Wednesday, September 7, 2016

PANININGAWAN FALLS: Finding a Hidden Gigantic Cascade in Talakag, Bukidnon

Paniningawan Falls is approximately 100-feet high waterfall amazingly hidden in verdant wall of Mt. Kalatungan Range in Talakag Area. The falls is accessible via Sitio Kaulayanan in Brgy. Lirongan through non-jokingly 5 hour trek crossing through rivers and ridges, in which two hours is spent for river trekking. The falls streams down to Manupali na Maliga (Red River), which meets Manupali na Maputi (White River) in an intersection locally known as Sabangan. There is no established trail going to the falls.    

Paniningawan is derived from Talaandig term "paniningaw" meaning to look down below like you are in a balcony. Tales say that during Japanese invasion, seven sisters were seized by Japanese men (other folks say Maguindanaons) up to the mountain. The sisters finally reached the falls (I can't imagine them being chased in extremely difficult uphill for long hours). When the sisters had no escape, they decided to hold one another and for once, jumped to their death down the 100 meter waterfall. Their predators, drooling for the beautiful maidens, just watched them from above. (Source: Wilfen Talian of Sitio Kaulayanan)

May of 2016, Christian Dave C. Talian reached me through FB. He inquired about my job upon seeing my outdoor adventure posts. "I am not in any way connected to Tourism Office. I just love the outdoors and I'm doing my treks at my own expense". He then invited me to visit a falls at his place. After telling me about peace condition, I was convinced. When he told me the difficulty of the trail we are to tread and the long hours to take, I got more excited.

In June, Dave proposed to visit the falls one weekend. I refused, suggesting the falls is best visited during rainy season when it sheds its full glory. His team of seven proceeded though. He then showed me a video that got me even more excited.

Came August, rainy season, and finally we had our plan pushed through. We departed Malaybalay by 5:30am. We arrived at Kibanggay after 2 hours and had our breakfast. While in a habalhabal, Dave pointed our destination at the neck of Mt. Kalatungan mountains. We survived a 30 minute uphill bumpy ride. The people were so welcoming. The breeze was mountain cool. And I was approached by steamed corn, cassava and camote.


It was 9:00 am when we launched our 5 hour trek. I was accompanied by not just few guides but a squad of 12 locals and 1 school teacher, Sir Jhun. And our gears and food are budgeted for a day trek.

The breeze became cooler as we ascended to farmlands. Dave pointed their property including Mt. Nasulong, which means "umbrella".  

After crossing Maikating River, we passed by Tangkag Ridge. 

Before entering the forested area of Dangyaka Ridge, we picked bundles of hagpa plants to make a power green soup in case we would be stranded in the mountains. Dangyaka or "dangiyak" means a sound of an eagle often heard when it used to dwell in the area. 

On descent, we saw the upper portion of the falls, so far yet powerful. "We are 2 hours away from it".

Cuts and bruises appeared on our skins, we descended to Manupali na Maputi (White River). Its cool, crystal clear water justifies its name. And it is a great strong river.


We then crossed Pamantanga Ridge for almost an hour. On the other side of the ridge is Manupali na Maliga (Red River). In fact, the tail of the ridge is called Sabangan, where Maputi and Maliga meet.

When we touched Manupali na Maliga, we were past halfway to the falls. We then started to river trek. 

The trek was never easy. Rocks were so slippery. Rapids were enormous. Small waterfalls got in the way. 

The multi-tiered Pamantanga Falls is a stunning waterfall on the right side of Red River.

Manupali na Maliga got its name from its reddish water. The color is accounted to abundant iron deposits in the area. Reddish stones and rocks further justify the name.     

TRIVIA: Red River borders Valencia City on the left and Talakag on the right.

Lovely small waterfalls and awesome vegetation compensated the very exhaustive river trek.

In 2 hours, our quest finally unleashed right before our eyes. Paniningawan Falls stunned me beyond expectation. Its 100 meter drop hindered me to get closer to it. Its icy cold mists gently showered upon us. 

There are two caverns on both sides of the falls which none of us has explored. Getting there, through deep water with raging current, requires proper gears and expertise. So those caves and whatever is there remain a mystery, still tickling my curiosity.

Past 2:00 pm, after taking lunch at the falls, we left through invented trails on 90 degree cliff beside it. We passed by the top of the falls

The top view of Paniningawan Falls is said to be the site where Japanese soldiers
watched the seven maidens who jumped to death down the 100meter drop.

Right atop Paniningawan Falls is a pool said to be 30 feet deep.

It was hard for us to get home since it was already raining and getting dark. We had to blaze another trail.

We ascended to Kalawkalawon Ridge and decided not to backtrail. Our guide then suggested to visit another falls the next day that requires another long trek. Our trail directed to that falls. 

Skillful hunters as they are, my teammates found a beehive, harvested its content and divided among the hikers. 

After hours of trailblazing, we descended down a minor creek and crossed Timbangalanon Ridge. Another hour was spent trekking under the rain, amidst scratching thorns and stinging poison ivies. Exhaustion finally enslaved us. We camped on a sloping area near a creek. We waited for darkness.


Worried about dinner for 14 people, we ate some snack foods first, which was obviously insufficient. We were truly out of budget. We had to feed ourselves with little rice brought. We luckily made an evening soup out of hagpa leaves we harvested earlier, added with a can of sardines. NO SALT. Yes, we had plenty of tasteless soup our tongues rejected, but our bodies truly needed

Lying under an open sky, barely covered with a very small tarp was really my first time. No one brought tent for a supposed daytrek. The shed was never enough for 14 people. Three of us had sleeping bags. The rest kept their body heat sitting around a bonfire. Cold, drizzle, uneven surface deprived me of sleep the whole night.

Summary of Ridges and Rivers Crossed:
Maikating River
Tangkag Ridge
Dangyaka Ridge
Manupali na Maputi
Pamantanga Ridge
Manupali na Maliga  
Paniningawan Falls
Kalawkalawon Ridge
Timbangalanon Ridge

The adventure continues. Click ABAGA NA MAPUTI: Trekking White River to White Falls

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Dave Talian, his father Wilfen Talian and his whole family for very warm accommodation and for arranging the trek. I am also very thankful to the guide and whole team that accompanied my trek.

A. Easier but Expensive Option = P210.00
-From Malaybalay transport terminal, take a jeepney bound for Brgy. Kibanggay (Lantapan) costing P60.00. Hire a habalhabal direct to Sitio Kaulayanan (of Brgy. Lirongan, Talakag) costing P150.00. Look for a guide (P500/day).

B. Tiring but Cheaper Option = P90.00
-From Malaybalay transport terminal, take a jeepney bound for Brgy. Kibanggay (Lantapan) costing P60.00. Hire a habalhabal to Brgy. Basac costing P30.00. Hike 5 km uphill to Sitio Kaulayanan (of Brgy. Lirongan, Talakag) costing a lot of sweat and muscle pain. Look for a guide (P500/day).