“Sa malayo! Sa merloquet! (Somewhere far! At Merloquet)”
For Zamboangueños, ‘merloquet’ used to be a fabled place pertaining to somewhere far far away when used in colloquial conversation. Nowadays, it pertains to Merloquet Falls that has gained popularity in the recents years due to its wide pour and lovely wall of cascades. It is still far far away in Zamboanga City but I managed to visit the place as a side trip while in the region.
As the second largest province in the Philippines, Isabela seems less explored. Maybe the places are far between that it takes considerable time to explore them. Or municipalities are cut-off by the Sierra Madre mountains like coastal villages Maconacon, Divilacan or Palanan that it takes a plane ride to get there. When an invitation to explore Echague, one of the municipalities of Isabela, came in, I immediately took the offer. Exploring new places is always exciting whatever I may find there. In this case, Echague is getting ready to showcase their eco-tourism attraction, the Madadamian Falls. A network of falls and streams found within the lush forest region of Echague.
It’s not since Iligan when I got excited at the prospect seeing and enjoying a number of waterfalls in one area. Tablas in Romblon also have a good set of waterfalls on the island but most of them low type ones. The province of Biliran in Eastern Visayas however have at least 30 waterfalls on its mountainous island. Only at least ten of those have names and unlike Tablas, the island of Biliran have tall and powerful waterfalls that’s truly majestic. Others cascade beautifully. I have to Biliran three times for the past six months and I haven’t explored all of them yet. Here are the ones I have visited and ranked based on my favorites. These are also the ones I would recommend if you plan to chase waterfalls in Biliran.
Sometimes, nature’s beauty just have to speak for itself. In an island of 30 waterfalls, Biliran Tinago Falls is just one of the nature beauties in the small island that’s hard to conceal for so long. Tucked in the forest of Caibiran, near the heart of the island, the falls (Tinago in Tagalog means hidden), no longer hidden, is probably the most popular falls in the province. The inner Naval-Caibiran road is well paved, passing through a series of low rice terraces towards the jump-off known as the Tinago Falls Eco Tourism Park. It’s accessibility makes it a local favorite for both tourist and island natives.
The surf, the easy going vibe and the interesting eats may be the draw for the destination such as La Union. But even when the swell’s down, there’s another activity to get wet while away from the coast. At the highlands of San Gabriel, La Union, the cool climes of this municipality entices with nature hikes and waterfalls like is Tangadan Waterfalls. I was participating in Lakbay Norte, a long-running annual familiarization tour of north Luzon and this was one of the stops in our itinerary I was looking forward to.
Bontoc is such an underrated destination in the Mountain Province region. I must admit that I was guilty of dismissing Bontoc as simply a gateway to other destinations like Sagada, Banaue or Kalinga. Discovering the beauty of Maligcong three years ago changed my notion of Bontoc. I realized, the town is just the tip of the iceberg. My recent visit found me in Talubin, the neighboring village 6km from Bontoc Town proper, known as the Land of Clear Waters in the province. One look into the village, it’s easy to see the abundance of water flowing through the village. Talubin village is settled comfortably at the slopes of the Cordillera Mountain Ranges where streams from the mossy forest continuously flow and a clean river runs through. We were also there to visit one of the main source of water in Bontoc, the Humuyyo Falls, located 3,700 feet above sea level.
Our bleary eyes and drowsy heads from the six-hour red-eye road trip from Manila to San Andres, Quezon was suddenly shook awake. We knew we would take a motorbike to our first destination which is Tigbi Falls, but I guess we were not ready for the tough and rough road (which is an understatement) ahead. Suddenly, I was harkened back to those butt-beating rides to waterfalls like in Asik-asik Falls in Cotabato and Tulgao Palan-ah Falls in Kalinga. While it’s certainly not of the same level of difficulty, it is that close to a tough ride in at least half an hour for me to recall them. But all that was a rewarding transit. Aside from the scenic landscape of Banaba village on the way, Tigbi Falls is where stuff of enchantments and lore are born.