“We aimed to have Asia’s longest zipline,” said Elpidio M. Paras, an engineer and owner of Zip Zone Dahilayan Adventure park.
It was not meant to be a business in the beginning. The Paras family bought the property, intending to build a vacation house and do a little farming.
Bukidnon, having a good number of farms like Del Monte , is an ideal place to plant high value crops for the likes of broccoli, strawberries, cauliflower, lettuce and ornamental flowers, all potential for export.
“When we got the property nine years ago, it was really bare and became just a cogonal area. Since it has been logged down in the late 60’s by local loggers, and the kaingin aerosol came after that and burned whatever was left,” said Paras.
The first thing the family did was plant around 20,000 pine trees at Barangay Dahilayan. The siblings believed that it was the ideal tree to plant since it was cold and foggy climate, fit for the area. The trees grew better and bigger than what the Paras’ siblings had expected. “Today, we are enjoying the benefits of having so many pine trees, at the same time it has become a tourist spot,” he said.
“We started building the zipline facilities in 2008 and managed to build the 320 meter zipline and the 150 meter.”
The shorter line was meant to get customers into action and make them lose their fear of the adventure.
The park now has the 840-meter zipline.
“The 840 meter zipline, is actually Asia’s longest at the moment, and it is also dual, which has two cables, this can carry two riders simultaneously.”
The launch point is at 4,700 feet above sea level which speeds of up to 90 kph. The riders will then zoom through lush greenery and breathtaking views only found in the mountains of Dahilayan .
Being a hilly area, the Dahilayan was an ideal place for the business. “But I said, if we were going to build something there, like an extreme sport activity, it had to be better than whatever is around. We simply want to be ahead of the competition and we want to have the bragging rights for that kind of a business,” said Paras.
When the zipline was launched in 2009, the idea was just to create an outdoor activity for team building and for people to be given options on what can be done aside from enjoying the beautiful landscape.
Paras visited a great number of eco tourism facilities all over the country and abroad and found that an extreme sport such as the zipline was ideal. Though there was already a zipline established in Cagayan de Oro at the Macahambus cave, he said that it was only a short one.
“We found that we created a new market,” he said. “We initially thought, only the young and reckless would be the only ones who would cater to this kind of extreme sport. However we found out it was the whole family that was enjoying the zipline and scenery.”
The zipline is guaranteed safe and fun for every age. He said that Dahilayan has now evolved from just an area of extreme adventure facility to an eco tourism adventure park.
Another advantage is that the equipment are designed and fabricated locally, while the harnesses are imported. Sourced locally, Paras is proud to have the technology to improve their equipment and introduce innovations in the business. “In fact, we already have lined up additional extreme rides next year,” he said.
Paras shared that with Dahilayan’s success, his other siblings have put up businesses in the area as well.
“One of my brothers is put up a wedding venue, suitable for garden weddings. It is called Dahilayan garden and resorts and it’s already open. Aside from the wedding venue, they have a pond where they can do fishing and ride in their aqua balls. Another brother put up a restaurant called The Cow Boy Grill. And another sibling, put up a forest park which is ideal for family picnics. The park is also equipped with an All-Terrain Vehicle that can be rented and zorb balls which are used to ride down the hill. A sister on the other hand has a beautiful garden called The Botanica, where she serves pasta and salads.”
At the moment, a package of Great White Water Rafting and Zip Zone Zipline is being promoted, all inclusive of transportation and food. The water rafting is another business that Paras owns.
In January 2010, Cagayan de Oro underwent strong typhoons, “We were the first one to deploy our rafts and help save the people from drowning due to the high floods”, Paras said.
Cagayan de Oro has long been known as the white water rafting capital of the Philippines, and the many of clients of this extreme sport are actually looking for other adventure activities in the area. Oftentimes, when clients finish the rafting in the morning, they still seek activities in the afternoon in order to fill up the day and complement what was left of their adrenalin rush.
Paras noticed the increased volume of people during long weekends. People from all over the country would fly and come to Cagayan de Oro.
He expects more growth this year and a 30 percent increase in traffic next year with the launch of more outdoor activities. The place is also beginning to get noticed by foreigners. “We already have a good number of balikbayans and foreigners learning about the activity and coming over.”
“Like the saying goes, if you build it they will come,” he said.
For inquires and bookings, visit the website: www.dahilayanadventurepark.com or call 09228801319.
Directions: From Cagayan de Oro, take the Davao-Bukidnon Highway, right on the Alae Junction, proceed 25 kms to Barangay Dahilayan past Camp Philipps and the pineapple fields via Mampayag.
article by MADELAINE CABRERA of Business Malaya Insight