“We should’ve been chillin’ out in malls and drinking latte by this time. Why did we come here and risk our lives? Adventure,” Vahn said, as if trying to convince us to keep going. It’s not working though.
There was so little that I knew of Argao back then. It was just a quaint town located farther away from Carcar, or so I thought. Never did it occur that this home to the renowned torta and enchantress Maria Cacao will become the door that would lead me to a number of adventures.
Bounded by work constraints, I accepted a hiking adventure by a college friend. As they say, a breath of fresh air. I was totally smitten by the photos of waterfalls and caves posted on the activity page on Facebook that I immediately agreed to join the event despite the hectic work schedule the day after. At the back of my mind, I thought everything will turn out accordingly. But once again, the universe proved me mistaken.
This trip in Argao began with a combination of river and highland trek. From the jumpoff station, we traveled around four to five kilometers before we finally arrived at the mystical Agta Cave (Balay sa Agata). To get there, we have to rappel through the cliffs and manage our way upon getting into the mouth of the cave.
In an interview we had with one of our local guides, we learned that explorations and adventures of the place, following the route we have chosen was utterly impossible. They say that the only possible way of getting into the cave is to pass the hole on top of the cave where a tree was located. A tree which was believed to be the home of the agta. Hence, the term Agta Cave.
After exploring Agta Cave, we headed to our next destination – Bugasok Falls. The cold waters of the cascades brought so much relief to our exhausted bodies. Bugasok Falls stands with an estimated fifty-meters height. It served as one of the many water source of the locals in the area. With its towering height, many members of the group refused to do the extreme adventure suggested by the local guides – to cliffjump from the top of the waterfalls. I didn’t know what’s happening inside my mind that time but I was certain that it was a “now or never” scenario. It was a heck of a lifetime experience. And so I jumped, confident that the rescuers waiting down below will wait for me. I remembered losing my voice while shouting as I jumped. I felt cold while waiting for my feet to finally land on the waters. And so I curled, resulting to a greater impact upon landing.
The feeling was utterly unexplainable. It was as if my soul has been left behind the cliff where I jumped in. Midair, I couldn’t believe why I have done such random act. But, there was no backing out. The current that time was very strong that’s why I got carried away. No harm was done though because the rescuers immediately pass upon me a coconut husk (bunot) which I never thought could be a very good lifesaver like a life vest.
After that crazy waterfall jump and rappel, we then started our trek to the Argao Coal Mine Resort – the final destination for that day’s fully-packed event. It was a more or less four hour trek depending on the pace. It was a true test of stamina and determination, of moving on and finishing the mission. Compared to our excited selves at the beginning of that trip, we were already lagging behind. We were already at the tail of the pack… and are about to give up. I totally salute Vahn and Sir Mark at that time for keeping up with us. We were undeniably slow and hopeless but they managed to encourage us to keep going, that a few “minutes nalang” would really bring us to that Coal Mines Resort.
Dead tired upon arrival was an understatement. We were almost crawling upon reaching the resort. But we arrived in one piece, thanks to all those who never gave up on encouraging us. The heart-shaped swimming pool of the resort provided such comfort to our worn-out bodies. But best of all, the food prepared was to die for – tinola for the win!
And just when we thought we’ve already reached our final destination, we learned that we have to finish the final task: to go back to the town proper while riding that truck on a rough road. We were caught in between sleeping and trying to survive the whole trip.
My nineteen-year old self will always go back to this day. And it will always remind me to take note of the people who were there when we’re struggling, of those who will willingly catch us when we fall (kudos to those rescuers), of those who remained down-to-earth despite achievements (salute to Vice Mayor Stanley Caminero), of those who welcomed strangers (salamat sa sikwate ug pain reliever, Doc Hayce!), and of those friendships earned along the way. Truly, the journey is always better than the destination.
Argao Adventure Itinerary:
- 3:00am – Assembly Time
- 3:00 – 4:30 – Travel to Argao (to our host’s house where sikwati, puto and torta were served for us)
- 4:30 – 6:00 – Breakfast
- 7:00 – start of the river and highland trek
- 9:00am – arrival to Agta Cave
- 12:00 – 1:00pm – trek to Bugasok Falls
- 1:00 – 3:00pm – Lunch, waterfall jumping and rappelling
- 3:00 – 4:00pm – Packing up
- 4:00 – 7:00pm – trek to Coal Mines View Resort
- 7:00 – 8:00pm – Dinner
- 8:00 – 9:30pm – Truck ride to Argao proper
- 9:30 – 11:00pm – Travel back to the city
- 11:30 – Home sweet home
PS. I’ve visited Bugasok Falls and Agta Cave recently. Read my latest adventure HERE.