I could not anymore remember how long I stayed dry on this trek. Either I was drenched in sweat from negotiating through boulders and thick bushes or soaked from the cold mountain streams, this whole day adventure was certainly hypothermic. I grew up in Iligan and this mountain in Barangay Dalipuga was once just an ignored “big hill”. Not until I wandered through it recently when I realized that it is not what I actually thought it to be.
A series of waterfalls that follow a single winding trail abounds in Dalipuga. These are actually just constricted waters dropping from short bedrocks into a wider punchbowl pool. People tramp here not only for its waterfalls, but also for the thrill in finding them in a huge upland maze. It is an exciting spot for a day hike with graduating trail difficulty and refreshing pit stops.
Waterfall No. 1: Dalipuga Falls
The walk starts at the foot of the mountain in Purok 4, about 2 kilometers inland from the national highway. Getting to the first cascade called Dalipuga Falls is an easy walk along nippy brooks and flat grassland. This waterfall has the biggest pool with waist-deep water. It is also the perfect spot for group photos before everyone looks wasted. This trail is quite effortless and a good warm up for the kicking challenges ahead.
Waterfall No. 2: No definite name, but some call it the extension of Pampam Falls.
The way to the 2nd falls is a test of leg strength climbing on slippery dugout steps on hardened earth. On this steep trail I learned to trust the roots breaking from the ground for support. The waterfall does not have a name so the locals just refer to it as Falls Number 2. This is the smallest falls in this leg but it has the deepest pool. If jumping from a waterfall is your kind of thrill, this spot is perfect for you.
Waterfall No. 3: Pampam Falls
About a kilometer uphill is Pampam Falls, the biggest in Dalipuga. Getting there is weaving out of heavy bushes and negotiating through narrow and precipitous climb. This horsetail waterfall flows down to a shallow basin, a popular wading pool among trekkers. Rest in this pit stop because the 4th falls will make you curse every square inch of the trail.
Waterfall No. 4: Kalubihon Falls
Kalubihon Falls is the last and farthest waterfall in this mountain. The long walk begins on the rolling landscape filled with cogon grass. Halfway through the destination is a wide hilltop view deck of the sea. This is the rehydration pit stop over fresh and free buko juice, just ask the manongs for it.
Pushing farther, the trail changes into moss-coated rocks, thick foliage and endless springs of water. Huge trees and vines canopy the footpath. Streaks of sunrays peek through the billowing leaves providing dramatic effects of chasing light. This is the hardest leg because of the heavy ascent on slippery rocks and muddy footpath.
The way to go to Kalubihon Falls is to swim through this chest-deep underground pool.
The route ends in a cave’s mouth and the way to get to the falls is to swim through the dark underground pool under its small chamber. A small opening in the end leads you to a chute-type waterfall.
After all the cuts, bruises and heavy slips, we opted to take the easier way to the base. We walked uphill for about 10 kilometers to the other side of the mountain on a narrow but clear pathway. We ended up in a small community called Kalubihon. Habal-habal motorcycles are available to drive you 8 kilometers down to the main highway.
Wet and hungry, I never had doubts in asking for my 3rd helpings of rice. Dirty and looking wasted, I never cared. It was a happy and fulfilling experience. Now, I must say, Dalipuga is not just a big hill.
HOW TO GET THERE
From Iligan City (Town Center)
Take the jeepney bound for Dalipuga. This should cost only about P14. The best spot to hail it is across the post office.
Get off in Purok 4 waiting shed, about 250 meters passed the Kalubihon junction.
From the main road, walk further inland, it should lead you to the base of the mountain.
Hire a local guide. It is not recommended to trek alone because it is a messy trail.
There is no tourism office to go to. Just ask help from the residents and they will surely direct you to a guide.
Bring basic trekking provisions: food, water, medicine kit, walking stick.
Prioritize applying insect repellant over sunblock. I would rather have sunburn than those itchy insect bites.
I would like to thank Rowena Gadot and Mark Abejo for joining me in this trek. Both of them are teachers in Kalamalamahan Elementary School in Rogongon, Iligan City.
Rowena was a classmate in high school and is currently doing a noble deed by teaching the children in the hinterlands of Rogongon. It is one of the far-flung barangays of Iligan, where no one usually goes up to serve. Rogongon is the indigenous people’s community.
Their school needs help to keep the children go to school. Food, medicine, generators (and fuel) are among those welcome donations. If you would like to help, please contact Rowena Gadot at +63999-9961784.
Betwixt and between the arthritic 40 and a horrendous body mass index of positive 30, escapism and yummyeology are my real-life double post-graduate degrees conferred with the highest honors.
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