“You belong among the wildflowers, you belong in a boat out at sea…You belong with your love on your arm, you belong somewhere you feel free.” ~ Tom Petty
I grew up in a small village far from the city. I only moved to the city when I had to go to college. I think I’m lucky that I was raised both near the mountain and the sea. Whenever I am near the sea even if I don’t see the shore or hear the waves in a certain place yet, just the smell of the air, its saltiness mixed in the air, I almost can tell that the sea isn’t so far away. Or the smell of the trees, grass, streams, something tells my body I’m close to them. I remember when me and my niece was wandering in Japan, I decided to go outside the city (Osaka), looking for a place somewhere closer to nature and we went to Kyoto. Although while on the train, I could already see the beauty of the countryside and when the train finally reached its destination, my niece told me that the air smelled something weird, I told her that it smelled like hometown. When we finally reached the top of the stairs leading to the road, there were indeed lots of trees and rice farms on the other side of the street.
When I was back in my home province in Camarines Sur for a vacation this August 2016, I was mostly home during my stay there. I love being there, but not going somewhere or doing something, really makes me feel restless. I would sometimes have a tour/stroll around the city but walk at the malls isn’t as fun as walking in the woods or on the mountains. Then one day, because of unbearable boredom, I decided to go for a trek. I tried to invite my friends there but they couldn’t come with me and just because no one was available to go with me, that didn’t mean that I would cancel my plan.
Mount Isarog is not so far from the city. Actually it would only take around 30 minutes to be at the foot of the mountain. After searching a few minutes on the internet on how to get there, I finally had my backpack ready for a solo adventure. My mother asked me where I would be going, I told her I would just wander in the mountain a bit and will be back in the afternoon.
The instructions on the internet was to take jeepney bound for Panicuason and get off at the Philippine Girl Scout campsite and from there, it would only be a few minutes’ walk going to Malabsay Falls. The jeepney terminal is Located at Padian St., Naga City. The landmark is Metrobank Naga Main Branch which is located just on the entrance/corner of the street. There are several jeepneys there going to nearby barangays in Panicuason. I finally saw the jeepney with the right signboard and there were already passengers there. When it was the time to pay the fare, I told the man collecting it where I would be alighting, then for some reason they told me, the jeepney was only bound for Baranggay Carolina, which is still a few kilometres away to my destination. The old lady sitting next to me told me that I could go to Malabsay Falls from there and that I just had to rent “habal-habal” (motorcycle-taxi/back-ride motorcycle).
Arriving in the jeepney stop in Carolina, there were several habal-habal parked nearby. Rented one of them and the ride took 10-15 minutes. The road was paved at first, but after the Girls Scout of the Philippines Campsite, we were already in the dirt road. When I went there the road construction was already ongoing.
I reached the entrance of the Mt. Isarog National Park and paid P10.00 for registration/entrance. The guides there asked me if I would also be going to Nabuntulan Falls which is around 30 minutes trek from the entrance. The guide fee going there is P100.00, I told them I wasn’t sure yet. Going to Malabsay falls doesn’t need a guide since there are already trails going to the waterfalls and most of it are already paved. It made the trail not so dangerous especially for kids and beginners, however, it became a little bit less exciting to trek and I just had to be a bit careful on my steps since the concrete trail was already covered with moss.
When I arrived at the waterfalls, I was just in awe when I saw the rainbow created by the falling water and the sun right below the edge of the “mini-cliff” near the waterfalls. There were not many people in there. There were only couple of students/teens having fun, soaking on the icy water of Malabsay Falls. There are toilets in the area and a cottage where you can leave you things. I decided to put mine on a big boulder instead since the group already occupied the cottage. I was shivering and my teeth were chattering when I first dip myself in the water, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the beautiful creation of God. It was just refreshing and relaxing being there.
Jeepney to Carolina: P25.00
Habal-habal to Malabsay: P80.00
Habal-habal to Carolina: P70.00(the owner/driver gave me discount J )
Food: (only brought bread and water)- P50.00
How to get to Mt Isarog National Park/Malabsay Falls from Manila
If you are coming from Manila, take a bus going to Naga in bus terminal in Cubao or Pasay. Fare is around 650-800 depending on the Bus. Bus ride is 8-10 hours to Naga City. From Naga City Central Bus Terminal, take a tricycle going to Padian St., or tell the driver to take you to Centro, specifically in Panicuason/Carolina Jeepney Terminal. Panicuason bound jeepneys has long trip schedule intervals, so if you don’t want to wait that long, just take Carolina bound jeepney then take habal-habal to Malabsay Falls. There are also standby habal-habal at the entrance of the falls, or if there’s none, you can just get the number of the habal-habal from Carolina to pick you up just in case.
“Yours, O LORD, are the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heavens and on the earth is yours; yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all.- 1 Chronicles 29:11”