While Social Media use is widespread today, only very few people know how it truly works.
Zach, when you read this, know that not everything posted on social media is everything the person who posted them is. These are snippets of his break time amid the horrifying realities he faces daily – especially on Instagram where people are forced to curate for life.
If users are not into it, then they shouldn’t be on it. Uncomplicate things. Acknowledge that people go to the beach on weekends after they’ve worked their asses off all week.
There’s a time for everything.
Read between the lines. Social media savvy people know when and what to post, and you should be wary of that. Know the person for who he/she is before any virtual judgments, my love.
Amazing how we can be at one point one minute and miles away the next, just like that. I say this because my recent trip all the way South of the Philippines in Surigao del Sur, Mindanao sent me hopping on a 2-hour plane ride to Davao and enduring an additional 8-hour bus ride down military-trodden roads. It took my mom and I a total of 10 hours just to get to Bislig, which was 731 km from Metro Manila.
Yet, this trip is proof that no amount of time and numbers ever become a hindrance for doing something you want so bad. And for me, that is to visit these top two tourist gems of Surigao del Sur – Hinatuan Enchanted River and Tinuy-an Falls.
A few months back, the Department of Tourism shared an advertisement video featuring Enchanted River, which immediately became viral due to its cheesy (but I dig it) story with the tagline “When you’re with Filipinos, you’re with family“.
But more importantly, it was able to showcase the mesmerizing gatorade-blue waters of Enchanted River. Then I knew, I wanted to be there.
But what the video didn’t reveal is that getting to Hinatuan town where this river is located took another 2-hour tricycle ride from Bislig, Surigao del Sur!
When we arrived, we paid the necessary fees and walked for about 5 mins. down the ecotrail that led to the river. As we approached yet another entrance gate, we started hearing chants. “Simbahan ba yun?” mom asked.
Only to find out that we just made it to the historical storytelling and fish feeding where the “Hinatuan Hymn” is being played, detailing the history of Enchanted River.
The river was obstructed from view by the fish-feeding spectators when we first arrived. I was like “ang daming tao!” I managed to still snap pics though.
When finally, the crowd subsided, I was left alone to appreciate the natural beauty and color of the lake. And it was then that I realized that everything that has been said and shown about Enchanted River is true.
It’s jaw-droppingly gorgeous! The water really is gatorade-blue. And when the sun reflects on the surface, it creates a glistening effect that makes the water look even more crystal-clear and inviting.
Its deep blue and aquamarine shade combination is a popular feature that displays a level of mystery as well. And, at exactly 12 noon, there suddenly appears a school of fish to feed on the scraps being thrown by the caretakers.
They say the river’s enchanted because they don’t know where the fish comes from. The origin of its waters isn’t exactly clear as some speculate they’re from springs, others the ocean.
Unfortunately for us, we can no longer dive or swim on this part of the river – as to preserve its beauty. However, the other side of the river towards its tail has been designated as a swimming area for those who wish to feel the waters.
This could be good – as it means we can take unlimited photos of the river without people in the background.
Which was exactly what I dd.
Tinuy-an Falls is just a 30-min. tricycle ride from Bislig. Upon arrival, it is obvious that such improvements to the place have transformed it into a park – with restaurants around the area, paved walkways and cottages available for the guests.
But the star of the destination is this 4-tiered waterfalls that cascade a glorious white curtain of water through its 95-m wide first layer, which is the tallest of them all!
Here, we had the option to ride the raft so we can come closer to the waterfalls. It would have resulted to having more majestic photos but I was fine with just appreciating it from the side. It’s already beautiful from a distance.
And I just recently found out that a rainbow appears from a certain time in the morning only — that is, from 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM. We were lucky to be in the place that early so we were able to catch its appearance! I love rainbows! 🙂
Getting to the second layer is a little tough as it requires guests to climb 93 steps and a 20m bridge.
Climbing up 93 steps and traversing a 20m bridge to the second layer. Hi mommehh!!!! Pagod na? 😀
Here, the flow of the water seemingly is much stronger than the first one.
Because of its beautiful ladder of waterfalls, Tinuy-an Falls has been dubbed as “The Niagara Falls of the Philippines”
One can actually visit Enchanted River and Tinuy-an Falls in just one day. My mom and I were able to finish our trip in just half a day – roughly about 6-7 hours in total.
But should you wish to visit even more sites – such as the Sibadan Fish Cage (which I heard is also as mesmerizing!) where you can swim with tamed water animals; white sand beaches and caves – a whole day is enough.
Surigao so far, is the farthest place I’ve been to in the Philippines. Yet, as previously learned and experienced, the best things in life are not just free but far! It would really just depend on how much you truly want to go there.
I hope you too hear the call of Surigao – and take time to visit the place. I promise it’s worth the time and numbers.
The fam and I try to avoid road trips and beach outings during long holidays as much as possible; lest all tourist spots will be jam-packed and we won’t be able to enjoy ourselves. Hub and I even opted for Mt. Pulag over Boracay during one Labor Day weekend, thinking that no one would choose to hike at a time when the ocean’s call is the loudest (summer).
However, this year had us driving seven hours straight from Quezon City to the birthplace of surfing in the north, Baler. It was a quick decision to join my husband and his friends who planned to chill by the beach and enjoy the music at the Nalu Music Fest that hosted some of the country’s coolest bands and artists.
This experience was another first for our toddler and me, making it more raw and enjoyable.
Zach was the youngest partygoer back then who, according to my husband, was a real “girl magnet.” <insert angry face for me, and proud face for hubby>.
We only got to experience the beach the next day. And because of an accommodation located right on the stretch of Sabang beach, we were able to witness both the angry waves in the morning and the calm seabed during low tide in the afternoon.
Then suddenly, everything was peaceful. There was no crowd. And we enjoyed the beautiful serenity of Baler for the first time.
I, therefore, conclude that to find space (literally) in Baler; you’d have to wade into the shallow waters of the low tide. Haha.
Kidding aside, it’s one of the most memorable views I’ve had on a beach.
Because of the soft sand, we stayed there discounting the fact that the sun was high in the sky. Thus, we all endured sunburn that we continue to nurse until today. But it was worth it.
Though we stayed for three days, time was too short to explore all the great places and eat all the delicious food. So we only chose a few of them before we headed off to another long drive back home.
Will come back, definitely, and maybe try to surf the next time.
Because it’s a long weekend, the better (but pricey) hotels were already fully booked. Good thing there are lots of less expensive ones now.
The Balerina: A baler surf resort
– Ideal for beach bums who want to have access to the beach 24 hours of the day. Because of its unbeatable beachfront location, it’s easier to get wet and get dry anytime.
Pros: Quick beach access. Can cook by the beach. Has hammocks below the kubo.
Cons: shared bathroom, no aircon room, may not be ideal for rainy days? No Wi-Fi.
Just a few meters from the shoreline (cut by T. Molina Street.)
This is NOT beachfront, but they offer beautiful rooms with beds, private CR, air conditioning, and a cottage-like porch.
Cons: Ants in your room. No fast access to the beach. Some parts are still under construction. No Wi-Fi.
Pros: The buildings are new. Quieter (if you prefer not to hear the waves at night. Ideal for rainy nights, has one parking space allotment per kubo, the owners are kind, Has tables and chairs set up for guests’ use, FREE Silog breakfast at The Shack.
The Shack: MUST TRY! Calamansi juice is fresh. Silogs are normal but the Indian cuisine are def. delish.
The attendant that time was kind and still all-smiles despite the full restaurant. Food is delicious but the presentation of the Ebi Tempura was unspeakably horrifying. LOL! It didn’t look like the Ebi Tempura in Jap restos, it was more of small sized skinny shrimps without the breading. It tasted great though but the small size is not filling. Not even for one person. The pinakbet is delish!
Pros: Has a hotel. Beside Nalu surf camp. Delicious food. Kind attendant.
Con: Ebi Tempura presentation 😦
Picnic Bay Buffet Fiesta
MUST TRY! For only 200 pesos you get to eat A LOT of available viands. I think they have about 20 trays of different cuisines out on the table!
Pro: Yummy food with a wide selection of cuisines. Affordable buffet, “all you can eat” type.
Cons: Umm, no aircon and no wi-fi? 😀
Must Try! Popular resto in Baler thus, the 1 hour waiting time. Pinoy comfort food goodness. Their rice is the steamy, soft, yummy kind 🙂 Pako salad is a must!! Lechon kawali specialty. 🙂
Cons: Guests have to take off shoes (inconvenient for me, who was with a toddler), long waiting time (because it’s that popular)