Famous for its flourishing forest and healthy livestock, Impasugong town in Bukidnon is the home of the country’s finest cowboys, where the spectacular rodeo show draws large crowds to watch spills-and-thrills as “vaqueros” (cowboys) show off skills in a cattle roundup.
Impasugong town Mayor Mario T. Okinlay, a professional rodeo cowboy, said there are nine commercial cattle farms in the area holding more than one thousand heads in all.
“The local government also manages a communal ranch in a 649-hectare grazing land that holds 300 cattle heads,” the mayor said.
Preserving heritage in changing times
Villagers used to herd cattle across long distances. However, since it requires more time and skill, becoming a cowboy was every herder’s dream.
For over several decades, the “dreamers” gradually learned to perfectly tend cattle and perform many of their duties on horseback.
The town still has preserved its cultural heritage and ethnic identity, which led Star Cinema to unveil the beauty of Impasugong.
The blockbuster film “Love Me Again” starring Angel Locsin and Piolo Pascual was shot in the town’s vast grazing land and valleys.
Its colorful mountains, grassland, rocky canyons and gorges are all fabulous tourist spots.
With the town’s richness derived predominantly from cattle farms—aside from pineapple, palm oil trees, and high value crops—rodeo shows also prospered.
Okinlay said the town’s cowboys work actively in ranches, trail riding and handling cattle and horses.
“They also compete in rodeos to demonstrate their unique skills in a specially prepared arena. We are inspired and honored as they top in almost all rodeo events,” the mayor said.
The Rodeo challenge
In the annual Kaamulan Festival, rodeo became the most watched sports race.
Cowboys compete in five rodeo events namely breakaway roping, steer wrestling, team roping, bull riding and calf ribbon picking.
The Breakaway Roping: A roper is on horseback with one end of the rope tied to the saddle horn. When the calf is released from the chute, the roper will be in hot pursuit, with lasso swirling in the air overhead. When the loop is thrown, it must pass completely over the calf’s head. As the calf pulls away from the rider, the rope grows taut and the string will break away from the saddle horn. The fastest run wins.
The Steer Wrestling: This involves strength, speed, and precision. A cowboy on horseback, with an assistant known as hazer, chases a steer (neutered bull), drops from the horse to the steer, and then wrestles the steer to the ground twisting its horns. The fastest cowboy to plunge the bull to the ground wins the race.
The Team Roping: This features a steer and two riders. The first roper is the “header” who ropes the front of the steer, usually around the horns or neck. The second is the “heeler” who ropes the steer by its hind feet. The fastest performer wins.
The Bull Riding: Involves a rider getting on a large bull and attempting to stay mounted while the bull bucks or jumps upward. The rider must tightly fasten one hand to the bull with a long braided rope. A rider who stays longer atop the bucking bull wins.
The Calf Ribbon Picking: This is also a timed event where a horse-mounted ‘muse’ (cowgirl) ropes or lassoes a calf, leaps from her horse, and picks the ribbons decorated in calf’s body parts. The fastest performer is proclaimed ‘Rodeo Queen’.
Mountain climbers can have a panoramic view of Bukidnon’s grandeur at the top of Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park (MKRNP), a haven for the Philippine Eagle. The main activity that nature trekkers can engage in Mt. Kitanglad is bird-watching. The vast Panyak caves have beautiful stalactite and stalagmite formations that also attract cave explorers.
Not only is the town endowed with natural attractions. With an average elevation ranging from 500 to more than 1,000 meters above sea level, its terrain is characterized by deep ravines and thick forest mountains.
In harmony with nature
Impasugong is a Higaonon term which means “current that flows upstream.”
It has cool temperature throughout the year with numerous waterfalls and springs perfect for bathing and swimming. Its surrounding lush forests and cool blue waters allow you to relax with serenity.
There are countless reasons why Higa-onons in Impasugong love nature. Find time to come and visit us here. Before you know it, you will be adding other reasons why this town should naturally be as it is—home of the country’s finest cowboys. ( Ruby Leonora R. Balistoy-PIA 10, Bukidnon)