In Pursuit of the Most Wanted Waterfalls | Biliran

I stepped off my plane on the tarmac of Daniel Romualdez Airport in Tacloban City at the first sight of light. My mission was as clear as a shimmery disco ball circling to the beat of a Bee Gees song "Staying Alive." If I want to live again, I must carry out the top-secret orders bestowed upon me. I must track down the most wanted waterfalls of Biliran Island province one by one, every single one of them. I walked past airport security and into a waiting jeepney to downtown Tacloban, my camera locked and loaded with a 4 gig memory card. From there, I rode a van-van for a two and a half hour journey into the land of fast flowing waters.

Tinago Falls in Biliran
Tinago Falls (There's also a Tinago Falls in Iligan)
I almost lost track of my mission somewhere along the winding roads leading to Biliran when I smacked my head into the stained glass window of the speeding van-van. Fortunately, it was just a temporary amnesia caused by the stretch of beautiful countryside views that occupied my mind. I was tempted to reach into my bag for my preferred weapon, my Nikon D60, and go on a shooting spree. I quickly dismissed the thought, opting instead to keep everything in my physical memory. Besides, when I come face to face with Biliran's many waterfalls, I'll need every space in my weaponry.

Waterfalls in Biliran
Ulan Ulan Falls
I arrived in Naval, the capital of Biliran, undetected shortly before 10:00 a.m. My first priority was to establish a command post at the nearby and reasonably priced El Roman Pensionne, which is located on the second and third floors of Limpiado Bldg along P.  Inocentes Street.  I arrived at the hostel's empty front desk, tapped the brass bell, and an elderly woman from the next door emerged. I ascertained from her Cebuano conversation with a younger woman that she was the mother of the establishment's owner. 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. 

Waterfalls in Biliran
Casiawan Falls

I assembled my camera and made a quick check list after setting up camp and emptying my backpack onto the small table behind the bed. Check the battery, the memory card, and the money. I quickly dialed the number of my tour operative contact, Kuya Jun Murillo, on my CIA-issued Samsung Galaxy phone. Since his identity is now compromised, you can call him at 0939-604-9242 and he will take you around Biliran in his dependable, fast, and furious habal-habal for 500 pesos.

Celine Murillo

Tinago Falls was the first one I crossed off my list. I was surprised by how simple it was. One of my 'walk in the park' killings. When we arrived in Caibiran, I paid the watchman ten pesos to enter the area. Tinago Falls can already be heard roaring from afar. The vast volume of water he constantly throws into the flowing deep basin sends dew of cold water into the air, creating a thunderous sound. I crept beneath him, and lo and behold, a rapid succession of shutter sounds stirred the peaceful morning air. I kept shooting until a Filipina girlfriend of a Caucasian guy asked if I needed her help taking a picture of me. For posterity's sake, I obliged and gave her my trademark frowning-at-the-camera expression as she shot me.

Aly Barzaga
Kasabangan Falls

Casiawan Falls came quickly after, but with a monumental struggle. When we arrived, the gates leading to the 40-meter falls were locked. Kuya Jun had to find the contact person before we could enter. I first noticed the shallow pool hidden behind the rocks and tall trees while walking down a slick downhill path. It turned out to be the Casiawan Falls basin. He didn't put up a fight, instead standing motionless as I fired from all angles. I lingered there for nearly an hour, delighted at yet another check mark on my mission objectives. Pursuing these waterfalls is not easy on my butt, and it is not a safe thing. Twice, I almost fell asleep while seated on the back of Kuya Jun's habal-habal. Fortunately, I was able to wake up just in time preventing me from falling down and rolling myself to broken bones along the highway.

Marky Ramone Go is not taking a pee

The Kasabangan Falls was quite crowded. Because of the proximity of man-made structures, it is my least favorite target. Nonetheless, it's worth a shot. Kasabangan did not suffer because I dealt with it quickly in and out. I was out of sight before anyone noticed I was there. I reasoned that the top dog and well-known high ranking waterfalls of Biliran, the Ulan Ulan falls, were worth all of my time in Biliran. A quick detour to Mainit Hot Springs turned out to be a tense insertion into enemy territory. I had intended to relax like a boss in the man-made Jacuzzi-style pool, only to be derailed by the nearly boiling temperature of the water, which, as Kuya Jun pointed out, can easily boil an egg in five minutes.

a rare frog found only in the Philippines. Joke

Ulan ulan falls were anything but lacklustre. It was spectacular-spectacular. The path to her was semi-hazardous stretched with muddy trail making sure you don't depart still wearing clean clothes. During our 30-minute hike to the falls, I skidded and slid down slick rain-soaked mud trails. My vibram five fingers shoes couldn't keep me from falling down a few times. When we got to the bottom of the waterfalls, it hit me that the waterfalls were the day's main goal. The best was definitely saved for last. Its high-energy stream of white waters is surrounded by lush green forests and massive boulders. It had me submitting to her ruthless force. I sat down on a rock and listened to nothing but the sounds of the water passing by her as we rested. Drizzles of rain-like drops fall on me from all sides. In the end, I was drenched and almost decimated. I was dripping wet as we hiked back to our habal-habal, and for some reason, I felt like my mission ended on a high note.

Potpot Pinili

I may not have found all of Biliran's famous waterfalls, but according to Kuya Jun, there are a dozen more scattered around the island. Especially on the way to Mount Tres Marias, the province's highest peak. Afternoon arrived, and I strolled over to the nearby small port for an early dinner. I walked around the city at night, all the way to Naval University and back. The next day, I received a message from my handler instructing me to return to Tacloban for yet another high-risk, top-secret operation. I had lunch at the nearby fish market before leaving the island province of Biliran, where I saw boatloads of fish being carried out by fishermen and into the waiting stalls. In places like Biliran, life is simple but colorful. I was glad to have taken on this mission.