Maybe we got a little too comfortable when we visited the Cathedral Falls. Going to Sta Cruz Falls, also in Kapatagan, Lanao del Norte, was an unexpected contrast yet still a welcome adventure. Since most of us haven’t been there (except for Alex of Bagdok on the Road) and we had no idea what the trail is like. We only knew that from the highway, the falls is at the tail end of a 1.5 – 2km trek along the river. We got two guides with us after meeting with the Mayor of Kapatagan Mr Lagura and Sta Cruz Barangay Captain Neceas Booc, just to assure our safety. I think they had a good idea of what lay beyond the peeling and undistinguishable signage “This way to Sta Cruz Falls” by the road-side and letting us discover it for ourselves what’s ahead.
The Trek to the Falls
The water level was higher than the usual, we were told. Blame it on the previous day rains. But we had to cross the river several times during the trek, a challenge we gladly accepted with caution. It was like a tug of war between the currents and us. If the water was clear enough it would be a lot easier, but our feet had to grope blindly underwater to secure our footing among the slippery pebbles and rocks. A tricky balancing act that at times we had to form a human bridge to support each other. Eventually we got used to it. Then it became an interplay of land trails among heavy foliage, boulders and then another river cross. This went on for more than an hour but our high spirits and eagerness to see the falls kept us going.
The Sta Cruz Falls
As soon as we caught sight of the falls from a distance , I couldn’t help but gasp, both from relief that we’re finally here after almost an hour of trekking along the river and then admiring the falls which heavily reminds me of Tinuy-an Falls in Agusan del Sur but half its size. I hopscotched my way over rocks and boulders and at times treading the shallow waters leading to the falls. I fill the spray and mist coming from the falls. The basin was wide but murky at that time. One of our guide told me it can get deceivingly deep so I didn’t venture further. Sta Cruz Falls is one of the better looking falls I’ve seen, tall and wide with a veil-like cascade beautifully flowing from its brink.
it would have been wonderful to stay longer but we can’t get caught up on the trail in the darkness. It’s something I’d definitely visit again sometime in the future. It’s just awesome to know that there are lesser known but great looking waterfalls in Kapatagan, Lanao del Norte.
TO get to Sta Cruz Falls from Kapatagan proper (Town Center), hire a habal-habal to Barangay Sta Cruz (Php 30-50). Travel time is about 30 minutes. Buses to and fro Pagadian also pass by here. Ask to be dropped of at the waiting shed just before approaching the Sta Cruz Bridge if you’re coming from Kapatagan Town proper. There’s a signage (almost indistinguishable) at the starting trail to the falls. It is highly recommended to hire a guide going to the falls. Also check the weather as water levels could suddenly rise during rainy seasons.
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.