Bucari, Leon: Iloilo’s little Baguio
Hidden behind the mountains of Central Panay is the temperate paradise of Bucari in Leon, Iloilo. This unspoiled, cold and emerging eco-tourism destination is a must-see for every Ilonggo. So before you set your sights in visiting Tagaytay or even as far as Baguio, I advise you to first see Bucari and experience our own summer capital. Come and join me and let’s explore the beauty of Bucari!
Leon is located in the Second District of Iloilo. From the city, we took the circumferential road and turned towards San Miguel at the junction of C1 and Aleosan Road. We reached the municipality of Leon in less than an hour.
The travel from Iloilo City to Leon is far less challenging, but getting to Sitio Bucari from Leon town proper is a bumpy ride to the mountains. After half an hour of driving from the town proper you will reach Barangay Bucari. The ride was rough and tiring, but it’s all worth it just to see the mountains of Leon.
Minute by minute into the travel, our eyes feasted on the scenery of the mountains and the rivers flowing below. Bucari is dubbed as the “Little Baguio of Iloilo”. Indeed, Bucari is elevated by as much as 600 meters from sea level, and temperatures may drop to 9 degrees Celsius in December (in summer, temperatures are about 18 to 20 degree Celsius).
Campsite at Sitio Tabionan, Bucari
Cliffs beautifully landscaped by weathering added to our fascination. As we go high into the mountains, the temperature begins to drop. It was cold and the breeze refreshes you in spite of the rough ride.
The undulating terrain may make it hard to travel into the place. But believe me, all of that will be washed away once you reached the camping site. A plateau hidden behind the mountains serves as the camping site. Lush pine trees occupy the area (it is also a reforestation site way back in the 70s). Ideal for picnic, camping, or just plain relaxing, the site is being maintained by the good residents of Sitio Tabionan.
It was Sunday and the camp site nearing full. We arrived by eight in the morning, and more and more people are coming in. Others rented the cottages; but when all the cottages were taken, the new arrivals contented themselves with picnic rugs.
Delectable Linagpang and sweet wild mangoes
Some of the locals claim that the wild mountain mangoes from Leon are the sweetest there is. Though smaller as compared to those in Guimaras, I can attest that they are indeed sweeter. Another popular dish in Bucari is Linagpang na Manok – grilled chicken, chopped or deboned, then poured over with a tasty soup – perfect for the cold weather.
Due to its temperate weather, farmers in Leon grow bountiful vegetables which are transported to Iloilo City.
Mansiga Viewing Deck
After lunch, we decided to trek to Mansiga Viewing Deck – a 20 to 30 minute climb. The path is easy to follow and is not too steep; but climbing up is like climbing the stairs of a twenty-story building. When we reached the top, all the effort is well worth it. At this height, you can see the almost entirety of Bucari and its neighboring barangays. The fresh mountain breeze at the top will surely refresh and relax you.
For the not-so-faint-hearted, a fallen tree (about 15 meters in length) is now an added attraction and a favorite selfie spot among the tourists.
Next adventure, Splashing at Imoy Falls in Bgy Camandag:
Photos posted at this article are a combination of my travels to Bucari. My first trip is with Discovery Panay Island on August 2012, and the second trip is with my family this December 2015.