It was said that the Spaniards once saw the flaming red of the fire trees that dotted the shores of Matalom beach. They asked the natives the local dialect for “hermosa” or beautiful and they were answered, “Matahum” or “Matalom.” This was the origin of the town’s name.
Matalom is a 3rd class municipality in the province of Leyte. A south western coastal town inhabited by peaceful and sea-loving people, it is best known for the scenic Canigao Island. But is this the only thing they can offer? The answer is a resounding no.
Fresh from Cebu, my sister, James and I took a PUJ from Hilongos to experience Matalom for a day. It was almost 7 am when we arrived in Brgy. Santa Fe. Originally, we planned on going to Canigao Island first but due to time constraints, we decided to head to the nearby Karap-agan Falls instead.
Karap-agan Falls, also known as Mahayahay Falls, is located in Sitio Mahayahay, Caridad Norte, Matalom. Along the Santa Fe highway, we found a habal-habal driver who agreed to drive us to the place for Php100/pax (roundtrip). The ride did not take long and we were dropped to a familiar riverbank where the jump off point to the falls is. There are no signages so it is preferable to have someone familiar with the trail or a local to ask directions. As for us, we have my sister.
We took the 15 to 20-minute trek guided by the stream. It was dry season, so it was not surprising to see the shallow waters. What’s surprising to see though was how still the river was.
The first time my sister and I went to Karap-agan Falls was back in 2017. And nothing much has changed. It remains untamed, secluded and less touristy. When we got there, we had the place all to ourselves. 😀
They say love is sweeter the second time around and I couldn’t agree more. I finally got to experience its waterfalls up close (no newly permed hair this time). Even though there was lesser water than before, we still enjoyed its two-tiered cascades.
Do you dabble your toes in the water or plunge right into it?
Creating another buzz among locals of Matalom is the Hitoog Cave and Underground Spring located in Brgy. Hitoog, Matalom. This has been a common side trip when going to Karap-agan Falls. For 20 pesos, one can enjoy swimming in the cave pool. A man-made pool also serves as a catch basin of the water overflowing from the cave. Whichever option you choose, an icy-cold treat awaits you!
P.S. This destination was part of my 2017 visit in Karap-agan Falls. I added the info here because I didn’t get a chance to write about it before. And it will be a worthy addition to your Matalom escapade.
Coelho once said that everything is connected — that all roads meet and that all rivers flow into the same sea. And true to this, from waterfalls and spring, our trip led to the sea.
Canigao Island, an islet just five kilometers off the shores of Matalom, has been a favorite inexpensive weekend getaway among locals. A former fishermen’s sanctuary, this little paradise has become a tourist destination sometime in 2005.
After paying 120 pesos (80 php roundtrip fare & 40 php entrance fee) at the Santa Fe port, we boarded the ferryboat that would take us to the island. There was no specific time when the boat will depart but as long as the minimum number of passengers has been reached, we were allowed to sail. Big outrigger boats can transport up to 60 passengers.
Canigao Island is known for its white sands, turquoise seas, extensive coral reef ground and diverse marine life. The place is suitable for swimming and diving. An overnight stay will also give you the chance to experience the beautiful colors of sunset and sunrise, and the star-speckled sky at night.
As for my sister, James and I, we decided to stay just for the afternoon. When the sun’s heat is at its height. But what is a sun-kissed skin to a fun experience right?
It has been the policy of LGU Matalom and Marina Coast Guard not to allow trips to the islet beyond 5 pm for safety and security reasons. Tourists who intend to stay for an overnight must cross to the island before the mentioned time, while those who don’t must sail back to Santa Fe port before at 4 pm.
Matalom’s katahum is indeed priceless. There are far more secret havens this town can offer. All it takes is a mind set for an adventure, a heart humble enough to respect nature’s beauty and two feet willing to wander to far-off places.
Here’s to exploring more of Leyte. Carpe diem!
If you ever go and do it for the Gram, take your trash with you — every piece, every gram.