Monday, August 15, 2011

The Delights and Dangers of Mag-aso Falls

If there is a body of water I always find mystical, it is the falls. I am always fascinated of it's magic, that I never fail to include visiting atleast one on my trips. There's something about swimming in the fresh flowing water that makes me feel wonderful. I usually end up in love with the falls I'm visiting and more often than not, I feel truly refreshed after communing with it.

Arriving Brgy. Can Omay in Antequera Bohol, approximately an hour from Whites and Greens Resort in Panglao Island, we paid a barangay fee. A short distance after, we reached the entrance to Mag-aso Falls. A lady is manning the entrance where we paid an entrance fee. I was really excited specially it will be my family's first time to see a falls. It is my sixth. There are long set of stairs going downwards to the falls. It wasn't steep, I found it friendly maybe even to kids. It's a different case though when you need to climb back to the entrance, it might be tiring for people who are not accustomed in doing physical activities. I almost run in the stairs to my excitement of seeing the falls. Then I heard the gushing of the water. A few more steps and my eyes flicked with the beauty in front of me. It was the lovely falls with three cascdes, dropping rapidly into a pool of teal-colored water. Our tour guide mentioned the drop of the falls is even stronger decades ago that it produces a smokey projection at the bottom of where the cascade is dropping, hence the name Mag-aso. Aso is a local term that means smoke.

As I'm about to swim, the incident of three boys drowning from this falls due to flash flood suddenly crossed my mind. I almost chickened out but after I got the guarantee from Rene, one of the falls' lifeguards that there had been no rain the past days, I wasted no time. Besides, I didn't see any of Bear Grylls warning tips when there would be a flash flood. I'm sad though that my sister decided not to join us in swimming. Whatever her reason is, I never completely understood but maybe, if someone isn't up to something we better let them be.

Walking to the part where I can atleast play in the water, the big rocks proved to be very slippery. I almost slipped even when I'm very careful walking. Then I dipped and the water is very cold but tolerable. I was really having fun. I floated on my back with Nikko swimming around me. Lush trees surrounds the falls and that added to the enchanting experience. We truly have a wonderful world. Trying to swim around, I noticed that the riverbed isn't flat. In some parts where I'm walking on knee high water, I found out that in just one step I could be submerged into a water that's deeper than my height. There was also an instance when I swam in the middle of the pool that I felt the strong current underwater pushing me with the waterflow. I am not a good swimmer so I decided to wear a life vest, and just floated on the side just to be on the safe side. I'd still want to reach more places and blog about them. :D Nikko on the other hand braved swimming near the cascade then swam back beside me shortly, saying the current is so strong that a lot of water entered his ears while swimming.

Having a bit bored with swimming, Nikko decided to have some more fun by riding the flow of the water  which will eventually drop him to a 10 feet high of water. I got worried and tried being a kill joy by asking him not too. He found an ally when Rene, told us it is safe as long as he knows how to swim well. He urged him to wear a lifejacket though. That's a relief for me. After he did it twice, everybody thought that it was perfectly safe then I just found them encouraging me to do it too. Sounds like fun but I'm scared, hahaha! The current is fast and what if I drink a lot of water? Everybody is cheering on me that it dawned on me, Nikko did it, I'm wearing a life vest and two lifeguards are watching me closely so what could be wrong. With a nervous look in my face, I positioned myself near the center part where it's shallow and let go from holding the rocks after Nikko did it again, just before me. I felt myself being carried by the water freely then I plunged. Watching the video, it seems fast but that time, the moment I dropped underwater felt like eternity, hahaha! I did enjoy though that after overcoming my fear, I did it again. It was something unforgettable and pumped up my energy.

                        - a video courtesy of Jing Seguban -

After two hours in the falls, it was time to leave making sure we'd be able to go to all the other attractions for that day. I had a wonderful experience. Even my parents and sister who didn't swim can't stop marveling with the sight of this falls. I just wish somehow that my sister also swam with us so she had a more joyful time, after all, she sponsored this trip. Other than that, I am really grateful that we were able to savor the delights of Mag-aso falls and did so safely without witnessing the dangers it imposes even if we visited during the rainy season.

Random Reminders

*Besides the entrance fee of Php20 for adults and Php10 for kids, they now charge Php5 barangay entrance fee just before arriving the entrance of the falls. Brgy. Can Omay isn't usually flocked by tourists and the barangay fee they collect is the only way they earn revenue for barangay use.

*Mag-aso Falls open as early as 7AM and closes at 5PM.

*There are now a total of 10 volunteer life guards in Mag-aso Falls. They don't have regular salaries but they are there to lower if not totally eradicate the number of accidents. They know the place better so it would be safer if we listen to their warnings.  I was told there are few occasions when local residents from other towns ignored their warnings and it nearly ended in a catastrophe.We can be considerate enough to give them any amount we can.

*The place lacks clean and functional restrooms.

*I won't be able to share how to go to this place via commute since this and all the other attractions I've visited in Bohol is a part of the itinerary for the whole day countryside tour I designed. We rented a vehicle with a driver that served as our tour guide as well. This is a a family get-away and not my typical backpacking trip so comfort is one of my top priorities arranging this trip. If you need information on who you can contact for renting vehicles, please check this link: Cars/Vans for Hire in Bohol.

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