I awoke to a hazy image of faces surrounding me with almost blinding sunlight streaking from the canopy of marang trees. Worried as they looked like but they their poker faces couldn’t hide that they were chuckling inside. Then I realized (and yes they jokingly confirmed) that I just completely passed out from an exhausting climb. After exchanging silent stares at everyone, we all burst into laughter acknowledging that we are not young anymore as we thought and collapsing is a common thing to those unprepared to conquer the Tinago Falls.
Over fresh buko juice, succulent durian and sweet marang, we made a joyful trip back to high school memories when we had to cut classes just to have a picnic in Tinago Falls. Now, at 36 and have admittedly gone so fat, I have to say it wasn’t as easy as it was when we were slender, athletic and young. While climbing a steep slope may be reserved for the fit ones, at least, even at between 72 and death I know I still am willing.
Tinago is a waterfall hidden in the deep ravines of Ditucalan in Iligan City. Falling from a ravine at 240 feet into a basin of cold water, this falls is awesome as it looks. Iliganons from all over the world take pride of this natural beauty and her every visitor always go home captivated by her charm. But conquering Tinago is not that easy. You have to trek down to a 500-step slippery pathway and ascending from it on a steep & winding slope is a test of endurance and courage.
The journey begins from the top, where your eyes meet the treetops. Her cascades provide the rhythm of the long descent on slickly paths. While it may be physically tough to reach her, a marvelous reward awaits the persistent traveler below. The water springs from the boulders atop, beautifully framed by lush greens and vines. Her echoing cascades are like lullabies. Her grandness is a sight to behold. On a makeshift bamboo raft, you can reach the small cave behind the raging water. Diving from the boulders into the cool blue lagoon is another daring act that would make you say, “ I conquered her”.
I had the first chance of experiencing Tinago Falls when I was 11 years old. Back then, going there was extremely difficult. There were no trails and nothing to hold on to but thick and slimy vines and shrubs. It was even more challenging during rainy days when you have to negotiate a steep climb over thick and unstable mud. In the late 90’s there used to be a hotel and a small wildlife zoo as added attractions. But the unforgettable rebel attacks, the Asian currency crisis, local political disputes killed the tourism glory of Tinago. But Filipinos are resilient by nature and we always rise up from a big flat fall. Tinago was rehabilitated and is now back on the track in attracting more tourists.
Today, trekking is easier with paved steps and handrails coming from both sides of Barangay Ditucalan and Barangay Buru-un. It has cottages and grill areas. Upland residents also provide guide and porterage services. Local tourism offices are working so hard to bring back the memory of a wonderful waterfall that enchanted her every visitor. Tinago may be hidden but is not a kept-secret. You are welcome to experience Tinago, you are welcome in Iligan.
She is beautiful and gentle.
She is majestic and magical.
She is enchanting.
She is Tinago Falls.
HOW TO GET THERE
From Manila & Visayas
- Fly to Cagayan de Oro City and take a 2-hour bus ride to Iligan City.
- Sail via Negros Navigation or Superferry straight to Iligan City.
- Buses regularly ply the CDO-Iligan route at an interval of 30 minutes. It is a comfortable option because these are new fleet of airconditioned buses and charges only P100 per passenger. At times, fares go as low as P50 as dictated by competition.
- Private vehicles are also available from CDO Airport straight to Iligan but it’s a whooping P3,500 one-way fare w/o consideration for a rescue vehicle in times of road emergencies.
- When in Iligan, public jeepneys and taxis are available. However, going up to the jump-off point in Tinago would require a hired vehicle or single motorcycle. The easiest route to the falls is via Brgy. Buru-un.
- Cheradel Suites - Bro. Jeffrey Road, Pala-o, Iligan City / (063) 223-8118
- Elena Tower Inn - Tibanga Highway, Iligan City / (063) 221-5995
- D’Morvie Suites - Tibanga Highway, Iligan City / (063) 223-3255
- Rene’s Diner - Andrada Compound, Iligan City / (063) 221-3701
Other Must Do's & Must Have's
- Don’t leave Iligan without tasting the Iligan Lechon. Widely available across Timoga Pools and along Tibanga Highway.
- Bring home Iligan’s pride, Cheding’s Peanuts (greaseless peanut roasts) and Pinakurat Vinegar (fermented coconut sap), Faj House of Cakes (La Salle Rd. Extn., Iligan City / 063-2233358).