The last time I visited Bukidnon in 2004, I was on an endless road trip covering the national elections for one of the country’s leading broadsheets.
And while I wanted to take in the beauty of the place, I wasn’t able to do so because of constant deadlines.
Nine years after that forgettable experience, fate brought me back to Bukidnon’s arms and this time around, I made sure that it would be a happy, exciting trip that I would surely enjoy.
For four days, I roamed around Bukidnon, trying several restaurants, visiting cultural and historical spots. But without any doubt, the highlight of the trip for me was my visit to the Monastery of Transfiguration, a haven for Benedictine monks.
Located in Barangay San Jose, the monastery is just a mere 15-20 minutes trip via multicab from downtown Malaybalay. But being the prissy traveler that I am, I rented the entire vehicle to take me to the monastery and back.
As with every monastery, the Monastery of Transfiguration is secluded and you must pass several gates before reaching the main chapel and the guesthouses. There is also a strict dress code (no shorts, no sleeveless shirts). You will be given a sarong to cover up yourself before you can go near the chapel.
The monastery chapel was designed by the late National Artist for Architecture Leandro Locsin. He wasn’t able to live long enough to see it completed but he would have been proud.
The pyramid shape is so intriguing and the huge singular rock that serves as the altar is striking. The hanging cross and the wooden walls also add to the mystique of the place.
What really caught me off guard is the serenity and peacefulness of the entire complex. The entire monastery complex is so quiet that even the strong winds seem afraid to disturb the tranquility of the place. All you can hear is the sound of your thoughts.
In our daily lives, how many times do we stop and just listen to the voice within? Seldom, I must say. Because we are consumed by our own need to move, be somewhere else and accomplish things.
Yet as soon as I enter the monastery’s chapel, all the sounds around me vanished and I felt completely at peace with the world. I didn’t make the sign of the cross but yes I prayed to God, to protect my loved ones and shield them from any harm.
I also prayed for contentment and peace of mind. I prayed to have the courage to let go of the anger and hate I still harbor towards people who have mistreated me in the past.
I prayed to be open and be more understanding to others.
Within 15 minutes of staying inside the chapel, all my worries disappeared and it dawned on me why the place is called the monastery of the transfiguration or a momentary transformation.
But I figured, we don’t have to keep it just a fleeting moment of peace. We can make it a lasting inner peace by always doing good and avoiding things that would hurt others.
After a very long moment of silence, I left the main chapel and surrendered my sarong.
Before I left the complex though, I took the time to check out the monastery’s gift shop where they sell the famous monk’s coffee and peanut butter. Honestly, i bought them as my contribution to the Benedictine monks who reside in the monastery. But I have it on good authority that the coffee and the peanut butter are splendid as well.
To contact the monastery, you can call 088-221-2373 or 088-221-2899.