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June 9, 2016 Comments (0) Cotabato, Hiker's Itch Recommends, Lakes & Falls, Resorts, Side Trips (Places to Visit)

Kidapawan City’s Famous Lake Agco and The Manobos of Ilomavis, Reloaded!

Lake Agco and its surrounding inland resorts is a popular relaxation place for a lot of people in Kidapawan and surrounding provinces. It is also one of backpackers fave “cooling down” place after hiking Mt. Apo. The mud pack, saunas and jacuzzis of the resorts near Lake Agco is heaven for tired and sore muscles. Recently, I had a chance of going back to Lake Agco  and discovered a bit more of what Brgy Illomavis and Lake Agco could offer.

So what does Lake Agco and the Ilomavis community of resorts has to offer for visitors?

Lake Agco is located in a forest reservation 1,250 meters above sea level at the foot of Mt. Apo. It is part of Brgy. Ilomavis some 25 kilometers from the city proper of Kidapawan. Lake Agco is technically a pool of ho,t sulfur mud presumably from the geothermal innards of Mt. Apo's belly.

Lake Agco is located in a forest reservation 1,250 meters above sea level at the foot of Mt. Apo. It is part of Brgy. Ilomavis some 25 kilometers from the city proper of Kidapawan. Lake Agco is technically a pool of ho,t sulfur mud presumably from the geothermal innards of Mt. Apo’s belly. Taking a bath inside the lake is obviously, a suicide for the boiling mud will char your body in no time. Luckily, there are fountains of hot and cold springs around Lake Agco. The water from these springs were ingeniously piped inside the resorts just below the lake itself. A man made, hot pool is also located just beside the lake.

So what does Lake Agco and the Ilomavis community of resorts has to offer for visitors?

Mud craze and mud packs
Hot, sulfuric mud applied to human skin is thought to have this  “medicinal” and “relaxing” effects. Balneotherapy, (‘balneo’ comes from the Latin word for bath and means soaking in thermal/mineral waters) or medical hydrology, it is considered a medical science outside of North America and is an integrated part of allopathic medical practices and preventative medicine in some countries. Bathing in lukewarm sulfuric water kills germs and viruses on skin (hence the derma effect) and reduces arthritic pain as well as sore muscles.


Lukewarm sulfuric mud is manually applied to all exposed but non wounded skin part of your body, is allowed to dry and stay there for at least 15-20 minutes. It is then rinsed off using lukewarm sulfuric water such us in a jacuzzi followed by a neutrally thermal water to get its beneficial effect. Like the one below

Mudpool Lake Agco

Tourist Nanardz with dried sulphuric mud on his face relaxes in the lukewarm mudpool just beside Lake Agco (Photo by Neil Alvin Cuenca)

Sauna and Jacuzzis
Most resorts near Lake Agco like Lake Agco Mahomanoy Mountain Resort (run by members of Community of Local Agribusiness Partners Multi-Purpose Cooperative) offers saunas, jacuzzis and warm and hot swimming pools to complement your hot mud, spa therapy. The hot sulfuric piped in water in these saunas and jacuzzis all came from water sources near Lage Agco. Again, 15-20 minutes in this pools are enough to get the beneficial effects of spa therapy. Typically though I stay longer, just to savor that glorious spa treatment.
Brgy. Ilomavis, Kidapawan City
Mobile Nos.: 0919-832-8693/ 0905-802-1485

The mud packs, saunas and jacuzzis are all included in some accredited tours to Lake Agco.

Souvenir shops
I don’t know why the resorts outside Lake Agco somehow became a shoppers haven for ethnic inspired crafts but it is, now. Local, indigenous as well as outsiders’ tribal crafts abound in the stalls just outside Lake Agco. Tribal artists that do tattoos and body piercings are a common sight in some of these stalls. Incidentally, I have yet to find a stall that sells or displays distinctive Manobo crafts although one stall owner there told me most of the crafts they sell are done by Manobos.

Climbers Den Park
This is a recent addition to resorts near Lage Agco. Situated just beside the road enroute to lake Agco uphill, Climbers Den seem to be the choice of people who don’t want the perennially crowded resorts near Lake Agco. Amenities in Climbers  Den are at par or even better than some resorts near Lake Agco. The have saunas, jacuzzis and swimming pools too, plus a zipline. It has lots of rooms and spacious accommodations. They serve food and meals too. Biggest plus is the telco network signal and strong WIFI in Climbers Den. Service here is also commendable albeit sometimes inconveniences happen that is beyond the management’s  control. I find the serenity inside Climber’s Den premises appealing. If you love less crowded, cozy backpackers place to stay near Lake Agco, you will love Climbers Den.
Well, I yet have to try their zipline. I’m no fan of ziplines however. But if you are, you better try this one at Climbers Den. Its close to zipping down Mt. Apo from where I’m standing. Check out Climber’s Den Facebook page for more details!

Sitio Mandarangan, Brgy. Ilomavis, Kidapawan City
Mobile Nos.: 09182971533 / 09279437146

Manobos of Ilomavis

The Manobos are original settlers of Ilomavis, hence they have ancestral domain over some part of Mt. Apo National reserve.


Apo Sandawa Climb Festival is held every summer in Kidapawan and apart from the annual climb to Mt. Apo, this two day celebration also showcases the life and culture of the Manobos.  Manobo’s traditional, religious dances and songs as well as  display of their traditional games like “pana”, “bankaw”, “Kadang” are all part of this celebration. Having seen a Manobo cultural presentation for the first time, I have few interesting observations.  Take note I’m not an indigenous people or cultural expert hence my observations are personal at best.

The passing of these culture and traditions, from older manobo generations to the younger ones, is encouraging. There’s an active effort amongst the elder Manobos to pass these traditions, as can be seen from the presentation and what age group mostly are the participants. Though there is a lot to be done in defining what constitute a distinct manobo cultural heritage, it is encouraging to see that a number of young Manobos are showing interest in re-learning their cultural identity. 


The impact of cultural intermingling with outsiders can be traced in some of their cultural presentations and in some of the Manobo audience watching the show. This is from where I’m seeing it, is sporadic and does not cloud the fact that there is a Manobo Cultural revival happening in Brgy. Ilomavis. As a tourist, I find this really encouraging and is very interesting. Looking forward to witnessing this in the days to come.

Lake Agco in Brgy Ilomavis is 45 minutes away from Kidapawan City. Habal-Habal rides are available for hire near the Iglesia ni Cristo church in downtown Kidapawan City.Fare is Php 250 per trip with 3 passengers each habal habal motorcycle. Most of the road going to Ilomavis are paved so going there via four wheeled vehicles isn’t a problem.



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