Yes, that's me. Apparently I had this propensity for goofing around a lot in photos before. Well, I still make faces at times but not that much anymore. Call it old age or whatever. Anyway, I just want to show you that I was (and more so now) also capable of playing it serious:
The photos were taken on one fine day in 2002 at Tinago Falls in Iligan City in Mindanao during one of my side trips as an auditor on field assignments, which was one of the most enjoyable periods of my life, by the way (Imagine traveling around the country for free!).
Iligan is blessed with several waterfalls, including Mimbalot Falls and the textbook-famous Maria Cristina Falls. Unfortunately, Maria Cristina is only for sightseeing because it has long been harnessed for electricity by a hydroelectric power plant. My colleague and I hired a taxi to take us around the whole day to see these waterfalls. I remember entering a rough road that gradually went uphill but I don't know if that road has since been paved and cemented.
Tinago means "hidden," and true to its name, the waterfalls is hidden in a deep ravine, accessible by descending a winding concrete flight of stairs -- some 400 to 500 steps, they say. There used to be a resort that spun the top of the cliff to down below but when we went there the gate was locked. We learned from the guard that the property had been foreclosed by Landbank and that we could only enter if we had a letter or something from the bank.
Bummer, I thought. But alas, the same guard told us of another way around via a trail outside the resort fences! It was a mountain trail; no concrete steps whatsoever. And we were more than excited to take it. A few minutes later, this breathtaking sight came into view:
Now this was a real waterfall, I thought, because I'm quite skeptical when people refer to something as a waterfall when the drop is only a few feet (like that Cambughay Falls in Siquijor). Tinago Falls plunges a respectable 73 meters from atop the ravine.
What I also loved about it was that it wasn't just one big gush but rather, a curtain of cascading water. Moreover, the pool below it was blue, suggesting it must be really deep.
That's me, dwarfed by the magnanimity of this natural treasure.
Totally unrecognizable from this distance, that's me and my colleague at the mouth of the cave. I'm the one standing.
At the time there was absolutely nothing around the falls. There were no stores or anything where you can buy food and drinks, so we brought along our own provisions. I'm not sure about the current situation, however, as this was 11 years ago. But from what I've read, there are already life vests available for rent and that there's even a bamboo raft that can take you under the falls, much like the ones in Pagsanjan Falls in Laguna.
After that exhilarating experience, the trek back up wasn't as much joy. Expectedly, though, if some 400 steps were involved.
In hindsight, Tinago Falls is a place I'd definitely recommend and come back to. Ironically, though, in those eleven years, not even once have I been back, which got me thinking: I have to plan something soon.
Iligan is a two-hour bus ride from Cagayan de Oro City, where the nearest airport is located. I'm not sure about organized tours but you can hire a ride in Iligan to take you to Tinago and all these other falls around. All this can be done in a day but for a less rushed experience, I suggest you stay at least a night in Iligan where hotels are available.
And because going to these waterfalls can be done in a day, to make your trip worthwhile, you can simply include Iligan in your itinerary if you plan on visiting Cagayan de Oro.
And as a parting shot, here's evidence of my early stages of camwhoring, long before the proliferation of megapixel cameras and camera phones, and long before Facebook: