August 2, 2007

Finding God's country in Bukidnon

Backyard view of Mt. Kitanlad

We were invited to stay for the night at a friends' farm in Bukidnon. So after we accomplished what we did and satisfied our inner stuntman in Cagayan de Oro, they sent the car to pick us up from our hotel. We drove for over an hour through nothing but a sea of pineapples (owned by the Del Monte Corp.) on either side of the dirt road until we arrived at their gorgeous 60-hectare estate.

I knew they had a beautiful place up there, but I wasn't prepared for just how beautiful it actually was. When we reached the estate, we drove past banana trees, papaya trees, coffee plants and a myriad of organic produce, a couple of ponds and finally up the gravel driveway leading to the main house. It was a simple wooden structure, typical of a hacienda house in the province, that belied the quiet luxury within. There were big windows everywhere, giving every room a bright and airy feel.

I let out an audible gasp when I caught my first glimpse of the backyard from the cheerful yellow terrace. Wow! was all I managed, dumbfounded. Beyond the neatly manicured gardens, the grounds stretched out towards Mt. Kitanglad in the distance. It was absolutely breathtaking!

I flipped when I saw the horses and ponies - there were nineteen horses, I was told later. I love horses, and have always dreamed of living in a ranch with some of my own. I was thrilled beyond belief and felt like a kid in a candy shop. The air up here was cool and smelled fresh and clean. The only sound was that of horses neighing in the distance and birds chirping. We toured the grounds and I spent a great amount of time lingering among the horses and taking pictures of them. They're truly beautiful and gentle creatures.

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We spent the next two days relishing our surroundings, during which we slipped into a state of perfect contentment. There were long walks among the horses, aperitifs in the gazebo, cocktails in the terrace of cheese fondue washed down with wine from their extensive collection; a delicious five course dinner with the highly entertaining sister of a datu; gathering around the bonfire sipping home-aged rum from large oak barrels, under a thick blanket of stars - the sky was so clear I actually saw the Milky Way!; waking up to the sweet sound of children singing during Sunday school nearby; lingering over a breakfast of mango pancakes, jelly-filled buns from Davao, capuccino and fresh pineapple juice; horseback riding against a backdrop of majestic mountain ridges; and dozing off on woven mats under the shade of an acacia tree.

In the end we felt sad that we had to go, but extremely grateful for a taste of this piece of paradise. As my friend aptly described it, God's country.

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Wine

Bonfire


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30 comments:

rowena said...

Oh LORD! Christine, reading this was like taking a vacation from a vacation! What a lovely, lovely place, with absolutely fine photos to illustrate your visit. I'm jealous! ;-)

While the images slowly loaded onto my screen I noticed that you have Saveur listed as one of your fave mags. It was mine too (well, still is) when I lived in the states. I've always liked the warmth and realness in their photos. Now I'm no expert on photography, but I'm getting tired at how so many pics have that "staged" look. So obvious from the customized white balance in the image. It almost feels like homogenized milk.

Keep up the great pics (and posts!).

nina said...

What a beautiful sunset Christine!

M.Tan said...

I love the horse pictures! Which one did you ride?
Beautiful dining room and field of flowers too. Felt like you could sniff them on the computer.

christine said...

Thanks Rowena! :) Yes, Saveur is my favorite magazine and I maintain a yearly subscription. I know what you mean about those staged looks. You won't find such photos in Saveur. Their images are so rich, and everything looks (and is!) natural.

For me, no other magazine can come close. The stories and pictures are just astounding. I love how they trace dishes to their originas, their notes on food traditions and local flavor, going beyond restaurants and to the countryside and into family's homes. It gives you a complete sense of the location, the people, the culture etc. With Saveur, I get my travel and food fix all in one. It's like a National Geographic for food! :)

Boy, that almost sounded like an ad hehe.

christine said...

Thanks, Nina! I thought so too. :)

Mila, thanks. I rode Princess, but she's not in any of these photos because I don't have one of her alone. She was such a sweetheart! She kept following us, and rubbing against us like a cat purring against you. And everytime we tried to leave, she came after us and tried to keep us there. Hungry for our attention and love, it pained me to leave her.

But she was very challenging to ride. Very sensitive, she couldn't have any other horse behind her, it made her anxious. She was edgy too. She's pregnant, maybe that explains it? Aw I miss her.

Belinda said...

Christine, what a beautifully written and photographed post! A sea of pineapples...heavenly! Can you imagine eating in that glorious dining room every day, and looking out upon that view every evening! Its amazing how much beauty there is in the world.

And as far as I'm concerned, horses are one of God's most amazing gifts. I'm so glad you had time to spend hanging out with them...they are so much fun, and just look at that adorable foal too. Who could resist such captivating creatures? :-)

joey said...

Nens! I agree with Rowena...such gorgeous shots! Nature in all it's beauty :) As usual, I felt like I was there while reading your post! We have such amazing places to visit here no? :)

Ok, both you and Rowena have almost sold me to a Saveur subscription! I may just give Charisse a call ;)

shalimar said...

oh my goodness you made my heart melt......irony of life is i have travelled somany places in this world but yet i still have to re discover my own country

Socky said...

I don't know what to say, Christine. What a beautiful, idyllic place - and you wrote about it and photographed it so exquisitely. You made me wish I was there and, hey, I could actually imagine being there.

Run Around Paris said...

that's a beautiful table

ginny said...

Omiggosh nens! I too "slipped into a state of perfect contenment" just reading your post. I can only imagine how you were in awe being there. How I wish we could all live in a piece of paradise like that.

I also heard their place was "nice", but it really is such a beautiful place! The weather is always perfect... cool, crisp and sunny. That's why produce from there is the best.

christine said...

Belinda, you're so right, there really is so much beauty in the world. And yes, I entertained the notion of actually living there, a few times. :) You must have done something so great in your life to deserve to wake up to something like that everyday. And the horses, Belinda, they were just gorgeous! I've always dreamt of having one of my own.

Thanks Joey! And you should subscribe. It's worth every cent! :)

Hi Shalimar, yes, that happens to most of us. We take our own backyard for granted. :) So I'm doing what I can while I can. Do you have any trips home planned soon?

Thank you, Socky. :) It was postcard-perfect everywhere you looked really, it was like Disneyland for a photo enthusiast like me.

Hi run around paris. it is, isn't it? They had really nice pieces of furniture all over the house. Nothing overstated, just how I like it. :) Thanks for dropping by.

christine said...

Gins, their produce is some of the best, I agree! The bananas were spotless (they're not allowed to even have a tiny dot on the skin because they're for export), and the rest of the produce were super fresh. The pineapples were the sweetest I've ever tried - we had lots of fresh pineapple juice while we were there. The papayas look so healthy, and I learned a new way of eating it while I was there - with skin and seeds and all!

ScroochChronicles said...

Hi Christine!! Beautiful!

canDIshhh said...

The place looks WONDERFUL!! It's as if it was pulled out from a travel magazine! I didn't know a place of that beauty and grandeur really existed AND it's in the Philippines!! Wow!

I am so in love with the first image! It's so so beautiful! It actually made me jaw drop - literally!!

christine said...

Hi Cookie! Yes, it was beautiful. Mother Nature at it's best. :)

Hi Di, when I stared out over the fields of flowers and horses and towards the mountains I thought the same thing. Like something out of a travel glossy. :) Our country is truly spectacular!

dodongflores said...

I agree. I had been into the place several times in the past and Bukidnon is simply a beautiful country. It's like heaven for others...
You capture the beauty of the place through these magnificient photos you posted here. Thanx for sharing. Your photos aroused my desire of visiting to the place again to take new photos.
Good day to you...

christine said...

Hi Dodong, welcome to my blog! :) Thank you for the nice comments. Bukidnon is truly heaven on earth, it would be nice for you to visit again.

primusinterpares said...

Dear Christine,

By far, the best pics of God's country. Beautiful and breathtaking! That's also how i describe Bukidnon to others. No other place near Manila can compare! Its God's country. Remember childhood days at the our family farm riding horses and eating fruits. I ache to see Bukidnon again- the vistas and weather invigorate, inspire and comfort me. I hope you dont mind that these pics serve as wallpaper, for they take away my stress.

christine said...

Thank you for the compliment! Please feel free to use the pictures for your wallpaper.:)

Sheena Pimentel said...

Tis is one cool post :)

christine said...

Thanks, Sheena! :)

anijun said...

it's nice to read posts like this. bukidnon is truly unique. your bukidnon experience is enviable for others. and it would even be more enviable if you will read my novel "Batbat hi Udan" which is set in bukidnon. it's ethnic-epic theme higlights an extraordinary courtship that gave birth to legends and myths. This novel will be launched in Feb 2009.

christine said...

Wow that sounds really interesting! Thank you for letting us know about it. All the best with the novel! :)

mark said...

your first photo was very impressive. i didn't know my home town could be this great. thanks for visiting our place, i bet u had fun.. nice post. keep it up. God bless!

Jason Grimes said...

God! I miss home!

Natasha Dawn said...

Hi Christine! Came across your blog when i was looking for reviews about del monte's famous steak. but this previous entry really piqued my interest... is this place open for guests? i mean, for a small event like uhm... a wedding? :D

christine said...

Thank you, Mark. I certainly did! I'm thinking of visiting again maybe next year. :)

Hi Natasha! Unfortauntely not. It's a private home.

www.orense-3d.com said...

Really worthwhile data, much thanks for the post.

April said...

ohw.. I landed here through google images. I wanna have a farm wedding.. Would this be a great place for the venue? Is this in Del Monte Clubhouse?