BOBON, NORTHERN SAMAR, PHILIPPINES — Misfortunes are unavoidable parts of any adventure. A series of unfortunate events may lead you to think that travel is not for you. But later in the day, once your head cooled down, you would come to realize that misfortunes are usually what make your stories worth reminiscing.
Lulugayan Falls was not supposedly included in my “planned” itinerary. San Vicente was supposedly the first thing off my list. However, there is a scarce number of public boats bound to Destacado (the main island of San Vicente), especially during weekends. Afraid of getting stuck in the place and losing time for Biri, I decided to start first with Capul. However, since the boat schedule bound for Capul is estimated to collect passengers at 11AM in the port of Allen and the clock is just at 6:45 AM, I asked a group of pedicab drivers if there are nearby falls in the area. The nearest I got is Lulugayan Falls in Bobon, a town adjacent to Catarman.
Take note though that there are many other Lulugayan Falls in the large island of Samar. You should clarify this when you are trying to look for the Lulugayan Falls in Bobon. The other waterfalls of the same name are located in western Samar: Calbiga, Zumarraga, Jiabong, Sta. Rita & Pinabacdao.
No idea why Warays love naming their falls as Lulugayan. Maybe, the water falling down the cliff or crevice looks like loose hair (i.e., naka-lugay na buhok). That’s just my wild hunch, no historical proof or whatsoever.
The transportation going there is kind of weird. The tricycle (if you’re coming from Catarman) will do a complete U-turn in Asia College, you should get off there (before the tricycle would take you to the other side of Bobon) and ride a pedicab going to Salvacion Crossing. I hired the pedicab to take me to Brgy. Balat-Balud. He said that the fee should be P50 if it would be that far. He drove me up to the jumpoff. If you are planning going here, ask locals where the jumpoff for the trek would be because there aren’t any clear sign nor clue. The road was just a narrow pathway with cogon grass growing on the sides. I started the trek from there, seeing no one but me.
Initially, the trail was easy. Just a straight line directing to the mountainous area. When you are near the mountains, forked roads will start appearing. Forked roads in this area are easy as you will notice they would converge later on.
Just let your gut feeling work. When I finally saw this sign near an irrigation dam:
Yes, I am near! So I crossed the dam and head for another mini forest. The trail here is complicated (but it was actually short after I found the right way). There are many forks. I climbed. I retraced my trail. Doubted where I was going. I ended up exiting through a barren field. I saw a river and crossed it, thinking the falls will be near if I crossed it. The shoes got wet but I continued. Finally, I saw a group of locals and asked them for the directions. They completely speak Waray even if I was trying to speak in Tagalog. Of course it would be unevitable, so I just tried to decipher what they are saying. Eventhough I can’t understand, it is obvious that I got the wrong direction as he was pointing me to go back. Drenched in the muddy river again, I went back to find my luck on the trail. I returned near the dam and saw a group of copra farmers. They said I should just follow the trail. Uhm, which of these trails?
So, I again trusted my gut feeling. After several exhausting trial-and-errors, I realized a road that I have dismissed earlier (because it seemed untouched for several months compared to the others) was actually the right road. I hurriedly went to that road and BLAM!
I stepped on an unnoticeable slope covered with vegetation. Tripped my foot and fell down a mound of black ants and sensed a strong odor of stinkbugs (may have crushed one). What a lucky starter! The grasscuts on my skin, the smell of the stinkbug, the ant bites, the aching foot. All of those feelings got mixed. I cursed inside my head. Yet a few moments later, I laughed. It was an unimaginable feeling.
When I got to the falls on a sprained foot, a dried falls greeted me. Just a slab of moist boulder. A little sprinkle of water comes down the cliff but is not enough for it to look like a falls. The natural pool created by the falls was stagnant and served as a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Sigh. After all that what I’ve been though. And for that sprain I got as a birthday present.
Still trying to be enthusiastic of what adventure awaits me for today and the following days, I decided to throw expectations and assumptions out of my backpack. I stepped out of the fantasy world by letting go of the “what could be” thoughts and remained open to all possibilities by living the moment. I shook my head up, let the cold droplets of water from the giant boulder fall down onto my cheeks, smiled shyly, enjoyed that cold feeling, and did not thought about the what-if’s of the adventure ahead of me.
There is a way to the second level of the falls but I didn’t tempt to climb it because of the sprain. Before packing up, I noticed I was being surrounded by honeybees. Several were clinging on my clothes while others on my backpack. I panicked for a moment but realized they were collecting pollen from my clothes. Carefully shooing them, I have hoisted my backpack and quickly ran, forgetting I had a sprain. I successfully fleed from the swarm and lived to write about the adventure up to this day.
The author visited a dried Lulugayan Falls on July 11, 2015. Better evade this month, as the waterfalls would most likely be dry.
This post is part of his Northern Samar Solo Birthday Backpacking series. Check out other posts for this series: