Waterfalling Adventure Tour 3
May 18, 2014
In Iligan City we have many famous waterfalls. These are the same waterfalls which grab all the press and media spotlight like Maria Cristina Falls, Tinago Falls, Dodiongan Falls, and Mimbalot Falls. They are beautiful falls and deserve much of the press but they also attract crowds.
There are many spectacular waterfalls which get little media attention in Iligan. The reason for their privacy and lack of crowds is that they may be harder to access or hidden upon massive watershed and several rain forests in its topographic areas. One of them is Limunsudan Falls - the two-tiered waterfall said to be the Philippines' 2nd highest with the height of 870 feet, with the lower part cascading alone higher than the Maria Cristina Falls.
Limunsudan Falls never fails to amaze me and no matter how many photos or videos I see on the net, the more I'm captivated by its beauty. I really do need to get there.
I usually wake-up at 6:00 in the morning but that day of May 18, 2014 was an exception. I set the alarm to go off at an odd time of 3:30AM and in the wee hours, kept myself busy preparing for the most anticipated trip to Sitio Limunsudan, Barangay Rogongon.
Limunsudan is a remote village which is part of Barangay Rogongon, Iligan City. The village is a boundary to Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur. Although it can be reached by foot for a two-day trek from Brgy. Rogongon, it is more accessible via Cagayan de Oro - Talakag, Bukidnon. The inhabitants of Limunsudan are Higaonon, an indigenous tribe represented throughout Northern Mindanao. The climate is cooler than in other parts of Iligan City but there are daily afternoon rain showers for the majority of the year, and these can be quite extreme.
It was still dark when I arrived at Jasmine, our jumping-off point, and only the sound of my arrival shattered the early morning quiet. There was nobody there except for the guard who then politely ushered me inside the pension house. To my surprise, everyone (WAT participants) was already awaken and ready for the day’s journey.
While waiting for our ride, we double-checked our things to ensure a hassle-free trip. I want to emphasize that we also brought with us live chickens (for offering) and packs of school supplies (for the Higaonon kids) in addition to the basics i.e. food and water.
After few minutes, we were informed of the arrival of our service vehicle and escorts. We were caught by surprise when we saw not one but three 6x6 military trucks and around 30 military men. I knew we were on an escorted trip but their number made me feel uneasy. I learned that the military escorts were from the 4th Mechanized Infantry (Kalasag) Battalion of the Philippine Army based at Camp Pintoy in Brgy. Suarez.
A few minutes later, everyone started to embark on the military trucks and anxiously waited for the journey to begin.
It was already past 4AM when the convoy left Iligan. While on our way to Cagayan de Oro City, we learned from the military about the outreach program at Limunsudan later that day. Foods and other relief goods will be distributed to the community. In fact, aside from our escorts, there were already some military men sent to Limunsudan a day before us to clear the area. It was said that the outreach program was part of the support operations of the 4th Mechanized Infantry (Kalasag) Battalion to help the Higaonons maintain an environment conducive to sustainable development and just and lasting peace.
We reached Cagayan De Oro earlier than expected and immediately proceeded to DSWD Field (Regional) Office in Upper Carmen. While waiting for the military to finish loading up the trucks with sacks of rice and other relief goods, we got inside the building and took our breakfast.
From Cagayan de Oro, we then continued our journey to the Municipality of Talakag, Bukidnon. The road is in good condition (paved) but there are portions that are so steep that they can almost burn out the break. It was my first time to travel this side of Bukidnon and like the Puerto- Valencia route, the typical coolness and its refreshing scenery of cliffs, forests & farms are the same. I really enjoyed it.
It was around 9:00 AM when we passed by the town center of Talakag. The sun had started to shine brightly and the coolness of the air was slowly replaced by the summer heat. After a few kilometers of travel from the town center we reached the Mamaon-Iligan Road Junction. We then made a turn to re-enter Iligan and set out towards the wilderness along the route to Sitio Limunsudan.
I’ve read several blogs detailing the hardship one has to experience just to get there (Limunsudan ) but it did not discourage me. True enough, the road from the junction leading to Limunsudan is marked by bumps and potholes. I felt uncomfortable and at the same time excited. The truck was literally crawling but maneuvered skillfully in the narrow and uneven road. After an hour of jolts and series of jerks, we finally arrived at Sitio Limunsudan of Barangay Rogongon.
What a nice surprise to see the villagers gathered to welcome us. We then alighted from the trucks and guided ourselves to the Tribal Hall. Inside the hall, we met the tribal leaders and performed the customary ritual prayer to ask the spirits of the forest for guidance and for protection from any harm on our way to the falls. For the Higaonon tribe in Limunsudan, this waterfalls is the most sacred place for them. This is their place of worship for Magbabaya (god). The ritual included offering of coins and of blood from live chickens to the spirits.
From the Tribal Hall, we continued our journey. This time, we were accompanied by some “Datus” on our way to the falls. It took us about 15 minutes of bumpier ride (again) until we reached the parking area. We all got down from the truck and started to trek for another 15- 20 minutes. Along the way, one can notice that the trail was cleared from obstacles and steps were carved on the slopes for an easier climb. Thanks to the advance party of the army who did it for us.
Finally, we reached the viewing area where one can see the unobstructed wondrous creation of Mother Nature – the breathtaking Limunsudan Falls. Trembling with anticipation, we readied our cameras but the “Datus” were quick enough to warn us not to take photos yet. Not until another ritual prayer’s done.
Limunsudan Falls may be harder to access and is located off the main roads but it’s so special which you can enjoy all by yourself for hours on end. It was so spectacular that the combination of rivers crashing over cliffs falling into pools of water (not one but two tiers of falling waters); the cloud of mist hanging in the air – it is all therapeutic mentally and physically. Looking at the falls was one of the most satisfying sightseeing adventure I ever had. The journey is just as satisfying as the destination.
A big congratulations to Iligan Bloggers Society (IBS) , the sponsors, the military, and to all the bloggers who took part in this year’s waterfalling event – the #WAT3 Thank you IBS for the tremendous effort to make the event a success. It’s great to see the amazing spirit, determination, and the #intimateFriendship.