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Mindanao’s Ultimate extreme playground


Text and Photos by Henrylito D. Tacio

“If you will build, they will come.” That was what Burt Lancaster told Kevin Costner in the award-winning movie, A Field of Dreams.

The same advice was what Elpidio M. Paras followed when he developed the Dahilayan Adventure Park in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon, in 2009. Today, the place is now one of the most often visited areas in the country.

Actors Sam Milby and KC Concepcion came to capture some of the park’s enthralling scenery for the film, Forever and a Day. Marc Nelson and Dyan Castillejo followed suit for a segment in an award-winning television show, Sports Unlimited.

Screen heartthrob Aga Muhlach, former beauty queen Mirriam Quiambao, television personality Donita Rose, and film actress Agot Isidro had taken the challenge of flying the 840-meter zipline, touted to be the longest in Asia.

Others may claim the record, but the park’s Zip Zone has dual cables which can carry two riders simultaneously. The total length of the cables is 2,460 meters. 

“I never thought flying would really be this fun. I felt like I was Superman flying on top of the trees,” commented Armando A. Mortejo, a college professor who had to travel all the way from Davao City to experience it.

The launch point is 4,700 feet above sea level. The elevation drop is 100 meters with estimated speeds ranging from 60 to 80 kilometers per hour. The riders zoom through the lush greenery of pine trees and bushes.

The zipline is guaranteed safe for everyone. For safety reasons, only those between 4’4” and 6’3” are permitted to ride. Those with heart problems and weighing more than 100 kilograms are also not allowed. There is no age limit; the youngest to ride is two years old while the oldest is 77 years old.

“We are very much concerned with the safety of our customers,” says Ravi Michael P. Victorio, a civil engineer who is the flight operations manager of the Zip Zone. Although the equipment is designed and fabricated locally, the harnesses were bought from the United States. They also use state-of-the-art brake technology to ensure the safety of riders.

Actually, there are two other dual ziplines – one at 320 meters, the other at 150 meters. These two shorter zip lines were meant to get customers into action and make them lose their fear of the adventure.

Once the two zip lines are taken, and the person has no problem at all, he is ready for the 840-meter. A vehicle would bring all those who want to take the challenge to the launch point.

Aside from zip lines, there are several extreme adventures guests, and visitors can do to get the thrills of their lives. “Every year, we add one great ride so that those who previously came can have another extreme adventure,” Victorio says.

Some years ago, it launched the Skytower Base Jump Ride. In his Facebook account, Paras describes it as “faster and safer than a bungee.”

Base jumpers climb about 80 feet and walk the see-through plank. A harness is placed in his body before he leaps out. The free fall is only about 30 feet, and then after that, he goes slowly until he reaches below.

“I have tried it,” says Victorio. “It was scary. In fact, I had some butterflies in my stomach. But I did it because I want to experience what happens when you do it.”

There are more rides that can make your adrenalin rush. There’s the Ropes Course, which was introduced in 2010. It’s a 12-stage high and low wire obstacle course complete with a multi-sided rockwall.

“Aside from conquering your fear, this course can also build your confidence level,” says Victorio. “If a group will do it, it brings camaraderie, trust and teamwork among those who will do it at our Tower of Power.”

In 2011, Drop Zone Sky Wing was added to the list. Here, riders are pulled by a windmill-powered winch up to 120 feet. Once on the top, one of the teams pulls the release line located at the back. In a split of a second, the two drop from the top and then swing like a pendulum. “This is the country’s first extreme pendulum swing of its kind,” Victorio says.

In 2012, the Flying Lizard was launched. This canopy glider moves through the trees, crawls along with vines and zips between tree trunks while the rider pedals along the high wire. “It’s a good exercise,” says Mortejo, who pedals his way around to complete the 400-meter adventure.

In 2013, another great ride — called Python Roller Zipride — joined the growing list. Here, a rider zips, rattles, rolls, drops, swings, and bounces over 500 meters. “This is Asia’s first zipline roller coaster,” Victorio says.

At the nearby Forest Park, just a walking distance from the Dahilayan Adventure Park, there are more extreme adventures you can do. For one, there’s Astrozorbit; it’s a giant inflated ball where you and your partner are strapped inside. Then, the ball is rolled down in a hill where both riders can have “a kind of whirling experience.”

Another one is the Forest Luge. Here, the riders take off on a free-wheeling gravity cart down an asphalted trail as they savor the cool air and scenic view. Twice, it is said, is never enough for this ride.

By the way, Dahilayan Adventure Park is open every day from Monday to Sunday and on holidays from 8 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon. There is no entrance fee, and it’s on a “first-come, first serve” basis for the extreme rides. 

Those who want to spend a night at the park may check-in at the Pine Grove Mountain Lodge, a nine-room ski chalet-inspired Manor that has a 180-degree view of the Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park. It has a restaurant that serves really sumptuous and affordable foods.

Although the rooms are air-conditioned, you don’t need to turn it on. The cool wind that penetrates the screen is guaranteed to make you chill at nighttime.

In going to the park, visitors who have no private vehicles can hire a jeepney or van from Cagayan de Oro. Or they may hop on the air-conditioned Zip Zone shuttle, straight from the city.  

According to Victorio, it was his father-in-law, Paras, who brought all these extreme rides in Dahilayan. A leading technology innovator in Cagayan de Oro, Paras also founded the first cable system outside Metro Manila.

“I saw this kind of tourist attraction (referring to ziplines) when I traveled in the United States and Europe so I brought the idea here,” Paras said. Every time he goes abroad, he tries to bring something extreme for Filipinos to enjoy at the Dahilayan Adventure Park.

So, expect more in the coming years!

How to get there: Dahilayan Adventure Park is about one hour and thirty-minutes from Cagayan de Oro City. From the city, take the Davao-Bukidnon Highway, right on the Alae Junction, proceed 25 kilometers to passing the Del Monte Camp Philipps and pineapple plantation. Look around for markers that indicate where the adventure park is so that you’re going in the right direction.

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