Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Osmeña Peak Traverse to Kawasan Falls

Having to work for a BPO industry right after College stripped me of the privileges of enjoying Holidays.  When some of my friends are out on a vacation because of a long weekend, I found myself in the office driving productive results so as to meet the management needs. My friends are getting the highs of their lives while I am stuck with a lot of sighs.  Fast forward to my life this year, I was given the opportunity to work for a company who is an advocate of work-life balance which I am grateful for.  We still work during Philippine Holidays but we are off from work during US Holidays.  As an outdoor person, this is one great news. More chances to seek adventure. 

I had my taste of such privilege last weekend. I had three day off since Monday( May 27) is a Memorial Day. I was considering of going back to Bukidnon as I am fascinated with the altitude of their mountains but at the last minute I decided to go to the Queen City of the South. I did a lot of climbs in Luzon and Mindanao since I started mountaineering but I was only able to climb one mountain in the Visayas Region. The holiday was a perfect privilege for me to  seek adventure in Cebu and I have decided to climb its highest peak which is the Osmeña Peak and traversing it to Kawasan Falls. 

I took the first flight out going to Cebu last Sunday.  The plane ride was so smooth that I arrived in Cebu earlier than scheduled.  I met Jonathan, a former colleague of mine from PeopleSupport who is now based on Cebu and his friend Macky in IT Park before proceeding to the South Terminal.   We boarded the Ceres bus bound for Oslob.  Instead of catching some sleep, we managed the 2 hour bus ride by exchanging conversations about the mountains, outdoors, runs and adventure.  We alighted at municipality of  Dalaguete and hopped on a habal habal immediately to take us to the foot of the mountain. It was not my first habal habal ride experience but I was loving it for varied reasons – It was my first habal habal ride in Cebu. Second, I enjoyed the views along the way and I never thought that Cebu has something like these to offer.  Further, as we move  up with our ride, I felt the cold breeze embracing me and it is just what I need amidst this humid summer weather. Lastly, this ride is taking me all the way up to the jump off point which would just be 20-30 minutes away from the summit.  Now, who wouldn’t be thankful and loving the ride. Some adventure enthusiasts would start from Mantalongon Market which is still some distance away from the mountain. They would buy provisions first before heading to the summit. Since we are doing a dayhike traverse to Kawasan Waterfalls, Macky suggested that we start the hike from the jump off itself so we can manager our time better.  If I have to go back here and spend an overnight in the mountain, I would start from Mantalongon Market but if If I have to go back here and train for a trail run, I would start from the highway where we alighted from the bus. 

It was a Sunday so when we arrived at the jumpoff point, there were a number of visitors to the mountain.  Getting off from the habal habal, we started the hike immediately.  I didn’t have much sleep prior to the climb but we were able to ascend to the summit from the jumpoff point in 14 minutes. I would attribute this to the adrenaline rush triggered by my excitement. Upon arriving at the summit, I was stunned to see the magnificent views that caught my eyes.  The hills surrounding the area resembles that of the Chocolate Hills of Bohol.  Fog enveloped some of those hills but you can still see through it the obscured views of Negros and Bohol Islands.   Macky pointed out where we started and where  we were headed and my response was just “Amazing.”   The summit is similar to that of Mt. Batulao in Batangas as It serves as a perfect viewing deck for its guests. We spent an ample time at the summit enjoying the moment and for some photo opportunities.  I had fun doing some “rock climbing” near the summit which was a little risky but was rewarded with closer views of the surrounding hills.  I was  simply having the time of my life when I stood at the highest point in  Cebu.  When other guests started to flock the summit and when we realized that it was still a long way to go to Kawasan Falls, we decided to go down.

The expectation set by Macky  for us to traverse to Kawasan Falls was around
3 hours.  The journey would seem so long but you would not feel it that way when you are in a blissful mode.  Along the way, you will see houses of the locals and to my amazement they have electricity. I figured that out when we bought some drinks and they served it iced cold.  We also saw vegetable plots along the way . I am not good with vegetable identification so I cant name them here.  I was surprised that I saw pine trees there.  The vegetable plots and pine trees reminded me of the trails leading to Benguet’s peaks. The path leading to Kawasan Falls was an alternate of rough road trail and forest trail.  This is why I was able to build on the idea that this is a perfect place for a training run.  We passed by their water source and I did not pass up on the chance to taste the natural water of Cebu.  As we are nearing the waterfalls,  there is a vantage point where you can see the Tañon Strait and the Negros Island before we entered the forest area again leading to the falls.  When  I was able to hear the sound of the gushing water and before I could say anything,  right in front of me was the Kawasan Waterfalls. I didn’t have second thoughts  on jumping into its cold and clear water as it was a perfect reward after long hours of walking.  

We arrived on what they call the “source” of the waterfalls. Jonathan said that not everyone who are visiting Kawasan have the chance to get to the “source” of Kawasan Falls.  For those doing the Osmeña Peak Traverse, they would pass by the source and 2 other waterfalls below it before they head out to the main road. I learned that for those who would want to visit the Kawasan Falls the easier way, they just have take a bus ride from the South Terminal and alight at the Matutinao Church and there is a road right beside it that is leading to the waterfalls. From this trail, only some go to the extent of going up to the second waterfalls and eventually to the “source” as there are portions that require a steep ascend and those who are not physically active would not appreciate it.  Thus, they settle for the first waterfalls where they can unwind, swim and relax. These chain of waterfalls reminded me of the Mambucal Waterfalls in Murcia which is also a perfect sidetrip if you are dong the Kanlaon Traverse from Guintubdan – Wasay Traverse.  Kawasan has three waterfalls while Mambucal has seven.  When we descended to the next waterfalls, you will notice that there are a lot of people as opposed to the ones in source.
When we arrived at the second waterfalls, there were several cottages where you could rent  and they were all occupied. I had the chance to stand on a bamboo raft for some picture taking although I didn’t take a dip. Should I be back here, it will be in my bucket list to ride the raft going to the waterfalls and jump into the water but with a lifejacket on as I don’t know how to swim.  When I arrived at the  first waterfalls,  I heard people shouting, laughing their hearts out and all eyes on the waterfalls.  I looked at the direction where their visions are and found out that one of the bamboo raft where it carried a number of people is losing its balance so it ended up throwing people into the water. Several attempts were made to balance the raft but were unsuccessful so  it seemed like it was a somehow a show for the spectators.  After the first waterfalls, we head out to the main road where we would ride the bus to the city.

On our way out, you would see the water reservoir and the water on the sides

are still clear.  We passed by a store that sells “ice tubig”.  I was amazed how it was set up. I thought that when you buy one, one would just hand out a water from the refrigerator, cut open the plastic by your teeth and drink it. But it does not work that way. There is a water dispenser and on the side hangs the plastics where you would fill it with water. Before inserting a coin to the dispenser, your other hand should already be positioned on the where the water flows so that when the coin drops, water would flow down to the plastic.  I was amazed because I’ve never seen one in Manila.  I thought that the way out was long but after some minutes  I was already able to see the main road which  marked the end of our adventure. We treated ourselves to a lunch a nearby carinderia and ice candy from a vendor.

From the GPS of Jonathan, it recorded a total of 15.7 KMS from the jump off

point of Osmeña Peak to the main road after the Kawasan Waterfalls.  On a long weekends and holidays, I prefer to have motion rather being stationary at the comfort of my home.  For every kilometer I logged, I am a step closer to adventure and an opportunity to visit the wonderful places we have in our country. This weekend I am glad I did the Osmeña Peak Traverse to Kawasan  Waterfalls. Was it worth it? INDEED.