October 26, 2015

Chasing Waterfalls With A Motorbike

Chasing Waterfalls With A Motorbike

Because we actually chased waterfalls with a motorbike.

South Cebu is heaven for those who crave adventure: canyoneering, swimming with butanding, trekking/hiking, and chasing waterfalls. We’ve been to Oslob and swam with the majestic butanding and trekked Osmeña Peak (will make a post on this later). So we’re left with canyoneering and waterfalls. Canyoneering is an activity for those born with too much adrenaline in their body and we’re not one of them so we chose the latter. 

I think our tour guide likes surprises. I was expecting him to use his tricycle, which to my amusement could accommodate around 9 people, but he brought his motorbike instead. This is what we got for bargaining on his fee. Well there’s not much of a choice so we hopped on his bike and headed to the first waterfalls in our itinerary: the Kawasan Falls (Read more...).

Kawasan Falls

I have a separate entry on this one but to give you an overview, it’s one of those places that I regret going to not just because it’s far but because it’s not within my budget. It’s one of those things where you have to spend to experience its charm.

We traveled from Badian to Malabuyoc, not minding the heat of the sun, for our next stop: Mainit Spring. From its name, this spring is mainit (up to 42.6 C). At first, I didn’t understand why our guide brought us to a hot spring when it’s only 2 in the afternoon. What he didn’t tell us was there’s a waterfall nearby: the Montañeza Falls.

2nd level of Montañeza Falls

Montañeza Falls is quite an adventure. We climbed over huge rocks and passed through small caves. I find it hard to concentrate and appreciate the beauty of this falls because I’m terrified with going through small caves and narrow spaces. I just kept myself busy on the turquoise colored water. We hiked up to the main waterfalls only to find out there were tree debris and huge rocks obstructing the falls' basin. We just stayed on the second level of the falls which was 3 feet deep then headed to the hot spring. 

Mainit Spring with the Derpinas. 

With only two hours left before 6, we headed to Inambakan Falls in Ginatilan. Our guide said it’s like Kawasan but taller. I kept my expectations to its minimum because I can’t afford another heartbreak. We reached the jump-off point to Inambakan Falls in 30 minutes. The entrance fee was only Ph10 each (inclusive of a dog guide). Unlike in Kawasan Falls, there were no locals that would trick you into hiring them as guides then will ask for a fee. At Inambakan we have a dog guide and it's free. Hahaha! Also, it wasn’t as commercialized as the other waterfalls I’ve been to.  The trail going to the falls was quite easy and as you get nearer you could hear the sound of water crashing down the basin.

Inambakan Falls

The falls was indeed charming. It was so tempting that we immediately got into the water. The water was cool, cool as the locals of Ginatilan. J Our guide on the other hand was having fun jumping into the basin every few minutes.

Our last stop was the Hidden Falls in Samboan. It was named Hidden Falls because it was indeed hidden. Since it’s almost dark when we got there we decided not to swim. There were two official guides of the Hidden Falls that accompanied us. One of them was the barangay captain and he was very nice and cool. He only collected a total of Ph50 from us. J

Hidden Falls 

We trekked around 10 minutes to the falls. A small falls greeted us along the way and I thought it was the Hidden falls. I was ready to rest when our guide told us it’s not Hidden falls. Baka naman hanggang ngayon nakatago pa din yung falls. At hinahanap pa din.

We were guided on a cemented stairs that led us to the Hidden Falls. The water from the top falls silently that you wouldn't know there's a waterfall nearby. It has also a turquoise-colored water which I think is common in South Cebu.  It would have been nice to swim here but it was already dark. So time to go. 

My legs were swelling after our activity but it was worth it. Our guide brought us to Oslob to wait for the bus going to Cebu City. We slept throughout the ride. J

If you like to save on touring around South Cebu you could contact our guide Kuya Loloy (09254805221). You can haggle with him for his fee.

How to chase waterfalls: 

Go get a motorbike or hire Kuya Loloy. Tata! 

"Anyone who's seen a waterfall up close will agree that their majesty is almost indescribable."


October 21, 2015

Swimming With Whale Sharks in Oslob

I have always been fascinated with creatures underwater and enjoyed looking at their pictures in one of our encyclopedias when I was a kid that I wanted to see them with my own eyes.

My first time in the water with a bunch of colorful fishes, sea snakes and other marine life was in Camiguin Island. Then I realized that I wanted to see more; to experience more. When I bought tickets for Cebu, I think Alex and I were only excited for Oslob’s whale shark. Who wouldn’t be? Whale shark, locally known as Butanding, is the largest fish in the sea and the thought of swimming with them would be awesome.

Oslob’s whale shark encounter is the town’s main tourist attraction since 2011. The whale sharks are lured very near the shoreline with food so the tourists can swim and interact with them. My initial reaction upon seeing them was “They’re huge and beautiful”. Then I started to panic when one of them opened its mouth to eat. Suddenly, one of the boatmen grabbed me and took me near the Butanding and told me to stay there because he’ll take a picture of me. Still terrified, I posed for a photo. While in the water, I realized that I have nothing to fear about these giant fishes and they aren’t interested with me; they just swam around and eat. I thought they were shy and will swim away once we get near them but they were sociable. They seem not to care when we take photos of them while they’re feeding.

While it is one of the best experiences I had, I felt sad and guilty because an everyday encounter with humans might stress them out and the way they feed is not natural. Yes, there are rules that are being implemented before swimming and interacting with these giants (no sunscreen, interaction is limited to only 30 minutes, no flash photography, no touching of sharks, and swim within a distance) but sometimes they are not being followed. There were too many of us swimming with the whale sharks. What irked me is that some of the local tourists touched them and they were very proud of it. Kaya di umuunlad ang Pilipinas eh. Nyeta! I hope that the local government unit of Oslob will look into this issue.

How to get there:

From Cebu City:
-Take a bus at South Bus Terminal bound for Oslob. Tell the bus driver you’re getting off at the "whale shark". Alam na nila yun.
-Travel time is around 3 hours.
***Watch out for vendors that sell Cebu torta cakes: they look like ensaymada and mamon in one. They’re delicious!
-The bus driver will probably drop you off at the first resort in Tan-awan.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t know anyone from Oslob, two words “whale shark” and you’ll do just fine. 

goodnight - donna

October 18, 2015

Kawasan Falls: Are You Open Minded?

Kawasan Falls: Are you open minded?

Our tour guide, who we met in Oslob just after our whale shark encounter, told us that Kawasan Falls is somehow overrated and that the locals think of it as an opportunity to make money and they are abusing it.

I told him that from what I read, the locals who are guiding the raft in Kawasan Falls tend to ask fees that are somehow questionable. Then he added:

“The last time I brought tourists there they were asked to pay for 3000 pesos which is for the rent of the raft and the guide. They were so furious and went to the barangay captain to settle the payment but nothing was done. Yes, the falls may be stunning but we have lots of them here in South Cebu.” 

I don’t know why but I disposed his warning immediately. I told him we just want to see the falls and we’re not going to rent a raft because there's no need to.

Riding on his motorbike, we, together with Alex, traveled from Osmena Peak to Kawasan Falls. It was my longest ride using a motorbike.  Yet I’m still excited to see and experience firsthand the famous Kawasan Falls. He kept on telling us that if someone approaches us and offers to be our guide we have to tell him we’ve been there before and to say no nicely. 

We did exactly what he told us. When we got to the entrance of Kawasan, a number of locals swarmed around us and tried to lure us to hire one of them. They were so persistent. I wonder why they think of tourists as ATMs. Aliping sagigilid lang naman ako. Once they left us, we walked along the path going the falls. It was easy breezy! It's just disappointing that the surroundings smelled like soap and shampoo and there were trashes littered around. We paid for an environmental fee but it seems like the fees they collected stayed in their pocket or whatever. Nonetheless, we were still eager to see the falls.

Unlike the other falls we went to this one has restaurants and tables scattered near its basin which are pain in the eyes. Apart from that, they occupy almost 99% of the space near the falls which made us more frustrated. It’s like we can’t stay there unless we rent for a table. Can we not enjoy the falls as it is? Do we need to pay for everything? These people are too much; they do the all money-making scheme that you could think of. Kalokohan, punyeta! Sa inyo na yang turquoise colored waterfalls niyo. They’re like a networking scam that would offer you something really nice but will force you to pay more.

Out of disappointment we immediately left Kawasan and looked for a place to eat.

How to get there: Don’t go there. If you’re adventurous, try Canyoneering in Alegria. Our guide told us that it’s the best thing to try in Cebu (besides lechon of course). :D

I have nothing against the Kawasan Falls, it’s the people who maintain it that I’m annoyed to. 

goodnight - donna