Kawasan Falls: Longest Five Minutes of my Life

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Travel Guide: Kawasan Falls in Badian Cebu

HELLO STRANGERS!

From the chapel entrance by the highway in Badian, you need to walk a kilometer to reach the third level of Kawasan falls. Though quite the stretch, you’ll enjoy the picturesque view along the way. This part of the falls is usually the one always featured online. It is also the most crowded.

Bamboo rafts on Kawasan Falls Level 2
Bamboo rafts on Kawasan Falls Level 2

I decided to climb up a little more to reach level 2. Arriving at 3PM, the ‘commissioners’ (people who earn a living through commissions), welcomed me in the English lingo. Apparently, they thought I was Korean, SO I PLAYED ALONG! I used Korean-English and asked them that I wanted to camp overnight in my tent. The one in-charge of the rentals told me that camping was forbidden and that I can only rent rooms for 1,500 pesos a night! I quit the act and conversed with them in plain Bisaya! They were so dumbstruck that they all broke out in laughter. This time, I got a price of 300 pesos a night for the tent. I was not yet satisfied with this deal. Using my diskarte, I got it for a hundred pesos. Oh yeah!

Bamboo trees symbolizing Filipino versatility
Bamboo trees symbolizing Filipino versatility

As everything was already settled, I looked for a quiet spot to record a song on video and afterwards went for a swim in the ice-cold waters. Fun fact: Cool your canned beverages by submerging them underwater for a couple of minutes!

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Kawasan Dam for electricity supply in CEBECO
Kawasan Dam for electricity supply in CEBECO

As I was drying up, the president of the cooperative invited me to their table for a quick background check and handed me a bottle of San Miguel Beer. Unknowingly, I was drinking with the hacienderos of Level 2! Tatay borrowed my ukulele, sang some old Cebuano songs and shared a bit of his childhood. I also found out that my drinking buddies were friends of my friends:

  • Seminarians who knew Chris who were there for a religious immersion in the mountain barangays as a last mission for priesthood.
  • Meter-readers of CEBECO-1. Who would have thought that my college thesis about an electric cooperative down south would come in handy? Technically, I knew their boss since we were gathering data at their main office for a month. So much for building rapport, it was as if we were long time buddies.

Man-made bridge en route to Level 3
Man-made bridge en route to Level 3

Night was fast approaching. One by one, my drinking buddies slowly retreated to their homes. The falls was getting very silent and a little bit spooky. Looks like I will be camping alone with one unknown caretaker in a jungle with no cellphone satellite signal at all when Tikdong, a guy in his 50s, who I was not so very familiar with yet, insisted on having dinner back at his home. I was a bit hesitant at first. He assured me that his house was only five minutes away. What’s the worst thing that can happen, right?

Leaving the Kawasan dam following Tikdong
Leaving the Kawasan dam following Tikdong

BOOM! LONGEST. FIVE. MINUTES. OF. MY. LIFE! With no flashlights and trekking gear, we climbed a muddy 60-degree angle path in the dark holding onto roots and sunk boulders. One careless mistake and I’m surely done for! I was panting and gasping heavily for breath while Tikdong, with a smirk on his face, looked as if he was just strolling at the park.

Nipa cottage stopover along the river
Nipa cottage stopover along the river

At last, we have arrived at his humble home, our stomachs growling. It was all worth it when he introduced me to his daughter, Jennifer, who definitely was a jewel in the jungle. I was intimidated and quite awe-struck by her Christine Hermosa beauty that everything suddenly moved in slow motion. It’s one of those rare moments when you feel that instant attraction for someone you just met.

Old concrete bridge used a few years back
Old concrete bridge used a few years back

After dinner, we went to the house of one of our drinking buddies, had a few beers and continued getting to know each other. I found out that Tikdong was ex-CAFGU and a rescue and recovery swimmer. He knew the depths of the Matutinao River like the back of his hand. He once saved the daughter of a military general from drowning and that throughout his career of saving lives, he had a perfect record.

Soothing zen-like view along the way
Soothing zen-like view along the way

The iconic Kawasan Falls Level 3 zoomed in
The iconic Kawasan Falls Level 3 zoomed in

The night was getting pitch black and we were a getting a little bit tipsy. Tikdong insisted that it was safer for me to spend the night at his place rather than risk both our lives going down the slippery path. I was left with no other option.

Recording a song when nobody was around
Recording a song when nobody was around

I had trouble sleeping for three valid reasons. First, I was at a stranger’s house in an unknown mountain barangay with no phone signal and zero backup plan for emergencies. Second, I was not used to sleeping on a kawayan lantay, under a very thin sheet of blanket, with an ambient room temperature of 16 degrees Celsius. Lastly, I just can’t stop thinking about Jennifer who I never really had a chance to get to know a little bit more. The dawn was breaking and the sun’s rays were shining through. Thank God I have lived to die another day.

The man in the orange shirt is Tikdong while the guy on my right is the president of the cooperative handling the overall operations
The man in the orange shirt is Tikdong while the guy on my right is the president of the cooperative handling the overall operations

With the CEBECO Meter Readers, Hacienderos and Seminarians in Kawasan Level 2
With the CEBECO Meter Readers, Hacienderos and Seminarians in Kawasan Level 2

After eating breakfast and bidding farewell to Jennifer, Tikdong and I had a quick tour of Kawasan Dam. He was the one tasked by CEBECO for its maintenance. Everyday at 6AM, he dives into the freezing water and sees to it that the water system is clean and functional. He does this for a small stipend every month. After the routine check-up, we then reunited with our drinking buddies back at level 2. We then had the obligatory group photo and I bid farewell to all of them. Spending not a single peso in Kawasan, I was on my way to my next adventure.

Kawasan Falls Level 1
Kawasan Falls Level 1

Follow my other adventures at kingofsinulog.wordpress.com. Cheers!

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