It was early 2010.
The second semester of my junior year in UP was pretty stressful and was about to end. I was itching to finish all of my academic requirements but it kept on piling up as the moratorium period drew nearer. Physiology was giving me a hard time too, not to mention that I still have to defend my thesis proposal. I badly need a break. I was on the brink of losing my sanity. But the good thing was, I overheard my batch mates, who were taking ENT 101 (Entomology) that semester, talking about their planned field trip to Iligan City. I was not enrolled in Entomology, thus I didn’t mind joining their conversation.
It was until one of my classmates approached me. They were actually in dire need of students who are interested to join their field work in Entomology in order to lessen the transportation expenses. Apparently, not all of the Entomology students could join the trip. Even their professor, who happened to be the Dean of our college had approved with their idea. I immediately gave them a big YES knowing that I had limited knowledge about Iligan – its geography, culture and tourist attractions. I haven’t heard much about this city. As far as I know, this is where Maria Cristina Falls is located, one of Mindanao’s main hydroelectric sources. That was the only thing I know about Iligan City prior the trip, frankly speaking.
All in all there were thirteen of us who joined the trip, of which five were non-Entomology students. I was really excited since I haven’t been to Iligan. And with that, I left Davao without any sufficient knowledge about my destination. I did not have any idea what was in store for us.
Before we embarked on our trip, we first ate dinner at a local kambingan restaurant somewhere in Calinan, Davao City. It was around eight in the evening when we finally left the restaurant. We endured the long and winding road of Buda. It was scary since there were no street lights to guide our way and heavy fog shrouded the highway leading to the northern provinces of Mindanao. But thank God, we were safe. We had our first pit stop at Malaybalay City. The others went to the town center to have some booze and disco (during that time, the city was celebrating their local festival). I retired around 1:30 AM while the rest of the gang partied ‘til dawn.
We left Malaybalay City fifteen minutes before 7AM, drove north and had a quick stop at the province of Sumilao at around 8AM for breakfast. It was a routine trip, actually. I just slept for the whole duration of the trip which made my friends wonder since I slept earlier than them. Anyway, I woke up at around 11AM and noticed that we were leaving the western boundary of Cagayan de Oro City. We passed by the towns of Opol, El Salvador and Laguindingan. It was until half an hour before 12 noon when we reached Iligan City.
Iligan is nestled in the midst of luxuriant natural beauty of Northern Mindanao. It is a city truly blessed and nurtured by Mother Nature. It is protected from typhoons by natural barriers; its terrain is hugged by a long stretch of shoreline along the Iligan Bay.
Despite being tagged as the City of Majestic of Waterfalls, we were greeted with lots of cement and food processing factories as we entered the city proper. We first ate lunch at Gaisano and checked in at our quaint inn before traveling to Tinago Falls.
It was named Tinago because it was literally hidden at the middle of the jungle! Anyway, the entrance fee was only Php 10.00 per head although I can’t remember if we paid for the corkage or not. It’s cheap, yes, but the hike to the falls was pretty tiring. We were even greeted by the ruins of an abandoned inland resort. It looked amazing and scary at the same time.
We knew that we were near the falls because we can already hear its mighty roar.
Finally, after millions of steps we finally arrived at the base of Tinago Falls. It offered a breathtaking view, with its lagoon painted with a hue of deep blue.
Tourists are provided with life jackets whenever they opt to swim at the blue lagoon. There were at least four to five lifeguards at the premise. At least two to three of my classmates who took Entomology went somewhere together with their professor to catch some exotic insects while the rest of the group hit the cold and blue lagoon of Tinago Falls. We even dared to swim near the ‘impact zone’. As we neared the impact zone, the water current grew stronger and the wind was also fierce. It was like swimming in the middle of the storm! But because we were determined, we braved the raging current and managed to climb the cliff.
We even dared to jump off the cliff and took a plunge on the deep blue lagoon. It was really an exhilarating experience! We tried to climb the cliff again but it was too slippery and we didn’t have enough energy to do it again. But at least we didn’t leave Tinago Falls without jumping from its cliff. We bid goodbye to Tinago Falls and called it a day.
The next day, we visited another waterfall located somewhere at the north of Iligan City. Mimbalut Falls is a different one. The height of the waterfall was generally shorter than Tinago and there were lots of jagged stones at the base of the falls. But that didn’t prevent some of my classmates to take a dip at Mimbalut Falls.
We left Iligan City after eating our lunch at a nearby eatery. Unfortunately we weren’t able to visit the famous Maria Cristina Falls due to time constraints. But still, I definitely enjoyed the trip. I was really glad that I overheard my classmates about their planned trip to Iligan City. I did not know that Iligan City was this beautiful. It had exceeded my expectations. The city might receive some travel advisories about its safety, but nothing bad happened to us, thank God.
Truly, the City of Majestic Waterfalls had left a good impression to us. I was thinking of going back to Iligan City again with my friends soon.
‘Til then, Iligan!