Friday, April 8, 2016

SEVEN THINGS TO DO AT GOVERNOR’S RAPIDS

Location: Barangay Divisoria Sur, Maddela, Quirino, Philippines



This is a part of my March 25-26, 2016 Quirino Province Tour Package which includes: Aglipay Caves, Siitan River and Bimmapor Rock Formations, Diamond Cave, Scenic Nagtipunan Hills and Cabarroguis Quick Tour.

Governor's Rapids in all its splendor


This is a part of my March 25-26, 2016 Quirino Trip in the afternoon of the first day after we explored the mystical caves of Aglipay. Governor’s Rapids is located in Barangay Divisoria Sur of the municipality of Maddela. So, just on the first day, we were able to set foot on five of the six municipalities of the province of Quirino. This tourist spot got its name from a Japanese general who drowned on it during the Second World War.

Getting ready for our boating escapade


Governor’s Rapids is a tributary of the Rio Grande or Cagayan River and is home to the Dumagat Tribe who usually takes shelter under the spaces carved by the water at the base of the limestone cliffs which you will see in most part of it.

Approaching the cave's entrance


There are seven things that you can do while you are communing in this natural setting, namely: (1) take your family and friends for a picnic; (2) a swim along its clean river; (3) boating with a fee, of course; (4) water tubing, a separate fee is charge; (5) spelunking; (6) splash in an approximately 8-meter high Bisangal Water falls inside a nameless cave; and (7) photography – to include prenuptial shots and other purposes.

In commune with the limestone walls (Photo credit: Sheryl Ronquillo)


To avoid bringing with us some food stuff, from Aglipay caves, we dropped in Maddela to have our lunch. It is a big municipality where you can buy the basic things you need. There are banks there, drugstore, commercial centers. We opted to have our lunch in a smal carenderia with sumptuous meal with the most expensive at P70 with softdrinks.

Waiting for my turn for the cave entry


Our drive continued going to the site of Governor’s Rapids for barely 15 minutes from the town proper. And from top where we see the river with limestone walls. God!!! It was so majestic. The whole of it was just like a postcard which came to life. I bended my knees to thank the Mighty Creator!! It was such an awesome creation!!!

Rock formations inside the cave (Photo credit: Sheryl Ronquillo)


After my disarrayed senses normalized, we asked our guide to arrange and paid for the fees as follows: (1) P10 for the entrance fee per head; (2) P80 per head for the boating and caving inclusive of life vest and head gear for a minimum of 2; and (3) P80 for the water tubing in the rapids inclusive of life vest and hear gear for a maximum of three rides.

A cool bath at the Bisangal water falls


The fees above for the boating, caving and water tubing are inclusive of guides. Guides for the boating and caving came into three per boat with a full capacity of 12 and for 7 pax in water tubing there is a provision of one guide. Tipping can be at the guests’ discretion.

About to scale up as part of exiting the cave


As you pay, you are given the life vest and fall in line down at the river bank to wait for the availability of the boat. Of course, our group observed the normal tour course. We took a boat for the boating heading to the cave. Oh my!!! The limestone are more splendid at a closer look.

Peeping through a very narrow exit passage


Our boat docked fronting the entrance of the cave. That part of the river was so deep and the current is strong and so even if you have the vest it is still not safe for you to swim there. And wow!!! I was stunned to stay close with the towering limestone walls. Of course, our cameras were endlessly grinding then.

Almost completely relieved by being too close to my way out


We waited first outside for there is only small number of people allowed inside the cave. As the last batch of guests for a number 12 came out at the other end, we were given our head gear and were instructed by our guide to follow him as he entered the cave in one by one as the passage is really that narrow and low. I was asking the guide where was the opening of the cave and he pointed to me its opening with less than 2 feet high and as wide as 3 feet in approximation. I thought then that it was just at the opening. But mind you, it was not!!! We have to crawl for approximately 30 feet distance in a completely pitch black cave where movement is limited because the ceiling is so low. I panicked at first and begged to go back. The flooring was wet and at some point our feet are dipped in a cold water and in my mind was "what if a flashing water will get inside!!! I might die instantly!!! Oh no!!!" I was in complete commotion deep inside. I want to shout my disapproval but I saw some of my companions religiously crawling and they are not even as experienced spelunker like me. So, I just shut my mouth completely and did the crawling with my mind closely calling God for help that something bad might not happen that moment.

Technical assistance by the guide is required to exit in the very steep passage


Crawling for as long as 30 feet distance really is a challenge most particularly if you are thinking that some of those who died inside the cave of Bulacan as reported long ago on TV for instance were of the same situation with us at that moment.

Glancing once again at the cave's entrance


Know what!!!! My emotion completely shifted like a change of car’s gear when Bisangal water falls completely unfolded to my stunned wondering eyes. We cheered then like we were victorious in a big competition. It was such a different experience. The falls has a narrow cascading water with a small cold lagoon and the 12 of us frequented to have pictures. It was so enchanting to see the water falls glitters as our flashlights are lit on it.

Cruising back to our point of origin


Staying inside was just too short as there are still others waiting for their turn to get inside the cave and so we exited at the other end of the cave emptying to a very narrow passage leading to the river.

Capturing cliff divers on our way back


We were given ample time by our guides to stay outside the cave and have a swim. And then we navigated back to our port of origin and waited for our “salva vida” to be used for the water tubing which was on a one-on-one ratio.

Just after being launched for the water tubing


It was a long wait like 30 minutes before our group was given our salva vidas. We were seven in the group where our salva vidas were alternately tied and we were maneuvered by our handsome hunk guide, Rogelio Tolentino.

Braving the wild current in our water tubing (Photo credit: Sheryl Ronquillo)


In tubing, we have to trek upstream trailing a grassy part of the river bank for around 60 meters and the launching takes place there. We did this three times. After each launching, Rogelio carries all the salva vidas to the launching port and again, we go with the strong current down. However, in our last trip, only the four of us joined while the three others contented themselves by just having a swim.

On our third water tubing trip


HOW TO GO THERE

Below is a comprehensive guide of Lakad Pilipinason how to go to Quirino coming from different points.

There’s no easy way to access Quirino Province from Metro Manila. Directly, one can take a late overnight bus from Metro Manila and arrive at the town of Maddela the next morning. It’s time-consuming but less expensive than taking a one-hour flight from Cebu Pacific Air to Cauayan Airport in the neighboring town of Isabela. From there, one still has to ride a one and a half hour van ride to Cabarroguis, the province’s capital. Alternatively, one can also ride a one-hour flight to Tugeugarao City via Cebu Pacific Air and Philippine Airlines, then board a three-hour van ride to Quirino.

Traveling to Quirino via Metro ManilaVIA METRO MANILA

There are bus terminals in Cubao, Quezon City and Sampaloc, Manila that goes directly to Quirino Province. Most have a daily schedule to the province and usually rides out at night, arriving the next morning. Ticket fares are usually at around Php500.00, give or take, for a one-way trip. Please call the numbers provided for their respective bus schedules.

Five Star – Cubao | (02) 851-6614 | Twice Daily | Fare Php500.00+/-
GV Florida – Manila | (02) 743-3809 & (02) 781-5894 | Fare Php500.00+/-
Nelbusco – Manila | (02) 712 5902 & (02) 743-1332 | Fare Php500.00+/-
Northern Luzon Bus Line – Manila | Fare Php500.00+/-

Cebu Pacific Air - (02) 7020-888
Flies four times weekly to Cauayan, Isabela (plus 1.5 hours van to Cabarroguis, Quirino)
Flies daily to Tuguegarao (plus 3 hours van ride to Cabarroguis, Quirino)

Philippine Airlines - (02) 855 8888
Flies daily to Tuguegarao (plus 3 hours van ride to Cabarroguis, Quirino)

Traveling to Quirino via Baguio CityVIA BAGUIO CITY
There are two known bus companies that ply the Baguio to Quirino Province route, NA Liner and Kiangan Motor Service (KMS) bus lines ((0915) 947-1440, (0999) 849-2106, (074) 304-3113). Both have daily trips to Madella, Quirino.

Traveling to Quirino via BalerVIA BALER, AURORA
Passenger vans, pick-ups and ordinary buses regularly ply the Aurora-Quirino route. These trips last for about three to five hours on the mountainous road of Aurora's Dipaculao municipality.

AGLIPAY CAVES

Location: Barangay Villa Ventura, Municipality of Aglipay, Quirino Province, Philippines



This is a part of my March 25-26, 2016 Quirino Province Tour Package which includes: Governor's Rapids, Siitan River and Bimmapor Rock Formations, Diamond Cave, Scenic Nagtipunan Hills and Cabarroguis Quick Tour.

While I was inside Cave 8


This is a part of our 2-day March 25-26, 2016 Quirino Province tour, just timely that it was a Holy Week. It does not include the travel time where we left Cubao at 9:30 P.M. boarding a Florida airconditioned bus on March 24, 2016, Maundy Thursday and arrived at Gaddi-Total Gasoline Station in Cordon, Isabela at 4:00 A.M. of March 25 for a total of 6.5 hours travel time. A service vehicle as part of our tour packaged booked our tour operator, Mrs. Aurea Martinez, the Tourism Head of Quirino province. From Cordon, our entry point to Quirino is its first municipality of Diffun and next to it is Cabarroguis.

Just outside the main entrance to the caves


It was the only option left for us since all trips leading to Cabarroguis and Maddela of Quirino province were already fully booked and so, we were forced to take a bus heading for Isabela.

Entrance to Cave 1


And yes!!! After a sumptuous breakfast in our accommodation at Joyce Homestay in Cabarroguis, we had our first destination to Aglipay Caves.

The rice terraces rock formation


Aglipay is the third municipality coming from Cabarroguis, the capital town of Quirino. We passed through Saguday, another municipality of Quirino. It was a 45-minute refreshing drive heading to Barangay Villa Ventura where Aglipay caves are located.

Exit point of Cave 1


By the way, part of our package is a P2,500 van per day with an exclusive guide of P500 per day. Our group is consist of seven and the total of P6,000 will be shared among us. The tour package does not include all other related fees like the entrance, food and other costs.

Inside Cave 8, the second cave we entered


There was a registration site a few meters from the entrance of the cave where we paid P25 each and for that we were provided with our own guide. There were two guides provided to us and we were only informed that there are no fees for the guides except when guests give them a tip for their services.

Rock formations inside Cave 8


Getting inside the caves was a great experience as like any other caves where I had spelunking, its interior houses stunning and awesome formations of rocks not to mention its stalactites and stalagmites which were formed by natural movements for hundreds of years.

Still inside Cave 8


The cave was somewhat dry and you can walk inside without being soaked in dripping water though when you touch the walls, they are slightly sticky. One can walk comfortable inside as most of the parts where we walked through are flat and even wide.

Another part of Cave 8


Our entry point was at Cave 1 and then when we exited from it, we walked to the mouth of Cave 8 and exited again to Cave 2 and finally in Cave 3.

Exiting Cave 2


I was greatly amazed when my guide showed to us the rock formation resembling to rice terraces. Other rock formations were like: the snake, the peacock, the wedding, turtle and the owl. The guide was patient enough to explained to us what rock formations are visible to our own naked eyes.

While inside Cave 3


All parts of these four caves we had spelunking are easy to deal with except when entering Cave 2 just adjacent to Cave 8 where there is a very small hole to pass thru. At first, I was thinking I will not fit it but the technical advice from the guide made it possible for us to pass through that hole. Generally, the cave ceilings are too high except for the one I mentioned earlier

Exiting Cave 3


HOW TO GO THERE

Below is a comprehensive guide of Lakad Pilipinason how to go to Quirino coming from different points.

There’s no easy way to access Quirino Province from Metro Manila. Directly, one can take a late overnight bus from Metro Manila and arrive at the town of Maddela the next morning. It’s time-consuming but less expensive than taking a one-hour flight from Cebu Pacific Air to Cauayan Airport in the neighboring town of Isabela. From there, one still has to ride a one and a half hour van ride to Cabarroguis, the province’s capital. Alternatively, one can also ride a one-hour flight to Tugeugarao City via Cebu Pacific Air and Philippine Airlines, then board a three-hour van ride to Quirino.

Traveling to Quirino via Metro ManilaVIA METRO MANILA

There are bus terminals in Cubao, Quezon City and Sampaloc, Manila that goes directly to Quirino Province. Most have a daily schedule to the province and usually rides out at night, arriving the next morning. Ticket fares are usually at around Php500.00, give or take, for a one-way trip. Please call the numbers provided for their respective bus schedules.

Five Star – Cubao | (02) 851-6614 | Twice Daily | Fare Php500.00+/-
GV Florida – Manila | (02) 743-3809 & (02) 781-5894 | Fare Php500.00+/-
Nelbusco – Manila | (02) 712 5902 & (02) 743-1332 | Fare Php500.00+/-
Northern Luzon Bus Line – Manila | Fare Php500.00+/-

Cebu Pacific Air - (02) 7020-888
Flies four times weekly to Cauayan, Isabela (plus 1.5 hours van to Cabarroguis, Quirino)
Flies daily to Tuguegarao (plus 3 hours van ride to Cabarroguis, Quirino)

Philippine Airlines - (02) 855 8888
Flies daily to Tuguegarao (plus 3 hours van ride to Cabarroguis, Quirino)

Traveling to Quirino via Baguio CityVIA BAGUIO CITY
There are two known bus companies that ply the Baguio to Quirino Province route, NA Liner and Kiangan Motor Service (KMS) bus lines ((0915) 947-1440, (0999) 849-2106, (074) 304-3113). Both have daily trips to Madella, Quirino.

Traveling to Quirino via BalerVIA BALER, AURORA
Passenger vans, pick-ups and ordinary buses regularly ply the Aurora-Quirino route. These trips last for about three to five hours on the mountainous road of Aurora's Dipaculao municipality.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

BALAYUNGAN (PANTIHAN) WATER FALLS

Location: Brgy. Pantihan I, Maragondon, Cavite, Philippines



I never knew this place until such time when I climbed Mount Marami in Maragondon, Cavite on March 12, 2016 and this served to be our side trip. This is 30 minutes drive from the Mount Marami barangay registration site in Barangay Talipusngo of Maragondon. Good enough that its route is somewhat near the highway as we head back to Manila.

Balayungan Falls as captured at 4:30 P.M.


The river along the water falls is very deep but according to the locals there is no danger for daring cliff diving from atop the water falls. In fact, when we were there, our companions as well as some guests there were alternating for the cliff diving.

So close to Balayungan Falls


This water falls is not yet known to some tourists as I did a lot of searches, I found no blog with such a comprehensive information of it. According to the local that I've chat with, this falls has really Balayungan for its name since its area occupies more in Barangay Balayungan than it does in Brgy. Pantihan I though the entry point is in Brgy. Pantihan.

Listening to the rythym of the cascading water falls


While its location is open, going there other than early morning and late afternoon will really be hot. There are no trees where one can take cover. So, the time we went there at around 4:30 P.M. was just a perfect time where we maximized our enjoyment as well as best results in photography.

Balayungan Falls as captured at almost 6:00 P.M.


Though we stayed there for barely two hours, we really maximized our enjoyment. Besides, this was the time when some guests were already leaving. But I find the time so much perfect since there was no crowding though the river where we swam was wide enough to accommodate more guests.

The make-shift resort cottages in the vicinity of the falls


There were make-shift cogon cottages near the falls where guests can take cover and leave their things while having a splash in the river. I have no idea as to its rental as our guide arranged everything.

HOW TO GO THERE

Take a bus from Coastal Mall at a fare rate of P66 with travel duration of 2 hours. From Naic, take a jeepney with a signboard of Magallanes at a fare of P29 for a 30-minute drive but tell the driver to drop you at the crossing heading to the water falls. From the corner is still far and you have to take a motor cab

For worry-free visit to the falls, particularly to mountain climbers who wanted to have a side trip, take the "All-In Services" of the tour organizer Christian Seracon with mobile number at 09066921264 or through his Facebook account at Christian Seracon for only P800 inclusive of round trip van transport from Coastal Mall to Maragondon of Mount Marami, guide and registration fee as well as the jeep from Mount Marami's registration site to the jump-off point in Barangay Bangkaan of Brgy. Talipusngo.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

MOUNT MARAMI

Location: Maragondon, Cavite, Philippines



Jump-off point: Sitio Bangkaan, Brgy. Talipusngo, Maragondon, Cavite
Alternate jumpoff: Brgy.Ramirez, Magallanes, Cavite
LLA: 405 MASL (1,328 feet)
Days required / Hours to summit: 1-2 days / 2-3 hours
Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 3/9, Trail class 1-3
Features: Rocky outcrops, scenic views of Cavite including bird's eye view of Pico de Loro or Mount Palay-Palay

Note: The Barangay Ramirez alternative jumpoff point requires 4-6 hours to summit according to Dr. Gideon of Pinoy Mountaineer.

While at the summit's Silyang Bato


It is my first time to scale Mount Marami which I did it on March 12, 2016. I have heard a lot of stories about the mountain and have seen its awesome pictures most particularly its daring "Silyang Bato" and since then, I have been dreaming. I was with Christian Seracon and the rest of 12 mountaineers who wanted to be challenged by Silyang Bato summit.

Extremely dusty road heading to Sitio Bangkaan jumpoff point


Our group started this trip when we met at the Coastal Mall at 4:00 A.M. and from there, we had a refreshing drive passing through the Cavitex where we left the Coastal Mall at 4:55 A.M. We arrived 7:40 A.M. at the Talipusngo Barangay Hall for registration which we paid P20 per head.

Sitio Bangkaan jumpoff point


After the registration, we boarded a jeepney and headed to a nearby restaurant where a few of us took our breakfast and buy for packed lunch. We need to transfer to a jeepney since, the road going to Sitio Bangkaan was really a tough one considering that it was bumpy with big boulders, extremely dusty and at some point there are sudden drops which will give a hard time for the vehicle to maneuver. The travel took barely 40 minutes. Along our way, we passed through climbers who were trekking because their vans drop them somewhere as the road is no longer passable for their vehicle type.

Mount Palay-Palay or Pico de Loro as seen from the summit


According to our guide, there are two options where we can take for our ascent to the summit coming from the jumpoff point. The first one is a short cut heading to the summit and the second one is cutting through the trail passing thru Camps 1, 2 and 3 and finally the summit. The first option is only an hour and a half while the second option will take around three hours. But since some of our companions were newbies in climbing, our guide opted to take the first option.

This is the photo of the massive summit stone wall which I captured from my guide's fb account


The alternative which we took was such an easy trail with gradual assaults cutting through a canopy of bamboos. Most of the trail were covered with bamboos and other kinds of trees. However, with the option we took, we have no chance to capture the picture above as it is only visible when one is at Camp 1.

Chasing the clouds at the summit


Being at the summit of Mount Marami is like being on top of the world where neighboring lowlands and mountains can be see and it includes Pico de Loro where like Mount Marami, it also has the massive monolith.

A closer photo at the summit's Silyang Bato


I noticed that there are so many climbers who wanted to scale Mount Marami. We were lucky to be the first to arrive at the summit since some other groups trek from the registration to the jumpoff point. Had it not for that, we might have been waiting in queue trying to have a picture in Silyang Bato.

Still a part of the summit


We have not stayed long at the summit since it was hot. Our ascent to the summit was barely 1 and a half hours and descending the mountain only took us a hour to the jumpoff point.

What was rewarding for this climb was our side trip to Pantihan (Balayungan) Water Falls

Bamboo canopies: the common sight of the trail


OTHER CONCERNS

For tour guide rates, P500 for day climb for a ratio of 1 is to 10 climbers or P1,000 for overnight with the same ratio of climbers. For the round trip jeepney rental from the barangay hall registration to Sitio Bangkaan for day cimb has a rate of P1,000 and P2,000 for overnight. Guides can be contacted at 09369682387/09065079694 for Aldrin Paiton and 09066921264 for Christian Seracon. Both of them can booked the jeepney for the guests convenience.

HOW TO GO THERE

DIY Option

Take a bus from Coastal Mall at a fare rate of P66 with travel duration of 2 hours. From Naic, take a jeepney with a signboard of Magallanes at a fare of P35 for an hour drive but tell the driver to drop you at the Barangay Hall of Talipusngo of Maragondon, Cavite for the Registration for P20.

From the Barangay Hall Registration to Sitio Bangkaan, a chartered jeepney is needed for it is quite far and vans or cars can’t get into its dusty and bad road condition.

Taking Tour Package Option

For worry-free visit to the falls, particularly to mountain climbers who wanted to have a side trip, take the "All-In Services" of the tour organizer Christian Seracon with mobile number at 09066921264 or through his Facebook account at Christian Seracon for only P800 inclusive of round trip van transport from Coastal Mall to Maragondon of Mount Marami, guide and registration fee as well as the jeep from Mount Marami's registration site to the jump-off point in Barangay Bangkaan of Brgy. Talipusngo.