Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Falling for Mindanao's Falls - Part 1

[This article was originally posted in Buhay Pinoy of the Philippine Online Chronicles entitled Amazing waterfalls in Mindanao – Part 1 ]

Our family lives in the land of promise, Mindanao. It promises amazing adventures to places not usually visited by tourists mostly because of apprehension about the peace and order in those places. The places we often visit are beaches, islands and waterfalls.

Mindanao is the second largest island in the Philippines. At 104,630 square kilometers, it is even bigger than 125 other countries in the world including the Netherlands, Austria, Czech Republic, Portugal, Hungary and Ireland. It has numerous mountain ranges and plateaus which account for many of the majestic waterfalls on the island, among them Maria Cristina Falls, Tinago Falls, Tinuy-an Falls, Aliwagawag Falls, Alalum Falls, Falls of Lake Sebu and Virgin Falls which our family has fortunately visited.

Maria Cristina Falls

“Maria Cristina Falls is a waterfall of the Agus River on the island of Mindanao. It is sometimes called the “twin falls” as the flow is separated by a rock at the brink of the waterfall. It is a landmark of Iligan City, nicknamed the City of Majestic Waterfalls, because of the presence of more than 20 waterfalls in the city. It is located 9.3 kilometers away southwest of the city proper at the boundaries of Barangays Maria Cristina, Ditucalan, and Buru-un. Well known for its natural beauty and grandeur, the 320-feet (98 meters) high waterfall is also the primary source of electric power for the city’s industries, being harnessed by the Agus VI HydroelectricPlant.” (Source: Wikipedia)

In going to the falls, one can pass through a zoo and view the few animals they have there. The viewing deck of the falls is part of the Agus Plant. One cannot view the majestic falls in its entirety because the Management of the plant controls its opening to conserve water. Nevertheless, one will stand in awe as one views what is otherwise just found in the school textbooks just like we did in May 2013.

Tinago Falls

Around 30 kilometers from Iligan City is the town of Linamon. It holds one of the majestic falls in that part of Lanao del Norte. From the highway, one travels 4 kilometers to another road that turns to another 2 kilometers going to Sitio Tinago, Barangay Robocon. The fenced entrance to the falls is maintained by the local government of Linamon.

The falls cannot be seen right away though. It needs energy and sturdy legs for someone to go down 434 steps to the lagoon where Tinago Falls is. Lush vegetation flank the concrete stairs and if one is lucky he will be able to see blue butterflies and dragonflies flying around. Upon reaching the site, one needs to catch one’s breath not only because of the descent but mostly because of the beauty that’s worth going down there for.

According to legend, the name of the falls comes from the name of the daughter of a powerful Sultan and his wife who were cursed by an enchantress to become ugly. Due to their embarrassment, the couple hid the child in a cave and named her “Tin-ag” which means “hidden face.” “When the child grew up, she came out of the cave and became amazed at what she saw. The enchantress, who cursed her parents, saw her and made an offer to transform her into something of great beauty and splendor. She accepted the offer and became the Tinago Falls.” (Source: Wikipedia)

During summer months, people flock to Tinago Falls to swim and hold picnics notwithstanding the long and arduous descent as well as the ascent back to the entrance. The enterprising people of the LGU offer rides to the falls on bamboo rafts tied to a tree. The falling water gives a soothing massage to the daring ones who ride the rafts. Those who are adventurous climb the rocky walls and protruding branches of trees and dive into the cold water of the lagoon. This hidden falls reveals so much beauty and adventure we did not regret visiting it also in May 2013.

Tinuy-an Falls

Tinuy-an Falls is a waterfall which is the main tourist attraction in Bislig City, Surigao del Sur. Located in Barangay Borboanan, the falls are 95 m wide and 55 metres (180 ft) high. Tinuy-an is a white water curtain that flows in three levels and is said to be the widest waterfall in the Philippines. This falls is located 14 kilometers from the highway of the city where one passes through a reservoir of PICOP along the way.
On clear days, one can cross the river on a raft and even bathe under the thin flow of the falls revealing the beautiful rock formation underneath. Most people are able to see the falls that way. But on rainy days, the waters are raging, thus earning the nickname, the Niagara Falls of the Philippines. It was like that when we went to visit in April 2010 so all we could do was stand on the rocky side of the falls where the pool was not too deep and have the waters caress our backs.

Aliwagwag Falls

From Bislig, one can go around Surigao del Sur down to Davao Oriental although that is a long way. But for those who have time and the courage for adventures, one can do that and go through Boston and to Cateel where the picturesque Aliwagwag Falls can be seen.

If one is coming from Mati City which is about 3 hours away, one will reach a junction along the road, the right leading to Cateel proper and the left leading to Aliwagwag Falls which is around 19.84 kilometers. The 84-tier falls can be viewed from the bridge but one can also go down to take a dip in the shallow parts. When Typhoon Pablo hit Davao Oriental on December 4, 2012, it wiped out most of the lush vegetation on both sides of the falls but people who have recently been around the place said the trees are growing back and the falls has kept its beauty. Soon it will be as beautiful as when we visited it in April 2011.

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