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Mindanao Road Trip : Cagayan de Oro to Dipolog City

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Thanks for all those who shared tips on Bohol. Watch out for the ultimate guide on Bohol probably by end of the month.

I need your help again. I'm planning on a Mindanao Road Trip from Cagayan de Oro - Iligan City to Marine Oriental Aquamarine Park to Oroquieta, Ozamis City to Dapitan (Dakak) and finally to Dipolog City. These are a lot of towns to cover and I'm hoping to create an ultimate guide to those places. Any secret tips or must see places that we shouldn't miss?

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Text and Photos by Anton Diaz. Copyright 2008.

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Wow, you're going home! Iligan was my home for several years and I taught at MSU-IIT. There are many places to see and do along that area - spelunking, swimming, hiking, and of course - eating!

Glad you're doing a guide on this area. For me, it's one of the most beautiful places (I'm biased, of course!). Be back later for my suggestions...

Gay

Steak at Del Monte.
Fruit pie in CDO.

Steak at Del Monte.
Fruit pie in CDO.

Some things to try:

Spelunking at Initao National Park
Eat lechon at Timoga with puso'
Swim at Timoga
Visit Maria Cristina Falls
Hike to Tinago Falls and swim in the lagoon
If you want to cook, check out the seafoods at Iligan market
Chedeng's peanuts
Eat puto maya, a type of rice cake
Eat marang if in season

river-rafting in CDO
visit the makahambus cave and malasag eco-tourism park
try the original camiguin pastel
visit museo de oro

Hi Anton! I am from Iligan City. You have to go see the Ma. Cristina Falls and Tinago Falls, after all Iligan is known as the city of waterfalls. :) If you have time, also go to Timoga Springs.

For pasalubong, buy Cheding's Peanuts. It's my favorite because it's not greasy. Also try Iligan's lechon. I always say it tastes better than what you get in Cebu. :)

Hi Anton,

I did the exact same trip with my partner about a year ago and absolutely loved it! Actually, we started in Dipolog and ended up in CDO. Here are some of the memorable bits we had:

White water rafting at CDO. Most tour companies charge 500/pax. Bring drinking water and lunch. CDO's famous chicken bbq and some rice should be enough. We left at around 7 am and were back at around 3 pm. Well worth the trip. Bring waterproof zip lock bags for your mobile phones, etc.

We always stay at Crystalla Hotel. At 700 a room, you can't really go wrong. Have dinner at Butcher's Best. They have the best BBQ in town!

The night market is excellent for pretty much any bargain hunter might look for. And the food section serves freshly grilled seafood that are superb.

If you happen to find yourself in Cagayan during a weekend, a trip to the Del Monte Golf Club is well worth your time. They serve tender steaks the size of baseball mitts. Bottomless pineapple juice, too! Great bargain!

We were driven around by friends so we really didn't see much of things between CDO and Oroquieta. Pero you might want to try Cheding's Peanuts. And Suka Pinakurat is also from there.

If you are going to MOAP, I suggest you stay in Oroquieta. A place called Rovic's has comfy rooms, pool, restaurant, cable, WiFi and only 15 mins away from MOAP. The owner is a tiny girl called Ruvy, whom I shared an apartment with in UP. She's a very good friend and will take you to the market if you ask. Hehehhe. Best Lumiagan (local squid) kilawin. Just tell her, half cooked. It's to die for. We stayed at Rovics for a week and I gained 15 lbs. Be warned.

Go to MOAP early, bring food and drinking water. Beautiful beach there in the middle, more like a sandbar with a little picnic area. Not much to see for snorkeling but sooooo blue!

Oroquieta to Dapitan takes about 2 1/2 hours. Stay at Dakak even for just one night. Lana Jalosjos (who starred in Rent and several other musicals) run it now with her brother Bullet. She was my classmate in UP and is a darling.

Have a look around Dapitan, Rizal's house, etc. Dapitan to Dipolog is less than 30 minutes.

Hope you enjoy your trip as much as we did!

aside from white water rafting in cdo, you can ask your guides to bring you to the canopy walk, zip line, rapelling area. for dinner you can check out butcher's.

enjoy your trip :)

Is the Marine Oriental Aquamarine Park in Baliangao, Mis. Occ? Try to go to Baliangao, the beaches are really unspoiled. Great site for snorkeling.

Try also kinilaw of freshly caught squid with tentacles still moving :) Ang kinason or conch shells which are really great as tinola.

In Dapitan, there are a lot of old houses which you can try to visit if the owners allow you too. There's also an oyster farm where you can eat on cottages supported by bamboo stilts along the river (in between Dapitan and Dipolog). Better review your Noli and Fili as well, so you can appreciate how they named their streets. If I remember correctly, the entrance to Dapitan City diverges into two streets - Noli and Fili.

You should try to make a side trip to Marawi from Iligan. It is always a surreal sight for Christian Filipinos to go into ARMM.

You see the town churches and chapels become mosques one this two hour trip. Seeing Maranao architecture and dress is fascinating. It will surely change the way you perceive your country.

There are so many beautiful white sand beaches in Dapitan, don't limit yourself to Dakak! :) Visit Piñahon, Aliguay and Silinog, some of the most beautiful beaches there but bring tents, food and drinks.

Walk the steps up to Ilihan Hill and enjoy the view of Dapitan at your feet. Buy tubs of talaba (oysters) for less than a hundred pesos. Visit the Rizal Shrine very early in the morning and get to see monkeys in the trees. Go to ukay-ukay and haggle for garments (I can get shirts and pants for P15 each haha).

In Dipolog, go eat grilled steak at Diner Joe's, so cheap but sooo good. Also walk the 300 steps up to Ilihan Peak.

I am here vacationing in Dapitan/Dipolog now and will be visiting CDO, Camiguin and Dumaguete. It's a blast! :D

I advise against visiting Marawi and anywhere near or in North Cotabato right now since the situation is volatile (hopefully the fighting will subside already!).

Hi Anton,

As soon as you get to iligan.. head straight to the market and buy "TUBA" its a coconut wine. Make sure to buy the freshly harvesed ones as they are the sweetes. :)

You might want to check with the local tourism office in Iligan. They can provide for you a tourguide and all you have to pay is donation. In Iligan you can check Tinago Falls(pagnsanjan does not compare to it), Mimbalot falls and Lake Lanao.. You can also take some time out to go swimming at Timoga. If your a fishing happy guy(like me), the tourguide can bring you to the water resevoir(its a dam far above the falls). the tilapias and "haluan" are crazy there. For the town's best street food... Ask around where you can buy "halang halang" Its a beef cutlet(meat and innards) soup with alot of spices and ginger! It usually is served at the market sidestreets at night. You can also try sunburst frid chicken.. Its an all-time fave there. And finally you can senior pedros lechon manok.. Saliviate and enjoy it! You cna also go to "maranao restaurants" and have a taste of the local delicacy: "native chiken with palapa"... its a spicy food that's seldom serevd in manila..

Im glad you are doing this guide. A blogger's thoughts is a powerful tool in belying the rumor that these places are not unworthy for travel because of the peace and order situation.

I will in Iligan on Sept 26-Oct 5. Just email me if your scheduled trip falls along that date.

P.S. Iligan is the Ukay-ukay hub of the south :)


Best Regards,

Michael Bulanan

Hi Anton!
I used to live in Manila but I stay in CDO now. I love to cook and eat! Here are my food suggestions:
La Tegola - really good Italian food. Expect to pay about P250+ per pasta dish.
Sentro - not to be confused with the Sentro in Manila. They serve American and Asian dishes at very affordable rates. So far, everything I've tried here is good. Imagine Louisiana Baby Back Ribs for less than P300!
The Barn Litson Manok - my top pick here given that there are stalls on almost every corner. P150 for a whole chicken (used to cost P135).
Dear Manok & Jo's Inato - again my top picks for Inasal here. Since Jo's has a branch in Manila, you might want to try Dear Manok.
Bo's Coffee - need a refreshing drink? Try their Berry Mix Antarteaca. It's like a slush of strawberries and other berries. About P125 for the biggest size.
For Pasalubong: Tita Fely's baked peanuts (comes in a variety of flavors), Elizabeth's Cashew nuts (unlike the also yummy Cashews from Palawan, these have a more roasted flavor), Vjandep's Pastel (its a bun with sweet filling, get the yema flavor) and Pinakurat (spiced vinegar that will take whatever you eat to a whole new level)
For outdoor activities:
white water rafting
canopy walk and zip line (rafting and canopy walk are near each other and located after the airport)
glass bottom boat at duka bay (about 2 hours from cdo, this area is a protected marine environment)

Send me an email if you want more info :-)
Kat

Anton, I came from Iligan and been to of course the nearby CDO as well as Ozamis and maybe 2x only in Dipolog. My usual gimick route is from Iligan to Davao via CDO/Bukidon. Very seldom to go to Ozamis area. Heres what I can tell:

1. In Iligan, the best pasalubong for Manilenos is the Cheding's peanuts. Can only be found there. Well meron sa CDO airport pero mas mahal na.

2. In Iligan, you can also buy or try the Sukang Pinakurat and Naprik, masarap na sawsawan sa mga BBQ or mga ihaw or kahit na pritong ulam....becoming famous now here in Manila. But you can buy those here in Manila in Puregold/CashCarry/Shopwise groceries.

3. While in Iligan, try to visit ARUMA cafe (Im small-part-owner here hehe bias). If you miss the coffeshops in Manila while in Aruma, Aruma is the place to be. With free Wi-Fi. Look for my partner and manager Jaeger :)

4. If you have time, try to drop by Timoga pools...sobrang lamig dyan pero sarap maligo. Better kung hindi weekends para konti lang tao. The water is surely clean because unlike other swimming pools we are used to, hindi stagnant but continous flowing ang spring water from the mountains.

5. If you have more time, visit the famous Tinago Falls and Maria Cristina Falls (although Ma.Cristina is by schedule), as well as other water falls in Iligan. Dyan maganda mag-photo ops :)

6. In CDO, you have to try the whitewater/river rafting.

7. If you will be staying in CDO overnight and you miss the nightlife of Manila, CDO is our place for gimicks/nightouts. Theres a lot there, just ask around. In Iligan, I could suggest only my friend's ZINC bar, with my friend Spanky as DJ playing House music :)

8. Food in CDO and Iligan are almost the same...cheap but really good. People there love to eat pork and chicken, so dont be surprised if you see lots of BBQ houses.

9. In Dipolog/Dakak, all Ive been to is Dakak and my mason brother Jose Rizal's shrine (his place of exile) :)

Thats all I know so far. Next time try the CDO-Bukidnon-Davao route naman. Hope you enjoy your stay there :)


Hi Anton,

I am from Manila but my husband is from Cagayan de Oro so we spend Christmas & most holidays in CDO. I really love the place, I hope you do too. Previous posts on places/food to try in CDO are good, just want to add:

(1) Also try Countryside Steakhouse outside Limketkai Mall. They also serve Del Monte beef. An 8oz rib eye steak meal is only php500.
(2) If you like chicharon, grab a pack of SLERS. Excellent with Pinakurat vinegar. I always have the "regular" chicharon. The "Special" has the taba, really good but deadly.
(3) If you are going white water rafting, dont worry about lunch. Most of the rafting companies offer a lunch package for Php400, so total of Php900 for the whole trip. Food is really good - chix inasal (or ala carte as they cal it in CDO), inihaw na tuna belly, veggie & a lot of rice with a bottle of spicy Pinakurat for each group of 5 people.

Enjoy!

ah yeah! dang! how could I forget...LECHON in Iligan is the best bro!!! Look for "Bayug" Lechon. Bayug is a famous place in Iligan where the best lechon came from. My advice, dont use Mang Tomas. In Visayas and Mindanao, people do not use Mang Tomas. We use vinegar with bawang, or the Sukang Pinakurat. Mang Tomas is only famous here in Manila because lechons here are not that tasty so you have to compliment it with Mang Tomas. Whenever I throw a small party here in Manila, I always ask my folks back in Iligan to send me a Lechon. Aside from being tasty, its really cheap even if I pay for the frieght, as compared to buying here in Manila. Per kilo of lechon there is half the price of Manila lechon's price. Sobrang sarap pa. I suggest you buy Bayug lechon and head to Timoga pools and enjoy your lechon with "puso" while swimming :) AND on your trip back to Manila, you can bring one whole lechon with you, the lechon shops will pack it for you, just tell them one day ahead your flight so they will cook and pack it just hours before your flight so when you arrive in Manila, mainit init pa at crispy pa ang lechon :)

Ask any Iliganons here in Manila....their birthday parties not complete without a lechon sent from Iligan :)

Oooh! I am excited to know you are going to Cagayan de Oro, my hometown. Yummm.

For Cdo:

Tourist trips:

1. Whitewater rafting
2. Canopy Park
3. Night Cafe (Fridays and Saturdays at the main Plaza)

Food, there's just too many to mention:

1. Corner Cafe- gets the better Moron supplier most of the time; better to order in advance.
2. Cecil's Bakeshop- Fruit pie, cassava cake and malagkit
3. Oro Shawarma- the best shawarma ever!
Butcher's Best- pork barbeque and sinuglaw
The Barn- Liempo and lechon manok
Persimmon Bakeshop- baked siopao, chicken pie,
cream puffs
LECHON- TITA IN's.- So good. Salty, crispy, YUMMY (Pabayo-Dolores St.), but you have to order the whole thing. The most popular is Poldo's, if you want to buy per kilo only. I'm really biased with CdO lechons, as opposed to the Cebu varieties. But hey, you can judge for yourself now.
Ham and Chicharon - Slers, Pine Hams

4. Restaurants- so many!!! Sentro 1850, Vienna Kaffeehaus, La Tegola, KAGAY-ANON, COUNTRYSIDE STEAKHOUSE, ROSSO of Mallberry, Bigby's... so many....

5. I know though Iligan has great Lechon Baka. I have lost the number of the maker though. I hope someone can post info on that.

6. If you're doing a road trip, might as well try Duka Bay in Medina, Nita's Eatery in Talisayan (they serve the most heavenly tinola, ssssh!), and Camiguin Island.

7. Bukidnon, try the Del Monte Clubhouse.

8. Ozamis City has an awesome aquamarin park, so it's good you're checking it out.

9. I can't stop talking, haha. I miss Cdo.



oh my you are going home...

was just there 2 months ago...and all the places that were mentioned made me sooooooooooo hungry here...yeah our lechon is the best!!!!!!!!!!

Hey Anton,

My family used to do a reverse (Dapitan to CDO) of this exact roadtrip every year, until maybe 3 or 4 years ago when I started college. My family prioritized those roadtrips since my mother's from Dapitan and my father grew up in Iligan and CDO. Here are some of my experiences:

1. You'll surely enjoy all the adventure CDO has to offer - canopy walk, white water rafting, river trek, etc. Research and allot time to do the Mapawa Nature Park river trek, it's FANTASTIC...

2. On the way to Iligan, we always take time to stop at Timoga for a cold swim. If you have time to spare, visit Tinago Falls, too.

3. Nothing much to do in Ozamis, Oroqueta, Lopez Jaena, etc. so you'll probably just pass by these places.

4. Dakak is a great place and you'll love its beach. But for a different experience, take time to walk around Dapitan and stroll in the park located at the middle of the city (near the church, city hall and school). If you can rent a bike, you can cover more ground and really experience the place..

Last, security situation in Mindanao, especially in Lanao del Norte is not really good at the moment. If you really want to proceed with the trip, it's best to contact someone from the place and let him/her suggest the safest way to tour Iligan and CDO. Enjoy!

Ken

Hey Anton,

My family used to do a reverse (Dapitan to CDO) of this exact roadtrip every year, until maybe 3 or 4 years ago when I started college. My family prioritized those roadtrips since my mother's from Dapitan and my father grew up in Iligan and CDO. Here are some of my experiences:

1. You'll surely enjoy all the adventure CDO has to offer - canopy walk, white water rafting, river trek, etc. Research and allot time to do the Mapawa Nature Park river trek, it's FANTASTIC...

2. On the way to Iligan, we always take time to stop at Timoga for a cold swim. If you have time to spare, visit Tinago Falls, too.

3. Nothing much to do in Ozamis, Oroqueta, Lopez Jaena, etc. so you'll probably just pass by these places.

4. Dakak is a great place and you'll love its beach. But for a different experience, take time to walk around Dapitan and stroll in the park located at the middle of the city (near the church, city hall and school). If you can rent a bike, you can cover more ground and really experience the place..

Last, security situation in Mindanao, especially in Lanao del Norte is not really good at the moment. If you really want to proceed with the trip, it's best to contact someone from the place and let him/her suggest the safest way to tour Iligan and CDO. Enjoy!

Ken

Hi, Anton! When you get to CDO, try the kare-kare and buttered giant prawns in TOWNS Restaurant just outside the Lim Ket Kai mall. TO. DIE. FOR. :-)

During the ride between CDO and Iligan, enjoy the fabulous view of the sea and make quick road-side stops for photo opps. Be on the look-out too for quirky signs, such as "It Seems.." beach resort :-)

When you get to Iligan, make sure you bring home boxes and boxes of yema pastel and lots of pinakurat vinegar.

hi anton!
are you still up to that trip despite the recent developments in iligan? well, juz in case you wanna tweak your route a little, why don't you go the other way... from cdo (after rapelling, canopy walk and white water rafting), head to camiguin? But before camiguin, don't fail to drop by duka bay in medina, misamis oriental and experience the best snorkeling you can ever have! don't content yourself with the glass bottom trip... swimming from the shore with the fishes is a lot more exciting and awesome! been there twice and never fail to get amazed by the bountiful marine life of duka bay. and by this time, probably the coral nursery may be in full bloom already. definitely, duka bay sea life is a sight to behold and experience! camiguin is another story. i guess, around september or october is the best time for camiguin for its lanzones festival.
i suggest save iligan for next time... a more peaceful next time. ma. cristina falls is your ultimate destination... however, at times, water flow is controlled for the power generation purposes but you can request to "open" the falls so you can see it in all its majesty. tinago falls is equally amazing (kapagod lang yung steps kasi nakatago talaga xa!)
in dapitan, of course, never miss the rizal shrine, where rizal was actually detained.
enjoy the trip!
-reda :)


Aside from the places mentioned, you might also want to visit the monastery in Bukidnon.

I've never been to those places (in fact, I just came from Davao last night -- my first trip ever to Mindanao!), but in case no one else mentions it, I want to tell you to bring home the bread from Del Monte Farms! They serve it there with your food, but it's so good that you'll want to take some home. They run out pretty quickly, though, so you might want to reserve some as soon as you arrive in Del Monte.

I think someone above mentioned it already, so I'll just reiterate that you try the zipline. I finally got to try it in Davao (though I think it was a shorter version), and it was FANTASTIC! It's not scary at all, in fact, it feels almost like flying. I wanted to do it again immediately after I got off. Even kids can do it, since it's absolutely safe.

Have fun on your trip, Anton! Inggit ako, I want to go there, too!!!

TRY TO VISIT MY HOMETOWN IN BALIANGAO, MISAMIS OCCIDENTAL. YOU WILL SEE WHITE BEACH RESORT NAMELY: OKLAHOMA RESORT, SUNRISE RESORT and LRJ RESORT.

ANOTHER THING, BAGA WATERFALLS is LOCATED at SAPANG DALAGA, MISAMIS OCCIDENTAL

If ever you're in Cagayan de Oro. Visit us -- Cecil's Bakeshoppe -- and i'll show you our products. =)

just e-mail me for more info =)

hi anton, i was born and raised in cagayan de oro. For your road trip, you might want to experience spelunking and white water rafting in cdo. Look for the yummy Vjandep's yema pastels...They are originally from camiguin but are sold in cdeo. Try them out..really good. go to timoga and also to maria cristina falls. they are good places to check out although you might want to hold off because of the recent happenings near iligan in particular to the MILF and goverment war. I have a friend who lives there and she told me that it is now ok but I still think it might not be a good idea to stop in iligan...you might want to check out the latest news from people you know who live there...take care and have fun on your roadtrip

ILIGAN BARS
KYLA's Bistro -I need to try this place, looks promosing.

ZINC (new) - High Class na mga POKPOK, bading and mga Dirty Old Men diri ga tambay, pang EXTACY and setting like in Cebu's Club, so para dili ka maalan nga POkPok or into EXstacy then stay away ani na lugar. and the Beer is Expensive!Here's my tip, before you go to this bar, buy your beer somewhere, because the beer or drinks here are soo expensive. 90% Dangerous.

GATZ BAR - Most bloody bar. almost every week naay gubot. Mga bayot ang gatambay diri, this is the toilet room sa Caltex og Petron, bad securty. Init kaayo nga Bar. 95% Dangerous.

Luxus Bar - Jologs bar. Girls beware ang moklo sa Bangkok diri na ga tambay. Pangit gyud ni na Lugar. Period. 95% Dangerous.

Bangkok Nights - Mingaw na, coz mi balhin na sa GATZ og Luxos ang mga jologs og moklo diri, Ok na gyud kay nanay BAND, Fiona Rocks, my Favorite Band. 20% Dangerous.

Petron/Caltex- Always beware here, dilikado diri during nighttime, Cheap beer, cheap girls, everything is cheap..ur nightlife here is cheap . 100% Dangerous.

Club Seven - Timing lang diri, lay gubot kay lay tawo usahay, stand up comedian and acoustic bands diri.. 20% Dangerous.

BEA's Coffe - Ok lang, chill out na lugar, but walay parking space. 5% Dangerous.

ARUMA Coffe - At first ok, now hang out sa mga og mga Moklo...tsk...tsk. 80% Dangerous.

YOMZ = - lay claro kay usahay naay Yawa Yawa, good food, nice ambience. 5% dangerous.

Iliganon Bar = Nice food, drinks, pizza and poker, Chill out and nature ang Ambience, artistic and showcases Iligan's Spots, Really
Iligan scene. Nice place if you want to invite your boyfriend/girlfriend for a date, or your barkada, then this is the place. 5% Dangerous.

Be Safe, stay away from Bars nga naa mga Moklo, DOM og ADDICT, ask yourself why?

Be sure to drop by at Saint James Church

hi, i will be in dipolog dec.9-12 and wanted to visit CDO or even camiguin..how can i go to cdo from dipolog and how long will it take?


thank you!

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