Bangkong Kahoy Valley
Tiong Dolores Rd., Kinabuhayan, Dolores, Quezon
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I love this! Bangkong kahoy is indeed amazing and surprisingly humble. There are a lot of things and yet to discover around that place. The owner is an environmentalist and he is supporting and helping the resident of Barangay Kinabuhayan by providing them some livelyhood program. Every year they celebrate Music festival to raise funds to support their students to their education too. This place is a must visit place. Youll be surprise too!
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We went to a music festival called, Banahaw Tugtugan in Quezon province. We took a bus at Buendia and traveled for over 3 hours to San Pablo, Laguna.
From there we hired a jeep. Bangkong Kahoy Valley can be found in Dolores, Quezon, about an hour away from San Pablo. As the name implies, it is a low area between the hills. Given how late it was, some jeepney drivers weren’t inclined to take the journey, but we managed to find one who was willing. We had to pay PHP 1,500 (USD 32.34); that’s about 214 pesos per head. I personally believe that it is overpriced, but we didn’t have much of a choice.
The driver, for some reason, took the wrong route because he didn’t know he was supposed to take us Bangkong Kahoy itself, apparently, he just thought he was taking us somewhere in Dolores. That’s about 30 minutes wasted and he even had the audacity to ask us for more money when we finally reached the destination. I told him that that’s all the money we had and we agreed on 1,500 pesos so that’s all he would get. It was his fault we got lost anyway so why should we give him additional payment?
We had to cover the rest of the way on foot because the jeep could no longer fit itself on the narrow path. We heard the music and we were drawn to it like a moth to a fire. It’s been a long time since I watched a gig so I was dying in anticipation. If there was one beautiful thing that an old flame brought into my life, it’s the Filipino indie music. And once I discovered them I was hooked. These artists veer away from the mainstream. They write and produce their own music and play them in obscure bars. Their music is poignant, unconstrained, and rebellious and they speak to me. I was naturally excited.
Do you know those times when you can literally feel the vibe flows through you the moment you step into a room? That’s what I experienced when we entered Bangkong Kahoy. Even my friends were in high spirit, completely taken by the ambiance. I previously attended another music festival in Puerto Galera, the Malasimbo Lights and Dance Festival where most people are noticeably young and wealthy, the Banahaw Tugtugan crowd is more simple and artistic. Just my kind of people, I thought to myself.
After we paid our PHP 350 (USD 7.55) entrance fee , we had our super late dinner in the in-house cafe. Next point of business was pitching our tents. Once we’re settled, we laid out our mat on the damp grass in front of the stage where the bands were playing.
We watched Talahib perform, an ethnic folk band with 9 members (yes, that many) and I was in a trance. They were dressed in clothing with some ethnic elements and patterns, some members played traditional musical instruments like gangsa, djembe, and kubing, and the female vocalist has long wavy hair, which swayed ever so gently as she danced gracefully on the stage.
The sad thing is, I was exhausted and cold. It was in the middle of summer but Bangkong Kahoy seemed to be in a different place. It was as cold as Baguio in January. I retired to my tent ahead of my friends, the music lulled me into sleep.
The next day, we were up early and the beauty that was obscured at night greeted us in the morning light. We were enthralled. We had our breakfast and soon after, took a walk to fully appreciate the place.
We passed by a garden that grows raspberry. Nobody forbade us to pick some of them so that’s what we did. A friend advised to pick those that are big and very red because those are the sweet ones, she was right.
The land that Bangkong Kahoy owns is huge and expansive, covered with plants and trees. We continued our way to a dirt road that led to this off-beaten path where we found an unfinished building that looks like a gazebo. We entered and there we spent almost two hours talking, taking pictures, and pretty much enjoying the beautiful view. It was one of my favorite moments at Bangkong Kahoy. The place offers a beautiful view of Mt. Banahaw and it could have been more had they finished its construction. On why they stopped building, I will never know, but even in its incomplete state, it was beautiful.
We returned to the cafe for lunch. Bangkong Kahoy offers mushroom burger and raspberry shake, both were made from the ingredients that they grow themselves. I was skeptical about buying the raspberry shake, I don't really like sour drinks. But my friends were so impressed by it, I just had to try it. It was delicious, the sour taste I was dreading was minimal, it was sweet but not too much. It tastes more milky than anything else.
Leaving such a beautiful place is bittersweet and I think my friends and I shared the same feeling. We left Bangkong Kahoy sometime in the afternoon and had to walk the dirt path for over 20 minutes to ride a tricycle.
Next year I have two things to go back to, Banahaw Tugtugan and Bangkong Kahoy. If you too like great music set up in a lovely place, you might want to go there too.
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Breathtaking. Yes. Definitely. Actually more than that.
I was feeling anxious while we were on the last two kilometers to Bangkong Kahoy Valley. The road up is narrow, and have several blind spots, and is really just a one-way path, with no one to inform someone up or down that a vehicle is passing. In our van, some were just sleeping it off; but some, like my mom, were causing tension by reiterating how difficult the drive is. I was quiet, as I was the one who insisted that we see this place. I needed to see their reaction when we get there.
Finally, when we reached BKV, I was soothed, in a bunch of reasons. The place was very beautiful, very green, very relaxing. Being around mountains was just grand. BKV sits in the middle of Mt. Banahaw and Mt. San Cristobal. There are other several mountains, like the one that they call 'Susong Dalaga.' All of us said that visiting it was a great plan!
We were greeted by Edwin, who was assigned to tour us around. He was helpful and happily volunteered to take pictures of us. He was very knowledgeable, very entertaining and funny.
As a welcome drink, we were given two pitchers of wild raspberry (which is locally called 'Sampinet') juice. It was sooooooo masarap! I think it will also be best paired with vodka! Hihi! It was very refreshing. I had three glasses.
BKV is a 21-hectare of land, which got its name from a tree that grows horizontally, then vertically, making it look like a chair. This was originally owned by Agripino Lontoc, who, from what I understood, was the only Colonel in the 1800s (Spanish era) that was authorized by the government to travel over the mountains and get a grip of whatever land he wanted. The owner now still stems from the family of Agripino, and is a hardcore environmentalist.
There is a chapel, and they accomodate wedding ceremonies and celebrations (five weddings as of the time of our visit, 03202016). There are rooms for those who want to stay overnight (one of the rooms can accomodate 6 persons for Php3500). No aircon since the place is cold, and gets colder at night. There are honesty stores - one of which offers Raspberry-infused Lambanog. Gumuguhit sa lalamunan. Sarap! Vegetables are sold for a low price (Php15.00 per kilo of Sayote, Php400.00 per kilo of Raspberry, etc) They have what they call Kabutehan, where they grow mushrooms, in several variations. They have a restaurant, with a view deck where one can have a perfect view of the mountains. So amazing God created all these for us to see!
It was a little past 12noon, and Edwin directed us back to the dining/receiving area to have lunch. Lunch was buffet style -- sinigang, pansit with lots of kalabasa (hindi ko alam tawag, hindi ko rin tinikman, but it was really delish said my friends), fried fish, mushroom tempura, and minatamis na saging for dessert. Mushroom Tempura was the best! Crispy and just heavenly! It was our favorite. All of us. We were again served with Sampinet Juice, and Spring water! It tasted good as well; exhilarating!
We weren't able to continue the tour though, because we had to travel back to Manila to hear mass at 6pm. But, even if it was bitin, we really enjoyed every moment of it. Snapping was possible. They have wifi!
By the way, we asked if they plan to improve the two-kilometer road up. They said no, because they want that the people who would go to the place would really have a purpose, and two, keeping it as it is will help preserve the beauty of the environment in BKV.
Praying that there will be more people like the family who owns BKV - they make a living out of nature, but they ensure that it is preserved, and well-taken care of; not destroyed and converted to whatever. Their goal is to keep the greens and add more.
Entrance is Php70.00 for a day tour, no extra fee for the tour guide (but you will be more than happy to give a tip!). Lunch buffet is Php250.00 per head.
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