Don Salvador Benedicto is a lofty town situated amidst the mountains of Negros Occidental. It is located between the cities of Bacolod and San Carlos. The silent town has a climate, terrain and winding highway system comparable to Tagaytay, Baguio and Bukidnon.
I first saw the place on my way from Bacolod to Cebu after a weeklong holiday in the Visayas. When I passed by the place, the winding road up and down the mountains caught my interest. The pine trees, the elevation and the cool climate reminded me of Cordillera. I happened to see a throng of people in a viewing deck watching a waterfall lining the wall of the forested mountain. It pained my heart that it happened real fast. I was lured, so I promised myself to go back.
After a remarkable climb to Mt. Pan de Azucar in Concepcion, Iloilo, I was set to sail to the silent island of Cuyo in Palawan. Unaware of the travel schedule, I went to the pier to take a boat to the island. There I learned that the boat is travelling at the evening the next day. That's 1 and 1/2 days, quite a long wait. Unplanned as I am, I could always rely on spontaneity. So I was opportune to go back to the place that potioned me a year ago in the neighboring Negros Island.
It was around noon when I departed Iloilo. Around 2 pm, I docked at Bacolod port. I hurried a tricycle to the terminal.
I was taking the bus to Don Salvador Benedicto under the rain that further darkened the afternoon.
I knew a waterfall to visit but I really didn't know where to spend the night. A guy who used to work in Bukidnon happened to sit beside me. He suggested me a place to stay but not sure if I will be accommodated. I dropped down at the public market. Didn't know where to go but I knew what to do. Ask, ask and ask....
I went to the police station but help was insufficient.
A habal-habal driver took me to a known lodge---St. Therese Retreat House (P600/room/night). Unluckily, the attendants were out to celebrate the solemnity of the Holy Week.
The driver then offered his unoccupied house. Even if I had other choices, I would dive into his either sincere or half-meant offer. And deal...
THE LONELY (CREEPY) NIGHT
Before the darkness started to devour the surroundings, I noticed the red orange hue shading the western skies. The beautiful hue led me to a spot to capture the sunset.
I befriended few children near their very humble shelter. I still envied the safety they were assured of with their family.
|A sugar cane is a common snack to sugar producing areas.|
And it was dark, electricity was out. I filled my tummy with a very simple candle dinner.
And I had to go to my appointed abode for the night. The owner gave me a candle to visualize the interior of the not so secured house on a cliff. The maindoor had no lock. No rooms, just curtains. My bed had lots of comforters to combat the mountain cold night. When the candle ran out, I used my headlamp. And when I lay down, I turned off the lamp and felt like I succumbed in total darkness. Different voices of insects filled the night. The voice of the howling summer wind added horror. But I was comforted of the thought that I was in Negros and not in Panay (Awwwooooohhh!!). Suddenly, a loud noise at the kitchen suggested something had landed. And it was moving as if it's exploring on the bamboo flooring. And it was getting closer and closer. My heart pounded real hard. I hid myself under the comforter trying not to move. Fear almost made me burst! A sigh of relief embraced me when I heard " TUUKOO! TUUKOO!". I turned on my headlamp, rose up, drove the lizard out and released my pee.
When the lights came back, it was almost 11 o' clock. Never did I fall into a deep sleep.
THE MORNING AFTER
When I opened my eyes, I was so thankful I was still alive. Yes! I survived another night alone in a strange place. Feeling so fulfilled, I joined the brightness outside.
The moon has not fully set when I took a walk and waited for the sun to brighten the day.
Mt. Kanlaon proudly showed in prominence.
After preparing my pack, I left my temporary abode with Mt. Kanlaon on its background.
I trekked to the owner of the house near the market site and paid my dues.
After a sip of morning choco drink, I proceeded to the falls through a 2-km trek. The whole place reminded me of Bukidnon-Davao area.
Tourists flooded the viewing deck (Lantawan) watching the falls from afar.
I left my bag on a local store in the highway and descended on the slope. No guide was available.
I passed through rice terraces, taking photos of myself with a tripod.
A little river trekking led me to Malatan-og Falls in 20 minutes.
It was early and no one else was around. I declared ownership of the falls. I enjoyed my freedom in total privacy. I basked and bathed in the cool water like a toddler with nothing left to cover my skin.
I had had enough of freedom that lasted for an hour.
So I trailed back, ascending this time. Along the way, I encountered a meter long moving object. And there was another and another. Vipers abound in the paddies. They helped me speed up and I reached the highway in no time, and almost with no air.
THE FORCED LEAVE
Even if I wanted to stay longer, I had to leave the place. I needed to go back to Iloilo and catch the boat to Cuyo.
My trip to DSB was just a side trip but it gave me major experiences and learnings so relevant to my passion as a solo trekker.
HOW TO GET THERE:
From Bacolod City South Terminal, take a bus bound for San Carlos City. Drop off at Don Salvador Benedicto. Fare is P80.00. Travel time usually takes 1-2 hours.