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impromptu trip to Pagsanjan Falls

On a bright sunny Sunday afternoon, Matty and I found ourselves on a spontaneous boating trip down Pagsanjan River to see the waterfalls and to shoot the rapids... something I haven't done previously despite being in Sta Cruz many times a year. I came ill-prepared to document our trip; if only I knew, I would've packed my camera gear with me, complete with tripod. But since my gear wasn't with me, I just had to go ahead and settle with my iPad's camera function. Next time, my SLR will be lugged along.

The water at the Pagsanjan River was pretty calm as we settled into the boat ride. The boatmen, conserving their energy for the tricky parts of the river, weren't paddling at first. Instead, a motorized boat was pulling our boat up until we encountered our first set of rocks.

The bangkeros were a a father and son team.
Along the way, we were interviewing the bangkeros. Turned out that the annual regatta of Pagsanjan boatmen was happening the day after we went to shoot the rapids! That was uncanny timing right there! However, the father and son tandem were not participating in the events.

When we got a bit more upstream, the way to the waterfalls became lined with rocks and verdant gorges, ala the River Anduin in the Lord of The Rings: Fellowship of the Ring movie. The forested area is home to a number of birds, butterflies, and dragonflies that I haven't seen before in my life (and I was unable to take photos of because I was using my iPad, not my SLR). There were a lot of spiderwebs too; perhaps, this is an indicator that the food chain is alive and well?

The Argonath will appear anytime now.

We also passed by boatmen on boats anchored to huts that were adjacent those with videoke machines. The sight of people having picnics, swimming by the side where boats weren't passing by, and singing along with the videoke made the scenery even more hospitable. Matty, I think, was amazed at how homey the area looked like that afternoon... he was even asking the boatmen if the singing happens all year round. Oh, and he's considering bringing guests back to Pagsanjan Falls too.

Boats parked by the river bank

Further upstream, we started catching up with other tourists (everyone wearing helmets and life vests were tourists) and the boatmen's energy started to flag. They rested while the people going downstream were allowed to pass the one-way lane of the river. We were closing in on the rapids because the rocks were just getting bigger.

Boatmen have pit stops too.

It took us about an hour to reach Pagsanjan Falls... which turned out to be really in the town of Cavinti and should be called Cavinti Falls. I took a photo of the waterfalls and Matty filmed my iPad capturing the image while someone behind him was documenting him filming me taking a photo via the iPad. Funny sight, we must have been. I missed it because I was right in front of the queue! Matty compared it to the Taal Volcano: a rock within a lake within an island within a lake within an island.

The photo I took as Matty waxed poetic about Steve Jobs and the iPad.

The boatmen said that there was a cave behind the waterfalls that was accessible via the bamboo raft. Two men pulled the raft towards the waterfall while I sat blindly on it (my eyeglasses were off) and Matty filmed the trip to the cave. The iPad was left safely on high and dry ground so I couldn't take photos. I could barely see anything but it turned out that the cave was really small and dark; there was nothing much to see, apparently. But at least I've ticked another item from my bucket list: getting behind a waterfall. :)

The trip upstream was not yet shooting the rapids, I learned. Shooting the rapids is the return trip. It's just like winding up a toy. When you let it go, that's when it dances or sings, or does whatever it's supposed to do. So before it got too late, we had one last look at the waterfalls and we took one last photo before we started shooting the rapids.

I blocked the waterfall?!? I should have seen this photo before we left!

And I successfully blocked out the waterfall that should have been the center of attention in this picture. Blooper number two! Oh well.

We had a great time, despite the trip beginning with me feeding him nothing but donuts while he drove. Blooper number one right there! I did bring trail mix too though... For my excuse, I was given 30 minutes lead time before we had to meet and so I had no choice but to get him my favorite donuts at a convenience store I passed by along the way. I just love those Bavarian cream-filled, confectionery sugar-coated donuts... and he ate five out of six of them. Next time, I'll prep something healthier if given enough lead time. Promise.

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