They say that practice is totally different from what you learned in theory. Very true indeed. One can even say that sometimes, what you read in the internet isn’t exactly how it is in real life.
And that’s how my Tinuy-an Falls quest started; with a few internet queries, an exaggerated gasp of admiration, and a few directions.
After my awesome experience with the Hinatuan River, I was already bent on going to Tinuy-an Falls after seeing how beautiful the waterfalls looked with its series of water curtains. That not everyone can go there, just like the enchanted river, only increased it’s value in my eyes.
So when my vacation time arrived, there were no questions as to where to go; Bislig City is ‘it’ and their hidden gem of a waterfall, Tinuy-an Falls.
But as they say, a little knowledge is dangerous, and kids, this is very true, don’t be like this pinoytraveller who only does very little research and leaves a lot of things to chance.
So far however, chance has a way of making things very, very interesting for me. When I visited the Bislig government website to do my err.. research, it only says that Tinuy-an Falls is only 18km from the city, and a route was even given:
Easy as pie right? I should just go to Bislig City in Surigao del Sur, ask around for directions going to Poblacion, and from there get some kind of transportation that goes to San Isidro then Burboanan and then voila! I should already be in Tinuy-an. More research? Puhlease.
So at 2:00 in the morning, I was already at the Butuan bus terminal waiting for my two elves, my usual travel companions in this part of the country. That things weren’t going to be very smooth sailing started the moment I sat in one of the terminal’s stools. First, I saw a black cat. And not just any black cat. This black cat is pregnant! Have you ever seen a pregnant black cat? Right? Right?
So for the 2:45 am first trip, naturally, the elves didn’t arrive on time. It was the black cat of course. No question about that. The elves only arrived around 3:30 just in time for the 4:00am second trip. I wasn’t really pissed because I already expected things to go wrong, what with the pregnant black cat and all.
4:00 AM Trip – Butuan City – Mangagoy [Ticket cost P236]
When we finally got seated on the bus, I asked some of the passengers if they were from Bislig City and if they know the way to Tinuy-an Falls. Of course I already have the directions but you know, sometimes you really have to confirm the veracity of what you have.
Good thing was, some of them are from Bislig City. But the not so very good thing was, they have no idea how to go to Tinuy-an Falls. Hmm, bummer that one. I tried to steer them in the right direction and asked them how if they know how to go to Poblacion or San Isidro? I only got empty stares.
‘Oh boy, things are really starting to unravel now.‘ I thought as our bus sped down the Agusan Del Norte highway en route to Mangagoy.
I told one of the Bislig residents that it really doesn’t matter as we can always ask the guys from the local tourism office in Bislig. The passenger said ‘But the tourism office is all the way in Mangagoy‘. Crap.
7:57 AM Bislig City – Middle of Nowhere
I was looking for some big structures or anything resembling a public market when we arrived in Bislig City. When the bus parked in a practically deserted bus terminal, we got off after confirming with the bus driver that it is already Bislig City. The driver asked if we really wanted to get off there and not in Mangagoy. It seemed to me that the driver knew more about the Tinuy-an Falls and he just let those Bislig residents go on and on and on.
So what do you do in the middle of nowhere with nobody coherent to ask for directions? Why, take pictures of course!
Here’s the very nice Bislig City boulevard. Can you picture yourself here at night, holding a very cold bottle of beer and dipping really fresh grilled fish in vinegar and soy sauce and hot chili? That’s what we did in Siargao, but that’s another story.
After the photoshoot, we talked to some locals who were sunning themselves along the boulevard. The guy we asked said that we should look for transportation going to Tinuy-an Falls in the Mangagoy Market. My heart sank. We were still in Bislig City and the guy was saying that we should go all the way to Mangagoy.
I asked the guy how long it would take for us to arrive in Mangagoy? He said, pointing to something in the distance, that is already Mangagoy. WTF! It turns out that Mangagoy is actually part of Bislig. And we only have to ride a tricycle to get there.
8:00 AM Finding Neverland, Shangri-la, and The Carenderia To Rule Them All
With renewed enthusiasm, we asked the tricycle driver we hired where to find a transport that will take us to Tinuy-an. He said that there’s really no public transportation that goes to Tinuy-an. But there are habal-habal’s that go there, and he could even get some guy to take us. I knew then that the curse of the pregnant black cat was finally lifting.
We immediately agreed and asked him to take us to a really good place to eat. Sensing that we were hungry, he said that we should just eat in a carenderia where food is readily available. He took us to carenderia Halang-Halang (literal translation, Hot-Hot or Spicy-Spicy). The little carenderia had very simple food to choose from, but they sure know how to make them very delicious. We ate like it’s going out of style and our total bill amounted to— P220 for three persons. That’s less than US$5! How’s that for a full third world meal?
9:00 Reunited with the Habal-Habal [Cost P100/head]
By 9:00 am we were already on our way to the Tinuy-an Falls. The Habal-Habal driver charged us P100 per head for the 15km ride. This time however, instead of just us and the driver, the tricycle driver decided to tag along so for one motorcycle, there were 5 persons riding it. What could be more fun? And with the really gravelly and rough up and down terrain any slip and we could lose our kneecaps.
9:30 AM Tinuy-an Falls at Last
But, luck was on our side and we arrived safely at the foot of the Tinuy-an Falls after a 30-minute ride. And as you can see, all those weird situations, the very dangerous habal-habal ride, and even the incident with the black cat all melted in the background as we looked at the magnificent Tinuy-an Falls.
— CLICK HERE FOR MORE TINUY-AN FALLS PICTURES —
5 hours later, we were back in Carenderia Halang-Halang, had another sinful feast then waited for the bus going back to Butuan.
All in all the daytrip cost us the following:
Butuan – Bislig Bus Fare – P236 X 2 = 572
Habal Habal Fare – 100 X 2 = 200
Food 80 X 2 = 160
That’s less than P1,000 or $20 per person, but the experience itself is priceless.
Ok, some pointers.
1. The first trip to Bislig is around 1:50 am from Butuan. Just ask any tricycle driver to take you to the bus terminal. However, I would advise you taking the 3:45am trip as it would be the perfect time to arrive in Mangagoy.
2. Do not get off at the Bus terminal in Bislig! There’s nothing there. Ask the driver to drop you off at the Mangagoy palengke or market.
3. Hire a tricycle and ask the person to take you to Halang-Halang carenderia. Fare should only be around P7 per head.
4. Talk to your tricycle driver and ask him to help you get a habal habal driver.
5. Have your breakfast at Halang – Halang while waiting for your Habal – Habal driver.
6. Buy lots of food and water if you wanna have a picnic at Tinuy-an Falls
There are lots of cottages at Tinuy-an Falls that you can hire for P100/day but there are no stores there. Entrance fee is at P10/head.
That’s it. If there’s anything else you need to know, send me a note.