The Dongon Falls, first of the 7 Falls in Lake Sebu
Aside from Lake Sebu being the name of the natural lake, Lake Sebu is also the name of the whole municipal area in the province south west of South Cotabato. The lake is not the only attraction in the area as there are 2 more lakes and 7 waterfalls in which visitors may explore. So early the next day, we rode our habal-habal and headed to see two of the 7 waterfalls. First one of which is the Dongon Waterfalls.
The humble symmetry of Dongon Falls
Access to the waterfalls is a mere 15-20 minutes ride by habal-habal from the Punta Isla Lake Resort. We arrived at the a house where they ask for an entrance fee of 10pesos per person. It turns out that this house is where the Dongon Family lives and the whole area including the waterfalls itself stands on their property. Before we headed to the falls, we were able to chat with this friendly family. We learned that Mrs Mila Dongon is actually a Bicolana and she was really glad to find that my province on my mother’s side is also in Albay. It’s quite interesting how she got here on this place as Bicol is further up there. We also learned that all the seven waterfalls are multi-step or interconnected to each other. Unfortunately due to time constraints and the difficult trail since it rained the day before we will only be able to see 2 of the more accessible waterfalls.
Shell gatherers wading through the waters
It was a short downhill walk towards the waterfalls from the Dongon residence. We could already hear the loud gushing flow of water and is excited to see how the waterfalls looks like. We followed the river left of our path that led to the waterfalls itself. Dongon waterfalls is a humble beauty in my opinion. It’s height is not towering as it seems to be only around 40feet high and the falls of the water is simply symmetrically pouring down like a woman’s perfectly straight silky hair falling at her back. That’s how I can describe this waterfall, simple yet beautiful. Standing out from the lush greenery surrounding it.
To where the river flows
The Dongons seems to be developing the area real well. Mrs Dongon hires some people who would sweep the leaves that fell from the trees and also checks if there are any trash around to keep the area clean. They also provided two huts near the waterfalls which visitors can rent. There is also a concrete bridge being built to cross to the other side and also give you a grand view of the waterfalls over the river. Perfect spot to take that posterity shot. For the meantime, there is the wooden bridge where you can cross and head to more picnic grounds on the other side.
A wooden bridge across the raging waters
At that time, it was a drizzling and there wasn’t much light coming in. The contrast from the surroundings and the waterfalls was something to deal with. I think I had to drop my exposure level down to two stops there to compensate. Also to protect my gears since my lenses aren’t really splash proof, I had my invincible 6 years old umbrella with me to protect it from the elements. Waterfalls is a tricky subject as more often than not, it’s splashy moisture scattered in the air could easily fog your lens. At that time there were drizzles and I couldn’t tell which is coming. Still, I think we managed to capture this waterfalls satisfactorily.
The Dongon Family, owners of hectares of land including the Dongon Falls. A future hilltop restaurant being built behind them.
On our way to the next falls, we chatted more with the Dongon family. We were able to meet Mr Teofilo Dongon who is a proud royal blood of the Dongon clan who have lived in this mountains regions for quite a long time, hence his family’s ownership of a large portion of the land here. The family is fairly simple yet who would have known they are very rich in land property and all. Mrs Dongon, enthusiastically showed us some of the structures they themselves are building. There is this hilltop restaurant being built with a great view of the Surallah area and also some lodgings for their resort as well in case people would want to stay nearby the falls. Such friendly friendly people. They also insist that if ever we come back, they would give us free lodging. Well isn’t that great. We are really fortunate to have met these friendly folks
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.