With all the stress and negativities around us right now, sometimes what we need is to unwind and retreat to the mountains where we can reconcile with ourselves and, hopefully, enhance our spirituality. Perhaps a quick trip to Malaybalay in Bukidnon, Mindanao can help restore our weary souls before we go back to the Metro and face the daily struggles of our lives.
Monastery of the Transfiguration
A place of peace and serenity, the Monastery of the Transfiguration is home to the Benedictine monks who live in prayer and work (oraetlabora). In this place, one can opt to experience living a monastic lifestyle by joining the monks in their daily prayers and routines.
Benedictine monks are known to sing verses as their prayers, and retreatants are given booklets so that they may follow and sing together with the monks in their Lauds (morning prayers) and Vespers (evening prayers). The voices of the monks are so angelic that you may feel as if you’re floating in the clouds.
The best way to truly experience a monastic way of living is to book an overnight stay at one of the guest houses of the Monastery. For a fee, one will be accommodated with lodging, including meals and a supply of their famous coffee blend fittingly called the “Monk’s Blend.”
Most visitors would agree that one of the most unforgettable things in the place is the taste of their Arabica-Robusta coffee. This coffee blend is personally worked on by the monks and has, in fact, been recognized as a quality brand all over the Philippines. Some big supermarket stores carry the product on their shelves. Additionally, some big ice cream manufacturers source their coffee blend from the monks to flavor their products. You may visit their in-house factory by asking one of the monks in the place.
Walk on the Farm
For a unique experience, one may opt to traverse the fields where the monks have their produce planted. Additionally, walking through the fields would be a shorter way to reach the church of the Monastery especially when coming from the dorms at the foot of the Abbey. Beware of the cows in the area though, you wouldn’t want one to chase you unless you like the thrill of running from a large bovine. One member of our group got chased and boy was he exhausted.
Transfiguration Monastery Museum
While soul searching, one might also take delight at visiting the Monastery’s museum. As opposed to the usual religious museums filled with statues or relics of saints, this museum is filled with different vestments. And no, liturgical vestments are not limited to dull and boring colors. This museum is filled with colorful vestments designed by Dom Martin Gomez, OSB.
Dom Martin, formerly and popularly known as Gang Gomez was a celebrated fashion designer before entering the monastery. The designs of the vestments are truly exquisite and one cannot help but imagine wearing them despite being a non-cleric.
All in a Day’s Work
After a hopefully soul-filled journey, one may also take delight ongoing an adventure-filled ride. Before going back to the city, one may opt to take a stop at Dahilayan Adventure Park, just a couple of hours away from the Monastery.
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With all the energy refilled from the retreat, there is no better way to jumpstart the journey back to the daily grind than to scream your lungs away with a friend as you both fly on the longest dual zipline in Asia.
And what better way to end the retreat than to end it with a bang! After all that is said and done, we are now ready to be back with more vigor, enthusiasm, and positivity. Bring it on, world!