ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews / 09 March) – Until recently, I’ve been to eight of Iligan’s two dozen or so waterfalls. Twice I was commissioned by the City Tourism Office to document the waterfalls in pictures – first in the early ’90s, and then 20 years later.
Being spread all over the mountainous parts of the city, it wasn’t easy documenting these falls. It took days, even weeks. Lots of driving, on four- or two-wheeled vehicles, and long walks, too.
I was able to photograph Maria Cristina, Tinago, Mimbalut, Dodiongan, Langilanon, Limunsodan and Mimbalut Falls. I had seen Ikog Falls in faraway Barangay Rogongon, but unfortunately I couldn’t risk carrying my camera gear in deep waters just to be able to take pictures of the falls.
These past few years, chasing waterfalls wasn’t really in my mind. While I haven’t seen them all, I think I’ve seen more than enough, more than most Iliganons.
But a new hobby I embraced less than two years ago brought me to Iligan’s remote places, where no vehicles could penetrate. Like most people who got into running, I started pounding the city streets, joining fun runs in my hometown and, when I got serious, marathons in cities near and far. That’s 42 kilometers of almost non-stop running.
But then running on paved roads became boring. Fortunately, some of my running buddies had the same feeling. The next thing we did – running in the mountains, on dirt roads and on the trails.
On weekends these past few months, we would identify a nice location we would like to visit – say, a waterfall, a spring, a flower plantation, or just a faraway village with a nice view along the way. But instead of driving to the place, we’d run, to and fro.
A few weeks back, Jaeger mentioned about a Pampam Falls that we may want to visit. There’s such a falls? And I haven’t seen it yet?! Wow! Okay, go! Even though Jaeger said he couldn’t come that Sunday as he’s going out of town, we pushed the run just the same. Poor Jaeger. “Oh my, how I wish I hadn’t told you guys,” he said.
After a short Google search, I learned it’s in Dalipuga, the last barangay in Iligan’s boundary with Misamis Oriental, in Sitio Kalubihon.
So on our long run on February 23, a Sunday, we ran towards Sitio Kalubihon, about two kilometers away from the highway, but almost seven kilometers away from the Caltex station where I parked my car. Then another kilometer more of running on a foot trail in the mountain.
To our surprise, it’s not just one waterfall! I counted four bigger falls, and four more smaller ones, situated not far from each other. Whoa!!! I haven’t even checked if all those falls have names. I know there’s a Kalubihon, a Pampam and a Dalipuga, because these are in the list of the City Tourism Office. But the rest, I’m not sure. Maybe one of these days I’ll go visit the barangay hall and ask, and maybe ask if I can have one of the falls named after me. Hehe…
Most of them have a natural lagoon at the foot. Though not as big as Tinago’s, it’s so nice to take a dip because of the crystal clear waters and, apparently, only a few people know about these falls. We had all the waterfalls to ourselves that Sunday morning.
What I like most is Kalubihon, because you have to climb up one waterfall, then get inside a small cave with a natural pool, swim past the pool, climb up a narrow tunnel before you get to see yet another falls. I’m not sure if both falls – the one before and after the cave – are part of a two-tiered Kalubihon Falls, or if they are treated as separate falls with separate names.
But the cave itself is a wonder to see. It’s short, maybe just 10 meters long and five meters wide, but the water inside is deep in some parts, more than my height. That’s why on that visit, I wasn’t able to take pictures of the falls past the cave, because I didn’t bring waterproof case for my Sony digicam.
Pampam Falls downstream looks like the skull of a gorilla, with a nice shallow pool below it. This would be best for kids, or those who don’t know how to swim.
Dalipuga Falls farther downstream has the biggest and deepest pool. We stayed here long because everybody, one by one, jumped as I took pictures. With today’s modern point-and-shoot digicams that can do 10 frames per second, everybody’s happy with his jump shots.
It’s nice to go on a picnic here, too, because the area is shaded with tall bamboo trees.
Then we ran again for two more kilometers mostly on foot trail to get back to the highway, and another five kilometers to where I parked my car at the Caltex station in Barangay Sta. Filomena.
That was one of the best runs we ever had. After all, that’s what I really wanna do – run in the mountains, in the trails, away from the city and from the paved roads.
I liked it so much that I went back there three more times! In the last three visits, I had a Lock & Lock waterproof case with me, so I was finally able to photograph the waterfalls beyond the cave.
On my second visit, on the Saturday after that first visit, I brought my wife and her doctor friends and members of their families who were willing to walk the long distance.
On my third visit, just a day after the second visit, I was with running buddies who missed our first trek, Jaeger included. And on my fourth visit just today (March 9), most in our group – an informal organization we named the Iligan Trail Runners – plus foreigner friends from Iligan and two visitors from Manila, joined the run and trek, all 18 of us! While still in the highway, it appeared like there was an organized fun run.
That fourth visit, for me, was just as enjoyable as the previous visits. I’ll keep coming back, that’s for sure.
And I want to go to the other waterfalls I haven’t visited yet, now that I’m much fitter than in my previous visits. Neither distance nor difficult terrain scares me now. (Bobby Timonera / MindaNews)