Valiant—not exactly the heroic stuff the word is associated with but more on its venturesome sense. That’s how I’d characterize my solo sojourns this year—call them my long-drawn-out battles against self-doubt—in the ruggedly ravishing province of Bukidnon. And that includes Valencia, billed as the “City of Golden Harvest”.
I’d describe those forays as valiant in the sense that they marked my first venture into one of Bukidnon’s two cities, presenting a whole new set of unforgettable experiences that spawned a number of blog posts. Without fear or faltering, I scoured the inner sanctums of Valencia, including its most sought-after attraction that’s known to not so many weekend wanderers—the serene yet secluded Lake Apo, a natural wonder found in the outskirts of the city.
With the exception of the habal-habal driver who drove me there—mind you, it was his first time,
too!—the adrenaline-pumping escapade to the lake was an adventure I’ve managed
to pull off almost entirely on my own (For more about the lake, visit my post
Typical of Bukidnon, Valencia’s landscape is blessed with mountain ranges, waterfalls, rivers, and caves found around its 587.29 sq. km land area. But what makes it more interesting is its charming lake. Lake Apo has a picture-perfect backdrop of mountains and greenery. Blessed with pristine waters, it’s dubbed as “the cleanest inland body of water in Northern Mindanao.”
Aside from Lake Apo, however, there are other natural wonders in Valencia that are just waiting to be discovered by tourists.
|Floating cottages at Lake Apo|
Sitting atop the Bukidnon plateau, the second-class city rises some 373 m (1,224 ft) above sea level. A big portion of its land area is considered rural, endowed with verdant forests and fertile agricultural lands. A little over 180,000 people, who speak Cebuano, Filipino, Ilonggo and English, occupy its vast expanse.
|Mt. Musuan and a portion of Pulangi River as seen from Batangan Bridge|
About an hour’s drive away from Malaybalay (Bukidnon’s capital), Valencia is located at the heart of the province, near the mighty Pulangi River, which traverses many of its rice-producing villages. Considered as Bukidnon’s longest, the river is the source of the 255-megawatt capacity Pulangi IV Hydroelectric Power Plant (located in the town of Maramag), which supplies about 25% of Mindanao’s power requirements.
|Panoramic view of Mt. Musuan, Pulangi River and Batangan Bridge|
|The road to Valencia City|
From what I’ve gathered, the City of Golden Harvest, so named given the large tracts of prime agricultural land being planted with the so-called golden Valencia rice, is also a major producer of corn, pineapples, bananas, sugarcane and the like. Every September, it celebrates the bounty of its rice and corn products through the Golden Harvest Festival.
Mind you, Valencia, which gained its cityhood about 15 years ago, is training its sights towards turning itself into the No. 1 producer of organic rice in the country!
Compared to Bukidnon’s subdued and surreal capital, I found Valencia to be more exciting and vibrant, bursting with activity mainly because it’s the business hub of the whole province. Interestingly, Valencia was once part of the provincial capital—about thirteen of the barangays that now make up present-day city used to be part of Malaybalay!
When I was exploring the province, I often stayed in Valencia. The city has a good number of accommodations to suit every traveler’s budget. The more popular ones are Hotel Valencia, GV Hotel, Hotel de Susana and Uno Business Hotel. Valencia also has several fast-food chain stores dotting its landscape—Jollibee, McDonald’s, Chow King, to name some. The city also its share of malls and supermarkets, including Gaisano, NVM, Parklane, and Robinsons.
If you’re a foodie, you can never go I wrong with Valencia’s homegrown steak house, Roadhouse Café, whose first and original branch is found along Sayre Highway. The popular dining place is a bit of a fusion restaurant, combining the best of Asian, Western and Filipino cuisine—the results of which are simply delectably awesome.
I’ve first tasted Roadhouse’s specialties in their SM City Davao outlet (I heard there’s also another branch in SM City Cagayan de Oro). Since then, I’ve been craving to taste more of their mouth-watering dishes. When I made it to Valencia, I readily scoured the long stretch of Sayre Highway just to find it.
Best known for its flame-grilled steaks, Roadhouse’s baby back ribs is a standout. Eat’s terrific, I must say! The tender meat has a tangy and sweet taste, so tender it melts in your mouth! I read somewhere that their steaks come from cattle raised organically in their farm somewhere in the province. Well, this isn’t surprising given that Bukidnon is known for its sprawling cattle ranches where high-quality beef comes from.
Surrounded by extensive mountain ranges, wide canyons and deep gorges, the province’s gently rolling plateau is ideal for cattle-raising, a flourishing industry that came into being during the 1900s. When the Americans came to Bukidnon, they established ranches in many towns, providing employment to the province’s men who were hired as cowboys. Today, one of these towns, Impasugong, is known as the “Home of the Country’s Finest Cowboys.”
On my way back to Davao, I made it a point to drop by the center of Catholic worship in the city, St. Augustine's Church, where the city's faithful flock hear masses. After praying for a safe trip back home, I left the church imbued with positivity and fond memories of Valencia.
In my next visit to the city, I'm thinking of doing a number of things I haven’t done before in my earlier forays. One of them is to go horseback riding in the city. As early as now, I’m already picturing myself atop a horse—clad in a typical cowboy’s outfit! Now, that’s one valiant cosplay worth looking forward to doing, don’t you think so? LOL! :-D