Habal-habal in Iligan

Care for an Adventure?

Ride a Habal-habal!

Are you kidding? Me, ride a habal-habal. I just can’t imagine myself riding one of the popular way to get around in the land the Philippines.

You see, I am not your adventurous kind of person. I get scared of heights. I get scared of the deep waters (okay, I don’t swim) and I never learned how to ride a bike either. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that riding a motorcycle doesn’t appeal to me.

I remember when my husband took me for a ride on his motorcycle. Mind you it was a Kawasaki 900 (yes, that was long time ago they don’t make those bikes anymore). He insisted it would be fun. Well it wasn’t. But if I were to pick between my husband’s motorcycle and the “habal-habal” there’s no ifs and buts about it, I would pick the Kawasaki 900.

Habal-habal…what on Earth is that?

A single motorcycle modified using a plank here and a plank there to carry 3 – 4 passengers excluding the driver. The goal here is to extend its capability to carry additional passengers.

It is the popular means of transportation in the hinterlands where the jeepney, taxi and bus don’t dare go because of road conditions – unpaved, rocky, muddy, full of mud holes or just too narrow for a 4-wheel vehicle.

So, for the mountainous areas in Iligan, these modified motorcycles for hire come to the rescue! Yes, in this case it is preferred because there is no other choice.

But how do you seat 3 or 4?

Well, you sit very close to each other. One sits in front of the driver on top of the gas tank. Yes, on top of the gas tank and no, I’m not kidding. You have the view of the road right in front of you. And the worst part there is nothing for you to hold on to or to balance yourself with.

Surprisingly I don’t see the motorcycle riders clung to each other even with the speed the motorcycle is going on a rough terrain. Mind you habal-habal drivers rarely travel below full speed.

It’s Scary to Travel This Way, But What Option Do They Have?

A friend of mine told me she took a ride on one to visit her family – a mountainous village in Iligan. She had to endure an hour of bumpy ride. Or trek the rugged roads for hours. She said she couldn’t wait till the ride was over.

Picture her zooming across the trees beside the road trying to miss mud holes along the way. Getting off the habal-habal was all she could think of.

When you compare the fare to the jeepney, taxi or bus, the habal-habal isn’t cheap. These drivers charge a fixed rate. But in areas where this is the only means of transportation, it will come out cheap as your other option is to trudge kilometers and kilometers. It’s good if you’re not carrying anything.

…and now the Skylab…check this out!

To cater to the needs of passengers with cargos, the genius Juan de la Cruz invented what locals call the “skylab”. It is the same single motorcycle but with a plank of wood placed across its rear body to act as a baggage hold. Amazing, isn’t it?

Hmm…do you think it can hold a balikbayan box? Well I haven’t seen it yet, but it just might!

Buhanginan Hill in Iligan

Take a city tour…
and make Buhanginan Hill your first stop!

The Iligan Buhanginan Hill stands approximately 130 feet above sea level. Here you see an unobstructed view of city’s skyline.

For the romantics out there, it is a perfect site to watch beautiful sunsets or to star gaze.

Do not forget to bring your camera, for that WOW moment.

It is also a favorite spot for locals and visitors to enjoy amazing scenery and a popular site for runners and those looking for a challenging workout.

In the mornings, you will find health buffs hiking towards the top. It is an uphill climb, which will give you an excellent workout!

Indeed, it is a good idea especially right after a visit from one of Iligan’s finest restaurants. You and I know, it is hard to resist those mouth-watering Iligan delicacies like the Iligan lechon and Zoey’s halo-halo.

Buhanginan Hill

Okay, so what is significant about Buhanginan Hill?

Two things. First, the Iligan City Hall.

The city government holds their offices here to include the city mayor, vice-mayor, and city councilors. You can also find other department offices of the city government here.

Being the center of government, the place is a route for jeepneys. Iligan taxis can also take you there. When you go, know that City Hall is only about 15 minutes away from the city proper. It is located in Barangay Pala-o.

One of my fondest memories when I visited Iligan a few years ago (aside from my high school reunion) involves meeting the mayor of Iligan just hours after arriving at my friend’s house. You see, the mayor wants to welcome you personally to the city of Iligan.

Iligan City Hall

Second, the Anahaw Open Amphitheater.

Possibly the largest open-air amphitheater in the island of Mindanao, the Anahaw Amphitheater is located in the southeastern side of the hill.

Do you remember Kasadya Street Dancing during the Diyandi Festival in September?

Well the Anahaw Amphitheater is where the dancers come together after completing the street dancing route. Thousands brave the heat of the sun every year just to witness the dancers perform here.

Anahaw Amphitheater

Hands down the best venue for the festival.

The natural sounds of the drums, great dance performances, and the only thing missing here is, YOU!

You will treasure the ride up the Buhanginan Hill, which includes the view of the lush gardens, the view of Iligan Bay and above all the fresh mountain air.

So next time you visit Iligan, give yourself plenty of time to stop by the mayor’s office and while you’re at it, stop by Anahaw amphitheater and for just a moment, imagine the pulsating beat of the drums. Can you feel it?

Imagine what it would be like if you celebrate next Christmas in Iligan. Bring your family too, and enjoy the magic of Christmas lights illuminating Buhanginan Hill.

Arts and Culture in Iligan

If you’re like me, then you will love to learn the arts and culture in Iligan.

Painting and poetry is part of it but there are also dancing and singing which by themselves are a pure art form.

The best time to experience arts and culture in Iligan is during the Diyandi Festival.

During the festival, Iliganons share food, customs and traditions.

The month long celebration leads to the Iligan fiesta – a religious celebration in honor of the city’s patron saint – St. Michael, the Archangel.

Arts and Culture in Iligan

St. Michael Cathedral


Iligan City is home to diverse cultural groups: Maranao, Higa-onons, Lumads and Christians.

For ages, they have worked together, played together, and lived together in peace and prosperity. It is their diversity that makes Iligan what it is today.

It is no wonder that the city boasts different groups of artists that highlight the different talents of Iliganons in: art, music, dance and literature.

Iligan is a community of dancers. IPAG (Integrated Performing Arts Guild), is a resident theatre company of MSU-IIT (Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology). It is a performing arts company acknowledged as a leading performing group in the country.

Their performances feature a mixture of songs and dances that are a true representation of the diverse cultural groups in Iligan and in the Philippines.

Arts and Culture in Iligan

Kalimulan Dance Troupe

Another, is the Kalimulan Dance Troupe.

It is also a resident cultural dance troupe of the MSU-Iligan Institute of Technology.

These group of young talented students and faculty members formally launch this dance ensemble in 1988.

Both IPAG and Kalimulan perform a mixture of songs and tell stories through dance.


I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music. — Billy Joel

Many local artists are also hitting…the right chords, drawing the crowd, and writing about it…

8va: The Octava Choral Society, a leading regional choral ensemble with a varied repertoire. The Octava Choral Society is a group who could sing folk, Filipino ballads, classical, ethnic, as well as, contemporary music.

In addition to that, they could also act, dance, and move but still maintain a good singing quality. They are the most versatile choral group in Southern Philippines.

Visual Arts

Iligan Arts Display

Iligan Arts Display

Iligan Visual Arts Group is a group of young and talented visual artists. Their artworks are recognized in Iligan as well as in the entire country.

Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. — Barbara W. Tuchman

The Mindanao Creative Writers Group composes some of the country’s awarded and leading poets, fictionists, playwrights, and essayists. It conducts the summer National Writers Workshop, acknowledged as the most prestigious in the south.

You can add to that the individual artists who have made their place in the world of art. When you put them together, you have a wonderful ensemble of talented Iliganons celebrating their rich culture and traditions.

These are some of the groups that portray the beautiful arts and culture in Iligan.

In the upcoming months, this site will feature some of Iligan’s local artists. Come back and check us out again soon.

There is no better place to start your visit in Iligan than Buhanginan Hill. This landmark is a place of history of Iligan City. While you are up there, walk over to the one and only Anahaw Amphitheater. Enjoy!

Adlaw sa Iligan

“Adlaw sa Iligan” simply means, Day of Iligan.

Why Iligan Celebrates “Adlaw sa Iligan”?

It is a one day event to include a parade with hundreds of participants led by city officials ending with a program and a flag raising ceremony at the City Plaza.

But, why?

By the time you finish reading this page, you will have learned why Iliganons celebrate this special day.

Do you remember… in June 16, 1950, President Elpidio Quirino, the 6th President of the Philippines, signed the Republic Act. 525 — the law that made Iligan into a chartered city.

With this law, it provided Iligan with a broader power of taxation, thus increasing the city revenues.

The law was made in anticipation of the millions of pesos that could be collected as income from companies that would be established in the area of Iligan when the National Power Corporation on the Lake Lanao-Agus River system built the Maria Cristina Hydroelectric Plant.

With increased earnings, the city was able to undertake the necessary improvement of its public services and the construction of roads, bridges and public buildings that facilitated further development and progress of the city.

At that time, the incumbent municipal mayor Benito S. Ong, was the first chief executive appointed by the president – President Quirino.

Well, in 1955… (by the way, where were you in 1955?)

Anyway, in 1955, the first electoral race was held to choose Iligan’s first elected mayor, vice mayor and six members of the city council.

The late Congressman Mariano Ll. Badelles became the first elected mayor of Iligan City.

Every three years, the city along with other cities in the country, holds an election to choose the next members of the city council.

You might have heard the following words…

“Iligan City — Recommencing Her Prime”

Indeed, the city has awaken from its slumber.

Now, the twice-elected mayor of Iligan City is Lawrence Lluch Cruz, the youngest mayor of Iligan City and is one of the major proponents in reviving Iligan to become one of the tourist destinations in the Philippines.

Known as the “City of Waterfalls”, Iligan suffered a major slump in the economy during the closure of one of its major industry, the National Steel Corporation.

…but Iligan has bounced back and now it’s mightier than ever!

You’ve heard the Why, now the What?

So, every year on June 16, the people of Iligan unite to commemorate the day the city became a chartered city.

The “Adlaw sa Iligan” celebration starts with a parade from Iligan City National High School ending at the City plaza – now called Rizal park.

Other events are lined-up such as an Agro Fair, cultural activities, and choral and dance competitions…and don’t forget the colorful ‘Indigay sa Tabanog’ – a kite festival and competition.

Iligan has so much to celebrate!

Besides the annual “Adlaw sa Iligan” celebration, the city is also known for its month long festival, the ‘ Diyandi Festival’ —a festival that highlights Iligan’s rich culture and tradition.

And, don’t forget the city celebrates Iligan Fiesta – September 29.

Iligan Waterfalls

Iligan waterfalls are mother nature’s blessings — not just one, two, or three, but a whopping 23 falls located right in Iligan City’s backyard.

Where can you find a metropolitan city with waterfalls within the city bounds? Only in Iligan.

And the most famous of all Iligan waterfalls is no other than the Maria Cristina Falls.

Located in the southwest side of Iligan City in Barangay Buru-un, it is accessible by jeepney, taxi or a private vehicle.

It is so convenient that getting there is no hassle at all.

You see, Maria Cristina Falls is the Philippines’ most majestic waterfall. Not only that, it powers the majority of the island of Mindanao.

Since the power of the Maria Cristina falls is being harnessed for electricity, the best day to experience its grandeur is on Sundays betweem 11:00am to 12:00pm.

Learn one of the story told how Maria Cristina Falls got its name.


Maria Cristina Falls

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
Albert Einstein

One Two Step – Limunsudan Falls

Found in Barangay Rogongon, over 50 kms from the city, is the Philippines’ highest waterfall, Limunsudan Falls – standing at 870 ft tall.

Many have witnessed the beauty of Limunsudan Falls after trekking for a couple of days from the drop off point. It is hard work for some, but not so for others. For trekkers and nature enthusiasts, the route takes them through lush landscapes.


Limunsudan Falls

When you see it here, the sight of the falls’ two tiered magnificence will only make all the bumps and scrapes well worth it. It’s truly a trekker’s delight.

There are many more Iligan waterfalls in Barangay Rogongon.

Unfortunately, getting to them is even more difficult – some are accesible only by habal-habal.

You see, many of these falls are located deep in the mountains with very rough terrain.  They are: Guimbalolan Falls, Kamadahan Falls, Pindarangahan Falls, Gata Falls, Kibalang Falls, and Rogongon Falls.

Yes, there are 23 Iligan waterfalls right at the heart of Iligan, but let me remind you that only six are easily accessible and safe for bathing.

If you have time to really experience nature in Iligan, get a couple of guides for hire to take you to these amazing natural wonders.

A Hidden Treasure – Tinago Falls

 Tinago Falls

Located in Barangay Ditucalan, is one of the most visited waterfalls – Tinago (means hidden) Falls.

A jeepney ride to Tinago is not difficult to get. Be aware that the first 8 kms of the ride is on paved road; the remaining 5 kms is unpaved. Your trek down starts at the drop off point. From there you will hike down over 300 steps. Swimming is allowed here.

Make sure you bring your camera and swimming gear in case you decide to take a plunge in the lagoon.

And for a few pesos, let the bamboo raft ride take you underneath the cascading waters. Many exclaimed, it’s totally refereshing!

Do you remember growing up in the Philippines; you always hear stories about this and about that. Sure, you’ve heard of stories and certain myths that nature nymphs bathe in the lagoon at every base of a waterfall. You are also told that when you do go for a swim, you get a chance to swim with them – imagine that – bathing with the nymphs.

But really, have you heard of anyone who has? If you have, please tell us your story. That would be a really good story to share.

More Falling Waters in Iligan City

 Mimbalot Falls

Here’s the list of all 23 waterfalls in Iligan City.

  1. Maria Cristina Falls
  2. Tinago Falls
  3. Limunsudan Falls
  4. Guimbalolan Falls
  5. Kamadahan Falls
  6. Pindarangahan Falls
  7. Gata Falls
  8. Kibalang Falls
  9. Rogongon Falls
  10. Mimbalut Falls
  11. Dalipuga Falls
  12. Dodiongan Falls
  13. Kalubihon Falls
  14. Langilanon Falls
  15. Hindang Falls
  16. Pampam Falls
  17. Languyon Falls
  18. Linanot Falls
  19. Malinao Falls
  20. Bridal Veil Falls
  21. Abaga Falls
  22. Maligang Falls
  23. Malapacan Falls

You will find information here about all the Iligan watrefalls. Just click on the highlighted text to find out details about each waterfall.

Have you gone up to Buhanginan Hill yet? Well, don’t miss out. Make a stop there before you leave Iligan.

Oh, and bookmark this page – we are continually adding more articles. Many thanks to our contributors. If you want to share us your experience, contact me here.

Iligan Fiesta

The Iligan fiesta always draws a crowd. It’s celebrated on September 29 every single year. But, Iliganons start their preparations and other celebrations months ahead.

Have you heard these words — Kasadya Festival, Señor San Miguel Fiesta, Diyandi Festival?

You would think these three names taken separately point out to three different fiestas, but frankly, all three point out to the same fiesta — the Iligan fiesta.

Traditionally, Iliganons celebrate the city fiesta in honor of the miraculous patron saint – St. Michael the Archangel, locally known as Senor San Miguel, hence the name for the fiesta.

It is one of the most awaited events of the year in Iligan – new clothes are stitched, shoes bought, costumes made, mouth-watering specialties ordered, all ready for that very special day – September 29!

Come… see the COLORs of Iligan!

The Iliganons observe the fiesta with colorful and happy festivals with zest, passion and devotion, as it is a big part of their lives.

Iligan Fiesta

Iligan Fiesta

The excitement, the vibrant colors, the lights, the ceremonies all add to the liveliness of the city.

Preparation for the festivities starts the first week of September and it lasts all month long.

The celebration starts with some common rituals.

The community decorates the streets for the processions and parades with color banners. Trade fairs, sports competitions, concerts, street parties, and clean-up drives also add to the festivities.


Iligan Fiesta

Iligan Fiesta

Viva Senor San Miguel Arch

The Viva Senor arch is set up, ready for Senior San Miguel while others assemble traditional folk songs and dance performances. Still others search and organize the crowning of the beautiful Miss Iligan and Little Miss Iligan.

The entire community works together. Thus, the Iligan fiesta unites the people of Iligan from all religions in such a unique way to celebrate humanity.


Iligan Fiesta

Iligan Fiesta


The Iliganons celebrate the fiesta by venerating their patron saint with a 9-day novena and with the traditional ritual known as ‘Pagpakanaug’, the vernacular for ‘descent’. This is a ritual wherein the statue of the patron saint is brought down from the altar, paraded on the streets of Iligan and brought back to its place in the altar.

The Diyandi Festival highlights the arts and culture in Iligan.



Guaranteed FUN and plenty of FOOD to eat!

Images of colorful merrymakers are not the only things that come to mind when you think of the Iligan fiesta.

Just picture…every household celebrates the fiesta with a feast. You probably know already fiesta is not a fiesta without that mouth-watering lechon (roasted pig), hmmm…yummy (pagkalami gyud)!

And everyone knows you have to have the delectable ‘dinuguan’, delicious ‘buko’ salad, and tempting leche flan. Ahhhh, don’t forget the San Miguel beer, and lots of it.

Can you recall what an Iligan lechon tastes like? The very thought of it just makes your mouth water! You really have to be there to enjoy the lip-smacking Iligan delicacies!

Are you beginning to see how much fun it would be to celebrate fiesta in Iligan?

Iligan fiesta is a celebration of Senor San Miguel, the Patron Saint of Iligan. Like other fiestas in the Philippines, it is also a time of going home to share special thanksgiving with friends and families you haven’t seen for many years.

Make your plans now to celebrate the next fiesta in Iligan!

Getting Around Iligan

Getting around Iligan is a breeze. You will find it easy and cheap to get around Iligan.

You don’t even need to rent a car. Instead, spend your precious vacation time relaxing and let others do the driving. Remember you’re on vacation.

Besides, the rules of the west on driving, simply do not apply here.

Enjoy Iligan and take the jeepney. They’re everywhere. If you want to travel within the city’s boundaries, jeepney all the way.

No matter where you go, you can always take a – jeepney, taxi, sikad (foot-pedaled tricycle), tartanilla (horse-drawn carriage), and the habal-habal (motorcycle-for-hire).

Rent a jeepney for the day – “pakyaw” – and take your family to Timoga pools or visit some of Iligan’s waterfalls. Check out the many things to do in Iligan.



For your convenience, they can drop you off at the Timoga resort entrance. And when you’re ready, let the driver take you back to your home or hotel.

You will find here that getting around Iligan is that easy.

Opt for some comfort…take the taxi

Getting around Iligan in a taxi is another way to enjoy the city. Whether you are going to be here during hot summer days or the rainy days, a taxi is just a phone call away. Taking the taxi may be the only way for some of you out there.

In Iligan, a taxi is never far away. They’re ready when you are. Why walk when you can take a taxi to visit some of Iligan restaurants. Let him know if you want him to pick you up in an hour or two – and don’t forget to tip the driver.

When you are there in Iligan, make a point of going to Buhanginan Hill. Not only you get to visit the mayor, you get a better view overlooking the Iligan Bay.

Be adventurous…ride the bus

Another popular way to get around Iligan and the neighboring towns is by bus.

Not to worry, the highways and local roads are good.

But wait a minute…if you are wondering what the Iligan buses look like, you will be surprise.

Today’s buses in and out of Iligan are different from buses many years ago, really! They are comfortable and inexpensive – still your best option when traveling great distances.

There are now two bus terminals in Iligan – Northbound and Southbound. The latter offers van, jeepney, and of course buses for Marawi City, Lanao Sur, Lanao Norte, Zamboanga and Dipolog.

Here’s an example. A bus ticket from Iligan City to Cagayan de Oro is just over one hundred pesos -equivalent to a little more than two US dollars.



And if you are going the opposite direction to Kapatagan, the fare is less than one hundred pesos. The ride is just a little more than two hours.

Now, you also have the option of taking an air-conditioned or non-air conditioned bus.

Of course, air-conditioned buses cost more than without. But I’m sure you will agree that riding in comfort is the only way to go.

And if you are the adventurous type and prefer island hopping, then experience the islands by taking the Super Ferry.

Click here if you want to learn the most versatile and ever popular tricycle in the Philippines.