The Waterfall Without a Name: Sibugay's Hidden Gem
Ulysses John Almocera | Jun 14, 2016
Last April 2016, I went home to the province to visit my family. Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay is a three hour bus ride from Zamboanga City where I currently work. It is unusual for me to go home during weekends but that was an exception because my friend bought a new action camera and wants to test it with me. I told her that there is a waterfall in Kabasalan, Zamboanga Sibugay which has not been visited by tourists yet and there are no blogs or articles about the waterfalls. The waterfall does not even have a name yet. Asking from a few locals days ahead, we were told that the waterfall is accessible by a tricycle ride from the highway and a short pabebe walk, which is perfect because we did not have the luxury of time.
Charenelle and I rode a bus going to Barangay Simbol in the Municipality of Kabasalan. We asked around from the residents and a tricycle driver volunteered to take us to the waterfall. Indeed, it was just near the road and the tricycle ride to Barangay Gacbusan did not take more than 20 minutes. Walking past a shallow river and some grassy vegetation, we reached slope where we saw the waterfall. It was during the peak of summer, the path was dry and so is the waterfall. It was a bit hard going down the slope but it was manageable because the soil was not slippery. We reached the waterfall, climbed its tiers, took photos and listened to some stories from our tricycle driver cum tour guide. I promised myself that I would come back during the rainy season where I can see the waterfall in all its glory.
Before summer was about to end, a group of backpackers from Manila, Davao and Bukidnon sent me a message on instagram and asked me to help them with their itinerary for their Zamboanga-Zamboanga Sibugay-Basilan tirp. As what I always do for backpackers, I helped them arrange their itinerary. I went home to Zamboanga Sibugay to meet a client and waited for them the following day. As planned, we went to Buluan Island Marine Sanctuary in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay. Hungry for more adventure and a couple of hours left to stroll around Zamboanga Sibugay, my awesome new found friends wanted to go somewhere else. I suggested that we go to the waterfall in Kabasalan, Zamboanga Sibugay. They were apprehensive at first but were convinced when I told them that it would only take a short bus ride and a pabebe trek to the waterfall. We took the bus and met two tricycle drivers in Barangay Simbol. It was drizzling after a heavy rain and we got excited because we will have a chance to see the unnamed waterfall in all its glory. I asked the tricycle drivers if a lot of people went to the waterfall and one of them answered “Wala pa pong pumupunta dyan, Sir. Ikaw pa lang po talaga ang nakakapunta sa falls na ngayong taon.” (No other group had been there, Sir. It’s only you who had visited that waterfall this year). The tricycle driver asked me if we still needed a guide but I was confident that I knew the way, after all, its just a pabebe trek.
We hiked our way going to the waterfall. After 20 minutes, I realized that the path had become unfamiliar to me and we were getting lost. We passed corn fields and slippery slopes, our sandals were covered in thick mud as we followed a trail. Thirty minutes had passed and there was no trace of the waterfall. My heart was pounding as I lead the group. Just as the sun was about to set, the tricycle drivers came looking for us and crossed our way near the stream. They took us to the waterfall which was another ten minute walk through a less slippery path. We reached the top of the slope but decided not to go down to the basin of the waterfalls because the ground was wet and muddy. We took photos and decided to go home. On our way, we stopped by the river to wash ourselves from all the mud and dirt.
I definitely learned a valuable lesson during that day – tour guides and locals are there for a reason. We could have avoided all the inconvenience if I asked the tricycle drivers to guide us to the waterfall. My mind was racing during the entire time we were lost. It would be such a shame if I compromised the safety of my seven guests. As the local, they were my liability if we made it to the headlines for all the wrong reasons. On our way home, I apologized to them and told them that I was really worried the whole time. They too, were worried when I was trailblazing the muddy and slippery cornfield. We were lucky that Barangay Gacbusan has a small land area and it did not take long for the tricycle drivers to find us. If we were in the mountain or in much bigger area, it would have been a different story. It was a mistake that I did not asked the help of our tricycle drivers to guide us. Definitely, I will never allow the same thing to happen again. I would not want to irresponsibly promote and cause damage on the tourist spots of my province and I’ll never compromise the safety of my friends again. It's not a very proud story to tell but someone has to share the important lessons of this trip.
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