It was during my 3-day motorbike trip from Mati City to Cantilan, Surigao del Sur via the Surigao-Davao Coastal Road that I visited these two waterfalls- Aliwagwag Falls in the town of Cateel and Tinuy-an in Bislig City. I wanted to see them because I was somehow getting used to the view of the ocean as I was staying in my humble kubo in Dahican Beach for weeks before this trip. As a waterbaby, I wanted something new, something different from saltwater, something refreshing but not painful to the eyes like the waterfalls.
The drive from Mati City to Cateel took me 6 hours passing by the towns of Taragona, Manay, Caraga and Baganga. I even went to the easternmost part of the Philippines in Pusan Point, Caraga. These towns if you would remember were hardly hit during Typhoon Pablo (Bopha) in December of 2012. From Cateel town proper, Aliwagwag falls can be reached by a habal-habal after about 30minutes or 21kilometers on mostly paved road along the mountains.They call this falls- “Stairway to Heaven” because it’s tiers when seen from the main road goes up to the sky. OMG if you have to see it as the sun is going down around 4:30pm, behind the clouds, the sun is white and golden like heaven.
You feel like an angel when you dip your feet to the cold waters as if they were streaming from the highest of heavens, it will heal your soul. Since I went there a little bit late, I found myself alone swimming in the artic blue natural pool, surrounded by rocks that you feel safe because you are protected. I felt like a newborn being taken bath by Mother Earth, gently splashing water. I was enjoying the shower on my back. At one point, I was playing with the water and throwing it up in the air and waiting for them to touch my face in total bliss. I was so happy, my joy can’t be contained I shed into tears. It was pure liberty! Pura Vida!
I went back to Cateel town and spent one night before heading to Bislig City around 10am for Tinuy-an falls. My adventure to Tinuy-an Falls is really one for the books.
The word is “guyod” (to drag/tow). Halfway through 14-kilometer drive from Mangagoy my motorbike stopped working and naive that I was with engines I was hopeless that I would still reach the waterfalls before sundown. Farflung as such place I asked if there is someone who can help and check. I saw a habal-habal driver (they call their bikes skylab because they just place two long woods as extensions to their bike seats so both passengers and cargoes have room in just one trip, both hanging on each side like in the sky) who suggested “guyod na lang kita.” Without a choice I let him tie a rope on his skylab rear and attached it to my motorbike front and towed me until we reach Mangagoy, Bislig City’s center. I learned a new skill of navigating the rough bumpy roads for more than 30 minutes and trusting that he won’t drive too fast or use the break because it would spell disaster. We reached the repair shop safely, my arms numbed. The repairman changed my sparkplug and cleaned the rear brakes, after about thirty minutes I’m good to go. Antoy (not his real name), the skylab driver, told me that since it’s already late it would be a good idea to just rent a cottage in Tinuy-an Falls rather than go back to city and check-in to a hotel. I didn’t know I can camp at Tinuy-an and this gave me an idea of a night shot.
Days before I went on this trip, I met a guy who worked all his life in a logging company. When he learned that I’m going on a road trip, he told me that I should visit Tinuy-an Falls in Bislig City, Surigao del Sur. He even told me a story of how Tinuy-an Falls was discovered. Apparently PICOP (Paper Industries Corp of the Philippines) management was exploring their 200,000 hectares of forest concession for much better wood as they are into timber products such as plywood, veneer and paper products. PICOP was one of the producers of world-class telephone directory paper. They were once the biggest timber and paper mill in Asia, one of the biggest in the world. As they fly their private plane deep into the forests it crashed on what was known today as Tinuy-an Waterfalls.
I chanced upon this whilst researching about Philippine forests, “Speaking before the US Senate in January 1900, Senator Alfred J. Beveridge called for the continued US involvement in the Philippines. One of his strongest arguments was: “The wood of the Philippines can supply the furniture of the world for a century to come… and the wood … and other products of the Philippines supply what we need and cannot ourselves produce… During the Spanish regime, trees were cut mainly for building ships which serviced Spain’s galleon trade with Mexico and other countries.” Chapter 2 Years of Plunder, Power from the Forest by Marites Danguilan-Vitug
These two waterfalls have refreshed not only my body but also my soul. Mindanao has lots to offer to the intrepid traveler. Start planning a trip now, enjoy!
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