The Manila Times

Gateway to sacred Mt. Malindang


DON Victoriano Chiongbian, or Don Victoriano for short, serves as the gateway to Mt. Malindang National Park, a complex volcano located in Misamis Occidental. The mountain range is home to many waterfalls, a crater lake, and virgin forests hosting rare species of flora and fauna. Don Victoriano plays host to those who wish to explore the majestic Mt. Malindang.

The Subanons, the gentle people of Mt. Malindang Natural Park, were originally river people. Their name is derived from the word soba or “suba,” meaning “river,” and the suffix “non” indicating a locality or place of origin. The Subanon originally lived in the low-lying areas near the river. However, due to the influx of other settlers like the Moros, Cebuanos, and Boholanons to the coastal areas, they were pushed further into the interiors. Now, many of them live in the uplands of Mt. Malindang and have become the guardians of this sacred mountain, planting flowering plants, fruits, and vegetables along its slopes.

Cool weather and green forests

Don Victoriano is a small municipality with fewer than 10,000 people. The town center is situated at an elevation of 990 meters above sea level, with bamboo houses on stilts built along the ridges. With its cool weather and green surrounding forests, the place gives visitors the feeling of being in Sagada.

Barangay Mansawan or Nueva Vista is where the visitor center for climbing Mt. Malindang is located. Mansawan, where Lake Duminagat, an old crater lake, is situated, serves as the jump-off point for climbing the north peak of Mt. Malindang at 2,400 meters above sea level. Aside from climbing the peak and enjoying the enchanting Lake Duminagat, Don Victoriano offers many natural attractions to intrepid travelers in this beautiful town on the slope of Mt. Malindang.

How to get there

The quickest way to reach Don Victoriano from Manila is to take a one-and-a-halfhour flight to Ozamiz City. From Ozamiz, take a two-hour jeepney or van ride that climbs up to Don Victoriano. In Don Victoriano, habal-habal drivers can be hired to explore the attractions of the municipality.

For those who wish to explore the attractions of Don Victoriano and the rest of Northern Mindanao by car, it is possible by using the central nautical highway. From Manila, go to Batangas and take the RoRo ferry to Calapan, drive to Roxas or Bulalacao, then take the roll-on, roll-off (RoRo) ferry to Caticlan. Drive to Iloilo, take the RoRo ferry to Bacolod, drive to Dumaguete, then take the RoRo ferry to Dipolog. From Dipolog, drive for another two hours to Ozamiz and another two hours to Don Victoriano. While the roads to Don Victoriano are mostly paved, a 4X4 vehicle is required to climb to Piduan Falls and the vegetable farms of Don Victoriano.

What to see, what to do

The main attraction of Don Victorino is to conquer the north peak of Mt. Malindang. Along the way, one can also visit Lake Duminagat. Conquering this mountain is highly technical, and visitors must get in touch with the Don Victoriano tourism office for registration and guides.

Another beautiful attraction is the Piduan Curtain Falls in Barangay Piduan. From the parking area, it’s a 20-minute trek on a rocky trail to reach the head of the waterfalls. This enchanting waterfall is about 20 meters tall and more than 30 meters wide, with water so clear that you can almost see the rocks at the bottom of its basin.

Don Victoriano is the province’s fruit and vegetable basket, supplying crops like lettuce, cabbages, tomatoes, and carrots. It has also gained popularity as the supplier of the sweetest and juiciest strawberries to Northern Mindanao. There are strawberry farms that can be visited, such as Pines Strawberry Farm.

A visit to Don Victoriano allows visitors to learn the colorful history of the Subanons. A welcoming dance is usually performed for honored guests. They also perform their songs, including chants from the epic, and several types of songs, such as dionli (a love song) and buwa (lullaby). Typical Subanon attire is black with red and green stripes and ornaments.

Where to stay, what to eat

There are not many lodging options in Don Victoriano, as most visitors go there on a day trip. For climbers of Mt. Malindang, they either stay at the visitor center or camp at Lake Duminagat.

For most visitors who opt to stay in Misamis Occidental, they check into some of the hotels in Ozamiz City, such as Citi Tourist Inn, Royal Garden, or GV Hotel Ozamiz. The Aya Hotel in nearby Clarin is becoming a favorite of business travelers who prefer the quieter part of the city.

Similar to lodging, the dining options in Don Victoriano are also very limited. There are the usual carinderias in the town center, but for those looking for something local, they can try boiled saba banana dipped in spicy bagoong or inihaw na saging na saba sprinkled with sugar. Strawberries can also be bought fresh from the farms of Don Victoriano.

The best place to dine is in the cities of Ozamiz and Tangub, where one can buy freshly caught seafood from Paquil Bay cooked sugba style.





The Manila Times