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Sebucal Hot Spring

Located in Barangay Sebucal and 30 kilometers away from Oroquieta City, a natural hot sulfur spring is one of the most interesting points to visit. The route leading to the spring can be accessed from few other directions, however, the most challenging route is the starting point from Oroquieta City. Most naturalists and avid mountaineers would very much enjoy this route as it challenges one's love for nature. The beauty of nature's wonder makes your visit very meaningful and remarkable.

Layawan River Source - Mt. Malindang Trail

Leaving in a very sturdy vehicle, such as a 4-wheel drive truck from Oroquieta City right after an early breakfast will get you to Barangay Bunga before mid-morning. Although the roads are concrete and comfortable enough for easy maneuver, it's destination to the beginning of the foot trail may be unpredictable depending on the weather condition. Reaching the village of Toliyok, you will trek from the hanging foot bridge. From there, an average two hours ascent will get you to the summit of Barangay Mialin which is approximately 3,000 feet above sea level. While there, you can seek shelter at a building nearby elementary school. This building is owned by the Roman Catholic parish church. A parish caretaker is managing the facility with whom you can seek permission for a short rest stop. The cool and inviting breeze of the beautiful waterfall in Mialen is irrestible for anyone who is taking shelter from a long and seemingly unending trek.

Hanging Foot Bridge - Toliyok

Leaving the village of Mialen at 7:00 a.m. the trek will take about 5 hours to the mid-point route where you can take your lunch break. Following a lunch break, you can proceed to ascend for another 4 to 5 hours. The trek is facilitated by a foot trail alongside a very steep hill of about 45 to 60 degrees. Unlike the United States Appalachian Trail where the trail is distinguishly marked, certain portions of the Sebucal Hot Spring trail are only recognizable by local guides, such as the Suban-on natives who live in the area. Therefore, it is very important to have a local townsfolk guide who is very familiar with the trail.

Barangay Sebucal is approximately 4,500 feet above sea level and the height of this mountain is marked by the change in temperature and feeling of thinner air that you breathe. Once you arrive in Barangay Sebucal, the final destination can be reached by crossing the Layawan river 3 or 4 times. This trek can be very challenging as the trail passes through a jungle where tiny leeches attached to the leaves of tall grasses are awaiting to "ambush" the invaders of their natural wonderland. Ultimately, the reward is so much bigger as you reach your final destination. Once you arrive at Sebucal Hot Spring, you can set up your camp and enjoy the earth's nature while feeling the soothing effect of the hot sulfur spring.

Waking up in an unfamiliar environment can be confusing, but when you are in Sebucal, according to Dr. Conol, it is different. The song or call of the Horn bird called "Kalaw" at 6:00 am and 4:00pm without a miss, is a striking reminder that you are in Sebucal. The Kalaw's song that is heard during these two scheduled times is what the Suban-on natives used as their "nature's clock." The endangered Philippine Eagle called "Aguila" (also referred to as the "monkey-eating eagle"), demonstrates its discriminate presence in the village of Sebucal. It flies on the highest peak of the Sebucal village during mornings and late afternoons.

The size of the Aguila is so huge in that it has the ability to pick up just about anything it likes to "kidnap." According to Dr. Conol that during one of his visits to Sebucal, the townsfolk reported to him that at one time the Aguila picked up a piglet from one of the Suban-on natives' farmhouses. According to the report, the piglet could be heard screaming for its life!!! There were also times that the natives would hear the monkeys screaming which were then followed by a big "thump" and silence, by then the Aguila can be seen flying out of the monkey's area. This explains why the Aguila.....this endangered Philippine Eagle is also called the "Monkey-eating Eagle."

The challenges that this trek describe are striking reminders of my experiences while trekking the Appalachian Trail in the North Georgia Mountains with a 50-pound pack on my back. However, the unlimited grace of what nature has to offer is an unending Divine gift for humanity.

Ging Mutia

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Saturday, April 19, 2003 (Revised)