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Monday, March 14, 2005

The road to Aliwagwag

Maria Eleanor Elape Valeros
April 28, 2004

My being wanderlust will always provide me with beautiful pictures and memories of Davao Oriental. I embarked on an expedition that I personally tag as “the adventure of a lifetime”.

It was in late 2002 when I first came to Dav Or. I’d heard of Dav Or so many times from my father, a true-blue Davaoeño having seen first light in Bansalan (Davao del Sur).

I was mesmerized by – oh well – the almost deserted beach of Tarragona, the awesome story of how the sun’s first rays in the new millennium shone in Santiago, Caraga, thereby referred to as “First Millennium Sunrise Site”; as well as the municipality’s efforts in preserving tribal wisdom in its Mandaya Tribal Community.

Of course, if you’re a beach buff how would you ever let the opportunity to see San Luis Beach pass by? San Luis is a 5-km stretch of black shimmering sand with rows of century-old trees near the beachfront.

In Dav Or, you will find this Puting Bato Waterfalls in barrio Limot, Tarragona. It's a 25-meter wide falls situated at the heart of the forest, this I learned from the lumads (natives).

In the municipality of Boston, one will find Magdawa Falls. It is a 50-m cascade surrounded by timberland, and Mahiga, an ice-cold spring. In the municipality of Baganga, there’s Carolina Lake worthy of the visit. Lumads believe giant eels thrive here. To each lake, it would take a 15-min ride from the poblacion by jeepney or habal-habal (motorcycle for hire). Kinablangan Hot Spring is also found in Baganga. Buso Hot Springs is located 10 kilometers away from the provincial capital of Mati.

But nothing ever wowed me more than the willingness of the Kamikaze Dual Sports Riders to escort me to Aliwagwag Falls. This to complete my southern Philippines expedition that began in Butuan, Agusan del Norte; passing by Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur; Tagum, Davao del Norte; Compostela Valley, to Cateel in Davao Oriental where I caught a glimpse and took a taste of Aliwagwag Falls’ rapids.

Aliwagwag Falls in barrio Aliwagwag, Cateel is a towering waterfalls reportedly considered by hydraulic engineers as the “highest in the country” and regarded as one of the most beautiful falls this side of Mindanao.

It has 84 major basins, and 39 small ones. The pools, from afar, resemble that of a stairway to heaven. Each pool has a depth of from 6 to 110 feet.

Overall, Aliwagwag Falls is 1,110 feet of cascading energy. All these in the midst of a virgin forest with bodies of trees all covered with moss and other forms of commensals, and crown covered with vines. Vines, hanging from trees, give the effect of thick shrouds.

With the efforts of the Municipal Planning and Development Office of the municipality of Cateel, the site has been promoted through the Aliwagwag Falls Resort and Recreation Development project.

Meantime, kudos to Kuya Henry “Dongdong” Docdoc, Andronico Palma-Gil, the former president of the Kamikaze Dual Sports Riders Club; to his nephew Ralph Palma-Gil and to Joy Sumalinab who accompanied me to Aliwagwag from Tarragona, covering a bumpy ride of 292 kilometers back and forth in 6 hours.

These Kamikaze riders made the road to Aliwagwag a real exciting and unforgettable experience.(/30)