“No wonder not many people go here. This road to Tulgao Village is treacherous!” This I thought as I strive to keep my balance on our habal-habal (motorbike) as we ascend this very (very) rough road. At times we had to go down and walk just to be safe. I told myself that before that if I go back in Kalniga, I would visit the Palan-ah Falls we missed on our last visit. On our third day in Kalinga, we found ourself in a 30-minute hellish ride at a narrow high-altitude dirt road to Tulgao Village.
Tribal Peace Pacts
There’s a certain air of caution when we ask people about going to Tulgao for Palan-Ah Falls. Two of our previous guides would recommend us getting a guide there or people who are from the area when visiting the place. I would always pick up the word “Peace Pact” between tribes being mentioned. Yes, it seems even at this time, tribal conflicts still happen and it pays to check first if the “Peace Pact” is still on hold, lest be caught in the crossfire of warring tribes.
We stayed in Sleeping Beauty Inn this time, which is kinda fortunate since it it owned by Kalinga Ex-Mayor whose from Tulgao. His recently-wed daughter helped us find a habal-habal who would take us there. After much haggling for a reasonable price, we got ready after lunch for an afternoon exploration of Tulgao. Just before we left, I noticed the legs of the habal-habal drivers we met. The ugly scars, fresh cut wounds and burn marks from the motor exhaust pipe on their legs isn’t a comforting sight. If it’s any indication of the road to Tulgao, I told our young driver to be more cautious even if we go slow.
We breathed a sigh of relief as soon as we made it at the jump-off to Tulgao Village. Our habal-habal driver doubled as a guide so we waited for him to secure his bike inside one of the many makeshift garage in the area before proceeding. The village of Tulgao is much larger than Buscalan Village, the rice terraces are still in the preparation stage for planting season. We followed our guide on the pathway through the village and most of the way is a descending staircase. I was already dreading the way back-up with all these uneven stairs we’re going down to.
About 45 minutes through the trail, we finally caught sight of the falls high up from a deep ravine, and we’re still making our way down. I never thought the trek would be this strenuous! It’s very similar to going to Tappiya Falls in Batad (probably more difficult). The uneven height of the stairway was a challenging to descend, I almost felt pain coming back from my previously injured right knee, glad it didn’t worsen.
The Palan-ah Falls and Hot Spring
Palan-ah Falls was definitely worth all the trek. It sits nicely in between a crevice on a rock wall which looks like a chair (Palan-ah means “chair” in local language). Might be around 30-40 feet high and it’s spewing out quite a pour and spray. I even had to move further back to keep my lens from fogging. If there were more time I would have tried dipping on its waters, only my feet got the luxury to wade under its cold waters.
My feet was also lucky to dip-in on the hot spring just beside a the falls. A rarity to have something cold and hot in one place. Despite the coercing of fellow tourist from Tabuk we had to make our back to village proper.
As much as I dreaded the climb back, the urgency to get back before dark quickened our pace and found ourselves back in Tulgao Village town proper faster than we thought. We happened upon a village gathering, mourning a passing of an important person. We ended up being given a plate of meal, heaps of rice, broth and boiled meat. In all the talks of tribal war and peace pacts, its comforting to experience this kind of hospitality.
Tulgao Village is 30-minutes away from Tinglayan Town proper. Palan-ah Falls and Hotspring is located at Tulgao West of the village. There are regular jeeps going to Tulgao from Tinglayan which leaves every 2:00pm (Php 60). Habal-habal can be hired any time of the day for Php 200 good for 2 pax on a habal-habal. Guides can be hired for the Palan-ah falls for Php 200 per person.
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.