Eco Tourism Village – Where Is It?
An Eco-Tourism Village in Cagayan de Oro City, aptly named Gardens of Malasag, has steadily become a favorite destination for creationists, island vacations enthusiasts, spiritual retreats goers and natural attractions lovers wanting to go on nature trail trekking and mountain view sightseeing and enjoy its campsite and other facilities. Reached via a 30-minutes drive from Lumbia Airport (Cagayan de Oro City Airport), it sits on a 7.2 hectare property in the slopes of Sitio Malasag connecting to the 800 hectares reforested area of the Cugman Watershed in Barangay Cugman, Cagayan de Oro City in the northern part of Mindanao Island, Philippines.
Eco Tourism Village – Why Visit the Place?
I was not into travel blogging then when I first visited and stayed at the Eco Tourism Village on August 9-13, 2010 as a participant to the 5-day Training on Ecotourism Planning and Development conducted by the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) in partnership with the Philippines-Australia Community Assistance Program (PACAP) purposely to capacitate the various Bucas Grande Island stakeholders in the formulation of the Socorro Eco Tourism Development Plan.
Being a nature lover island vacations buff, I really admired and missed the place. Hence, one year after my first visit, I decided to pay a return trip to the Malasag Gardens. From the city center of Cagayan de Oro, we traveled for 10 minutes along the National Highway, turned right at a junction and went uphill through an asphalted winding road until we reached this portion . . .
A few more minutes travel and my eyes were once again attracted by this sight . . .
After paying the PhP 30.00 per head entrance fee, we entered the eco tourism village premises and this signage with an imposing logo of the Gardens of Malasag had greeted our eyes. . .
We then proceeded to the parking area within the vicinity of the swimming pool and this view had captured our interest . . .
I and my wife then started to savor the alluring sights of the eco tourism village, the first being the camp ground. . .
Afterward, we trekked on the nature trail uphill towards the central portion of the village until we reached this spot on the road side . . .
On the opposite side of the road is the Amphitheater. . .
Situated just a few meters from the amphitheater are the cozy villas smartly designed to match with the rolling terrain . . .
A further walk led us to the tarpauline displays on the road side showing some of the tribes in Mindanao Island whose members are working in various capacities in the Gardens of Malasag . . .
My wife was lucky to have selected a few Higa-onon and other tribal souvenir items left as the others were purchased in bulk by a group of employees having a seminar at the Gardens of Malasag . . .
As we were about to end our nature trail trek, we sat for quite sometime at this spot to savor the enthralling views . . .
Eco Tourism Village – Final Thoughts
The Gardens of Malasag Eco-Tourism Village was conceptualized in 1991 by the Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA), now the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprize Zone Authority (TIEZA), dreamily inspired by the picturesque gardens of Granada in Spain and Butchart Gardens of Canada. While the amenities built of indigenous materials, as in the case of the tribal houses, were already gone and the the native huts being replaced by concrete villas smartly designed to have an indigenous look, but the ambiance of a cultural domain of natural wonders are still very much evident. What I missed in my return visit were the tribespeople demonstrating their dancing and musical culture that I had seen and participated before as we came to the place in the morning while the tribal street dancing were done every 4:oo o’clock in the afternoon.
If you want to have a wonderful experience of having a colorful glimpse of the ecology and rich ethno-Filipino heritage of Northern Mindanao while savoring the spectacular view of Macajalar Bay and the bustling city of Cagayan de Oro, a visit to the Gardens of Malasag Eco Tourism Village is an undertaking which you would surely not regret having decided to do so.