no. 19 – waterfalls, springway, and the goodness of strangers

Ever since my elementary days, I have always wanted to see a waterfall most especially Ma. Cristina so while we were at the planning stage of our trip to Mindanao, I have put the city of waterfalls, Iligan, on my priority list. However, I found out that it was 4 hours away by bus from Pagadian and Dams would be too busy for his birthday preparations to drive us there. Being my hard headed iwantiwant self, I asked permission from Tita to let me and Dai experience Iligan by ourselves. My request surprised her and she was hesitant to give approval saying we weren’t familiar with the place, we’re both female etc. When it appeared that I wouldn’t be discouraged (Dams said Ma. Cristina wasn’t worth seeing, beware of abductors, etc), I got the sweet yes. Surprisingly, I woke up to my alarm set at 3 AM even if we slept late the previous night which only proves that I want Iligan so badly. After a breakfast of hotdogs and eggs, Dams brought us to their city’s bus terminal in his yellow motorcycle. If night joyrides are fun, dawn ones are even better! Regular bus (no air conditioner) costed us 190 pesos each and it left at around 5 am even if there were only a few passengers. The ride was fun at first because of the fields and the air and the sunrise. After 7 AM though, it became hot and humid and suddenly, there was an influx of passengers with all sorts of things and animals with them. Argh. We asked to be dropped off at Buru-un and then we rode a habal habal from the highway to Tinago falls, our first stop for the day. When the driver asked 40 pesos each for fare, we thought it was too much. However, we realized that Tinago falls was really hidden (punny!) for it was a more or less 4 km drive with coconut trees in the horizon. From the drop off point, Tinago falls was still a couple of minutes trek downwards. To quantify, we had to go down 434 (or was it 64?) flight of uneven and crooked stairs. Whew! Every joule of energy was worth it though because I was rendered speechless when I saw the first natural waterfall of my life. The place wasn’t too crowded because it was a weekday and we arrived early. Thank God because I didn’t want my shameful swimming skills to be seen by the public. hehe. Entrance to the falls is only 10 pesos. Life jackets are rented for 20 pesos and it was the best 20 pesos I spent in Mindanao. That orange thing saved my life and let me enjoy the falls. A couple of kind manongs and kuyas guarded our personal belongings for us. One was even skilled enough to manipulate my camera and take good shots. Nothing’s more relaxing than solving the whowilltakeourpictures problem. Bamboo rafting also had a separate fee. For 10 pesos each, the guides would bring you to the spot where the water falls. All the time I was thinking, Oh my, God you are so amazing! Thank you for letting me witness your creation in its full glory! hehe. Halfway to the falls, I could already feel the moist. Sitting under the waterfall was relaxing though the pressure of the water sometimes hurt. A kid who practically grew up in the area encouraged us to climb the rocky walls and then jump. I was hesitant at first but it isn’t everyday that an opportunity like that presents itself so I mustered all my courage and put my faith in God and the life vest I was wearing. I had a hard time climbing because of my bulky body plus the slippery rocks. Nevertheless, I was able to jump from a height of 20 feet and it was awesome (I have used the A word far too many times but it really was awesome). You jump and let go, then you fall and shout and before you know it, you’ve hit the water and thanks to the life jacket (told you it was a lifesaver), you effortlessly float. Unfortunately for me, instinct to swallow was faster than common sense so I gulped the water when I jumped open mouthed. And it was the worst tasting water I have drank in my entire life. Yes it was so bad my tummy felt funny afterwards and I was nauseated. At least I know better next time. The kid, in an effort to please, climbed double or triple the height where we jumped and did a backflip. I was so envious! It must have felt surreal! Next we went to the other side of the falls and climbed and jumped some more. Nope, I didn’t swim. I just held the life vest of the kid in the picture and let him take me. HAHA. I love you TINAGO FALLS! There was also a cave albeit a small one. There were lots of cigarette butts so I’m guessing this was where people did yosi breaks. And just before we left, when I thought I’d leave tinago without any untoward incident, I slipped butt first while getting out of the water. Exaggeration aside, I felt the ground shake a bit. It hurt badly and left me with a bruise on my thigh. Plus everyone had suppressed giggles. The real challenge was going up the same 400+ flight of stairs. Dai and I were gasping for air while the kid who went with us seemed like he wasn’t even putting effort. Talk about cardio workout. When we arrived at the huge tree signalling that we were halfway, I gladly hugged it and when I saw the end of the stairs, I was ecstatic. Dai and I were wearing matching shirts, the Regatta X Discovery The World is just Awesome shirt given to us by our beloved Chabsie (whom we wished were with us, plus Tords). Fitting because the world IS awesome. How much more the God who created it. This is the kuya who took most of our pictures. Thank you kuya! :]  We had to wait for a couple of minutes for a habal habal that would take us to NPC where Ma. Cristina falls is. Thanks to the law of surplus and shortage, the driver asked for 150 freaking pesos. We knew it was too much but we didn’t have a choice so we gave in. I delighted in the fact that he had a hard time driving because Dai and I were heavyweights. hehe Next stop was NPC powerplant. Entrance was 35 pesos. Everyone we’ve encountered in Iligan (in Mindanao actually) were kind except the habal habal driver who ripped us off. We added 50 pesos for the shuttle since we didn’t have trasnpo with us. The driver was kind and the price was worth it because it literally brought us everywhere (within NPC). This picture made me long for River Rafting in Cagayon de Oro. Unfortunately, circumstances (particularly Dams’ dad) did not permit us to experience the adventure. Again, maybe next time. The beautiful Ma. Cristina falls which was scarier and more powerful than Tinago. Swimming wasn’t allowed thanks to all the electricity under those waters but seeing something I only dreamed of and studied before was enough.

There was a cafe beside the plant and it has got to be the one of the nicest canteens ever. First there was free WiFi and second, the food, despite being in a prime location inside an attraction, was reasonably priced. This burger meal with drinks only costed me 40 pesos. By this time Dai and I were already starving and running low on funds so imagine our delight at this simple feast. Seriously, I love anything reasonably priced. I hate paying 90 pesos for a can of soda in a comedy bar or 50 pesos for a slice of Pizza Hut pizza inside Enchanted Kingdom. Another look at Ma. Cristina before we left. I only wanted to see the two falls above. However, Dams’ tito Neil said that we should try Timoga as well. It was a series of family owned resorts with fresh spring water from somewhere I forgot. The habal habal driver brought us to Mimar’s Springway resort from NPC for only 10 pesos each! Now that’s an honest citizen. The entrance fee of 50 pesos would give you access to 3 or 4 clean and flowing pools And one spring. Ahhhh!!!! This one’s so good. the water was cool, the rapids relaxing. I could stay here all day, just sit back and close my eyes. Unfortunately, we had to go back to Pagadian before it gets dark. We left at around 2:30 PM. Goodbye Timoga! I promise to stay longer next time. While we were dripping wet (because that was how we rolled. Swim, dry ourselves a bit and go home in the same clothes without even taking a shower, not even bringing a towel) beside the highway, we were faced with a huge dilemma. We didn’t have enough money for a bus ride home. Heck, not even enough money to buy food. Dai and I only brought 1,200 pesos. 380 was spent on bus fare, 200 on Tinago (because we gave our guides money), 250 on all habal habal rides, 250 on Ma. Cristina and 100 on the Springway resort. Despite being stuck in an unfamiliar place with majority of the people speaking a foreign dialect, we weren’t scared. Guess we were armed with hope on the goodness of the human heart. Naks. Anyway, Plan A was to ask a bus driver if we could ride and then pay the fare at the terminal where Dams was waiting. Plan B was to hitchhike. We were looking forward to Plan B since the first one seemed implausible. Funnily enough, the very first bus we asked let us in without inhibitions. Thank you Lord! And thank you to this manong and the driver who saved our asses. Problem solved! We indulged in the view and slept our tiredness away the whole duration of the trip. Never mind the stares of the locals at these two wet ladies wearing the same shirt who didn’t have enough money for fare. hehe. Thank you bebe for having this adventure with me. Sabi nga ng lahat ng taong pinagkukuwentuhan ko, ang lakas ng loob natin! Tapang kung tapang! :]

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