Search for a lost love and another legend of Tinuy-an Falls

Alright, you’ve probably never been to Tinuy-an Falls in Bislig City in Surigao del Sur, indisputably (to a lot of people) the most awesome and widest waterfalls in Mindanao, if not the whole country, being baptized as the Niagara Falls of the Philippines.

As traveler Eladio Centino has said, “You put three famous waterfalls in the country side by side but Tinuy-an still’s more fascinating and outlength them.”

Called the “White Wall,” Tinuy-an glimmers amidst the thick green forest but it is best to visit it in the rainy season (July to December) when the water is thick and heavy, the sight doubly enormous.

For the curious minds, they may be asking how Tinuy-an got its name. Leave it to the storytellers who from past generations have told a few versions. And regardless of whether or not they are politically correct or supernaturally unbelievable, they make for interesting and colorful ancient stories.

The first story is anchored on romance with a tragic twist. It began when a young tribal lady who lived in a tribal village near the mountain forest vanished one day.

“She could have eloped with someone,” somebody suspected. Her lover, a bagani (warrior), tried to look for her. After days of fruitless search he became sad and depressed.

But another question came to everyone’s mind. Was she really a human being? Could it be that she was an encantada (spirit) who made the good-looking warrior fall in love with her?

Tinuy-an Falls in Bislig, Surigao del Sur. MindaNews file photo by Bobby Timonera
Tinuy-an Falls in Bislig, Surigao del Sur. MindaNews file photo by Bobby Timonera

As the bagani waited and waited, he showed signs of intense emotional anguish. His peers observed he now talked to himself in a queer manner and hid in the thick forest.

One day they saw him head for the falls and disappear. They heard a scream, a loud thud and saw his dead body floating downstream. His face showed happiness. “It was his choice, his intention (tinuyuan) to offer his life in exchange of seeing the diwata again in her realm.” So the people concluded.

Story Number two

This one reminds of action-filled adventure movies in the mold of “Lord of the Rings”. A mountain tribe lived peacefully but its members were facing danger from strange men from a faraway, unknown tribe who were spying on them and eventually subdued and enslaved them. They fought back but suffered even more. The men were chained, their wives taken, their children sold.

A baylan (priest) prayed to the spirits of the forest asking for help. One day, the falls glimmered like a jewel and caught the attention of the invaders. The baylan believed it was a way of the spirits of luring the invaders.

The invaders ordered the native warriors to take them to the falls. As they obliged, they silently believed it was a divine act by the spirits in their favor.

The invaders thought the falls flowed directly into the sea and took a raft with the native men at the helm. The invaders were loud and noisy and did not notice the native men jumping off as the raft plunged into the boulders, sending the aggressors to their death.

The villagers showed no mercy to the attackers as it was their choice or intention (tinuyuan) to test the spirits of the forest.

After winning back their freedom the tribe offered a ritual of thanks. (Ramon Jorge Sarabosing/MindaNews)