I've already heard about Maria Cristina Falls as early as when I was still focused on toys and playground noise. I'm pretty sure my Sibika and Kultura teacher hasn't seen it up close then. But, the way she described it while reading from the book, sounded like it was a sight to see. It was one of those moments at school when my mind would travel far and wide and beaming with rich imagination, I would paint a picture of the Maria Cristina in my head and wonder if ever matches its real image. I find it fascinating now that I grew up and had this opportunity to visit the places I once learned in grade school. I finally had my chance of eyeballing Maria Cristina Falls up close. Part of the Agus river in Mindanao, the towering waterfalls standing 321.5 feet, stares back at me with only the blitzkrieg sound enveloping the surrounding. I directed my eyes back in a locked stare-down. Unlike a pair of prize fighters looking at each other with bad intentions, mine was injected with nothing but pure admiration.
Together with my girlfriend Lauren, Dennis and our friend from Iligan, Lisa Marie, I finally met Maria Cristina. Although she wasn't in her full glory that day, as on any given day, a "twin falls" apparition greet visitors. Depending on the amount of rain the previous day or whether the management of Agus VI Hydroelectric Plant decides to release more water from the river above.
I find Maria Cristina a bit stylish who loves green accessories and collects gigantic rocks for her jewelries, which she scatters around her. She never allows anyone near her, but provides a generous amount of electric power measuring to around 200 MW to the aforementioned Agus VI Hydroelectric Power Plant - which is operated by the National Power Corporation.
Located 15 minutes away from Iligan city proper, Maria Cristina resides inside the NPC Nature Park, where other smaller attractions can also take some of your time. We saw an ostrich near the entrance, my first time to see one outside of a telly and grade school books. There is also a small butterfly garden which is part of the Biological and Zoological Park inside. To go around you need to ride a shuttle service for 50 pesos on top of another 35 pesos entrance fee.
There's a viewing deck about three stories high at the Maria Cristina Plant where visitors can have eye-to-eye contact with Maria Cristina. It's impossible not to fall in love with her. Of course, I didn't told her that, lest I become a character in a legend, as the love-struck man who became a human figure-like rock resting at the heels of her waterfalls.
Besides I could not be happier being there while I held hands with Potatoey Lauren and the company of new friends. To me, the visit was sort of a going back to my childhood. Having a closure of all those days I had daydreaming about the things I learned, places mentioned by my grade school teacher, what it looks like and all.
The feeling of finally being there added a sprinkle of delight to the normal pleasure of traveling to a new place. It's like finally having a face to go along with a name. If we mention the names of great men to young kids inside their classrooms, I figured It is very much justified to continue doing the same for places like Maria Cristina Falls. Who knows, how many of the kids of today will someday - finally see the real image of a place and compare it to the imaginative version they once have.