-line in Asia is located. We opted to rent a taxi to take us there, and had to spend P2,000 for it. The journey to Bukidnon took a little over an hour, but it was a pleasant ride, as we passed through a scenic route and a vast pineapple farm.
Dahilayan Adventure Park
We reached our destination just in time before the crowd arrived. We were one of the first in line for the Zip Zone. To maximize our trip, we got the all ride package (P600) where we got to experience the 150-meter, 320-meter, and 840-meter zip-lines. For some reason, the 320-meter zip-line goes first in the package. I was able to take my camera with me while going down the line. It was an exhilarating feeling being on air.
The 150-meter was next and it felt a little too quick for me. From there, we had to hike up to reach the starting ground. The hike was an enjoyable one, as we passed through a forest of pine trees. It was reminiscent of the atmosphere in Baguio.
Into the forest of pine trees
Before we got to the 840-meter zip-line, the park’s four-wheel jeep had to take us all the way up the hill to get there. What a sight! The zipline crosses a throng of tall pine trees, which makes the ride even more exciting. This is not for the faint of heart or for those who have acrophobia or fear of heights.
My reaction while I was in the 840-meter zip-line
Once I was strapped to what looks like a full-body harness, they set me up in a “Superman” position before flying to the other side. It was thrilling and scary at the same time. The adrenalin rush I felt was unbelievable! I thought I was going to hit one of the trees or something. But after about forty-five seconds, I was safely back on solid ground.
Along the ATV trail
Our day of adventure didn’t stop there though. Our group decided to rent ATVs (All-Terrain Vehicle - P400) and take them for a ride inside the park. The ATV trail is 3.1 kilometers long, and it led us to different terrains—rocky, muddy, and smooth roads. I felt like we were on one of those car rides for kids but on grown-up bikes. The ride was a bit noisy but it was a treat to drive around where there’s no traffic or smog, far from the concrete jungle that is Metro Manila.