They say that the Earth has music for those who listen. There is a reason why we call it whisper of the wind, rhythm of the waves, song of the bird, and dance of a flame. Nature is one big concert hall playing a symphony in sync with man’s beating heart. If we only stop, we could hear them.
Negros Oriental for instance is home to several waterfalls offering visitors a one-of-a-kind music. The town of Valencia alone has 10 (according to Erwin of EnrouteNegros) and probably more. Of all these waterfalls, Pulangbato Falls and Casaroro Falls are the most sought after destinations. Aside from tourists, these natural cascades have been a common sidetrip for hikers who climbed the infamous Mt. Talinis.
As for James and I, it was part of our Negros Oriental backpacking trip. After enjoying the silence of the Twin Lakes on our first day, we were up for some water splashes this time.
From Valencia downtown, James and I chartered a tricycle that would take us to our three stops. We traveled along Okoy river on the way to our first destination: Pulangbato Falls.
But before reaching the falls, we passed by the iconic Mag-aso Steaming Grounds. With the geothermal vents of sulfuric smoke rising up from the mountain of rocks, no one would dare to miss this free delight.
However, this is not for the weak stomachs. Its pungent smell is tolerable but getting too close to the boulders would definitely remind you of rotten eggs.
A few meters away is a hanging bridge that caught our attention. It’s a common walkway for locals who want to cross the river but for us — who don’t get to see a lot of hanging bridge in Cebu — it is a picturesque site.
The river below already has a touch of reddish rocks, reminding us that we are close to the waterfall. We continued with our ride and soon enough reached Pulangbato Falls.
In the local dialect, “pula” means “red” and “bato” means “rock”. Pulangbato Falls is aptly named because of the rusty or reddish rocks along its stream. It creates this idyllic scene that we rarely see when going to most waterfalls. Because of its close proximity to an active volcano, the color is probably caused by sulfuric gases emanating from geothermal vents.
Getting close to Pulangbato falls requires one to walk through the Cambucad-Sagbang Footbridge. This LGU project was just installed in 2016 and since then, it has been one of the instagrammable part in the area.
There are three waterfalls in the area but we only saw two of them. Near the entrance where makeshift huts and small stores are located is a smaller waterfall where most guest prefer to swim and chill. Locals refer to it as Pulangbato’s twin fall but compared to Pulangbato, this one looks relatively normal.
Contrary to common misconception, Casaroro Falls is not located in Dumaguete City. This hidden treasure is actually lodged deep within the crevices of Valencia mountains. It takes an hour trek or less (depends on your pacing) to reach the place.
The trek begins with more than 300 descending steps on metal staircase, followed by a fun walk on a shallow riverbed and rock boulders. There was supposedly a concrete footbridge leading to the site but it was destroyed by Typhoon Sendong.
Upon seeing Casaroro Falls, I understood why it was able to attract all kinds of tourists despite its steep trails. Grand does not suffice to describe it. Our eyes were immediately drawn to the singular cascade that plunges almost a hundred feet directly into the swimming basin of extremely cold water.
I’ve been to several waterfalls in Cebu, Ulan-ulan Falls of Biliran, Can-Umantad Falls of Bohol, Mahayahay Falls of Leyte, and Inararo Falls of Pampanga, but this certain falls in Negros exude a glum vibe to me. Since Casaroro Falls is tucked in the innermost part of the mountain preserve, it is surrounded by dense vegetation and tall trees. With only a faint sunlight, the place is backdropped by a dark overcast.
Going back to the main road is just as hard as getting to the falls. From our easy descend, we cringed to the thought of ascending the long, winding staircase. It’s a good thing that they have metal pipe railings for people to hold on to whenever they feel like giving up. HAHA!
Red Rock Hot Spring
A visit to the waterfalls won’t be complete without taking a dip in their many hot springs. As for us, we opted to chill at the Red Rock Hot Spring. A warm bath in this relaxing sanctuary is just what we needed to sooth our aching muscles. Here’s a photo from their FB page:
Time unfolds the wonders of this ever-weaving tapestry of life. Our day 2 in Negros Oriental reminded us there is more to nature that we need to discover, appreciate and most importantly, preserve. If we only stop, we could see them.
Truth is, I wasn’t a fan of waterfalls before. My hopeless romantic alter gets sad
whenever I stare at one and I seem to lose poetry in a hush. But ever since I met this man who has affinity for waterfalls, I started seeing them differently. From the north to the south, he showed me how happiness could come in splashes. Thanks for making fallin’ so easy. 😉
If you ever go and do it for the Gram, take your trash with you — every piece, every gram.