Cruising Bugang River was not the end of our water escapade in Antique. The following day, we took a day trip tour to the nearby town of Tibiao which can be reached through a one hour ride along the scenic coastal road heading south. The well-paved road boast of sweeping views of the mountains on one side and the sea on the other amidst a bucolic setting. We’re expecting another wet and wild adventure as we head to our first stop, the Bugtong Bato Waterfalls.
We reached Baranggay Importante in Tibao, the jump-off point for the waterfalls. We hopped on a habal-habal, a motorbike transport ready to be hired at the baranggay arc signage and had a thrilling 20-minute uphill ride on the winding 6.7 km dirt road to Baranggay Tuno. The river runs parallel to our left.
Upon reaching the town, we were required to register and hire a guide. It’s a 1.3km easy to moderate hike to a series of seven falls, only three of which are accessible. The hike revealed how rich and fertile the land is as our guide pointed a variety of vegetation from cashew, coffee and bariw trees whose leaves are used for weaving. We also passed by a few low-level rice terraces.
Halfway the trail, we paused on an open field and found out it was the grounds where people can practice hunting wild pigs. There were a few wooden spears and cut up tree logs that mimic wild pigs. We practiced throwing spears from a distance to target the dummy pigs from a far. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it was, but I did manage to hit the pig after several tries. I’m sure it would be harder with a moving target. It was a nice way to break a few sweat and side activity from the hike.
Excitement grew when we finally went down the river and heard the gushing sound of the falls. The first falls of Bugtong Bato Falls was nice and high but there was little water pouring through. Our guide quickly led us to the second falls which was much better and we could see the third falls behind it. The basin of the second falls was shallow and reaches up only to the waist. Our guide and the highly athletic owner of Pandan Beach Resort, Gigi navigated the rocks beside the main falls to reach the basin on the third falls.
I didn’t want to risk getting my equipment getting wet so I went the dry route on the side of the second falls. A combination of ropes, stairs and a little rock-climbing is needed to get to the hardest-to-reach third falls. But all the effort was worth it. The third falls was the most inviting with a natural pool basin of the three falls and a beautiful high cascade. We definitely enjoyed our time there and took a plunge at catch basin before heading back.
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.