When in Cebu: Chasing Waterfalls

When in Cebu: Chasing Waterfalls

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The Queen City of the South is known for Sinulog, its beaches, whale shark watching, and heritage sites holding history dated back to Spanish colonization. Even I have already completed those in my past visits, I found more and more reasons to go back to Cebu. I bet most of the travel enthusiasts won’t have a thought, like I used to, that Cebu offers a number of waterfalls scattered throughout the islands and even within and near the cities.

Credits go to my friend and true-blood waterfall chaser, Elei, whom I featured in the 20 Travelers I Follow (Instagram Edition) post before. Because of his awesome adventure-induced Instagram account, I became aware that these water formations exist. Most of them are rarely heard of. He joined me, together with a couple of his friends too, in this yet another trip of re-discovering Cebu.

Mantayupan Falls, Cebu

1. Mantayupan Falls in Barili

On my second day in Cebu and the first day of road trip and waterfall chase, we start in the town of Barili where the towering Mantayupan Falls is found.

Like most waterfalls, Mantayupan has levels. We headed to the upper level. I was in awe to witness its height. It has a relatively large basin where a raft could be rented to go near the drop. It is taller than Inambakan Falls in Ginatilan.

Mantayupan Falls, Cebu
Visitors can reach the other end via a bamboo raft

Mantayupan Falls, Cebu
Mantayupan in motion

It was a challenge to take the photo because the sun is behind the falls unless I have my filters with me. But I just brought my phone and GoPro. And I think they’re sufficient.

Sun is up shining but the waters are still cool. That means swimming.

Kawasan Falls, Cebu

2. Kawasan Falls in Badian

Kawasan is arguably the most popular waterfall in Cebu. (Hold your horsies, Tumalog fans.) It is known for its rich blue hue waters that set apart from other Philippine falls that reflect green.

You would know you’re already in Kawasan jump off when you see the signs of development all over the side streets. But before proceeding to the most developed falls in this list, we took our lunch somewhere on this beach.

Badian, Cebu
Beach near the high way

Badian, Cebu
Working mid-day for living

After some stone and cement bridges, hydroelectric dam, and river crossing, we reached the first level of the falls in few minutes. Damn, it’s so blue!

Kawasan Falls, Cebu
You won’t be blue when you see this kind of blue.

Because there’s already some crowd and fewer things to do in the lower level, we went further up to a more fun stage open for cliff jumping, going near the plunge, and more space for swimming.

Kawasan Falls, Cebu
The upper level of Kawasan Falls

Kawasan Falls, Cebu
If we bridge this gap, I can see you. Through the curtains of the waterfall.

Kawasan Falls, Cebu
Say Geronimo! Elei is enjoying his third vine bungee jumping

Kawasan Falls, Cebu
Of course, we won’t leave the waterfalls without snapping some memories with us.

We enjoyed Kawasan much that we borrowed some time from the next falls. We continued our roadtrip down to Samboan.

Binalayan Falls, Cebu

3. Binalayan Falls near Samboan

We chased another waterfalls and followed the dimming sunlight down to southern towns of Cebu until we reached the falls tagged as the Hidden Falls.

Binalayan is unique on its own. It has a very narrow wall with three Wolverine-claw cuts where water is flowing through. These weathering are not evident come rainy days.

Binalayan Falls, Cebu
Don’t go chasing waterfalls, they said. They most likely to settle in stagnant ponds, we said.

Unfortunately, Binalayan is not a secret anymore as we’ve seen some vandals etched in the wall. The caretakers has started working with the authorities to preserve the falls. We’ll tackle about preservation more later.

Binalayan Falls, Cebu
I came in like a wrecking ball chasing waterfalls.

Samboan, Cebu
Our friendship Bridge, near the jumpoff point of the falls, to witness a beautiful sunset that day.

Pit Stop

Oslob, Cebu

After we u-turned at the southernmost part of Cebu to go back to the city, we stopped over the cliff in Oslob for sunset. And another pulled over near Alegria for the most beautiful moon rise I’ve seen yet. Too bad I don’t have my pro camera with me.

The car is being driven The Paspas and The Furious way because we’re running out of fuel. All gasoline stations we’ve been to also ran out of unleaded gasoline to sell. After the car is filled, we headed to Victoria’s Halo-halo for our tummies to be filled next before finally ending up our first day trip in Larsian with more of Elei’s friends.

Tinisig Uwang Falls, Cebu

4. Tinisig Uwang Falls in Budlaan

We started the road trip the next day going to the falls nearby the city. Among the falls in this short list, the trek going to Budlaan Falls is the most difficult due to its steepness. (But there are more harder day treks than this for sure.) We just took the short cut trail from above. The other known but longer way is to follow the river uphill to the falls.

Alas, after some slips and slides, we reached our destination. It was dry compared to the other images in the Instagram taken some rains before the visits. Nevertheless, a good sight to snap. That cave formed out of weathering is interesting.

Tinisig Uwang Falls, Cebu
Love. Sometimes true. Sometimes falls. And even dry.

Perhaps one of the reasons why some of the falls are still unheard of is because each has its respective glorious forms only on some particular period. On rainy season. Contrast such falls with all-year round overflowing Kawasan.

Tinisig Uwang Falls, Cebu

Because taking a photograph of me taking a selfie is so original. LOL.

Tinisig Uwang Falls, Cebu

I feel so small next to the waterfall.

Tinisig Uwang Falls, Cebu

Taking refuge to the hideout cave

Getting out from the Budlaan Falls is easier than what we had done going to. Even we’re trekking against the gravity. I couldn’t imagine how hard it would be to follow the muddy and steep trail if it’s raining. Brightside, the falls will be more beautiful in that case.

Kawa Falls, Cebu

5. Kawa Falls

Kawa is definitely the most odd shaped falls that I’ve seen yet. The name was derived from the bowl-shaped basin formed out of a sinkhole. Kawa is a large local cooking vessel.

The stream flowing from the falls is almost empty so we expect the same in the falls. The water in kawa is full and cold. With little camera trick in illusions in perspectives, the kawa can serve as an infinity pool. Certain area of the bowl is at most 6 feet deep. Overlooking the greeneries is a plus.

But its free entrance comes with a greater price. Unfortunately, some vandals in paint are already imprinted in the natural rocks. These were not present when Elei visited the same falls with less than a week difference. Following that rate, the possible destruction of these falls, not only Kawa but the rest of unprotected falls in Cebu, is a sad imagination.

This is when Elei and I discussed about the trade offs of (1) maintenance fee vs. commercialization (2) social media mileage vs. overcrowding due to popularity. The root cause is the misbehavior of the tourists. If everyone could only be responsible enough in traveling then the waterfalls would sustain its natural beauty longer. What could be beautiful now in what we post in our photo feeds online would no longer exist for the next years, for the younger generations.

Until we all learn how to take good care of our environment, we both agreed that some natural places are best to keep as secret. For Mother Nature. *fistbump*

Kawa Falls, Cebu
Elei on his unlimited adrenaline to dive for umpteenth times

Pit Stop

As we found our way to the exit, our photo session continued in a protected forest. Imagine a one sided man-made forest of Bohol, or the shooting location of the chase scenes in Harry Potter 7 and The Mockingjay. The canopy brings a cooler temperature within the area and of course an ideal setting for snapshots. I also like how the ground is covered by fallen dried leaves as if Cebu has fall (or pa-fall) season.

Buhisan, Cebu
Lost into the woods

Buhisan, Cebu
Cebu’s best kept secret. Elei or the forest. You decide. Haha.

Buhisan, Cebu
Elei #caughtgramming. One of the things he does best.

Buhisan, Cebu
Sheene and Kai, #friendsonmyfeed taking advantage of the picturesque background

We didn’t waste more time (even we haven’t eaten our lunch yet) and went straight to our next destination.

Igotan Falls, Cebu

6. Igotan Falls / Cave in Talisay

We needed a therapeutic final stop and according to my travel buddies, Igotan is a good option. While Talisay is a city, it didn’t appear to me as such because of the mountains and trees around. Until we went further and I already felt the presence of intense progression of the metropolis as more construction, quarrying and reclamation are happening. Few months ago, there’s still a river flowing near the falls and cave. But presently, it’s been stopped and visitors can cross between banks without the use of the existing footbridge.

But the sad picture we witnessed didn’t spoil us to enjoy our last destination. If a waterfall inside the cave won’t excite you, I don’t know about you. After a simple spelunking wherein ankle-high waters are flooding the trail, we reached our desired therapy. Happy kids we are!

When in Cebu

Last 2013 during my visit in Oslob for whale shark watching, I managed to see three waterfalls in that trip – Tumalog, Inambakan and Aguinid. After the recent waterfalls hoppings, 6 falls are added to my list of Cebu waterfalls. Having my list ended with 9 checks. And guess what, according to Elei and to my fellow couchsurfer, Pat, the list they share totals to 40 waterfalls – double of what Iligan in Mindanao has. The province of Cebu is very fortunate to have these wonderful waterfall gems.

This waterfall chasing is a just part of my whole itinerary in Cebu. I will tell you more about how I spent my first day in Cebu in an adventure park in Liloan and my last day in OsmeƱa Peak and other city destinations in my next post. My fifth time in Cebu fuels my dream more of relocating in Cebu. How straightforward my weekend wandering could be if I live here.

It is already in my books that Cebu is the home of the people with the most beautiful and handsome genes ever in the Philippines. And as you can see, it is also a home of waterfalls. Having the two is a dangerous combo to chase: mga pa-fall and the waterfalls.

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