Saturday, April 5, 2014

Falls | The Grand Hidden Waterfalls of Buntot Palos

FALLS | The Grand Hidden Waterfalls of Buntot Palos
Venture Off The Beaten Path To A Majestic Falls

"I know now that I am not making any sense of what I write, but the sharing of my adventure and experience is always a good reason to sit down someday and look back to where I had been."
My December Moon  -Francis Balgos

Buntot Palos (Hidden) Grand Water Falls
An off the beaten Grand Water Falls, to reach the basin of the Water Falls is to trek along the trails in Sierra Madre Mountain Range for up to 2-3 hours from a jump off point in Brgy. Balian, Pangil, Laguna. A rocky basin along the tributary of Pangil River descending from a lofty height of approximately 80 meters and is said to never run out even in the hottest dry season. The rocky yet muddy trails used by local farmers to drive their horses and carabao’s, shaded by tree tunnels and occasionally blanketed by rain clouds. Mostly covered in thick vegetation except for some areas where coconuts are being farmed and some towering Mahogany trees that are alien to this environment. This forested area of Pangil Laguna remains to be rich in Flora and Faunas; endemic animals like the Philippine Cobras, the Reticulated Pythons and a number of snakes can be found.

Dry Season in the Philippines can be very unforgiving, especially if you live in some of its Urban Metropolis, the tepid heat radiating from every concrete jungle would just double up the misery of having to endure the summer. As it is, my thoughts wander to those days when temperatures are moderate, the torrential rains of Wet Season in this tropics can be deadly but it seems now like a welcome respite.

So I think about this trek I did with a few online friends, to an off beaten water fall of Pangil Laguna as locals prefer to call it, the (Hidden) Falls of Buntot Palos (Eels Tail). A grand water fall with water source descending from a lofty height of approximately 80 meters, no mean feat that it makes me wonder how this Falls that was hidden couple of decades ago remain to be one of those grand water falls in Laguna that is Off Beaten.

 A boy guiding his horse along the trail.

 Rodeo up in the mountains, we step aside to let pass locals riding in their horses.

 Because I Was late

Thinking back about how I got left behind by everyone because I was late makes me smile. I have difficulty following directions when trying to locate a place let alone going somewhere that I am not familiar with. Everyone had already left with the hired jeep when I got into our agreed meeting place. Its 4 AM and a Sunday of January, definitely one of those times when I felt vulnerable, with my day pack and a full camera gear, roaming in some dark alleyways of EDSA Central. I made a split second decision to catch up and travel on my own, guided only by directional text messages from Kuya Mike of “The Traveling Panda”, I was to take 2 Jeepney rides from EDSA Shaw to Tanay Rizal, then another to Siniloan Laguna, and a Tricycle ride to take me to Brgy Balian, Pangil Laguna which is the jump off point. It was nerve wracking, though I fancy myself a back packer, I don’t travel much by myself alone, my reliable travel buddy had always kept me company in my trips. Frankly, these are the times were I am thankful that we are in an age of mobile phones with Google maps and GPS. My moving dot in the map along the highways of Laguna kept me sane and a step away from panicking. So you can imagine the deep sigh of relief I had when I arrived in the jump off point, and to see the strange curios faces looking at me. The awkward feeling when you guess what some of them are thinking, who the hell is this guy? It’s there that I met for the first time, adventurous travel bloggers and more outdoor enthusiast. I’m in a spot where I feel like I’ve given a bad impression for being late, thankfully they are still in the middle of negotiating our would be guides, at least I can assure myself that I didn’t cause any delay because I dared to catch up. It was fun while it last, as I try to make up for it by befriending them all.

 The trails are mostly shaded and covered by thick vegetation.

A spider in a leaf, I only noticed this one when I was taking my 5 minutes rest. Surely, there would be a lot more to discover if only one would stop to observe the sorroundings.

 Our guide, walking ahead of us.

 Rocks were purposely strewn in the trail, to counter the slippery muds during rainy season.

This was decidedly a sunny day with a few drifting clouds, we trekked along the ridges of Sierra Madre Mountain Range as we find our way to the Hidden Falls, the trails laden with Horses Dung, we occasionally meet up locals riding horses, there are water springs along and we often walk into tree tunnels which for the most part was our shade to what would have been an unforgiving hot day. The trek took about 2 hours at most, and I choose to be at the tail end of the group taking pictures of the local flora, of farmers passing by, the trails shaded by trees, the single file formation of the hikers, and finally on our final approach, the thundering cascade of Buntot Palos Water Fall as it came to view on a final corner of the trail. A promise of relief, and already still far from the lower basin of the falls, the surrounding vegetation is thriving and wet, though it’s supposed to be a sunny day the mist that the water falls creates is amazing and that it spreads in the surrounding, you bet its cold as a Grand Water Fall should be.

 A moss covered rock, one of the signs that we are approaching the Water Falls.

 A first glance, as seen at eye level with almost the top most part.

As seen from the basin, its a thunderous cascade of water. Only have few photos with less water droplets blocking the camera lens.

Alas! The challenge is what keeps regular visitors away, but not the seasoned hikers. Perhaps so, as our guide would describe, it was only a couple decades back that the trail we are now using is impassable, bound by heavy thickets of forested areas, littered with Reticulated Python’s, Philippine Cobra’s and a number of poisonous snakes, shrouded in mysticism with vengeful spirits living in its shadows, the locals themselves use to fear venturing into the bushes afraid of not coming back. It seemed like local Myths and Legends make Buntot Palos mystical, just the legend of how this place got its name would have earned me a grade A in Literature, my college literary professor would have bulge his eyes in delight. But to remove all that cover and hearsay, after almost 2 hours of trekking I stood in a clearing and beheld the thundering waterfall, a grand falls indeed that it made all the sweat and effort to get here worth it.

Take 5 along the trail.

The crew, a bunch of Adventurous Travel Bloggers (hmmm! Including me?), some seasoned Mountaineers and newbie outdoorsmen (girls and boys).
Thanks to Mina of Adventures of Manong Unyol for the invitation
Rina of Simply Rins

At the end of the day, it didn't matter that we were mostly strangers gathered to fill a spot for a trip that requires a group. We were one in having the kindred spirit to explore our sorroundings and brimming with wanderlust to see beyond what is hidden, carving a path to what we call an adventure waiting to be experienced.

Suggested Itinerary

0330H Assembly at Chowking EDSA Central
0400H ETD Take jeep to Tanay, Rizal
0530H ETA Tanay / take jeep to Siniloan
0700H ETA Siniloan, Laguna, take tricycle to Brgy. Balian Pangil, Laguna
0730H ETA Brgy. Balian Pangil, Registration
0745H Final Preparation, Secure Guide, Breakfast
0830H Start Trek
1030H ETA Buntot Palos
1430H ETD Back to Jumpoff
1600H ETA Nissy's Resort, wash up
1700H ETD Back to Manila
2000H ETA EDSA / Shaw Crossing

On The Map

NOTE: The dotted trail starts in Brgy Balian, hiking up along the ridges of Sierra Madre, the trail crossing that of Pangil River is the site of the Buntot Palos Water Falls.

Francis Balgos is a Call Center Agent, Weekend Travel Warrior, Amateur Spelunker, Sometime Surfer, Newbie Mountain Climber, Photography Enthusiast, Certified Beach Bum, A first born son, Faithful lover, True Explorer...

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  1. Gusto ko yung quote mo sa start! I agree even more!!! Nice nice! Thanks for putting link to my site on this post. See you around buddy!

    1. Thanks Billy, its good to hear from you. :)

  2. Muntik na talaga ako hindi mkahabol.. Hihihi!

  3. hi ask q lang po.. madali po ba mkahanap ng guide papuntang falls pag andun na? salamat :)

    1. Hello Po!
      Yung guides, mga officials mismo ng Barangay, like Brgy Tanods.
      Hindi pwede walang guide, its for safety. :)
      Hindi mahirap mg hanap ng guide, this is the reason why sa Hall ng Brgy Balian ang jump off point. :)


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