Friday, April 4, 2014

Mankayan fet. DECCAN Falls

"Here i met Mr. Soriano and a man's best friend named Brownie"
Please practice the leave no trace outdoor ethics when going to these nature places. Let us not vandalize, put graffiti on their rocks and stone walls. Manage and dispose our waste products properly.

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-my pagnapagna-
(April 3, 2014)

Luckily, there was a passenger van bound for Baguio City that early 2:48 morning of April 3, 2014. I was waiting for the big bus particularly a "Partas Bus" here in La Union when i chanced upon the said van. The van arrived at Baguio City at 4:12 am.

In Baguio City, there were passenger vans at the back of Baguio Center Mall (Dangwa Bus Station) but i opted to ride a jeep and then ride another passenger van bound for Mankayan at a gas station in La Trinidad. It was 4:45 am when the passenger van i rode on left La Trinidad and had a stop-over at Sayangan, Atok, Benguet at around 6:05 am. I decided to just get down at barangay Abatan, Bugias, Benguet at 7:14 am and paid 110 pesos as fare.
Abatan is a busy central district of the municipality of Bugias. Others call it "Abatan 90" to distinguish it from the other places that are also called Abatan. It is a meeting point of some of the main roads leading to the other municipalities as well as other provinces.
Hungry and have not eaten my breakfast, i went to eat a bowl full of  "papaitan" (soup with beef meat and innards and bile) at a restaurant called "Farmer's Den". It was just uneasy to eat at that time of the year as it was the season when "black peppers fly". Lots of flies (langaw in Tagalog and "ngilaw" in Iloco/Ilocano) are flying around but other than that the "papaitan" was good.
Just few meters away were the jeeps bound for Mankayan.
It was a 25 to 30 minutes jeep ride going to the town center of Mankayan from Abatan, Bugias. The jeep unloaded us passengers in front of the municipal gymnasium and from there i went up to the Municipal Hall to do some inquiries.
Inside the Municipal hall, the front desk endorsed me to the Mayor's office at the second floor. There i got to talk to Mr. Rommel Sayud Del-isen an Administrative Officer V (5). He briefed me on how to get to the different tourist spots of Mankayan. Areas such as the Palpalaidan slides, Mada-ew falls, Am-am view deck and the Golf course. He added that their Municipal Hall is also with historical significance and a tourist spot since this is where they patterned the design of the Provincial Capitol of Benguet located at La Trinidad.

The Mankayan Municipal Hall
A map of Mankayan at the floor of the lobby of Mankayan Municipal Hall
showing its different Barangays
From the Viewing deck of Mankayan Municipal Hall overlooking downtown Mankayan
Through Mr. Rommel Sayud Del-isen's instructions on how to get to the "Deccan Falls", i went on my way for the said waterfalls.
I walked along a cemented road just north of the Municipal Hall and beside an Anglican Church, there i passed by the Tabio Barangay Hall and a cemetery until i reached the end of the road. I bought a bottled water at a store and asked directions. The lady at the store told me to just walk on the cemented trail along the houses. Few meters away from the store, along the cemented trail, i asked directions again. A young boy showed me the continuing path which was a rough trail going down the mountainside and he added that i will be crossing two bridges.

The Anglican Church with the road going to Deccan falls at its side

On my own, i walked down the mountainside trail. Going farther down the trail, the trees were wittered, their needles are dead and brown in color, their lower trunks blackened and the grasses where gone if not black and brown. I felt the heat radiating from the area even when there were no fire or smoke present. Only the remnants of a devastating fire that must have happened earlier can be seen.

Blackened lower trunks of pine trees

On a clearing, at the mountainside trail, the waterfalls can be seen faraway at the other mountain above the rice terraces.

I walked farther down towards the stream below and saw the first bridge which confirmed that i was on the right track. It is a short and old hanging bridge.

The first Hanging bridge along the trail

Walking farther on a trail led me to the second hanging bridge. Halfway along the bridge, i saw an old man and his dog as they went down the slopes towards the bridge. I went near where he was as i smiled at him. He looked at me and smiled back (deep inside i said, it is my lucky day). I greeted him and asked :
"Naimbag nga aldaw mo manong, datoy ba mapan ediay Deccan Falls?" (Good morning to you sir, is this the way to Deccan Falls?). "Wen isu datoy, ngem narigat ti mapan dita tani nasamek pay lang ti dalan. Nu kayat mu mapan ka ditanay ta makitam entero dayta falls ti addayu" (Yes it is, but it is very hard to go there now because of the overgrowth of grass and shrubs along the trail. If you like you can go there and see it from a distance) he answered back referring to a hill fronting the waterfalls.

The second Hanging bridge going to Deccan Falls

Upon hearing what he said, i said to myself, i did not came here this far to just look at the waterfalls from a distance, i should be more intimate with it and touch its water if i can.
I asked him "Manong baka adda ammum nga mang-guide kenyak nga mapan ediay mismo waterfalls?" (Sir maybe you know one who can guide me to the waterfalls itself?). "Agawidak kuman ngem siak ngaruden. Adda ngarud ti balon ta ba dita nga makan?" (I was going home but I can be your guide then. Do we have food we can eat there?" he answered. "Adda saggaysa ta nga tinapay ditoy manong" (I have two breads here, one each for the two of us) i replied back. He smiled and laugh a little.
He was my official guide then with a fee.
With him as my guide, together with his dog on a leash, we went walking on another trail that will lead to the base of the waterfalls. We passed by rice fields and terraces which are locally called "payao". There was another hanging bridge (3rd bridge) which we crossed to get to the other rice fields near the base of the mountain where the waterfalls were.

The rice terraces or "payao" along the way

Along the way, we made a stop-over at one of the hut of the farmers. There were two women farmers (relatives of the wife of my guide) having their snack of "chesa" fruit who offered us of the same. It was my first time to taste the fruit again since my childhood days. There, we got to drink water which they got it from springs. I also left my backpack at their hut as we went on to the base of the waterfalls.

We had our stop-over here in this farmer's hut
I was very curious of what was that knotted grass
doing in his "pasiking" (native backpack).
They told me that this denotes that currently the person
has a dead relative or a love one departed. A tradition to them.

With him leading the way, together with his dog on a leash, we walked on the streams from the waterfalls. We climbed on some rocks until we reached near its base.

I had a wet shoes here

After i took some photos and videos of the waterfalls, we headed back to where i left my backpack at the farmer's hut. 
At the hut, with their amazing hospitality, we had blanched "kamote" tops (sweet potato tops) seasoned with salt, eaten with rice and with hot coffee on the side. It was simply delicious!

I am really grateful of their hospitality.
I got my backpack, thanked them, said good bye and we went back to the trail. I had trouble while walking on the edges of the rice terraces because as they irrigate the rice paddies, most parts of it had softened and turned muddy, with my heavy weight and backpack i sink to the mud so i had to turn around and try another path while my guide waits ahead (he is lighter than me). After we passed the rice terraces and the other two hanging bridges, we went on the all-uphill-hike at the mountainside. While we walked uphill, i got to know my guide better.

My impromptu Guide and his dog

He is Bernie Soriano Sr., 60 plus years old, a native of San Fabian, Pangasinan and had worked at a mining company during his early days. He said they even sold scrap metals before when he was still single and now married to a woman from Mankayan. He usually goes down everyday to the "payao" (rice terraces) to check the irrigation of the rice paddies especially that he just came from Pangasinan and did not get to visit the "payao" for some days. He added that i was lucky that i met him that day for if not i would not get near or even see the waterfalls which is very true and i agree 100 percent with what he said.
I recall, the women on the farmer's hut even said to me "Naanus ni Soriano" (Soriano is very Patient)
He added that many years back, at one time he served as a guide to some engineers who went getting samples of the rocks and sands on the river. They hiked the river until nighttime and they had helicopter hovering above them.
"Brownie" is his dog. His companion all the time as he goes up and down at the mountainside to and from the rice terraces. The dog helps him in a way to pull him up along the trail and make the trip lighter.

Together with his dog. A man's best friend indeed.
As we looked back from where we came 
We reached the area where there seems to be a fire that had happened. I asked him what had happened here. He said that there was a forest fire last Saturday (March 29) and they had to put off the fire first-hand together with many tricycle drivers while the firefighters came later on. The fire was said to have been started by teenagers.

He explained to me what had happened here
We finally reached the residential area above and had a snack at a local sari-sari store. He told me that he will be going to downtown later on to buy medicine through the fee i gave him for guiding. 
We then parted ways and i went on walking back towards the Municipal Hall.

I sat down on a rip-rap's low wall overlooking downtown Mankayan
and changed my muddy and wet rubber shoes to get into slippers
while sounds of karaoke were emanating from the bars below.
From the Municipal hall, i went for a short stroll around downtown Mankayan and went to see their Church.

One of the many churches at Mankayan. This one is the Roman Catholic Church
A view from the church ground towards the Municipal Hall

Afterwards, i went back at the jeep terminal fronting the municipal gymnasium and rode a jeep going back to Abatan, Bugias Benguet.

-end of pagnapagna-

Subject  : Deccan Falls
Location : Municipality of Mankayan
                Province of Benguet

How to get there:

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