I am no drifter recruited to blow up a bridge in a Hemmingway novel. I am though, stunned at the massive force of the rampaging waters of Tinuy-an. It spans 95 meters wide, like fronting an aircraft on the runway about to ran you over, the sound of the water falling from its 180 feet top mimics a roaring engine. Moving slowly towards it, cutting distance in slow and careful strides, the more enthralling it becomes. Soon you feel splashes of water being drooped over you as if a dog was shaking its dripping wet coat. Just when I thought I've seen it at a none better perspective from where I was standing, I noticed a rainbow planted near the foot of the waterfalls. Wow, it must be how the hippies felt when they saw Hendrix performing at Woodstock in 1969. Alright, enough of pop-culture references.
Clicking rewind for a few minutes. We go a little back to where we rag-tag along a rough road from the town of Mangagoy in Bislig - aboard a habal-habal driven by motocross race shoo-in, whom we shall call Jazzy Jeff, because I'm bad with names. It was a long 35-45 minute of hold for your dear life or get thrown off the motorcycle. Nathalie sat in front of Jazzy Jeff while I sat behind him and Gael sat behind me. In case Gael fall off, she could grab me and I could grab Jazzy Jeff and we all end up crashing. It's the kind of science a habal-habal ride meant to convey. Nobody gets thrown off alone, you all ride and crash together.
I was a bit disappointed to see a few structures built to please lazy visitors. They set up some small cottages near the waterfalls itself and constructed a tiny pool. There is a bridge that allows people to cross and get a wide angle view of the falls. That might be justifiable compared to the others, I hope they won't add any more stupid infrastructures within the immediate vicinity of the waterfalls. I hope the LGU's, the community and the local government learn from what happened at Kawasan Falls in Cebu. (which has been corrected already when Gov. Gwen Garcia ordered the demolition of structures near it).
We road a small bamboo raft towards near the foot of the falls. I handed my camera to a middle age guy, whose family I earlier took photographs using his camera. Since it was our turn to use the raft, it was his turn to take our photos. However, before he was able to click some shots, we saw him stumbled off his feet and slipped on his butt (my first concern was about my camera lol). I heave a sigh of relief when he got back to his feet and saw him hold my camera up as if saying, "Your Nikon is in good hands".
At the right side there is a trail going the upper cascade of the waterfalls, there you will find few smaller levels of waterfalls suitable for bathing. I took a plunge at the knee to waist deep water and at the edge you can look down at the main basin of the Tinuy-an waterfalls below. If you have illusions of being Dante Varona hell, you can even jump right in.
My friend Gael wasn't that thrilled saying it doesn't look as awesome and as big as it was on pictures. Maybe she's seen many waterfalls in her travels, that's why her level of satisfaction isn't that easy to get a bulls-eye on. Still, she gave it a thumbs up, but you'll still hear her "How come it doesn't look as big as it was in the pictures" with matching sad puppy face. I love her when she does that facial reaction. In my case, its the biggest waterfalls I've seen. I've yet to see the many waterfalls in Iligan, Zamboanga and other places. A month after this trip, I went to Biliran and saw at least six waterfalls, all impressive but not in the same league as Tinuy-an Falls. Most of the time the discovery of a new place is what drives us to explore more, it leaves an itch we wanted to top on our next trip. My goal right now is to find a waterfalls that could topple our own Jimmy Hendrix here.
Hustle and Bustle in Bislig
From Surigao City we took a 7 hour bus to the town of Mangagoy in Bislig - the jump off point to Tinuy-an Falls. The trip was uneventful aside from the normal beautiful countryside scene found in the Philippines. What stood out though was the uneasiness of our bus driver, he was pissed at missing out on the Pacquiao-Bradley bout happening that morning.
I was also trying to update myself with the fight, but Globe signal always disappears whenever you end up in a long stretch of highway in the provinces. So I was also clueless as to what was going on in the fight. On our last stop-over at around 1:00 pm, the bus driver disappeared for more than 20 minutes. The passengers are already starting to get pissed. Then a little later, we saw a crowd of people walking out of a nearby gymnasium without a smile on their faces. I know right away that Pacquiao lost the fight. Our bus driver sneaked back behind the wheel with a look that resemble someone who lost a wager to a dog, I don't understand what he was saying, but he was so pissed he was pulling his hair. I'm glad he didn't took out his frustrations in his driving afterwards. Going MIA at a bus stop-over, becoming a spoiler and a bearer of a bad news at the same time, he really put a downer mood on the passengers the rest of the trip.
So we arrived at Bislig just before 3:00 pm, found a place to stay and walked around town. For a town I haven't heard before, Mangagoy seems like a pretty busy place. That is why it is called a "little city within a city". There are a handful of hostels around the town, a hectic marketplace, rows of streetfoods and seafood restaurants by the fishing port, lines of tiange stalls and busy people doing random things. It was a good little incursion into a strange town, but as what Freya Stark aptly says "To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world". The next day we all experienced that in the town of Mangagoy in Bislig.