We made a good decision to delay our visit to Tinuy-an Falls the day before and opt for Hagonoy Island. Our driver, who I call Pacman, told us the falls grounds were crawling with visitors and the parking area extended a few hundred meters from the entrance. But when we got there early mid-morning, the crowd was manageable and we headed for the entrance with excitement flowing as strong as the lower cascades of the falls. We paid the P50 entrance fee and we’re in.
It took us an hour to reach the Tinuy-an Waterfalls from Bislig’s City Center. Heading deep into Barangay Borbaonan, we followed a trail of billboards pointing the direction of the falls and the mayor’s profile popping out of the serene waterfalls image at the background. We passed by Lake 77, a 77-hectare manmade lake used as a water reservoir before by PICOP resources. PICOP used to be the largest paper mill in Asia until it was shutdown in 2008 to give way to the forest as a habitat for eagles.
With the PICOP gone, the locals shifted their livelihood to tourism, capitalizing on the falls. Pacman, told us that there are several tour agencies now within Bislig. He used to be part of an agency as a certified driver and guide but chose to work independently now. We actually met him at the lobby of Hotel One Eleven when he offered his Van service. He gave us a good price based on what I researched. A bit laconic but he do point out and tell important trivia to places we pass through.
There were already cemented pathways and bridges leading to the falls. There were only a few people at that time that’s why we rushed as close to the falls as we can on the side. We felt its spray coming from the left side of the falls and we could see it as it obscures our lens. I moved around, traversing the shallow water and keeping myself from sliding on the rocks. But I found the walk really pleasurable as the clear waters lap over my feet and legs.
Tinuy-an Falls is a real beauty, majestic like a flowing curtain of a stage wherein the star is dazzling curtain itself. It was really wide. From reading, the falls was said to be 95 meters wide and 55 meters high. From a far, one can actually see the layers on this humongous falls. The people seemed like ants moving about the vicinity, enjoying the rush of the water.
While I really like Tinuy-an Falls, I’m also concerned at the speed of its development. Maybe because I was there on a long weekend where there are more people than usual. I’m a lot disappointed on how people can easily neglect leaving trash near the falls. Like this mother and child I found amusing but was suddenly irritated when they intentionally left the baby’s diaper near the river flow. More disheartening is the news that the Mayor is planning to build a hotel resort on top of the falls. Why can’t they just leave it as is and build it somewhere?
We left the place by noon to have lunch and visit the nearby town of Hinatuan. But the benefits of having a flexible itinerary, we went back again to the falls in the afternoon where people are about to leave. We took photos in low light to see how it looks like on a different time. And it was wonderful to see the silky flow of the waters that afternoon. Tinuy-an is beguiling, but is also threatened if mismanaged.
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.