Sunday, July 31, 2016

Passing Time in Panas Falls


There’s something about the natural world that helps bring out the best in us. Nature has a way of relaxing my mind, calming my heart, energizing my body and refreshing my soul.  When I pass time in the great outdoors, for instance, I experience a deep connection with anything that lives and breathes there, taking me to a different level of consciousness. Truly, those times spent communing with nature helped in keeping my work-life balance.

Panas Falls: New Corella's best-kept secret






This month, the urge to bask in the beauty of nature kept boggling my mind. So, bask I did when the chance came one weekend. Brimming with excitement, I joined my long-time buddies, Manoy and Jobots, on a spur-of-the-moment road trip to the agricultural town of New Corella in Davao del Norte one weekend to seek solace once again in one of nature’s best forms—the ravishing Panas Falls. Tucked deep in the woods and surrounded by lush forests, verdant hills and rolling terrain, the picturesque multi-tiered waterfalls is probably one of the best I’ve seen in the Davao Region. 
  
Remember those idyllic waterfalls that you’ve seen in kid’s fantasy books? Panas closely resembles them, with its cool waters that emanate from the tributaries of Del Monte and Patrocinio Rivers dropping into milky white mists of amazing droplets. So, imagine my elation when I first laid eyes on the falls. Whew, it felt like I’m some youngster who first walked into a natural Disneyland!

Geez, the scenery is incredibly surreal that even your most cynical thoughts would vanish into thin air at the sight of beauty like that. Staring at the falls for hours won’t be enough to quench a nature lover’s thirst for the rustic beauty of this green slice of paradise. Indeed, passing time in Panas Falls offered me another chance to reconnect with the natural world.


What draws visitors to this hidden gem in Davao del Norte are the refreshingly cool waters of the falls and its surroundings. Undoubtedly, it’s the perfect destination for families and friends who love the great outdoors—a nice place for picnics, reunions, swimming, hiking and walking tours, and what have you.  

Last summer, I thought of going to Panas Falls on my own. But I’m not familiar with place and had second thoughts about the peace and order conditions in those parts. So, I tried to contact some fellow bloggers and adventure junkies who might have visited the falls recently. Unfortunately, there was none. Then I remembered Manoy.

One Friday night, I messaged him about my plan to pass time in Panas Falls. “Perfect timing. I’m on my way there tomorrow,” came the reply. Lucky me, Manoy, who manages his family’s farm in New Corella, has scheduled a trip that Saturday. Whenever he’s not in the big city, chances are, you can find him in the farm tending to his crops. 

Verdant rice fields dominate New Corella's landscape



The road to Tagum City

Not only did he drive my car, Manoy also played host, tour guide and cook during that escapade. He was also gracious enough to offer his house for the night. I gladly took it, dropping my plan to stay in an inn in nearby Tagum City. For someone who’s been missing the bucolic life, it was sheer pleasure.

Meanwhile, Jobots, who was on his way to attend his brother’s birthday party in the nearby town of Carmen, also wanted to join us that weekend. So, it was arranged right there and then that we’ll pick him up and then proceed to the falls.  

Usually, those going to Panas Falls from Davao City may take any of those buses plying the route to Tagum City in Davao del Norte. At the city’s bus terminal, visitors may take any of those jeepneys bound for the poblacion of New Corella. From there, they can arrange a ride to the falls with any of the motorcycles-for-hire locally known as habal-habal. Fare is Php20 per head. 
A wooden bridge in Panas Inland Resort



With Manoy behind the wheel, it didn’t take us long to find our way to Panas. Mind you, the ten-minute trek into the hinterlands offers visitors a peek at the town’s rustic charms as they pass through a smooth road that snakes its way through the hills. 
 
Minutes later, we reached the village of New Carcor where the falls is located. A slight drizzle welcomed us as Manoy parked the car. The inclement weather though did little to dampen my resolve to see the falls. I was determined to see the cascades up close and personal, come hell or high water.


Shortly after descending into the falls, we heard the gushing of water and the sight of the cascades and its cool pool where a number of people were having a lot of fun. Whoa, it was truly a sight to behold! Quickly, I took out my Iphone and started taking pictures. Before I knew it, Panas had me at hello!


Managed by the municipal government, an inland resort (which also goes by the same name) has been developed around the falls’ vicinity. With almost two dozens of cottages placed around the cascade and the lagoon, the resort is an ethereal haven for those who prefer to pass time in the great outdoors. For hours, people can take in the splendor and serenity that Panas Falls embodies.  

Here’s a treat: The entrance fee (Php20) to the inland resort is affordable yet you get to enjoy precious moments in the lap of nature. It’s certainly no tourist trap. 






Exploring the resort, we saw at least three major tiers of the cascades but the one in the middle, the one with the huge boulders was the most picturesque. People from all walks of life were gravitating towards it to take their selfies, duofies and groupfies. Visitors have already occupied most of the cottages near the falls so we had to settle for one that’s a few meters away. 

One of the two pools in the inland resort




Lest you seek something fancy in Panas, there’s none. Except for the swimming pools, one for adults and another one for kids, there are no amenities there. But who cares about something fancy and frivolous when you’ve got a falls as fascinating as Panas? It  was all that I wanted to see and capture.

No, I didn’t spend the day taking pictures. Joining Manoy and Jobots, I took a dip in lagoon, too, not just once but many times over. It felt great as I let the cascading waters repeatedly pummel my back. Geez, it was one of the best massages I ever had…courtesy of nature at that! 

Want to pass time in the lap of nature? Why not ditch the beach and head for the falls in New Corella? Here’s a slice of heaven in Davao Region that’s just within anyone’s reach. And with pulchritude like that, you’ll surely find this breathtaking falls in the hinterlands the ideal sanctuary to rest, relax and renew yourself. So, weekend wanderers, remember the name: Panas Falls. :-D

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