Mulao River: Enchanting Stories of the Stone Ark and Malingin Rock

“Some mysteries are not meant to be solved.” – Epic Fail


If you have been watching OTWOL (On the wings of loves) – a romantic comedy TV series in the Philippines – you must have seen Juan Miguel Severo. Yes, the brokenhearted guy who loves doing heartbreaking spoken poetry. I’m not actually following the series but I liked his poems so much that I downloaded copies of them and even followed his performances in Youtube. On one particular event, he had this poem on Philippine culture regarding superstitious beliefs and everything that is difficult to explain and believe on. (You can watch his live performance here.)


Aside from the vastness of its natural resources, the Philippines is, as well, exploding with richness of culture. Part of this undying culture are stories of bewitching goddesses that lends money and golden utensils, hideous creatures that may be as small but terrifying as a dwarf or as gigantic and hairy as a giant, and many other enchanting elements that made every Filipino’s childhood both colorful and traumatic. Before this year ended, I came to discover another mystifying glory in the northern part of Cebu.

Located several kilometers from the highways of Compostela, Cebu, lies a magnificent body of water that has been a source of water, livelihood, and recreation for the natives of the barangay. This has been named as Mulao River since most of those who do river trekking usually starts at Barangay Mulao; but the locals fondly call this place as Busong-busong. The place was more than amazing but before we went and continued marveling the wonders of nature, we were sternly warned by locals on not to make unnecessary noise on the area and give all due respect to those unseen creatures that are believed to be living in the place.

Ark Stone




One of the most photographed icon among the stones and boulders of Mulao River is the famed Ark Stone. It has been believed that from precolonial era and up until now, the people can hear loud honking of ships even if they are located in the mountainous area of Compostela. It has been the greatest of all their inquiry on how such rock formation has been perfectly mounted and docked on top of smaller rocks. Because it is located in the middle part of the river, the people believed that it served as a ship of unseen beings who travels away from the place.

Malingin Rock



Several meters away from the Ark Stone lies another marvelous stone formation – the Malingin Rock. Though the whole river is adorned with boulders and rocks, this Malingin Rock stands out of the rest because of its almost perfect spherical structure and its chocolate munchkin color. Beside this rock is an outstanding mini-waterfall that allows guests to soothe their aching limbs accumulated from sliding, gliding, jumping, and climbing the gigantic rocks along the way.


River Trek Tips

  1. It is best to get local guide from Mulao Barangay Hall. We had a chance to talk with one of their councilors and she gave us two amazing, comical teenage duo (John Lloyd and Mark) – I highly recommend them. They are not the typical professional guide that you usually have but being locals of the town, they can share both hilarious and creepy stories of the place. 54
  2. Whether the superstitions are true or bluffs, as guests, we need to give our utmost respect to the place, people and as well as to ourselves.
  3. Be as friendly as you can be. While we were resting under the shades of the rocks, we found two other guests (Macel and Augustine) who traversed from Liloan to Compostela (the opposite of ours). We waved and greeted them, then the two young guides that we were with asked if we know them. Of course we don’t but it is never bad to be as friendly as we can be. After some short introductions, we found out that we share the same passion for adventure and travel with them and that we can have another trip together sometime around next year.
  4. Bring your own food and water. The trek in going to the Stone Ark and Malingin Rock usually takes three to four hours in going back and forth, thus it is of utmost priority to bring consumables with you.
  5. Take precautions. Before going to the place, you need to check if the coasts are clear and there are no risks of flooding. Since it is located on the lower part of the mountains, the river usually gets flooded and can be very dangerous for trekkers.
  6. LNT Principles. Even with the limited number of guests, we were still able to see trashes, water bottles and campfires left on the river. We hope that future guests will take responsibility of their belongings and wastes in order to keep the serenity and beauty of the place, as well as, hinder the destruction of river.

Total Damage:

P15.00 – fare from SM to Compostela (Ask the jeepney driver to drop you in the town proper where the habal-habal drivers stands-by

P35.00 – fare from Compostela to Barangay Mulao

P100.00 – guide fee (They don’t ask entrance fees as of the moment. The trek is quite difficult and the guides can be of great help for you, might as well give them what is considerably equivalent to their efforts.)

P8.00 – tricycle fare to Parola (I wasn’t able to visit the place yet so we decided to have it as a sidetrip)


Total: P216.00

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