The Waterfalls of Southern Cebu – Part 2: Binalayan and Dao Falls


I had so much fun at Aguinid Falls I didn’t want to leave. But I didn’t want to keep my guides from earning more. It was around 11:40am when we got down from all levels of Aguinid.

I needed to eat because after all it was lunchtime, so my guides took me to the store a few meters from the entrance. While having lunch, my guide Siede engaged me in a deeper conversation about how they underwent training as guides and they can take any visitor to the other waterfalls in Samboan. I told him I would definitely recommend him to my friends. His number is 09298648699. I would have hired going to the other falls but I have already spoken to a habal-habal driver earlier. The guides, by the way, would not give me a quote. They only accept voluntary payments.

After lunch, I asked my habal-habal driver to take me to Binalayan Falls. It only took us about five minutes to reach it.

When I arrived, I paid the P10 entrance fee at a store, which I later found out was owned by their nice barangay captain who allowed me to charge my phone inside his house for free. I was then escorted by another guide. We took his motorcycle first, then we started walking.

My guide pointed to me a small waterfalls with many locals lounging around. He said it was being improved (or renovated) to become the Level Zero of Binalayan Falls. We then just continued our short hike.

We passed by another falls with some kids swimming. There were swings made of old tires hanging nearby and the water is pretty shallow so perfect for children and maybe for me. IMG_7711

 

Then we arrived at the main drop.

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As you can see in the picture, the waterfalls is lovely. But sadly, there are lots of vandalism on the natural walls, probably even made by the locals. I wish people should stop this. All I can hope for right now is that someday, many years from now, this nonsense graffiti would become part of the beauty, of the history of the place. I still can’t see it for now though.

When I got to the falls, it was only me and the guide so I felt I owned the place. After the pictures were taken, I hit the water. It was freezing cold, which probably contributed to my flu the next day. I only stayed on the shallow part because as usual, I didn’t want to showcase my lack of swimming skills.

My guide told me one could go up that cave behind the drop and jump from there. He tried but maybe it was too slippery for him so he decided to just jump from the small ledge on the left.

When another visitor arrived with his trio of guides, I decided to get out of the water. They also started jumping from the ledge before I left.

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We slowly made our way back to the barangay captain’s store. I stayed at the store for 30 more minutes to wait for my phone that was being charged.

Around 12:45pm, we drove to Dao (or Da-o or Dau – I saw different spellings but it is just pronounced one way, the Bisaya way. I’m Bisaya too, or at least I feel like one, so I’m not being offensive here). It took a longer drive going to Dao as what I was told.

I was led to a house of a nice lady where I registered and paid the P20 entrance fee. The nice lady asked me if I could swim. I told her no so she called a teenage boy to be my guide. She said I might get tempted to jump to the water when I see the S-shaped part (not this time). I think even if you know how to swim, they’ll still provide you with a guide. The guide’s friend also accompanied us and was even more helpful. I forgot their names so I’ll just call them Toto 1 and Toto 2.

Near the start of the hike was a hanging bridge. My guides asked me if I preferred crossing the bridge or crossing the river below it instead. I told I could do either way, whichever was better (or more adventurous), so we took the bridge. Toto 2 said the reason why they were asking was because there were a few people who got dizzy when crossing the bridge before.

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I received plenty of warnings about Dao Falls, from my friend Jao to my guides in Aguinid and Binalayan. I was warned about the narrow pathway that do not have any guardrails so falling off of it was a possibility. Siede, my guide in Aguinid, even suggested that I should stretch my arms and stick my back to the wall when crossing that pathway. With all these warnings in mind, I expected the worst. It was all I was thinking during the 20-minute hike going to the falls.

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I’m talking about that pathway without guardrails on the far center.

When we finally got to that pathway, I didn’t feel scared at all. It was wider than I expected. Maybe if I wasn’t warned, then I probably would have been really scared. People were talking about how there were multitude of people earlier that day but I never heard anyone mentioning somebody falling from that ledge, so I felt safe.

The nice lady at the “front office” told me later on that their barangay is working to add more bamboo rails to safeguard the pathway. But since funds are not readily available and they’re far from the city, work is slow.

You can see my friend Jao crossing that pathway at the last part of this video:

Dao Falls itself looked majestic to me. It was perfect to cap my day of falls hopping.

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Toto 2 asked me if what was more beautiful, Aguinid or Dao. Since this was his place, I told him it was Dao. But honestly, Dao Falls looks grander, although the trek going here may not have been as fun as the one I had in Aguinid. In addition, the dents on the wall made it look more dramatic.

My guides literally jumped to the water first to see which parts were deep and which were shallow.

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It was shallow enough in the middle of the pool all the way to the wall so I went ahead and did my own brand of swimming. Again, it was only me and my guides so I felt like I owned the world for 30 minutes. It was peaceful and all that.

We left when other visitors started arriving. The hike going back was more tiring since it was mostly uphill.

Since I was swimming in my own little way the whole day, I had to change to dry clothes before heading to Dumaguete where I was staying for the night. My guides pointed me to a bathroom used by visitors.

After making my payment, my habal-habal driver took me to a bus stop where I hopped on a bus going to Lilo-an Port in Santander around 3pm.

I crashed at my friend Maybelle’s house in Dumaguete for the night and made my way home the next day. I was planning to go to Casaroro Falls but that had to be canceled. My flu was starting and I was running out of dry clothes. So ’til next time, folks!

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Balay sa Agta Cave and Bugasok Falls, Argao, Cebu

A few weeks ago, Punky, who was one of my travel buddies in Cotabato, invited me and other friends to see Agta Cave and Bugasok Falls in Argao in Cebu. Since I didn’t have a major trip on April 26, I said yes with some reservations.  I was able to confirm I was joining a few days before the trip.

This, by the way, got me thinking that I haven’t been much around the Cebu province. Cebu is my second home next to Negros Occidental, but just like my actual home province, I haven’t put much focus in it. Maybe I should start #ProjectCebu too.

I arrived in Cebu City via my usual route on the afternoon of April 25. I wanted to see The Avengers but the theaters were packed and I didn’t want to wait for the next show, so I just went to the place where I was staying for the night.

I booked a bed at Balay Bakasyunan in Lahug through Agoda.  They have dorm-type rooms with air-conditioning for P550 per bed. There was only one other guest who was out most of the night so I pretty much had the place to myself.

We were meeting at the South Bus Terminal at 6am, so I left Balay Bakasyunan at 5:40am. Aside from Punky, we were joined by Rhoda, Rich and Liza. We took a bus bound for Bato/Oslob and fare going to Argao was P83. Travel time from Cebu City to Argao was 2 hours. When we arrived in Argao, we were also joined by my frequent travel buddy Jao, who spent the night in the nearby Osmeña Peak in Dalaguete.

Punky had contacted the Argao Tourism Office beforehand to arrange our trip to Agta Cave and Bugasok Falls. We were told that it was advisable to contact the tourism office first for our own safety. Because there were six of us, they had to provide two guides at P500 per guide. They also provided us three habal-habals, at P100 per person, that would take us to and from the jump-off point.

We had breakfast first at their public market then off we went. It took about 30 minutes for us to reach their office where we needed to register. Road was mostly paved so the ride went well. During the habal-habal ride, we saw a huge part of the mountainside completely damaged by the 2013 earthquake that devastated Bohol and Cebu.

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After signing our names at their office, we then took the habal-habal again for a few more minutes going to the jump-off point.

It only involved a short walk going to the cave. We were then made to wait while the guides checked the ropes.

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Then the women were assisted one by one. We men were left to cross the ropes on our own. The guides probably didn’t want to hold hands with us.

Photo courtesy of John Rey Cuyos
Photo courtesy of John Rey Cuyos

The entrance was probably the most difficult. The scariest part was the narrow path with a protruding wall. The ropes were a big help considering I almost fell from there on the way back.

The guides said the cave was dry because it was summer so there was no chance of us swimming inside.

After resting for a few minutes, we left our bags and started the hike into the cave. No one among us brought any flashlight but thankfully the guides had a few.

A few minutes from the cave’s mouth, we were greeted by this nice hole in the ceiling’s cave.

Photo courtesy of John Rey Cuyos.
Photo courtesy of John Rey Cuyos.

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After a few more pictures, we made our way deeper into the cave. There was a cool air inside the cave but I was still sweating like a pig.

Photo courtesy of Rhoda Dahoya
Photo courtesy of Rhoda Dahoya

According to the guide I spoke to, the cave is filled with flowing water during the rainy season. There was even sand inside as evidence of that. When we got to the end of the cave, there was a big cavity on the floor that the guides said becomes a pool when there’s rain.

Also, on the ceiling at the end of the cave, there was a rock formation that resembled like a sitting giant. It’s where the name of the cave was derived with Agta meaning giant in Cebuano (Agta in my native language though is a slur for darker skinned people).

I believe the guide was trying to capture the silhouette of the giant above us but it was just too dark. Photo courtesy of Rhoda Dahoya.
I believe the guide was trying to capture the silhouette of the giant above us but it was just too dark. Photo courtesy of Rhoda Dahoya.

When we made our way back, we heard something (it couldn’t be someone, geez I don’t believe in that) doing a sitsit (best translation I can think of is hissing). The guide said, probably jokingly, it was the Agta. It might have just been some bat though. Yeah, tell yourself whatever you want to believe.

I think it didn’t take us an hour to explore the entire cave so we were back at the mouth of the cave way before noon. The first group waited for us and we would in turn wait for the next group at the hut where we had our lunch so we could all hike together going to Bugasok Falls. Lunch for us was just coconuts.

After an hour or so, we slowly made our way to the falls. The hike involved crossing a shallow river and some narrow paths. Nothing scary, just hot.

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And while the rest of the guys were carrying their own bags, one of our guides (I had a feeling he wasn’t even the guide assigned to our group) volunteered to bring my backpack. :-p

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When we got to the falls, the guides started setting up the rope so we could rappel down the water.

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They said the landscape of the falls was changed when a typhoon affected this area or something like that. They said it used to be very deep but it might just be because it was summer. It wasn’t really clear to me. I should probably pay more attention next time. Now you know why I didn’t get to finish college.

While the guides were busy with the ropes, we were busy with the pictures.

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Photo courtesy of John Rey Cuyos
Photo courtesy of John Rey Cuyos

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Then it was time to go down the water. I’ve always wanted to rappel and this was the best I could have for the time being.

It was freaking hot so I immediately hit the water. It was shallow enough so there was plenty of space to just dip. I had fun on my own though at the drop. When you get close enough to the drop, you’d get sucked into it where the water was at its deepest and then continue to get sucked to the shallow part. I was scared at first then I started enjoying it probably because of the rush and the feeling of the falls on my head.

Photo courtesy of John Rey Cuyos.
Photo courtesy of John Rey Cuyos.

Around 2:30pm, we made our way back. This adventure should have involved an hour or so long river trek but our group was not up for it. We decided to just take the habal-habals to go to the end of the trek at P50 per head. Then from there, we transferred to our original habal-habals back to the Argao Tourism Office.

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Photo courtesy of Rhoda Dahoya.

We then took a bus going to Carcar where we would have dinner. Yes, we had their famous Carcar lechon for dinner!

After that, I separated from the group to make my way to Barili which was going to be my starting point for my falls hopping the next day.

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Domestic Traveler. Wannabe Photographer. Runner. Wallflower.