And off we go following the river. It was the third day of our waterfalling adventure in Iligan City organized by Iligan Bloggers Society (IBS) and we only have one falls to visit today. Boy this must be a good one, I thought. The first day was packed with three falls – Pampam, Kalubihon and Dalipuga Falls. Day two, while not really a falls was a satisfying immersion at the Timoga Cold Springs. This time we’re heading to Dodiongan Falls in Barangay Bonbonon in Iligan City.
There was a little apprehension in the next leg of our #TravelMindanao adventure coming from Lake Sebu, South Cotabato. We were headed northern counterpart of Cotabato this time and we can’t help thinking about its tainted reputation of sudden insurgencies. I’ve traveled to places like this while most of the time its safe, it helps to keep a low-profile so we were cautious. What ensued was the most arduous journey of #TravelMindanao in my opinion but rewarded with the sight of Asik-Asik Falls in Alamada, North Cotabato. Personally, one of the most enchanting and surreal falls I’ve seen in the Philippines.
Lake Sebu has seen its share of development in the years. Apart from the tranquil three lakes in this land of dreamweavers, the Lake Sebu Zipline has been a big draw — being the highest in the country and personally the most scenic as well. The #TravelMindanao team of course wouldn’t miss experiencing this one. Even if I had rode the Lake Sebu Zipline before, I was still excited to try it again. The group headed to Hikong Alu, the first of the seven falls in Lake Sebu where the jump-off for the zipline is stationed.
“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.
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.
Usually when I talk about waterfalls, I talk about the great lengths on how to reach a good one, the extensive hikes, the stair climbs and the sweat you have to invest. Well Cathedral Falls, found in Baranggay Waterfalls in Kapatagan, Lanao del Norte defies the norms. After a 15-minute habal-habal ride from the main bus terminal in Kapatagan, we pulled off on the road and there it was in all its glory.
It’s been much talked about by my backpacking friends how wonderful the island of Calaguas is. Finally this month, I was able to visit the place many thanks to Isla Lipana who initiated the Philippine Gems campaign, a search for emerging tourist destination in the country. Calaguas Islands and its Mahabang Buhangin didn’t disappoint. The journey may be long but it was well worth it. It eventually won the top spot in the Philippine Gems.