Sunday, May 23, 2010

Trekking to Surigao del Sur’s Tinuy-an Falls

Having seen so many waterfalls in different parts of the country, including world-famous Magdapio (that’s Pagsanjan to you, which should have been named Cavinti since it’s found in that town, not in Pagsanjan, Laguna), mysterious Cambugahay in Siquijor, and slim yet stunning Katibawasan in Camiguin, nothing seemed so breathtaking to me anymore. Seen one, seen them all, I thought. 

That was until I found myself gazing (or was it gaping?) one blissful morning at the picture-perfect magnificence of one cascade hidden somewhere in one of Surigao del Sur’s lush rainforests—Tinuy-an Falls. Suddenly, I was at a loss for superlatives that would aptly describe the three-tiered cascading wonder found just about an hour away from the concrete jungle that is Bislig.

What’s so special about this beauty? For one, it’s often touted as the country’s Little Niagara Falls with an awe-inspiring drop of about 55 meters (180 feet) high. Anyone who’s been to or seen a pic of New York‘s famous falls would surely notice the striking resemblance. Also, Tinuy-an is considered the Philippines’ widest falls with a width of about 95 meters (312 feet).  With its three-tiered flow, it’s undoubtedly one of our most picturesque.

The visit to Bislig’s beautiful cascade came part of a marathon tour of two attractions, the other being the Enchanted River in the neighboring town of Hinatuan. Through a long-time friend, I learned about the adventure being organized by some Davao-based travel aficionados. Immediately, I decided to make myself available one weekend so I can join the escapade to Surigao, which was a homecoming of sorts for me having last visited the place a couple of decades ago.

Leaving Davao City in the wee hours of the morning, the bus carrying an eclectic bunch of nature trippers reached Mangagoy after a night of meandering through the highways of three provinces: Davao del Norte, Compostela Valley and Agusan del Sur. Most of us were snoozing en route to our destination when we were evicted out of dreamland as the bus drove towards a long, potholed stretch that is the old PICOP road. Geez, this used to be a fine access road but it seemed like it had seen better days.

In Mangagoy, we took a quick breakfast and scurried to the secluded village of Borboanan in the outskirts of Bislig where the falls is found. The trek to Tinuy-an gave us a panoramic treat of the countryside, including some attractions that made me realize how blessed we are for possessing so much rustic, virginal beauty—a placid lake, a mighty river, a dense rainforest, verdant fields, and several quaint villages whose folks seemed star-struck upon seeing our vehicle pass by, as if it carried some pop icons they adored.

Minutes later, the bus came to a halt somewhere near a flowing river. This must be the place, I thought. Along with the others, I took my stuff and jumped off the bus.  Then I heard the thunderous roar of falling water and walked towards the source of the sound.  And there it was—the wonder that everyone came to see—gushing, flowing, roaring and beckoning us to explore her grandiose beauty.  Tongue-tied, I held my camera and took my first few shots of our little Niagara.

If there’s something I’d consider an icing on the cake to the tour, it’s none other than the cool and spectacular rainbow that came into our view while we were exploring Tinuy-an. I’ve never been that close to one before so the sight of it thrilled me no end, reminding me of some popular ditties about rainbows including that original rendition by Kermit the Frog. With lightning speed, I took out my camera and snapped at the spectacle before it vanished from our sight. made me wonder whether it was a sign of welcome from some unseen power guarding the falls, a goddess perhaps?

If there’s something I failed to accomplish during the tour, that would be reaching Tinuy-an’s peak. For what I first thought was just a walk in the park turned out to be one uphill struggle. Geez,  I was already having trouble breathing after making it to the initial flight of stairs leading to the falls so I thought I’d die if I went on to the next! With much regret, I had no choice but to go down, eating my heart out as I watched our younger companions eagerly scaling the steep stairway with so much ease. Damn, I need a cardio workout—pronto!

After browsing over what Arthur, our tour organizer, and his gang of photo enthusiasts had taken and uploaded in Facebook, I couldn’t help but drool and be envious of the others who’ve made it there. So, if there’s something I want to do upon seeing Tinuy-an again, that would be making it to the falls’ summit.  I can only wish that such closure would happen not in another decade for fear that I may no longer have the stamina to go there. As the cliché goes, the mind may be willing but the flesh might be too weak.

Here’s a sneak peek at the Philippines’ Little Niagara…:D

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