What to do when a government agency gives you only couple of days, not a week even, to comply with documentary requirements for a road construction/upgrade project request? Bring it on!!!
Overcast skies greeted us last Tuesday morning, as we prepared for our planned visit to some hidden attractions located in the hinterlands of Jantianon. Armed with bare necessities needed to survive the trek, minus the tent, we planned for a day visit. We made our way into Canete, a sitio in Jantianon, to start our initial ascent.
Our goal is to document the sundry of natural attractions found in the area to further bolster our request for funding of a road upgrade leading to these natural assets. The Tourism Road Infrastructure Program (TRIP), a convergence program under the auspices of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and Department of Tourism (DOT), paved the way–no pun intended– to provide improved access to these touristic sites.
Days before our ascent, heavy rain made the ground soggy and slippery. We decided to plod straight ahead– making quick stops to get some fresh air.
During our trip, we visited Divine and Paphaan Falls, which are documented with the Tourism Amlan Office; however, our target is a hidden gem, the tallest of them all—Paphaon Falls, which trekkers bypass due to its difficult terrain. Once you’re on the cliff side of this hidden gem, you have to travel down the mountain face by using a static rope to drag yourself slowly down into the bank of Tabuyanan River. If you are an adventurous spirit, not afraid of heights, and loves rope-climbing mountainsides then I suggest you put this majestic waterfall on your list. We gave it a shot! After all, we were there for that very reason–to document it. We all told ourselves that fear will never hold us back from seeing the falls with our own eyes. We endured the risk of falls and slips–we survived them all.
It was mid-day when we reached Paphaon Falls, namesake after the process by which locals would scrape off shrimps from the surface of the falls’ plunge pool. Majestic in its own right, this place is a haven for those who would want to get away from it all, to get off the grid, and simply enjoy the beauty of being away from the hustle and bustle of civilization. Upon arriving, I just submitted myself completely to nature and just soaked in its splendor.
We unpacked our provisions, most of them easy open cans, and lunched our way. The soft murmurs of the falls provided a soothing background to our already tired bodies as we prepared for the final task of the day, that of conquering Amlan’s highest peak. Traversing to Paphaon Falls, which is an arduous detour, made our journey to the peak longer than usual. However, shortcuts were made, albeit, a steep climb that would make any regular Juan faint. On the way up, I was an attractive target to a giant bee (tambubuan) and hit me right on my right leg. The swelling was quick but the sting was overpowered by my determination to make it to the top. However, I was more than thankful he missed my face or it would have puffed it up more. Others had their unlucky share of tropical fire ant bites.
During parts of the climb, we were on unfamiliar paths and there wasn’t anything to grab to help guide our way except short stubby grasses, which gave me some scratches.
We made several stops, a few of us got cramps, but it never stopped our desire to be on top of the town. The peak loomed over us, it was calling. The ascent to Lantawan Amlan took us three hours to complete. Upon reaching the peak, I stood in awe, silent, stilled myself as words failed to come out of my mouth to describe the place. I am finally here. Wave after wave of fog obstructed what would have been splendid views of Cebu and Panay Islands. But we were afforded a glimpse of the islands when the fog momentarily gave way its cascade of whiteness. Having spent much energy to make this climb a reality, I sprawled myself on the peak’s grasses and allowed the overwhelming sensation of sheer joy to overcome me. Now, this climb is finally off on my bucket’s list. But I will be back soon, next time on an overnight jaunt.
The day was short, after an hour, with so much reluctance, we made our way down on a late afternoon. On our descent, we were greeted with unknown plants and flowers, many of them found only in hinterland areas. They have thrived as they have remained untouched by human encroachment. On the other hand, be warned and be wary of holding on to anything; some tree-looking plants, like the Blue Oil Fern, harbor spiky thorns on them.
Dusk was falling rapidly, so about a third of the way down, our mobile phones’ flashlight feature was turned on to assist in navigating down the cliff, which gave way to hills further down. We arrived at the Canete Spillway, a little over seven in the evening, and waited for others to rejoin the whole entourage. The visit to the three falls and Lantawan Amlan has worn us out to the point of exhaustion. But we made it.
Finally, mission completed, documents submitted, and fingers crossed that the road upgrade will be approved soon by DPWH and DOT.