Bukidnon’s newest eco-adventure destination Kampo Juan is named in honor of Dr. Juan Acosta – the patriarch of a patrician family popular for combining politics, environment and scientific research into their collective resume. While his wife Socorro served as mayor and representative of the district and son Neric is probably one of the country’s best environmentalists, Dr. Juan Acosta is known for being a pioneer in pineapple plant breeding.
I begin with these family values because this mountain adventure clearly carries the Acostas’ genetic blueprint, I won’t be surprised if it will be declared the youngest child soon. Located in Diclum, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon, Kampo Juan does not have the prentensions of its nearest and most obvious competition, the Dahilayan Zipline Adventures — no big constructions going on, no mediterranean-style hotels in the making (at least so far), no picnic areas with animals made of concrete (my worst experience in Dahilayan), and no motorcycles for rent whose sounds and fuel exhumes never compliment a mountain resort. Just saying.
But what it offers are raw, fresh, natural adventures not just for adrenaline addicts but for those who seek to experience what country living is all about. But the biggest attraction of KampoJuan is its setting: a deep ravine where a river runs freely. Every adventure play second lead role to the ravine: ziplines, hanging bridge, anicycles, rapel, and its coming attractions such as bungee jumping and a swimming pool are mere features.
We came during the soft opening, and were lucky enough to be the first to arrive, and the first guests to formally attempt the hanging bridge. Adette Doydora and Robert Paluga preferred to stay in the bamboo pavilion and eat Ulam Pineapple (a hybrid developed by Dr. Acosta which is said to be the sweetest pineapple ever developed). So, Dondon Estacion, Alain Pausanos, Ines Huera, Ireneo Bernas, and I tried the hanging bridge because we were too chicken to attempt the zipline. The hanging bridge is breathtaking – literally. Spanning 120 meters across the ravine and 165 meters above the river, the hanging bridge serves as the playground of the staff. They run across the bridge, while it took me ten minutes to cross it with two trembling stops in between.
I had to stop in the middle so that I can clearly see the waters underneath me. The harness actually made me feel safe; but still, my fear of heights made me tremble.But what is the whole point of adventure if no fear is involved. right? And the fear factor is what makes Kampo Juan an amazing destination. The deep ravine takes your breath away.
Our batchmate, John Labis, serves as foreman of the construction so he gave us a rundown of the plans. His boss slash nephew Bajun Bagayas made the design. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that our guide, John Tabanas, is the son of Titan and Jewel, nephew of my ex-drinking buddy Wowie Racines. He told us that most of the staff here are relatives, friends, and neighbors. How typical of the Acostas, treating this as a family business.
There are a thousand things I didn’t like about Kampo Juan – the flies, the flies, the flies, the flies ad nauseam. There is a poultry farm nearby. But John assured us that the flies were transient occupants. Once the harvest is over, they will return home to the poultry.
But if anyone will ask me to choose between Dahilayan and Kampo Juan, I’d say, “Why choose?” Try both, they are less than an hour apart. But if time and budget constraints are issues, then go to Kampo Juan. It is nearer, more natural, more exhilirating, and way cheaper. For 500 pesos, you can do two ziplines, a hanging bridge and the anicycle. Besides, you get the bragging rights.
Check out this Dahilayan Review.
Also check out Mapawa Nature Park