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Monday, September 17, 2012

In Pursuit of Biliran’s Waterfalls



On the first sight of light, I disembarked from my plane resting on the tarmac of Daniel Romualdez Airport in Tacloban City. My mission were loud and clear, like a shimmery disco ball, circling at the every beat of a Bee Gees song "Staying Alive". If I wanna come back alive, I've to fulfill the top secret orders bestowed upon me. One by one, every single one of em, I must hunt them down. The most wanted waterfalls of Biliran Island province. Lock and loaded with a 4 gig memory card I walked past airport security and into a waiting jeepney into downtown Tacloban. From there, I rode a van-van for a two and a half hour journey into the land of fast flowing waters.

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Tinago Falls (There's also a Tinago Falls in Iligan)

Somewhere along the curve roads leading to Biliran, I almost lost grasp of my mission when I banged my head into the stained glass window of the speeding van-van. Beautiful sights are aplenty, I was tempted to reach unto my bag and get my weapon for some shooting spree. I ditched the thought right away, settling to just store everything in my physical memory. Besides, I would need every space of my weaponry in shooting the many waterfalls of Biliran.

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Ulan Ulan Falls
Just before 10:00 am, I arrived anonymously in the town of Naval, the capital of Biliran. My first priority was to set up command post at a nearby and affordable El Roman Pensionne, located at the 2nd and 3rd floor of Limpiado Bldg along P. Inocentes Street. Moments later I was at the empty front desk of the hostel, I tapped the brass bell and out come an elderly woman from the next door. From what I deciphered from her conversation in Cebuano with another, but younger woman, she was the mother of the owner of the place. They both greeted me with a smile and I asked for the cheapest single bed room available, to which they handed me the key to a 160 pesos a night fan room. 
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Casiawan Falls
After I set up camp and took out the contents of my backpack into the small table behind the bed, I assembled my camera, battery check, memory card check, money check. I quickly communicated via Intelsat phone kidding! via my CIA distributed Samsung Galaxy phone by dialing the number of my tour operative contact, Kuya Jun Murillo. Since his identity is now out in the open, you can contact him at 0939-604-9242 and for 500 pesos for the whole day, he will take you around Biliran aboard his dependable, fast and furious habal-habal

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Mainit Hot Spring
The first one I eliminated from my list was Tinago Falls. I was surprised at how easy it was. One of the 'walk in the park' kills I've had. We arrived at Caibiran and I paid the watchman 10 pesos for me to enter the area. From a distant I can already hear him roar. Like thunder, the vast volume of water he continually throws into the flowing deep basin, as he eschew stagnation of the cold water, I crept under him and lo and behold, a rapid succession of shutter sounds mirred the air of that peaceful morning. Until a Filipina girlfriend of a Caucasian dude asked me if I needed her to take a shot of me. Just for posterity's sake, I obliged and dished out my signature frown look in front of my camera.

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Kasabangan Falls
Casiawan Falls followed rather quickly, but with seminal struggle. The gates leading to this 40 meter falls was locked up when we arrived. Kuya Jun had to locate the contact person for us to enter. Walking down a slippery downhill path, I first saw the shallow pool and hidden behind the rocks and tall trees, was Casiawan Falls. He didn't put up a fight, rather just stood there mightily as I took shots from all angles. I stayed there for almost an hour, delighting at yet another check mark on my mission goals. Pursuing these waterfalls ain't easy on the butt and its not a sure home run. Twice I almost dozed off while seated at the back of Kuya Jun's habal-habal. Fortunately, both times I was able to wake up just in time before falling face first and thereby avoiding rolling myself to broken bones along the highway.

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Kasabangan falls was a bit crowded, there is a man made structure erected in close proximity, making it my least favorite target. Still, its worth taking a shot at. Kasabangan didn't suffered as I dealt with it in a quick in and out manner. I was out of there before everyone realized I was there. I figured, the top dog and known high ranking waterfalls of Biliran, the Ulan Ulan falls is worth all the time I had in Biliran. A quick sidetrip to Mainit Hot Springs proved to be a heated insertion to enemy territory. I planned of chilling like a boss at the  man made Jacuzzi type pool, only to be derailed by the almost boiling temp of the water, to which Kuya Jun pointed out, can easily boil an egg in five minutes.

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At the Fish port
Ulan ulan falls was anything except unspectacular. Spectacular-Spectacular it was. The route leading to her was semi-perilous to one's clean clothes. I skidded, slid down slippery rain drenched mud during our 30 minute hike to the falls. My vibram five fingers shoes proved no match in staving myself from falling down a few times. Once we reached the foot of the waterfalls though, it dawned on me that the waterfalls was indeed the day's top target. I definitely saved the best for last. Surrounded by lush green forests and medium sized to big sized boulders and a staggering energy of flowing white waters, it had me surrendering to her willful force. I sat down on a rock and while we rested, I listened to nothing but the sounds of the water passing by her. Drizzles of rain-like drops hits me from all over. In the end, I was massacred in a great way, as we went to hike back to our habal-habal, I was dripping wet and for some reason, I felt like my mission ended on a high note.

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Scene at the Pier
I may not have succeeded in hunting down every one of em notorious waterfalls in Biliran, as what Kuya Jun told me, a dozen more can be found around the island. Especially on the way to one of the province's highest peak Mount Tres Marias'. Afternoon came and I walked by to the small port nearby where I had my early dinner. Come night time I walked around the city reaching Naval University and back. The next day, I got a message from my handler telling me to proceed back to Tacloban for yet another high risk and top secret operation. Before I left the island province of Biliran, I had lunch at the nearby fish market and saw boatloads of fishes being carried out by fishermen and into the waiting stalls. Life is simple yet colorful indeed in places such as Biliran.


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