Canlaob Falls: A Beautiful Rediscovery

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It was just an hour past noon. It was muggy and uncomfortable and the mid-day sun was blazing. But the trail was slowly growing darker. My shoulders felt heavier and the bag on my back seemed like a gigantic boulder. I stopped under a small tree and sat down, hoping that the dizziness would go away. I looked up slowly and saw Randy disappearing from view. Randy was the slowest walker in the group. And here I was, hundreds of meters from him, about to collapse. So, no, make him the second slowest walker.

Randy turned around and shouted at me, “Are you all right?” I faked a smile and gave him a thumb’s up. “I just need a quick rest!” I shouted back. I observed as he continued walking away. A few moments later, he was gone.

I dropped my heavy backpack and sat flat on the ground. I was certain I was going to pass out anytime soon. I took quick heavy breaths in the hopes that they’d revive me.





It was quiet and still. The only sound I could hear were my heavy breathing and the soft hush of the leaves. Suddenly, I began to hear some frantic rustling in the bushes. My heart raced. I was hundreds of meters from the last trekker in this strange, unfamiliar territory. I labored to stand up and hurriedly put on my back pack. At the same time the rustling grew louder. Whatever was doing it was obviously moving closer.

Despite the weakness in my knees, I managed to climb up the steep trail towards my friends’ direction. Panic was slowly building inside me. But one unfortunate misstep and I slipped down back to where I started. I scraped my knees and the base of my right palm was sore. I struggled to stand up but my strength betrayed me.

I could hear the rustling again. This time, I knew that it was very close. I sat there, my eyes fixed on the bushes, ready for whatever it was I had to deal with.

And then, out of the bushes popped out a young boy, about 10 or 11. A huge bundle of wood balanced on his head. He wasn’t wearing a shirt. And a shoelace, which served as his belt, kept his shorts in place. He looked surprised to see me. But he smiled readily and moved closer to me.

“Ok ra kuya?” he asked. I nodded and gave him a warm, genuine smile. “Ok ra,” I said. He waved at me as he walked away.

Name: Canlaob Falls
Type: Waterfall
Municipality: Alegria
Barangay: Sangi
Features: Natural Pool, Drops, River
Distance from City: 3-4 Hours by Land
Distance from Town Proper: 15 minutes
Access: Bus / Van / Private
Nearest Tourist Spot: Kawasan Falls
Trekking Time: 5 minutes
Standard Rate/Fee: PhP 50
Additional Expenses: Guide: 20 ++
Hours:
Restrictions: Lifevest encouraged
Guide/Tour Operator: Yes
Tours Offered: Yes (Canyoneering)
Accommodations: No
Restroom/Changing Room: Yes
Restaurant/Food: No
Picnic: No
Camping: No
Adventure Level: Beginner to Mid
Rating – Hospitality: ★★★★★★★★★☆
Rating – Safety: ★★★★★★★★☆☆
Rating – Guide: ★★★★★★★★☆☆
Rating – Adventure: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆
Rating – Overall: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

I still smile every time I remember this little incident. A bunch of inexperienced guys trying to reach Badian from Alegria. And here I was again. Standing at the very spot which basically welcomed me to the world of trekking, waterfall-chasing, adventures, and memorable encounters with good-hearted strangers. Yes, I was back. After 6 long years, I was back.

I parked my bike under a small tree. I could see a few locals huddled around a small sari-sari store nearby. Several feet away was a small table with a sign “Visitor Registration.” I approached the table and asked about Canlaob. I was indeed at the right place. And all I had to do was pay PhP 50 to get to enjoy it. I walked towards the sound of the water. The excitement of rediscovering this place again after six long years was electrifying.

Two young boys approached me. They said that they were reliable tour guides. They offered to take me to the falls fast and easy. They were excellent at sales pitches. I said that I knew how to get to the place (although I honestly didn’t because I couldn’t remember seeing a waterfall six years ago.) Immediately, they reduced their price. The two of them for PhP 50, I suggested. They agreed. Deal!

Along the way, we saw this: a man-made fish pond with hundreds of freshwater fish.

My two guides proudly and confidently leading the way.

I remember this spot. We were in awe the very first time we crossed it.

View of the river below. The river is about thirty to fifty feet from the bridge.

And it dawned upon me that this is the exact kick-off spot of the famous Badian Canyoneering. Here, a group slowly makes its way towards Badian.

Amazing-looking drop. This drop is where those who decide to join the canyoneering trip leap for the very first time. Quite exciting, right?

And check out those rock formations!

Are you brave enough? I don’t think I’ll ever be brave enough to do it, though. Haha.

Instead of walking straight, however, my guides made a U-turn. They told me that the waterfall was on the other side. Hahaha. No wonder we didn’t see it the first time we were here.

A few minutes later, we finally saw it. And she looks really lovely.

Ladies and gentlemen, Canlaob Falls of Alegria, Cebu.

View of the waterfall from the top. Amazing.

Due to its unique topography, a huge natural basin at the bottom allows visitors to do extreme jumps and dives.

Local kids enjoying an afternoon swim.

My guides posing for the camera. The smaller one couldn’t help but show me his diving skills.

The basin and the river which flows straight to Badian.

A natural beauty. Can’t get any better than that!

Even the smaller forks in the river are as gorgeous as the main drop.

The urge to dive was too strong. But you guys all know I couldn’t do it. Haha.

After taking a gazillion photos, we continued walking further up the stream.

And we saw this very cute waterfall. Looks pretty serene and peaceful.

And, of course, it was time for a quick swim in the shallower parts of the river. Haha!

It was great to rediscover Alegria. Although the place looked so different six years ago, a lot of things have remained the same. The foot paths, the trees, bridge – they never changed.

After the swim, I paid the two boys sixty pesos so that they didn’t have to look for change afterwards.

“Ok ra, sir?” the older of the two asked.

“I really love it here,” I said.

“That’s what first-timers always say,” the second kid proudly said.

“Well, this isn’t my first time,” I answered.

They both looked at me. Not saying a single word.

I pulled out my camera and asked if I could take a photo with them. They said yes.

After posing for a photo, it was time to leave. Alegria is a good 4 hours from the city. And I still had other plans in mind.

“I’ll come back, though!” I told them.

They both smiled.

“And I’ll definitely look for you two. Because you two were great!” I added.

They both giggled.

As I sped away, I saw them waving at me. I waved back and I smiled.

I really smiled.

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