Waterfalls of Kennon Road (Benguet, PH)

Many quiet rivers start from noisy waterfalls, but none of them jumps and does not foam up to the sea. But it is often a sign of great peace of mind, and hidden forces… — Mikhail Lermontov

Waterfalls have extraordinary power and beauty of nature… sparkling and splashing, breaking into a thousand rubble of mist.

486471_499581626768299_1517670100_n

If you are making your way to Baguio City (via Kennon Road), there are several waterfalls you can visit. Two of which are very much accessible from the highway and the others require a little bit of sauntering.

BRIDAL VEIL FALLS:

Location: Camp 1 (Tabaan Sur), Tuba, Benguet.

The easiest, and most accessible to reach from among these waterfalls along Kennon Road is the Bridal Veil Falls. Just 2-3 kilometres away from the border of La Union – Benguet, this waterfall is visible from the road and could be easily spotted.

wf5

The name is coined from what it looks like a veil of a woman who is going to marry. From a bird’s eye view, it really does resemble like that of a long, flowing veil from a firm rock wall. The water pours down from a towering height before it crashes into a shady catch basin enclosed by boulders.

While it is true that one may admire the waterfalls from afar, it is still best to come near it and experience its water. Getting to the base of the waterfalls is pretty a walk in the park. That is, if one is okay with crossing a quite daunting hanging foot bridge that is noticeably seen from the highway. Well, it isn’t really that difficult to cross the bridge (even if it screeches and swings a bit).

Generally, the waterfall was imposing. It was a tad difficult to take a photo of its entirety due to its stature. I got to 1st visit this waterfall in 2009, and the water falling wasn’t that full and strong. Yet, it was still a sight to see. I wonder how mighty and stunning it would be during the rainy season.

COLORADO FALLS

Location: Camp 2 (Twin Peaks), Tuba, Benguet.

From Bridal Veil, a good 5-10 minute ride and you’ll reach the jump-off of Colorado Falls. This waterfall has been a well-known attraction from among La Union and Benguet locals over the years for its refreshing cascades and natural pools (most specially during the summer months). According to locals, the falls’ catch basin is deep (some say it is only around 10 feet, others say it is as deep as 60 feet). Its popularity dwindled when an increasing number of drowning incidents happened in the area.

wf12

The waterfall is just a short walk (5-minute walk) from the roadside. During my recent visit (February 2019), I have learned that it has been closed to the public for several months now. The closure is due to a recent drowning, and the place was hardly damaged by a typhoon last year wherein the cottages, and shower areas were destroyed. Hopefully, the local government will have financial aid to rebuild these so they could open up this natural wonder again to the public.

ARAN CAVE’S WATERFALLS

Location: Camp 3, Tuba, Benguet

Aran Cave is an emerging site in Tuba, Benguet. Since it is a cave, adventure junkie come here to explore the caverns and crevices of this natural attraction. It is said that there are 5 levels (corresponding to 5 waterfalls) inside the cave. So far, visitors are only allowed to visit up to the 3rd level (unless you are an expert spelunker).

wf3

I have been to this cave twice (in 2009 and this year, 2019), and I could say that one, unique feature of are the waterfalls inside. They aren’t as tall as the other falls along Kennon Road but they are more exciting to me since you get to rappel alongside them inorder to reach the next portion of the cave. Also, the waterfalls have crystal clear, freezingly cold, natural pools one could swim around. (More of Aran Cave HERE).

HYDRO FALLS

Location: Camp 6, Tuba, Benguet.

While all the waterfalls I have visited along Kennon Road has their own charm, I find the Hydro Falls the most picturesque. It is also the nearest waterfall from Baguio City but the one that requires more walking (unlike Bridal Veil and Colorado). Going to the waterfalls will take around an hour to an hour and a half. From the jump off, one will get to pass by a hanging bridge that leads to a residential area at the other side of the Bued river.

From there, a narrow path leads you to a small basketball court and eventually towards a grassy trail along the river. The most exciting part of the trek going to the falls is passing through boulders and some river crossing. The time I went here, I actually brought with me my chow, Kabbage, who didnt want to get wet so I had to carry her while sauntering through the rocks. After passing by some natural pool along the river, one will arrive at the main catchbasin of the 3-tiered waterfall.

CYMERA_20190207_112223

We had a great time swimming and taking lots of photos during this getaway. We would have wanted to scale the 2nd tier of the waterfall but it seems that there were no established trails.

How to reach these waterfalls:
From Baguio City, one can ride a jeep bound for Camp 6 along Kennon Road. The jeepney terminal is located at Carantes Street corner T. Claudio Street (at the Back of Jollibee Harrison Road). Inform the driver that you want to go to the Hydro Falls (Hydro 2 area, which is located somewhere in between the Lion’s head and the Camp 6 Elementary School.

CYMERA_20190207_112324

For Bridal Veil Falls, Colorado Falls, Aran Cave’s falls, one could ride the jeepney going to Camp 2/3 located at Lakandula St. near Shoppers Lane (at the back of a Jollibee store). Just tell the driver which of these waterfalls you are visiting and you will be dropped by the jump off.

These waterfalls are great weekend getaways from Baguio City. They are all free of entrance fees (except Aran since you have to pay for the cave guides). Please note though that private vehicles are not allowed to pass by Kennon Road as of the moment due to on-going road and bridge constructions (so best option is to take the public jeepneys).

There is another waterfall that I wish to see (Ataki Falls) and hopefully would include in this write-up soon. I’ll keep you posted once I get to explore it. Take it easy and don’t be wasted souls, be “juan”derlust.

Ticao Island (Masbate, PH)

Masbate, an island province in the Bicol Region of the Philippines, is a land of many surprises. Before I was impressed with a group of islands in this province called Burias Islands, I was first smitten by the charm of another island of Masbate called Ticao.

0ticao

One of the 3 major islands of the province, Ticao is made up of 4 municipalities. One very notable town is Monreal. Found at the western tip of Ticao, Monreal is home to seemingly untouched beaches, and other natural attractions. The islets that look like emerald gems floating in the azure waters would melt any beach bummer’s heart.

1ticao

Swim inside the Bojo Cave, snorkel at the Halea Nature Park, bum around San Miguel Island, do a beach photo shoot at Borobongkaso Islet, or do a quick visit at Catandayagan Falls.

So feast your eyes on these photographs as if they are inviting you to come and experience the treasures that of Ticao Island in mesmerizing Masbate!

2ticao

Don’t be a wasted soul, be JUANderlust. Take it easy everyJUAN.

Nagcarlan Fun (Laguna, PH)

Just keep taking chances and having fun. — Garth Brooks

_yambo

A few days before Valentine’s Day this 2017, instead of sulking over the fact that I have no V-Day date (for the 7th consecutive year), I opted to join a group of nature-enthusiasts for a weekend getaway in Laguna. I have actually been joining random groups of people since the 1st week of January for some weekend climbs and more.  

So here are the things we did in Nagcarlan to have fun:

TREK MOUNT MABILOG:

Mount Mabilog
Elevation: 428 MASL
Difficulty: 2/9
Location: San Pablo & Nagcarlan, Laguna
Jump Off Point: Brgy. Sulsuguin, Nagcarlan
Features: Grassland, Banana, Coconut & Corn Fields.

_mabilog

There are three established trails to Mount Mabilog. The western trail via Brgy. Sta. Catalina, the southern trail accessed via Brgy. Sto Angel (both in San Pablo town); and the eastern trail from Sitio Yambo, Brgy. Sulsuguin in town of Nagcarlan. Our group opted to take this trail since we wanted to spend time at Yambo Lake.

About the hike: The ascent is pretty easy and relaxed. One gets to pass by lots of coconuts, banana plants and even cassava plants. Since it rained the previous day, the trail was a bit muddy but manageable.

As one goes further up, the canopy of various trees culminates in a steep ascent that goes to a summit that serves as a campsite and a viewing area at the same time. From the peak, a stunning view of the 7 Lakes of San Pablo (with Yambo Lake as the most visible), and the imposing Mounts Makiling, Banahaw, Cristobal are seen. Other mountains like  Malipunyo Range, Mount Kalisungan, and Mount Atimla can also be viewed. Mount Mabilog is a desirable day-hike for newbies and can be very much visited together with other nearby attractions like the lakes and some waterfalls.


BALSA CRUISE at YAMBO LAKE:

dsc_0422

Yambo Lake, an oligotropic lake (one that is characterized by a low accumulation of dissolved nutrient salts, supporting but a sparse growth of algae and other organisms, and having a high oxygen content owing to the low organic content – in a more appreciated term, you can go and swim all you want, haha) is the twin of a  more popular lake called Pandin Lake. They are separated by a narrow strip of land, that may require a good 10-15 minutes. The place is suitable for swimming, “balsa” cruising, and picnicking. The ride may cost Php 180.00/ person, and if one opts to go food, it will cost one person Php 360.00.


SWIM at BUNGA TWIN FALLS:

Bunga Falls, 15-meters twin waterfalls located at Brgy. Bunga in Nagcarlan Laguna is a good place to cool down after a climb at Mount Mabilog or if one wants more swimming after some time at Yambo Lake. FYI: According to locals, it is called “Bunga” as it is named after a palm tree called betel nut.

Bunga Falls Information:
Entrance Fee: Php5.00/person
Cottage Rentals: starts at Php200.00
Overnight Accommodation (cottage rent): Php400.00
Life Vest Rental: Php70.00
Activities: swimming, camping, water tubing
Parking Fee: Php20.00 (vehicles), Php15.00 (motorcycles)

_bunga


VISIT the UNDERGROUND CEMETERY:

A unique attraction in the town (since it seems to be one of its kind in the Philippines) is the Underground Cemetery. This is a burial site located beneath a church that used to serves as a secret meeting place of Filipino revolutionaries or Katipuneros during the late 1800s. There are no fees collected. It is open from Tuesdays to Sundays, 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. Taking pictures is allowed, however, the use of flash is strictly prohibited. One may find the place eerie but I think that adds up charm to the place.

__img_20170213_183506_266

This fun-filled weekend getaway was made possible by a group of nature and “voluntourism” advocates spearheaded by Sir Ralph of We VolunTours. I have joined his group already on several occasions and I must say that there’s has to be one of the most organized, enjoyable and adventure-packed. Thank you to all new friends I have met. Special shout out to Baguio peeps I have come to know in this trip.

Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’…

 

Siniloan Waterfalls (Laguna, PH)

Waterfalls have certain charm that makes me want to explore more of them. So, one weekend, a few Instagram friends and I decided to explore some of the off-the-beaten path waterfalls of the easternmost town of Laguna province — Siniloan.

Although Sinoloan is primarily known for Mount Romelo and Buruwisan Falls, this town is actually home to innumerable, and not so well-known nature wonders that even locals are not aware of.

So here is a rundown of our itinerary:

05:00 — meet-up at Star Mall, Mandaluyong

05:30 — Van left Star Mall to Tanay, Rizal (we opted to take this route since we were quite unsure if the Raymund Buses at Legarda, Manila really leave on time. These buses go straight to Infanta, Quezon and would pass by Siniloan)

07:15 – Arrival in Tanay. We ate breakfast at Jollibee before going to the jeepney terminal.

08:30 – Jeepney left Tanay for Siniloan

09:15 – Arrival in Siniloan, Laguna (we took a tryke to the jeepney terminal going to Infanta)

image-f1c7b8304da499192805d03660a090ca15db3d2a64acedcfcedf0e3ea6391d28-V

09:45 – Jeepney left Famy for Infanta. We asked the jeepney driver to drop us off at Km. 18, Brgy. Magsaysay in Siniloan (It is best to tell the driver that you be dropped off at TREKKERS. I think they all know this place).

10:15 – Arrived at TREKKERS. Enter the gate of an old house which serves as a registration site. The area is actually a private property. The lady owner of the house provided us 2 guides (one of them is Ka Laoyan, a native of Benguet).

10:30 – we started our trek. It was pretty easy at first until the trail becomes narrow and pretty challenging. Our first stop was Tulay na Bato Falls and an unnamed falls.

00DSC_4101

After taking photos, we proceeded to the next falls, following a more challenging trail before we passed through Naga River). The river itself is picturesque. The river trek required us to pass through some large rocks, shallow and cool water. The trek gave us an opportunity to see another waterfall in the area (Hagdan na Bato Falls). We did exit a different route which was way easier than the trail we took earlier on.

00DSC_4169

12:30 — We reached the highway, had merienda at a nearby store and off we went to our last waterfall in Brgy. Llavac, the last barangay of Siniloan before Infanta, Quezon.

13:30 — we continued on with our waterfalls chasing. We encountered some funny moments along the way. We had to stop and ask how exactly can we reach the waterfalls. We talked to several locals, each of which had a different thing to say (even their local leaders can’t give us a certain answer).

14:30 — Luckily, we found a person who knew about the waterfall we were talking about. So off we went to the hills of Llavac and see Kalawang Falls. The trail to the waterfall was relatively established and easy. After  20 minutes, we already reached the 4-tiered Kalawang Falls. To me this was the most beautiful waterfalls from among the falls we have explored. We quickly took photos before heading back to the national highway.

00wer.jpg

15:30 – We headed back to the highway and waited for a bus bound for Manila. Fortunately, after only 15 minutes, a Raymond Bus passed by and so we were able to head back.

18:30 – We arrived in Ortigas, and we opted to eat dinner first at Robinson’s Place.

So there. For the budget breakdown:

Van to Tanay (from Starmall) — Php70

Jeepney from Tanay to Siniloan — Php 47

Tryke to Famy Jeep Terminal to Infanta — Php15

Jeepney to Trekkers, Brgy. Magsaysay — Php25

Guide fee per person (this is based on our discretion) – Php100

Bus from Llavac, Siniloan to Ortigas — Php140

Food – Php100

TOTAL — Php597.00

DSC_4134DSC_5103.JPG

Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’…

 

 

Ulan-Ulan Waterfalls (Biliran, PH)

When we were young, there were times when my sister and I would storm our way out just to take a bath under the rain. And it was fun… it was a different feeling getting soaked, half-naked without any pretentions. Of course, we can no longer do that now that we are adults. I mean we still can if e want to minus the half-naked thing.

DSC_1596

The introduction I made has something to do with the rain. When I have visited the province Biliran, one particular sight I enjoyed the most was a visit to Ulan-Ulan Waterfalls in the town of Almeria. “Uan” in the local dialect means rain. It was named such because the water cascade appears to be rain shower – like.

The jump-off to the waterfalls is located in a barangay called Sampao. First, one would be required to ride a 20-minute habal-habal (motorcycle) and do a more or less 30-minute trek to reach the waterfalls. The trail is pretty easy except for some parts that could be really muddy when it rains.

DSC_1581
Upon reaching the falls, I was so excited to get wet by its flow. True to its name, it does look like a pretty heavy rain shower. The falls is about 90 feet high with a catch basin that is quite shallow. The verdant surroundings add up to the natural charm of the waterfall. I enjoyed taking a shower despite the freezing cold water. A lot of unusual frogs and dragonflies abound the area that made me happy taking photos.

Truly, Ulan-Ulan Falls is one of Biliran’s must-see nature secret. From here, there are other trek worthy waterfalls like Recoletos and Sampao Waterfalls.

DSC_1627
How to Get to Ulan-Ulan Falls:

From Manila, fly to Tacloban City in Leyte. From Tacloban, you have several options to get to Almeria, Biliran. The most frequent, and conducive way is to hire a van although there are also public transports like jeepney or taxi that will take you to the van terminal and get on a van to Naval (Biliran’s capital). Once in Naval, hire a habal-habal for a faster means of transport to Brgy. Sampao. There is a registration site where you can hire a guide. There are no standard fees for guide. The trek will also start from that area.

Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’…

Pinsal Falls (Ilocos Sur, PH)

Pinsal Falls is one of Ilocos Sur’s surprisingly best-kept nature secret. This 85-foot waterfall is located in the town of Santa Maria, which is also the home of the UNESCO-inscribed Santa Maria Church.

DSC_5870

Pinsal Falls is considered as the entire Ilocandia’s largest waterfalls. Its flowing blanket of water runs into natural pools that forage the rivers of Sta. Maria. According to local myths, the biggest from among these pools is said to be the footprint of a giant named Angalo, who was in search of his wife. If one climbs to the top of the waterfalls, a spring with warm water can be found.

pinsal (2)

Sometimes, the waterfalls look like a twin falls. There is also a secreted cave behind the main waterfall. And in order to appreciate more of its beauty, you can go and trek your way to the top where more natural pools can be found. There are carved steps on the hillside although one has to be extra careful as the trail can be quite challenging still. Indeed, Pinsal Falls has a charm that is difficult to resist for a swim or an afternoon picnic with family and friends.

pinsal (7)

When I went on a solo trip to Pinsal Falls wayback 2011, the waterfall’s flow wasn’t strong due to the summer season. Nonetheless, it is still a beauty to behold.

How to Get to Pinsal Falls:

From Manila, local bus operators like as Partas, Philippine Rabbit and Viron have daily trips to Abra, Vigan and Laoag. All of which will pass by the town of Santa Maria. Inform the driver to drop you off at the town center.

Hire a tricycle that will take you to the waterfall which lies among the hills and mountains of Brgy. Balbalasioan. It is said that the waterfalls may also be reached on foot from the town of Pilar, Abra.

pinsal

Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebriwan.

Vera Falls (Albay, PH)

Vera Falls is a refreshingly stunning cascade located in the municipality of Malinao, Albay. This 25-meter beauty have mini waterfalls coming out of the rocks at the side of the main falls. It’s very cold catch basin is about 2 meters deep and is really clear and clean. I commend the people who manage this waterfalls because it is well maintained.

_DSC0542

Being tucked within the outskirts of Albay, one will feel a sense of veiled utopia after an easy downhill sauntering (which obviously needs a pretty strenuous trek back). Nonetheless, I love Vera Falls’ charm. It was our last stop for our Bicol trip and we had to cut-short our stay. I wish to get back to this waterfalls the next time I am in Albay.

DSC_2931

Please note that there is a parking area (with a beautiful view of Mount Mayon) near the entrance going to Vera Falls. It is a good thing that no entrance fee is collected. However, there was a person asking for donation for the area’s maintenance. The trek from the parking area to the falls is just around 10 minutes via concrete stairs. A few cottages were constructed near the falls and a small store can be found just before the entrance to the waterfalls.

DSC_2936

How to Get to Vera Falls:

From Manila, the fastest way would be an airplane ride to Legazpi City in Albay. Then, from Legaspi City, one may either ride a jeepney, van, or bus plying the Legaspi City-Tabaco City route. The travel time is about 30 to 45 minutes. Once in Tabaco city, go to the plaza near City Hall where one will find motorcycles or habal habal bound for Vera Falls. The travel time from Tabaco City Hall to the falls is about 20 to 30 minutes through some unpaved terrain. Alternatively, one can ride a tricycle bound for Barangay Soa and then from Barangay Soa, ride a motorcycle to Vera Falls. The tricycle terminal for tricycles bound for Barangay Soa is near the Tabaco church.

DSC_2982

Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust.

Merloquet Falls (Zamboanga City)

I am in love with this world . . . I have climbed its mountains, roamed its forests, sailed its waters, felt the  the oppression of its heat, the drench of its rains, the fury of its winds, and always have beauty and joy waited upon my goings and comings.  John Burroughs

0mf

When we think about Zamboanga City, images of colorful vinta, Yakan-weaved products and historical vista like Fort Pilar usually comes to mind. But for the past years, the city government has been promoting Asia’s only Latin city as an eco-tourism hub.

Being the Philippines’ third largest city in terms of land area, Zamboanga seems to have several well-kept natural wonders that will sooner or later lure us nature-trippers. One natural treasure that is rapidly becoming a favorite attraction from among backpackers and visitors alike, is the magnificent Merloquet Falls.

00mf

My second visit to this Chavacano-speaking city in Mindanao gave me an opportunity to see what Merloquet has to offer. Together with 2 friends from Laguna, a friend from Leyte, and an Ig friend from Zambooanga, we went on to see the white curtain-like water flows of Merloquet Falls in Barangay Sibulao in the east coast of the city.

0mf2

We were greeted by a heavy downpour once we rode a habal-habal on the way to the falls. But that did not stop us from wanting to see and experience this natural wonder. The heavens must have heard of our plea since the rain stopped when we arrived at the area. A 334-concrete stairs led us down to the waterfalls that is tucked inside a lush environ. True to the descriptions made by several bloggers, the cascade of Merloquet looked like a curtain.

0mf1

Merloquet Falls is a two-tiered beauty. The lower level is about 10 meters in height. This is where most visitors stay and get their body battered gently by the falls heaps. (Caution: The mosses that has grown on the rocks are really slippery so be extra careful). The higher tier requires making your way to the side of the falls’ lower level. A thick rope and some sturdy tree roots will help you as you saunter your way up. The fall’s upper tier is a succession of serrated rock formations with diagonal angle and is about five meters high. Just like the lower tier, it also has a catch basin that isn’t too deep, making it ideal for swimming safely. Again, the area is slippery.

0mf3

How to Get to Merloquet Falls:

From the town center, make your way to Sevilla Street where you can find the jeepneys (with a “Putik” signboard) going to Guiwan Terminal. You can also ride a tricycle and just tell the driver to take you to Guiwan Bus terminal. At the terminal, ride a bus bound for Pagadian City. Both air conditioned buses and ordinary buses are available. The travel time is around 1 hours and 30 minutes to 2 hours (including several stop-overs, and yes, that is how lengthy time travel is and you are going somewhere in the city). Inform the bus conductor to drop you off at Barangay Vitali. Once in Vitali, you will see alot of Habal-habal on the street which can take you directly to Merloquet Falls. Haggle with the driver. We gout ours Php130 per person, both ways (including their waiting hours). Some parts of the road is rough and really steep. Upon arrival at the area, an entrance fee! Of Php5 and a parking fee of P10/per motorcycle (P20/for cars and other vehicles) will be collected. And finally, a 15 to 30 minute trek through concrete stairs will lead you to the mesmerizing Merloquet Falls.

0mf4

Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’…

Cambugahay Falls (Siquijor, PH)

While most Filipinos have this negative image of Siquijor (because of some scary stories), Siquijor remains to be one of my favourite island provinces in the Philippines. The mystic and mystery the place is known for, has captured my interest and my senses. I first visited Siquijor in 2012, and from then on, I promised to go back.. and I did in January of 2015.

cambugahay (6)

The island called Isla del Fuego or Island of Fire, to me, is so under-rated. One really should visit this place to know what I am talking about. The entire island is an embodiment of loaded natural beauty – from pristine seascape to stunning landscape.

a

One of the ideal natural spots to take pleasure in Siquijor is the multi-layered Cambugahay Falls. Being one of Siquijor’s main attraction drawers, Cambugahay is a frequented place. Its charming atmosphere is attributed to the cold, clear and clean cascading water that is believed to originate from natural springs, and rain water.

cambugahay (5)

Going to the area may not be a walk in the park as one will have to hurdle the leg-challenging stairs leading to the waterfall. The sauntering down requires about 135 steps. Nonetheless, one will feel as if nothing strenuous happened upon seeing the falls. All three layers are a sight to behold. The shallow waters are ideal for swimming. Indeed a relaxing way to cool off after a tiring walk.

cambugahay (3)

How to Cambugahay Falls:

The closest airport with commercial flights to Siquijor is the Dumaguete-Sibulan Airport. From Dumaguete City port, you can choose either a RoRo or a fast craft to the Siquijor. Fare is between ₱180 up to ₱220 depending on the vessel type.

From either the towns of Larena or Siquijor, you can rent a habal-habal to take you to Cambugahay Falls which is in the town of Lazi.

For schedule of boats/ferries/vessels going to Siquijor from Dumaguete City, check out http://www.siquijordirectory.com/ferryshipping.html

cambugahay (4)

Don’t  be a wasted soul, be  ‘juan’derlust.