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Pagsanjan Falls - Philippines Travel

Unlike other war veterans, my old uncle is not confined to a wheelchair nor ever used a walking cane. But he is subject to serious coughs every now and then. His children are worried about his health but he insists that the one thing which will keep him alive is fresh air.

Planning a trip to Pagsanjan Falls

No doctor will contradict this, of course. Except that my uncle’s idea of fresh air is traipsing around the countryside. His children never approved of such activities because these may strain his physical health. And so, when my restless uncle came up with the idea of visiting the Pagsanjan Falls, none of his children was willing to go with him. That left me, the only niece who couldn’t resist anything that involves going to new places.

We arrived at the Bumbungan River with our guides. And we got into a boat, called a “banca”, together with two friendly Pagsanjeño boatmen. They were quite impressed with my old uncle, who was one of the survivors of the Bataan Death March, a fact that my uncle wasted to time to inform anyone who would listen.

We paddled slowly upstream. It was a slow progress because the banca is fighting against the current. But we never noticed the time. We passed by several minifall, such as the Talahib Falls, the Kalukuy Falls, and the Bridal Veil Falls. The guide explained that there were actually 19 of them but some of the falls are dry during the summer. Thus, the people never bothered to give them names.

Pagsanjan Falls WW2

My uncle told the young boatmen that Pagsanjan falls helped conceale him and his men during the war. According to him, they were desperate to escape and they had no second thoughts diving into the waterfalls. Apparently, their pursuers refused to get wet. My uncle showed a scar near his left elbow to show the wound caused by a rock he hit when he doved into the waterfall.

We passed steep gorges carpeted with wild ferns, vines, and orchids. The guide informed us that chattering monkeys play in these rocky walls in the early morning. My uncle informed them that he and his men climbed gorges like this in order to ambush their enemies.

Suddenly, the boatmen warned us, “Brace yourself!” We we’re going into the rapids. Our boat was tossed and twirled several times. My knuckles turned white as a kept a tight grip on a boat handle. As the waters became more manageable, the guide told us that we went through about 14 rapids. My uncle remained silent.

View at Pagsanjan Falls

Then, we arrived at the Pagsanjan Falls. The postcard pictures couldn’t compare with the majesty of the real thing. My uncle gave an exaggerated nod. “Yep,” he said. “I’ve been here before.”

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