Waterfalls reminds me so much about how life is on constant movement. And that, my friend, is only one of the many reasons why I love it so much.
I remember when I was little, the only waterfalls that I know is Maria Cristina Falls in Mindanao. Just because I’d always believed that my name was derived from it (Alyssa Cristina). But as I grow older, I found out that Cristina is, after all, derived from the name of a famous sexy star back in the 80’s (thanks, Dad). And I also learned that my beloved Philippine Island doesn’t own just one water falls, but a heck lot.
I’ve been to places around Philippines and have seen several water falls which took my breath away I even cliff jump whenever possible but last October was when I came face to face with this waterfall which for me is the fairest of them all: Buntot-Palos. Buntot-Palos is located in Pangil, Laguna. The very charming Laguna which is home to many sceneries and tourist spots like Buntot-Palos itself and many other water falls.
It was a Wednesday when I packed my bag, wore my shoes, skipped breakfast and headed to Laguna without any itinerary; just plain boredom and a couple of approved vacation leaves. Upon arrival at Brgy. Balian in Pangil, Laguna, I immediately realized how lost I was (geographically, at least) because I was supposed to see the Brgy. Outpost where I pay my entrace fee to the falls and get a tourist guide. Instead, what I saw were mothers, casually breastfeeding their babies. I asked a random guy standing around the area. No, he was not watching the mothers breastfeed their babies, he was mandating the construction workers on the other building, beside the Brgy. Hall where the breastfeeding activity was held. I asked where the Outpost was because I wanted to go see Buntot-Palos Falls. The first couple of words that came out of the gentleman’s mouth were: “You want to go up there? Just you? All by yourself? No. You won’t make it.”. I was just staring blankly at him, giving him time to take back what he just said. I am so thin and tiny I look like someone who can’t even lift a bottle of beer so I can’t really blame him. After all, it was for my own safety. He didn’t say anything else after that so I decided to speak again. “I can. I have done it before.” I spent a couple of minutes trying to persuade this guy to let me climb and visit the Falls because apparently, he is one of the Baranggay’s Kagawad. He eventually gave up because there is no way I am going back to Manila without a glimpse of Buntot-Palos. He asked one of his men to take me to the Outpost and get me a guide.
I started climbing at 9:45 AM with my tour guide. I payed P30.00 for the entrance fee and P300.00 for the tour guide. I didn’t have food. I didn’t have water. I asked the guide how much time will it take to reach the falls. He said approximately 2 hours. Going up. Going down is a different story so that’s a total of 4 hours.
Are you serious? Two hours to get to the falls? I could have booked a flight to Cebu and it would only take 1 hour and 15 minutes. I told the guide he was just exaggerating it and if he can keep up with me, we can make it an hour earlier. Of course I was kidding.
While walking, I realized why it will take 2 hours to get there. The Sierra Madre Mountain Range was on sight. I mean, who wouldn’t stare at this beauty? There’s just one mistake I committed that day: my outfit.
Who the heck on earth climbs a mountain while wearing pajamas? I eventually figured out how stupid it was so I changed to this:
Much more convenient! And voila! It took only an hour to get to the falls despite the muddy road and slippery rocks and friendly horses.
We were still a few kilometers away from the falls but I can already hear the sound of the water crashing down the basin. As always, I got all excited and giddy. I learned from my guide that the Falls was named Buntot-Palos (Eel’s Tail) because many, many years ago, some locals spotted an Eel’s Tail while taking a dip in the water. According to him, it was a really huge Eel’s Tail. But that’s the thing, it doesn’t have its head. It was just the tail. Some call it Buntot-Palos because it looks like one. I haven’t really seen such but be my judge. Here’s what my favorite falls looks like.
Seeing it for the first time was so magical for me. We were a few more kilometers away but I just really had to stop so I can take it all in. The beauty, its strange stories, the peace it gives me even from afar.. it was just so serene. It was inarguably love at first sight. And what I loved the most during my visit at Buntot-Palos is that, I had it all to myself. No other tourists were around. The place was so clean and well-maintained. My tour guide said that it gets really crowded during Holy Week and summer.
The water rushing down the falls was so strong it will get you all wet even if you do not intend to and even if you think you are at a safe distance. It was that strong. Eventually, staring from afar does not satisfy me anymore. I asked my guide if I can climb further and try to go to the basin. Unfortunately, this is farthest I’ve gotten near the basin because the current was just too strong and the wind was getting more and more stronger as I get closer.
Make sure to bring waterproof materials to secure your gadgets and food. I didn’t have any. I was just lucky enough to have a generous and kind tour guide to provide me both. There are plenty more stories about Buntot-Palos that will definitely flick your interest but I will leave the rest of it to your guides. 😉