Just hearing about a valley with 18 waterfalls, 10 hanging bridges, intersected by a flow of crystal clear waters from a river already gave me a sense of fascination about the place. Adams, at the northern edge of Ilocos Norte, mid forehead of Northern Luzon, is one of the destinations I was really looking forward to during the Lakbay Norte 2 tour. No somber weather could stop us from coming as we prepared ourselves for the rain by waterproofing out gears and donning raincoats. From Kapuluan Vista Resort, we took a 15minute coach ride to Panchan Junction, just past a bridge where the Bolo (Bolu) River flows and a dump truck was waiting for us to take us to Adams.
We merrily boarded the back of the dump truck and securely positioned ourselves on the sides, expecting a lot of bumps on the rough road to rattle us along the way. We ducked numerous times avoiding the many branches of trees and plants as the truck rams forward on the road. It was like a game when the guys up front would would warn us of incoming stray branches and we would duck. This went on for more than an hour and as we go further, we revel at the sight at the patches of blue sky and the sun finally making its presence felt after a few days.
Adams is surprisingly a pleasant forest town. They may be cut off due to rough road land connection but they are not crummy as I thought it would be. The gymnasium where we were dropped off by the dump truck was big, covered and in good condition. The Local Government offices, while small and simple were decent and clean. Among an age old tree at the middle of the town is a telecoms tower. For sure communication isn’t a problem in this side of town.
We carbo-loaded from their native bibingka (sweet rice cake) before our trek to Anuplig Falls. Three local guides were there spread throughout the group and lead the way. We crossed a river, hiked along hills and have seen their version of rice terraces along the trail. The relatively hour trek wasn’t that difficult if you’re used to hiking.
“Manong, sa dami ng waterfalls dito ano pinakamaganda sa inyo? (Sir, at the many waterfalls in the area, which one is the most beautiful for you?)” I asked during the hike. “Ito, yung pupuntahan natin, yung Anuplig (this one, where we are headed, Anuplig)” he replied. And as we reach the end of our trek, we finally caught glimpse of the waterfall.
Anuplig Falls isn’t very high and is a two layer falls. Its main falls is about 12meters high dropping into an enclosed basin and a smaller cascade for the lower for the pool below. I’ve heard from our companions who swam the upper basin that there is a small cave behind the falls. It’s also hard to get a good angle here for taking photos. Honestly it’s not the best looking waterfalls I’ve seen but it sure is one of the most fun since the basin is really ideal for swimming.
We had a visitor while we were at the falls, a thin old man, wearing a conical hat and blue raincoat joined us for a chat at the falls. We actually saw him a while back on our way to the falls. He’s quite a character with a deep history painted on the lines of his face. While we couldn’t understand his Ilocano words, our guides did tell us he’s been living here for 80+ years. Quite strong for his age. He’s not part of any tribe but came from Ilocos.
Very little is known from the history of Adams prior to 1900s aside from stories about the inhabitants of this valley. The cultural minorities who inhabit the place use to live along the shores of Paselang Bay in Pagudpud. When these peaceful tribesmen saw the incoming Spaniard Ships they moved up in the mountains. The Spanish influence did still reach them, and the locals soon called this place “Kayaran ni Adan (River of Adam)” taken from the first man mentioned in the Bible and how the valley looks like Eden. Now the people living in Adams is a mix from different areas, from different tribes, people from Ilocos, Pampanga and even Kankaney.
When we got back from our trek at Anuplig Falls, we were treated to a late lunch alongside Bolo River. It was one memorable set of Adam’s Exotic Delicacies with ingredients picked out from the surrounding areas. It was my first time to try their exotic delights from Ants and Ant Eggs, fried frogs and fresh water eels. After which we tasted their local wines which I also enjoyed.
We left Adams by sundown and brought back with us impressions of a place on what could have been Eden from hundreds of years back. Whether it’s only now a shade of its past, Adams is all about going back to nature.
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.