Saturday, April 30, 2011

Claveria, Cagayan: A Sunday of chasing waterfalls, catching the sunset and chilling out

Claveria - Mabnang Falls Shrubs & Cascades
Mabnang Falls Shrubs and Cascades
One of the pleasures (and for some people, hazards) of traveling is entrusting your fate to chance and a complete stranger.  It was a sunny Sunday, an equally fine day to laze around or move about.  We chose the latter after a somewhat late, languorous breakfast.  Then, we opted to rent a tricycle for the whole afternoon and left the choice of driver to chance.  And fate gave us Mang Pedro, a 60-something-looking local who looks sprightly for his age and build, he who drives a bright yellow and blue tricycle and as we accidentally found out, lives in a really nice bungalow just outside Centro 1.

Claveria - Portabaga Falls Main Cascade II
Shooting Portabaga Falls up close to edit out the crowds
Braving the picnic crowd at Portabaga.  Even without a calendar, you can tell it's a Sunday just seeing the volume of people crowding Portabaga Falls in Sta. Praxedes, east of Centro 1.  The falls has its charm but the surrounding environs look overly-built and in need of serious repairs and maintenance work. There's something amiss when you can't even use the comfort room without being sprayed on by a leaky water pipe (or was it the sewage system?).  Wishing for some peace and quiet, we promptly went out, feeling that perhaps, the state of the place didn't warrant the P10 entrance fee plus P15 parking fee for our tricycle.
Claveria - Makatel Falls Rocks
Makatel Rocks
Losing the crowds at Makatel.  Just a few minutes away, we found Makatel Falls, also within Sta. Praxedes.  What we didn't find (and miss) were the throngs of people hogging the falls.  In fact, we were just about the only people there maybe because it isn't that easy to access the falls from the main road.  There was no man-made basin damming the falls either so it was more natural-looking.
Claveria - Mabnang Falls Cascade Landscape
Beautiful Mabnang Falls Cascades
Having Mabnang to ourselves.  It took some probing from other locals before Mang Pedro was able to locate Mabnang Falls.  Curious thing is that some locals do not even know there's a falls in their vicinity.  It was some distance away from the main road and an ongoing construction along the dirt road made half of the way impassable to the tricycle.  Not that we minded the short walk.  The falls has its own appeal and also natural-looking save for a concrete barrier at the side of the main cascade.  The total absence of people made it even more appealing along with some of the interesting-looking, bright-hued spiders and dragonflies we found hanging and hovering over the vegetation.  Walking back to our tricycle, we noticed the construction of a swimming pool (it looked like an infinity pool) on a high point overlooking the fields, coconut trees and mountains.  If it was a resort in the making, maybe we wouldn't see Mabnang Falls again the way we saw it that afternoon.  Pity. 
Claveria - Sunset Over Lakay Lakay
Sunset at Claveria Bay
Coming home to a nice sunset.  We didn't have enough time to make it to either Sentinela or Taggat Lagoon to catch the sunset so we opted to come home to Centro 1.  We got there in time, the sun hanging low as if preparing to hide behind the rock formations of Apo Lakay-Lakay, the sea breeze picking up and cooling the hot afternoon away.  In a few minutes, we will be looking for cheap and tasty dinner as well as sampling the local version of the empanada by the roadside washed down by sips of Pop and Sparkle colas.  If that's not a completely refreshing day, I don't know what is.

Info on how to get to Claveria:  by land: ride the Florida bus in Sampaloc, Manila (near UST); route is Manila-Laoag-Claveria-Sanchez Mira (travel time: 12-13 hours) or ride the bus headed for Tuguegarao, then hop on a van for Claveria-Laoag (travel time: approx. 3 hours; fare: P170) • by air & land: ride a plane to Tuguegarao, then catch the bus going to Claveria-Laoag or ride a plane to Laoag, Ilocos, then catch the bus or van going to Claveria-Sanchez Mira-Tuguegarao
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