Holidays are most enjoyed in the Philippines. Nature reserves are only a few hours away, serving as quick refreshers from a busy workweek. This lifetime wouldn’t be enough for me to cross off all the country’s pockets of beauty, but I’m counting slowly, one long-weekend at a time.
Upon finding out about the long weekend that Thursday, I quickly contacted my friends to see who was free to join a day-trip. Google was crucial, as usual, and it led me to know about a waterfall wonderland in Laguna, still unspoiled from heavy tourism. The usual trek included three stops: Hulugan Falls, Talay Falls, and Hidden Falls.
A thirty-minute trek led us to a breathtaking atmosphere. After taking a few photographs (an absolute necessity by today’s standards), we threw ourselves into the freezing freshwater and took our time under the pounding waterfall, which wasn’t fully enjoyable given the temperature and weight of the water. Mind you, it was aptly named Hulugan (root word hulog meaning ‘fall down’) as my friends and I tripped over a few rocks going to and from a small cove. That was fun.
We then headed on to view the second entry in our itinerary. The noontime sun started getting into our heads but before we knew it, we were at a campsite and from there marveled over Talay Falls. Because of the limited space, we weren’t able to squeeze in under it, so we decided to ascend to the last one.
This is also rightly named, not only because it is tucked behind the rocks and trees, but because it is very possible to Fall from the narrow trail and tremendous height one had to climb to arrive at it, if he isn’t careful. Our tour guide assured us that no one ever got severely injured going up the trail, which wasn’t exactly helpful for someone who has a great fear of heights. Nevertheless, we arrived safely.
In the most beautiful of life’s encounters, one must first be encumbered to arrive at a pleasant resolution, which makes worth the trouble. All hardship is forgotten when faced with the unfathomable glory of creation, when he is blown away by the wonders of this world. In such a time, one is led to question what he ever did to deserve such bliss when all he usually did was subdue nature’s earthly value.
Third time was the charm as we clumsily crawled our way under the openings, fresh water lightly pounding on our skin. Each of us secured her own spot, which we selfishly embraced while it lasted. We thought to ourselves, this must be what bathing was like for our ancestors, and there was some truth to it, because minutes later, when we took an actual modern shower, we all agreed that our hair felt smoother and softer than normal. For us, it was an organic conditioning treatment, but for the women of San Salvador, it was nature’s kiss.
Early after noon, we headed back, afraid to get stuck in traffic on the eve before a workday. My friends and I enjoyed conversation, shallow and deep, as we drove highways and byways for a hot-soup dinner.