Tudaya’s Allure

Gushes of spray bathed me, and even when I looked down, the water would sting my eyes. After a few minutes, the loud drum roll of the waterfalls faded into light pelting and my vision cleared. We were past the waterfalls and before us was the large green patch of vegetation I had long wanted to see.

By Angely Chi

TUDAYA, Davao del Sur — The height and power of Tudaya Falls can leave you awed and breathless. It has a way of making you forget the difficulties of going there, when you trudged the hills, crossed the rivers, slipped on the muddy road and sprained a hand and tortured your butt. Tudaya Falls makes you realize it was all worth the trouble.

Tudaya Falls is 150-foot tall, one of the tallest in the country. The 30-minute hike to it can be quite tiring. The narrow trail leading to the falls goes mostly downward so careful steps are a must, especially because it is slippery. But all that is pushed out of the picture as you marvel at the majesty of Tudaya Falls. The spray from its powerful waters can already envelope you even if you are meters way.

Around the cove of the waterfalls, green flora thrived abundantly. The greenest part was on the east side of the falls where a thick and solid growth of herbs and bushes grew. During my first visit to Tudaya Falls last summer, I had longed to get to the spot but found no way to do so. The river water from the Tudaya Falls was deep and strong and we had no rope strong enough to link to both sides and help us cross the river.

On this, my second visit, I would find out that one way to cross to the other side was by going behind the waterfalls.

Along with 27 other members of the Pundok Habagat, we passed two boulders, which acted as temporary shields from the strong, sweeping sprays of the waterfalls. We carefully climbed a pile of wet, loose rocks, which lead to walls of the cove. In seconds, we were soaking wet. Heavy water fell on the walls as we neared the falls’ rear. Through the heavy shower, I could see the wet backs of the lead pack but soon the water stung my eyes and I was forced to look down. Then, the sound of the water grew stronger and stronger until it became a loud drum roll in my ears. I slowed in my tracks; I was already behind the waterfalls.

Gushes of spray bathed me, and even when I looked down, the water would sting my eyes and I had to shield the right side of my head with my two hands. After a few minutes, the loud drum roll faded into light pelting and my vision cleared. We were past the waterfalls and before us was the large green patch of vegetation I had long wanted to closely see. There were crawling herbs and vines with their soft stems, mosses on the rocks and crevices. Farther up are short bushes, all wet from the falls’ boundless sprays.

It was a peaceful sight, until JM, one of my companions who had already gone up, called me and I had to walk through a portion of the vegetation, leaving a few plants broken. Down the elevation were huge rocks where the lead pack was waiting for the others. The Habagat staff — Francis “Payat” Cunanan, Kokie Aguio, and “Kambal” — were setting up a rope bridge for us on the river.

I climbed down and sat on a rock. I still could not believe that we managed to go behind the falls – twice. I looked back at the waterfalls and realized that the fall was stronger than the last time I visited.

With the rope bridge set up, we crossed the river one by one, holding tightly on to the rope until we were past the strong current. After reaching the rocky shore at the other end, we took a dip in the cold water, looked back at the other side, and silently went back to where we left our bags. There, we lingered for a while, taking more pictures, snacking, talking, and relaxing in the cold rush of the river water from the Tudaya Falls. After 30 minutes, we made our way back to camp.

The “Duaw sa Busay: Tudaya Falls Adventure” last October was organized by Pundok Habagat, an informal gathering of privileged cardholders of Habagat, the outdoor gear company, and other outdoor groups and nature-lovers. The event was on its third year.

The success of every “Duaw sa Busay” for the past years can be gauged through the number of participants. Since it began in 2003, the number of participants had never gone below 25.

Pundok Habagat was conceptualized by Habagat to provide a venue for their clients and other outdoor groups to participate in outdoor activities and extreme adventure sports like mountain climbing, trekking, scuba diving, kayaking, spelunking, rapeling, white-water rafting and tubing, and many others. Different activities are scheduled and organized for each month of the year. The activities also include clean-up drives of the areas visited.

Pundok Habagat activities are known for promoting not only camaraderie and sportsmanship among the many different groups and outdoor enthusiasts around the country but also tourism and ecological care.

By the end of this year’s “Duaw sa Busay,” our adventurer’s desires were satisfied. For three days, we climbed seven hills, crossed four rivers, scaled a cliff, and met a number of mishaps on the way. We went home tired but happy. (Bulatlat.com)

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