Second Time’s a Charm at the Governor’s Rapids in Quirino



The sky was the color of mud, raindrops pelting us sideways and the wind growing stronger. All we could hear was the rambling of the hardly visible river. Our guide told us what we had expected to hear the moment we arrived at the brook’s edge; “Negative, the water is too strong we cannot ride the boats”, he told us in Tagalog. Nobody protested at the obvious correct call of our guide. While there was an ounce of disappointment, I just chalked this place in my ‘see you next time’ list despite the uncertainty of my travel schedules.


Lo and behold: Two years later, I got another crack at cruising the vigorous stream of Governor’s Rapids. This time though, we came under a canopy of bright blue skies exposing the green waters of the river as it cut a path through the lush foliage of Sierra Madre.


Governor's Rapids—named after a Japanese Governor General who disappeared on these waters during World War II—is a picturesque tributary of the mighty Rio Grande River of Cagayan that slices through the gravelly knolls of Maddela in Quirino Province.


Limestone cliffs edging both sides of the river is known for hiding a system of caves and waterfalls as well as some dwelling sites of our Dumagat and Agtas brothers and sisters. We wasted no time as our small party boarded two colorful canoes and immediately proceeded to tackle on a few rapids en route to a giant boulder island for our first pit stop.

Cliff Jumping

Because we opted to cruise only a short length of the river, we only passed by a few rapids but we made up for it by spending more than an hour taking turns cliff jumping into the clear waters. We docked our canoes at one of the biggest rocky mound on the middle of the river and climbed over it at around 15-20 feet high. 

Photo courtesy of the Great Ferdz Decena
The second time’s indeed a charm as there’s no way I would experience this during my first trip to Governor’s Rapids. At that time, I was also with Ferdz and Kara among a group of more than ten travel bloggers. This time around, the three of us returned with another group. It was a good thing that we finally got to explore and enjoy the gifts bestowed by Mother Nature to this adventure attraction in Quirino Province.

Cave Falls

Before we head back, I heard our guide telling us about another side-trip we shouldn't miss. Locals simply refer to it as 'Cave Falls'. Listening to our guide describe it injected me with another dose of excitement. Even though I’ve seen the spectacular natural pools inside numerous caves in Sagada and in Samar, this is the first time I would venture inside a cave with a waterfalls. 


After a few minutes of canoe ride from the cliff diving spot, our guide motioned to our team to disembark at the side of another massive limestone wall. A few steps away is a narrow pathway leading inside a cave. After entering the passageway, I immediately heard the sound of water like a beast growling inside a cage. Following a few moments of struggle inserting my body through slender openings, an expansive space like the inside of a cathedral with high rocky ceilings greeted me.


There it was, a waterfalls 12 meters high streaming cold fresh water into a basin wide enough for all of us (ten people) to swim. With only a few minutes to spare I jumped right into the cold pool and frolicked like a kid again. If it weren’t for the falling of dusk, we would have stayed a bit longer.

My ever reliable BaseKamp aqua shoes
As darkness starts biting the remaining sheen of sunlight, we hurriedly trekked back to our canoes. Drenched and freezing, I came out of the cave just in time as night crept in. Back in our canoes, we took a leisurely cruise towards the dock at the jump-off place in Maddela. The deafening sound of the river’s still waters echoing the peaceful Zen state of mind I’m having—fully at peace at finally able to see the grandeur of Governor’s Rapids.