Wishing at Bangkong Kahoy Valley Inn and at the sacred pools of Barangay Kinabuhayan

Makko’s Adventures in: Dolores, Quezon (18 August 2013)

Due to an academic requirement, we had the opportunity to visit Bangkong Kahoy Valley, a resort farm located in Dolores, Quezon province, Philippines. Taking about two hours from Los Banos, Laguna, via a rented vehicle, Dolores, Quezon is a setting perfect for starting treks to Mt. Banahaw and Mt. San Cristobal.

Bankgong Kahoy Valley is fairly well documented online, and you can further check the place using the different links at the end of this post. As such, I will just give a brief view of what you might expect at the BK Valley.

Reaching the resort using a rented vehicle is highly recommended as no public transportation ply routes to BK Valley. This is also the case since it is a private, legal property within the protected area of Mt. Banahaw. The very hospitable owner, Mr. Dion, explained to our group that his great-grandfather was able to secure the title for their land before the government declared the surrounding areas of Mt. Banahaw as protected areas in 1941.

The resort is equipped with facilities that modern lifestyles require: power, internet through Wi-Fi, and network signal for Sun, Globe and Smart. If you are looking for class, nice rooms are available for a rate of P6000/room per night, with a maximum capacity of 6 people per room. It also has sports facilities for table tennis and lawn tennis. For backpackers, low-budget travelers, and outdoors men/women, open air cottages are also present, or you could just set your tent on a wide grassy field with the mountain as your background. I estimate that around 30 tents (tents good for 2-4 people) could fit comfortably on the leveled grassy camping grounds.

Since we were there for a short time, we had no chance to play table or lawn tennis. The fair weather as well had not allowed us to try the zipline. It was invigorating nonetheless just plainly walking around the compound, seeing the plants, feeling the cool breeze, and having the owner share his stories about the area. At the same time, you get to wish that you would build a place like this at some point in your life. Oh yeah! (And so just to encourage us all, a saying goes that today’s realities are just yesterday’s wishes coming true. Something to think about on a positive note.)

If you’re vegan, or semi-vegan, the menu is okay as well. Personally, I like the fried sweet potato fries. The oil they used is really minimal so you could taste the spongy, yet crisp, and sweet flavor of the camote. The sweetened camote and taro fries were also good; sugar and oil was just enough to reveal the natural flavors of the food.

Overall, if budget is not that much of an issue, a good P800 per pax per day is what you need for a daytrip adventure in Bangkong Kahoy Valley, given that you are coming from adjacent provinces of Quezon.

Another interesting trip was a visit at Barangay Kinabuhayan, just below Bangkong Kahoy Valley. It’s a barangay that you pass through when going to BK Valley. It is known mostly for its sacred locations, especially if you are Catholic, as you could find a lot of sites alluded to Catholicism. You could also start your hike to Mt. Banahaw from the barangay, as well as for buying Mt. Banahaw related shirts or religious artifacts and symbols.

It would also be good to buy produce from the barangay, since most people living there grow a variety of vegetables in farms located in the mountain environs. Again, we were in the barangay for some academic activity, so while the others were gathering their data (interviewing the barangay council man aka kagawad), some of us went vegetable shopping. There are a lot of stalls selling vegetables, so you could go from stall to stall to look for the freshest produce. I was able to buy a kilo of string beans and a kilo of a single head of cabbage for P50. I wanted to buy eggplants but the two stalls that I went to were out of stock. On the third stall, a bunch of eggplants were being sold, though upon closer inspection, it was soft and quite wrinkled; signs of ‘not fresh’ marked all over. I bought it anyway, only to discover that a fourth stall a few meters further was selling freshly harvested eggplants.

After the other group finished their interview, the good kagawad toured us through the sacred areas nearby. First stop was a sacred pool of clear water, with a number of coins settled at the bottom. I held a coin as well, wishing for world peace, wishing for this, and wishing for that, and wishing for… Anyway, with a smile on my face and a toss with a hand, the coin performed its aerial acrobatics and dived towards the water pool’s bottom. The same coin which will be gathered together with the other coins by someone at a later point in time. The same coin which will be used for the benefit of the people, which goes on to say that my wish was already granted.

We proceeded further downstream, with a lot of figurines along the way, to a cave filled with more figurines. You now get the sense that the place is really considered sacred by the locals, and all you have to do in return is to respect their identity and dignity.

Well, that was the last sacred site for us to see that day. As we walked along the path back to the barangay, I just pondered about how religious beliefs and religion in general (similar to Emile Durkheim), could specifically and operationally influence our behavior on how we value our natural resources. That was the highlight for this adventure at this point (speaking in terms of personal growth), and I know that future adventures would eventually lead me to an answer.

Other blogs for Bangkong Kahoy Valley:

For birders and bird photography enthusiasts, a post by Paul Bordin:

http://birdingmakiling.blogspot.com/2012/02/bangkong-kahoy-valley-12th-february.html

And an informative post on Bangkong Kahoy Valley by Traveling Angel:

http://travelingangel.wordpress.com/2011/06/28/bkvalley/

As well as a government piece:

http://www.bar.gov.ph/digest-home/digest-archives/367-2012-3rd-quarter/4419-julsep2012-bangkong-kahoy-quezon

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