I asked the locals what their favorite waterfalls is on the island of Tablas, Romblon. Mablaran Falls in San Andres always seem to pop up so it got me curious. The group of teen boys I met at Garing Falls in Odiongan told me it’s much easier to go there from the main road. The way is paved like a highway and people can swim at night because there are now lights. Not that I’ll go there for a night swim, but I’m interested how it looks and why is it a local favorite. From Odiongan town proper, we rode our motorbike 23km to the northern region of the island for San Andres.
Jumpy at Mablaran Falls
It was interesting to pass by Odiongan town where trade and transit happens. It is the island capital where a lot of the accommodations are located and the main entry port of the island for incoming and outgoing sea vessel. It’s a typical provincial coastal town as I see it with low-rise buildings and essential facilities can be found. There were some interesting eateries too. We dropped by one of the airconditioned cafeterias for lunch before heading north.
The road to San Andres was smoothly paved. When we got to San Andres, we asked people there for directions and once I asked and elder guy for Mablaran Falls, I got a reply “Ah! Yung swimming pool!” Swimming pool? Then I had some unpleasant imagery of an overdeveloped and crowded falls in my head. But we went on. The inner road was wide but there were patches of dirt road as they try to complete the whole length of the road.
By 15 minutes, we reached Mablaran Falls and paid the entrance of Php 5.00 per person. The first thing I saw was a huge pool. No wonder they call it a swimming pool. The water comes naturally from the falls but they built structures to keep the water on hold. Yes, there were development but it wasn’t as crowded as I expected for a weekend. There were a group of friends having a picnic lunch across the river pool where I can walk across being only above the knee high. I finally got to see the falls. It was low and has strong flow. The water looks inviting and deep. And again there’s a swing. At first I wasn’t that impressed with the height but people love it because they can jump on the pool again and again. I guess locals love it because its a fun falls and easily accessible. The surrounding is also still lush and refreshing. There was even a tree opposite the river and falls where a snake sleeps deeply tightly coiled on a branch. People seem to know about the snake and leave them there undisturbed.
Pag-alad Falls Side Trip
As I was about to leave, I met this guy on dreadlocks with his young niece and cousin at Mablaran Falls. He works in Manila but was there for vacation. He grew up in San Andres and recommended I visit this Pag-alad falls he was highly fond of growing up. Since it was on the way back and nearby, we followed his lead and rode to his village. It was indeed a short ride from the main road but had a steep dirt path I had to walk up and leave the motorbike for Alex to ride up safely.
Pag-alad falls is inside a private land but is open to the locals. It was a very short hike that leads to a small dam. The dreadlocks guy hasn’t been to the falls for over a year working in the metro and was disappointed to see the water flows only in trickles now since most of the water were diverted to the town. It was disappointing to see. Despite having weak flow, the local kids continue to enjoy the falls as there’s still a basin to jump to. But this is one of the disappointing effects of development. The village had to sacrifice the falls to have a water source for the town.
Mablaran Falls is located at Baranggay Linawan, San Andres, Romblon. There are jeeps to San Andres from Odiongan. Travel time is 30 minutes. Motorbikes may also be hired. Entrance fee is Php 5.00
Pag-alad Falls is also at San Andres in Baranggay Pag-Alad. I wouldn’t recommend a visit since there’s no longer water flowing. But probably this may change during the rainy season.
For assistance, best to call the Municipal Tourism Office at (042) 567.6300.
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.