Having visited Mambukal when I was still a toddler, I have so little recollection of what it’s like in this mountain resort. Everytime I go home to my province, I always wanted to visit Mambukal.
Mambukal lies at the foot of Mt. Kanlaon and is the gateway to the Kanlaon National Park. The resort is about 45 minutes away from Bacolod City and is reachable through public transport.
Finally, I was home for the Lenten season and I urged my sister to accompany me to Mambukal. We took a ride going to Libertad, just past the South bus terminal, towards the jeepney terminal of Murcia, the municipality where Mambukal is located. The person collecting our fare told us that the terminal for the bus to Mambukal is at the other side but we could take the jeepney to Murcia and then transfer to the bus when we get to the town proper. Fortunately, the driver was going home to Mambukal and told us that he could take us there.
We passed by the road to Mansilingan and went straight ahead passing through subdivisions, factories, huts and sugarcane fields. We reached the small town of Murcia where most of the passengers were unloaded. Then, the ride was swifter as the mountains loomed ahead of us. Suddenly the scenic fields were replaced of houses. The military headquarters was our landmark that we were nearing our destination. The jeepney driver dropped us off right at the entrance gate of Mambukal Resort where the road ended.
I entered Mambukal with new eyes. Any traveller who will be visiting Mambukal for the first-time will not find a hard time getting acquainted with its various facilities.
I paid P50 (over US$1) a head for the entrance fee. At the gate, fee rates were posted which listed the cost for overnight stays, cottages, pools, gardens, wall climbing, boating, and other amenities. We stopped by the Tourist Information Office to get brochures. As they ran out of maps, my sister and I tried to memorize the map drawing at their desk. We decided to walk so we can see most of what the resort could offer.
Right across the Information Office was the “Mambukal” stone signage with miniature water falls running over it. We missed a left turn and we ended up at the Ishiwata Bathhouse. The neo-classical structure was built in 1928 by Engr. Kokichi Paul Ishiwata and the few remaining buildings of the original resort designed by Ishiwata that allowed the flow of spring water from Mt. Kanlaon.
From there we walked downwards to the bridge which brought us to a spot that presented us with the picturesque lagoon. No swimming is allowed in the lagoon as this is reserved for boating. Across the lagoon, a little bit hidden from sight is the Butterfly Garden. It is small but it has plenty of butterflies that makes the P20 (about 50¢) worth it. Different colors and sizes as well as exhibits of the variety of butterfly species fill the garden.
We walked a bit towards the wall climbing and the zip line. The line passes over the lagoon towards the bathhouse. We also passed by rows of tents for those who are more adventurous and prefer to camp the night at the resort. Along the way, copies of the resort map were posted in strategic places to guide visitors.
We came upon the hot sulphur where the water along canals form into suds and the plants and soil it passes through become ash white. A large pool was sitting atop a small mound that is filled of steaming hot water with sulphur that originates from Mt. Kanlaon.
There were rows of vendors selling plants and flowers that bloom because of the fertile soil at the foot of the volcano. A few days back, I encountered a similar scenario at the Cagsawa Ruins in Bicol wherein vendors were selling flora and fauna that grow from the base of Mt. Mayon. The rich soil from volcanic eruptions is one of the factors why flowering plants are aplenty within the perimeter of a volcano.
We passed by the day cottages where families where grilling pork and playing mah-jong. Right next to it is the pool. Since it was the Lenten season and people were on a holiday, Mambukal was fully booked that day we visited.
For those who want to relax and rejuvenate, Mambukal also has the warm sulphur dipping pool that was cordoned off by walls of bamboo for a bit of privacy and solitude. Right across it is The Blade Salon and Spa for those who longs for a massage and the like. Beside the spa is the river flowing from the mountains as it run across large boulders and rocks. We crossed the bridge and found some restaurants built underneath it.
Mambukal is also for the adventure-seekers and nature-lovers. It offers activities like bat watching and hiking towards its seven falls. A guide tried to talk us into trying it out but we refused as we were not equipped and ready for a mountain trek. He explained that should we want to venture farther up the mountain, we’ll end up at the Kanlaon National Park which can be hiked in two days. Two days! I don’t think I have the stamina for it.
The sun was getting hotter so we decided to head back to the gate. We strolled through the LGU cottages and peeked into one of the rooms. They were air-conditioned rooms, neat and spacious. I would love to bring my friends here for a few nights of stay. Maybe by that time I’d be able to climb the seven falls and do a little bit of mountain hiking.
At the gate, several vendors were selling fruits and buses were waiting for passengers. The bus we took rode so slow as it passed on every street corner to get more people to ride. But I didn’t mind because it gave me more opportunity to look around and observe the local residents on how life is lived near Mambukal mountain resort.