Misamis Oriental

Take a ride on Misamis Oriental’s Route 955

Mike Baños

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Take a ride on Misamis Oriental’s Route 955

A section of Misamis Oriental's famous Route 955 near the Christ the King Shrine in Gingoog City.

courtesy of Project Lupad

The attractive weekend getaway's climate is often colder than other similar places like Tagaytay, and the weather can change from sunny skies to foggy, driven by cool winds in the blink of an eye

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Since travel restrictions were lifted, tourists and motorists have been flocking to ogle, gawk, ooh, and ahh at the scenic sights and attractions of the Gingoog-Claveria-Villanueva Road in Misamis Oriental.

Listed as National Route 955 (N955) in the Philippine Highway Network, the 71-kilometer two-and-four lane secondary highway links the Misamis Oriental towns of Villanueva and Claveria to the province’s component city of Gingoog.

Although opened to vehicular traffic in 2014, Route N955 or simply Route 955 was only recently completed and lops off an hour from the average travel time between the Cagayan de Oro and Gingoog from two hours and 30 minutes.

Travelers from Cagayan de Oro take a left turn at the Villanueva public market, then the road rises to nearly 1,200 meters above sea level around the 48-kilometer mark.

With its elevation, the pervading climate is often colder than other similar places like Tagaytay. The weather can change from sunny skies to foggy, driven by cool winds in the blink of an eye, making it an attractive weekend getaway for motorists fleeing the heat of the urban lowlands.

Travelers get to enjoy the magnificent vistas of the Mount Balatukan Range Natural Park starting around 20 kilometers up its almost constant rise.

After this peak at the Flight 387 shrine, the last 20 kilometers are all downhill till the turn-off at Gingoog City.

These are several salient attractions along the route that travelers and tourists can enjoy.

‘Ostrich Tree’

Some eight kilometers from Claveria proper on the left side along a bend of Route 955 (coming from Villanueva) is the famed “Ostrich Tree” near the boundary of barangays Luna and Lanise which has delighted thousands with its unique resemblance to its namesake.

TRAVELERS’ DELIGHT. The “Ostrich Tree” near the boundary of the villages of Luna and Lanise delights travelers with its unique resemblance to its namesake. (courtesy of Project Lupad)

Known locally as a Dita tree (Alstonia scholaris which is commonly called blackboard tree or devil’s tree), forester Raoul Geollegue notes the vegetative grown at its “neck area” is a fern and not a part of the main tree.

“It could be any tree species with a growth of ferns around its neck, so it’s not exclusive to any tree species,” Geollegue said.

Claveria View Deck

Further on in Barangay Lanise is the Claveria View Deck, a two-story viewing deck with a panoramic view of the Balatukan Mountain Range and Misamis Oriental’s hinterland areas. Open daily from 9 am to 5 pm, it is a popular stopover for motorists with its various amenities.

Mount Balatukan is a massive compound stratovolcano that is the highest point in the province of Misamis Oriental. 

The volcano has no historical eruptions but displays fumarolic activity. 

The 2,450-meter mountain is topped by a triangular-shaped caldera 15 kilometers long and 10.6 kilometers at its widest. 

The Balatukan River emanates from and drains the huge crater. It is one of the 17 major rivers that irrigate the natural park’s surrounding areas which also hosts the mystical Bantaawan Lake.

The Mount Balatukan Range Natural Park is one of the 94 Protected Areas in the Philippines covering Gingoog City and the municipalities of Claveria, Medina, and Balingasag in Misamis Oriental. 

It is listed as the 103rd key biodiversity area, 91st important bird area, and ranks 121st among the conservation priority areas in the Philippines. 

The endemic flora and fauna within its 11,000-hectare protected area include 48 species of flora, 17 birds, five mammals, four reptiles, six insects, and three fishes.

The Doalnara Restoration Society-Philippines maintains a 1,500-hectare organic farm in Barangay Aposkahoy which is mainly devoted to the production of yacon for export to South Korea. 

Established 28 years ago, it is one of the organic farms managed by the South Korean-based Doalnara Restoration Society in eight countries worldwide which exports agricultural products to South Korea.

Flight 387 Shrine

The Flight 387 Shrine situated a few kilometers from the slopes of Mount Sumagaya that borders Gingoog City and Claveria, is a memorial to the 99 passengers and five flight crew of Cebu Pacific Flight 398 who perished on February 2, 1998, in one of the worst air disasters in the Philippines.

The 20-foot memorial shrine erected about 20 years ago, is located within the complex being developed by the Misamis Oriental provincial government as a tourism complex with coffee shops, fruit stands, camping areas, flower gardens, a koi pond, and other amenities to promote food and historical and cultural tourism in the province.

Boundary marker

Approaching Sitio Civoleg, Barangay Lunotan, Gingoog City, is a boundary marker built by the Misamis Oriental 1st District Engineering Office (MOFDEO) under its Gender and Development (GAD) Program. The landmark is equipped with gender-responsive restrooms, a gazebo, an aesthetic landscape, and a parking space for stopovers.

Christ the King Shrine

Not the least and among the newest is the Christ the King Shrine at Barangay Samay, Gingoog City, reputedly the first and tallest in Asia at 75 feet. 

Following the recent completion of the statue will be a Tulay Kalinaw (Peace Bridge) which will serve as an elevated pathway leading to the 75-foot image.

Meanwhile, the construction of the upcoming CTK Leisure Park adjacent to the shrine continues. The project aims to establish the complex as a major faith tourism destination with an array of amenities, including a retreat house, function hall, view deck, gallery of famous saints, souvenir, and coffee shops, among many others.

To paraphrase a popular American travel song: “If you ever plan to motor east, travel our way, take the highway that is best. Take a ride on Route N955!” – Rappler.com

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