Summer is fast approaching and before I lay on the beach and bask in the sunlight, I want to start this year with a climb in Mt. 387 which is popularly known as the “Chocolate Hills of the North”. It is ringed by rolling hills and green valleys making it one of the wonderful hiking destinations in the country. I joined the group of Tahak Mountaineer headed by Mar Monge for P750 with my favorite trek buddy, the courageous and adventurous Lhen Pelenio.
Our two-day stay in Red Parrot Inn in Kaputian Beach was indeed one of our best beach getaways ever. My family especially our kids still wanted to stay but we have to move on for another refreshing treat. Yes another nature tripping to Hagimit Falls which is located in Poblacion Peñaplata, still in the Island Garden City of Samal. We were so thankful to Barney and his family for making our Davao vacation so fulfilling.
From Kaputian, it took us almost thirty minutes reaching the parking space of Hagimit Falls. Barney paid the entrance fee. There were two trails in descending to the waterfalls. My family took the flight of concrete steps while the others took the rocky and slippery trail.
In going to Guimaras, what is commonly asked for a pasalubong is their sweet mangoes which are being exported worldwide. I’ve discovered that this island has something more to offer. Their stunning beaches, caves, yummy fresh sea-foods, and verdant landscape made me say, “this is a holiday!”
I was told by my former office mate Art Decena, a fellow Bicolano about their wonderful adventure in Vera Falls in my hometown in Malinao, Albay. They traversed across terrains, hills, forest trails in three hours coming from main highway. They clung through vines and stepped into slippery walkway in going down the main falls. He described Vera Falls a “hidden paradise”, a sanctuary of nature’s finest gift. From then on, I’ve been dreaming in getting there, to experience that amazing trek and see how stunning the waterfalls really are.
This summer, I was thrilled much when my cousin Poy and his wife Mercy who were living in Barangay Quinastillohan (near the turn off point in going to Vera Falls) told me that the waterfalls could now be accessed through single motorbike. But the bad news, no one from my buddies wanted to go far now. Our trip to Sorsogon and other scenic spots in Albay for three days had drained their energies. Instead, our last day was spent in visiting our relatives in our neighboring barangay.
We indulged ourselves with kamustahan, eating our favorite Bicol meryenda “pinakro” (saba boiled in coconut milk with sugar) and a refreshing swim in a cold natural spring. Mama mentioned about my urge to visit Vera Falls to my aunties, Tiya Glo and Tiya Nor who were also in a summer getaway just like us. When they said they wanted to go, we immediately planned for our sojourn activity. After few minutes of discussion, Gil generously transported the three of us to Poy’s house and enjoined my cousin who wasn’t been there yet to go with us. Gil went back when we reached the turn off point in Barangay Cumon.
There were boys sitting in single motorbikes beside the road. Knowing where we will go, they offered a ride to the waterfalls for a fixed price of P70, one-way only. Poy haggled it to P50 but the boys declined in unison. We didn’t mind the monetary figure since we are after an exciting adventure. We agreed to pay for it, and so the four of us boarded in four separate motorbikes.
The ride was smooth and amazing as we passed beside a breathtaking view of a long and bluish river. I was so overwhelmed watching its color and the gentle waves flowing swiftly. Our ride was temporarily cut as we were asked to step down from the motorbike. The concrete bridge was destroyed by a rampaging flow of heavy rain recently. What was left was a stiff, narrow road to where motorbike and bicycle are the only vehicles could pass on it. We walked for few minutes until we reached the main road and there we went again for our trip.
Few more minutes and we were in a roller coaster ride where I was so thrilled of our ups and downs. It was so wonderful seeing the lush vegetation, Mt. Malinao in a distance, the majestic but elusive Mayon Volcano, the clear blue skies, the locals and vast plots of rice-fields. The cool wind that gently brushed my face was so invigorating. For a nature lover like me, this place was a heaven and I just can’t sustain my happiness as of that moment. What thrilled me the most was the last portion of the ride where I gripped the driver’s shoulder tightly as he drove the highest hill in getting to the parking area.
Our joy ride was twenty minutes only. Vera Falls was in Barangay Bulang, the third baryo from main highway. Mercy did mention about the helipad which was actually the cemented parking area. Quite amusing that this forested area had a helipad. I’ve learned from the boys that a certain priest, Father Vera introduced this place to the people, hence the name of the falls. From helipad, a virgin forest was now being invaded by the four of us.
I was so excited seeing the trail downhill. Art’s adventure in this main spot flashed into my mind as I imagined how they clung to the vines like Tarzan in getting down to the waterfalls. Indeed, it was a great adventure. There’s no hard trek now for a concrete stair with safety hand rails was built for easy access to the waterfalls.
We crossed a small wooden bridge and presto, we were at the base of the falls. All of us were in awe admiring how nature revealed its magnificent masterpiece. Vera Falls was truly stunning. The next minute, we were so busy taking pictures of what we found “paradise.”
I tapped my feet into the cold and clean water and quivered a little.hahaha! It was safe to swim because it was shallow. There were no big rocks and stones in the catch basin so it’s not surprising that there were lots of boys jumping from the peak. Few walks to the left, I saw two thin bamboos which according to the bathers, flowed the safest water to drink.
There were thirteen small waterfalls coming from lime stones covered by moss and ferns. An overwhelming feeling surrounded me seeing nature dominated the whole place. It sets the mood of everything. You can feel its nurturing spirit as it will penetrate you, through the gushing sounds of water, through the humming of birds, through the mountain air.
There were few tents pinched on big rocks and group of teens busy cooking their food using fire woods. There is no restroom here so it’s best to bring big towels in changing clothes. There is no entrance fee, no store and no electricity. Everything is of basic facility. It is advised to register with the Barangay Captain if a certain group is planning to stay overnight.
I was thankful to Art for introducing this wonder to me. His adventure seven years ago was so memorable for he had tasted the “true paradise”, for everything was basically unspoiled. Malinao was truly blessed with two wonderful waterfalls. And I was so grateful that I had been there both.
Next time or maybe next year, I will go back with the whole family. I’m sure everyone will enjoy. I am hoping that the local government will build another concrete bridge so Vera Falls could be accessed by four-wheel vehicles again.
HOT TO GET THERE? Vera Falls is located approximately 40 km from Legazpi City. If you have your car, from Legazpi City, take the route going to Tabaco City via Sabloyon Road. From Barangay Quinastillohan turn right to Barangay Cumon. You will pass Barangay Soa and will end at Barangay Bulang.
I woke up at 5:30 am, hailed the curtain, and was captivated to see the sun embracing the vast rice-field. I took my cam and hastily went outside our vacation house. I stood at the edge of the main road and captured my favorite sunrise photo. Soon there was a cheerful blue sky. What a lovely sight to start the day. Continue reading
The accounting team had finally set our Ilocos Norte getaway. It was Sir Alex, our boss who made the itinerary. It is a long journey by land going North. But I’m sure getting to the famed beaches of Pagudpud with my team, will surely be a worthy vacation for all of us.
It was a gloomy weekend when we visited my in-laws in Binangonan, Rizal. We were expecting for a rain fall but it didn’t happen. We indulged ourselves eating ice cream for a cool treat. Still can’t resist the heat, in a snap, my hubby suddenly enjoin everyone to go to Daranak Falls in Tanay for a swim. To my delight, everyone agreed. At last, my longing to get there will finally happen any minute from now! Hahaha!