Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Humuyyo Falls in Talubin, Bontoc: A Refreshing Sight in a Town of Abundant Water

Humuyyo Falls, the tallest cascade in the Bontoc municipality
About two months ago on my last visit to Maligcong prior to this one, I got into chatting with Eli, the friendly tourism officer of Bontoc, about trekking to one of the province's waterfalls.  You would think that visiting this frequently has somehow exhausted my options for exploration.  The opposite is true.  I somehow can never get tired of going to Mountains Kupapey and Fato, visiting the school with Kunig, exploring the orange farm, finding a new organic garden.  For years, I've gone to Banaue, foregoing Bontoc, and it is only now that I'm really exploring and enjoying the wonders of this municipality, as if making up for my sins of omission.

A few months ago, I created an art map of Bontoc perchance to help in promoting the province.  Well, there's a raft of difference between creating a map and actually going to see what's in the map.  So on our second day in Maligcong, we opted to venture to Talubin, 12 kilometers from Bontoc town proper, to hike and see Humuyyo, the highest waterfalls in all of Bontoc.  Not wanting to miss this added spectacle to a tourist's itinerary, we were joined by our friend, Suzette, of Maligcong Homestay and our perennial guide, Tina Sokuken.  Jerome, Suzette's hubby, was very kind to take us to the Talubin jump-off using the van.  Otherwise, we would either have to catch the 7am bus headed to Banaue or the 12 noon jeepney to venture here.  As we've learned the previous day, it almost always rains in the afternoon so a morning trek would be best.
The lower cascade is lovely, filled with logs, branches and small rocks
We would start a bit further than the bridge, espying the mighty river underneath with abundant water flowing through huge boulders.  The hike has two converging trails at the beginning, a muddy one and a concrete path.  Both takes one through terraces now verdant with rice plants swaying in the intermittent breezes.   Suzette noted that the abundance of water has kept the terraces view free from overhead pipes like the ones in Maligcong.  15 minutes into the hike, we were joined by MelJoe, the guide assigned to us by the Bontoc Turismo office.

It took us something like 90 minutes to ascend to the main cascade, at about 3,670 feet in elevation.  Truth to tell, my sense of balance was askew as I was feeling a bit woozy from an overdose of wild mushrooms the night before coupled with insufficiency of sleep so that slowed us down a bit from Eli's estimate of one hour trekking time.  The last 50-100 feet leading to the main falls are steep and slippery, begging for a rope to secure trekkers wanting to see the tall spectacle thundering from the cliff side.
The water from Hiniblawan Talaw feeds the falls
Humuyyo Falls is fed by a mountain lake, Hiniblawan Talaw, and is never dried up even at the height of summer and on this occasion, El NiƱo.  The lake itself is described interestingly in the tourism literature we got -- "where the stars would take a bath".  The lake is also part of a rain dance ritual performed by the elders called manerwrap.  The main cascade used to be a twin falls, the other stopped from flowing by a boulder said Tina.  About 60-70 feet up, it sends a constant spray of water that made photography tricky and rather wet.  We ate our supplemental breakfast of delicious patupat, a local sticky rice delicacy on the rocks, wondering aloud that it would've been nice to bring a basket of food with coffee and have a picnic here complete with taking a dip in the catch basin.   Either that or hike up to Hiniblawan Talaw, about three hours worth of trekking one way and see what we could find there. 

Then, we saw the grey clouds blowing in from the east, a reminder that those plans may have to wait until next summer.  MelJoe noted that it always rains towards noon so that was our cue to hike down.   We took the other trail leading to the town center instead of the bridge, finding a sari-sari store to cool down while waiting for public transport back to Bontoc town proper and a late lunch at Caja.

Information: To hike to Humuyyo Falls, contact Bontoc Turismo through their FB page.  A guide is needed for the trek, fee: P500 for a group of up to 5pax • To get to Talubin from Bontoc town proper, ride a bus/van headed to Banaue or a jeepney that plies the Bontoc - Talubin route (12nn - 3pm; return trip to Bontoc sked is from 7am - 4pm)


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