Tintin sat on the boulder and started to sketch the spring of water before us. Watching her draw and the kids fearlessly leaping from the rock head into the pool, I realized it took us more than 3 decades to finally experience Dodiongan Waterfall.
I lived more than half of my life in Iligan but in all those years I have not visited Dodiongan. With stories of inaccessibility and unguaranteed security, getting to this waterfall in Barangay Bonbonon were always just futile attempts. Today, as more concrete farm-to-market roads have been built, the access to those once elusive waterfalls in upland barangays have also become easier.
More than the trekking necessities, we were packed with common enthusiasm and the willingness to explore more of Iligan. Nearly in our 40s, we were all first-timers in Dodiongan and we trekked it with the help of young boys who live around the area. Certainly, no one is too old to enjoy the outdoors and I am just so glad to be reunited with college friends Piyet, Reydel and Tintin who share the same interest.
It all begins in San Roque junction, right after the bridge in Hinaplanon. The scenic 10-kilometer ride on a habal-habal takes you all the way up to Barangay Bonbonon. A shallow river welcomes guests to Dodiongan, one of the 3 streams of water that needs to be crossed on foot. The trail is clean and easy passing by a gaggle of geese joyfully flirting by the brooks and a troop of carabaos grazing on the greens.
As the sound of rushing water begins to grow louder, the trail also becomes a little more strenuous. After weaving through thick bushes and negotiating with slippery rocks, Dodiongan Waterfall emerges like a path to a different land. Hemmed by forest moss clinging to its bedrock, her water slides gently into a huge green pool.
She sits there quiet with only the soft murmurs of its endless bedrock rain splashing into the cold cauldron of water. She lives far and elusive from everyone. She stands grand by her weathered rocks but remains humble by her gentle cascades. She has a different kind of charm and she is waiting for you.
Tintin was deep in what met her eyes and her hand was fast in capturing a simple picture of a waterfall into a beautiful stroke of art. Following our way back downstream, I realized that my happiness was not only because I have finally seen the waterfall but also I am sincerely joyful for my friend Reydel to have finally found his lifetime Dodiongan.
HOW TO GET THERE
The nearest airport to Iligan is Laguindingan in Misamis Oriental.
Buses regularly ply the airport-Iligan route. This takes about 1 hour travel time to the terminal.
From Iligan City proper, take the jeepney bound for Dalipuga, Kiwalan or Hinaplanon.
Get off in San Roque junction, after the bridge.
Take the habal-habal to Bonbonon.
If you are going straight to the waterfall from the airport, you may get off at the San Roque junction in Iligan. This comes before the bridge.
Bring your own trekking provisions: food, water, insect repellants. There are no stores anywhere around.
Camping overnight is not recommended.
The trail may be easy but it is recommended to hire a local guide who lives around Bonbonon. Some habal-habal drivers also double as guides.
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.
I lived nearly half of my life in fancy suitcases, jetsetting between reality and fantasy... read more