Sunday, July 27, 2014

SIWSIWAN : waterfalls and the story behind the name

"I went back to San Gabriel, La Union to see a small waterfall at a sitio in barangay Amontoc and in the process, I got to know the story behind the sitio's name which is SIWSIWAN"
San Gabriel is a municipality of La Union where you can find the famous Tangadan Falls at the outskirt of barangay Amontoc.
Barangay Amontoc is located at the mountain part of San Gabriel and it is divided into smaller places called sitios and one of these sitios of Barangay Amontoc is sitio Siwsiwan where my "pagnapagna" took place last July 26, 2014.

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.

If you find this story/blogpost interesting and/or had helped you in any way (in your researches, works, travels, blogs, adventures, homeworks at school, a personal project and more), I'd like to hear a word or two from wonderful people like you or simply Like "pagnapagna" in Facebook. I'd be very thankful. It gives me inspirations. Cheers!

-my pagnapagna-

After a tricycle ride from San Gabriel town proper to sitio Kilat, I walked the cemented road going up to barangay Amontoc (6:52 am). Passed by the Amontoc welcome arch at 7:22 am and finally arrived at the farmland area of sitio Siwsiwan at 7:51 am.

The welcome arch of Barangay Amontoc

I sat and rested at a waiting shed located near a store overlooking a rice field area. The waiting shed has wooden posts and corrugated galvanized iron sheet roofing. Inside the shed were children playing "kampuso" (top). At a distance, people were busy plowing their fields for planting rice.

I can not bother them working at the rice fields so i went to talk to the old men sitting on a bench at a backyard.
I approached them and said, "Naimbag nga bigat yu manong, mabalin agdamag?" (Good morning sir, can i ask a question?).
"Ayan na kadi ditoy diyay sangbay ti Siwsiwan?" (Where can i find the waterfalls of Siwsiwan?), I added.
"Ay baka diyay sangbay ti Tangadan ti kunkunam?" (Oh, maybe it is Tangadan waterfalls you are saying?), he answered back.
I told them "Haan manong, gamin idi immayak idi ditoy nga mapan idiay Tangadan adda nakasaok nga kunana ket ada pay sangbay dita nga banda nga adda kanu bato nga ada ti karus-karus na nga inusar idi ti tattao" (No sir, when i came here before on my way to Tangadan falls i happen to talked to someone who said that there is also a waterfalls somewhere over there where there is also a rock with shallow holes used by people back then).
"Ah wen adda idiay nga banda" (Ah yes, there is somewhere over there), he answered.
We went to see the man who can show me the way to the waterfalls but unfortunately he was not at home and gone to the fields to plow.
I asked for a younger guide but he said that the younger ones do not know the rock area and the story behind it.
Afterwards, i had convinced him to be my guide.

My Impromptu Guide
He is "Lauian Flores", around 72 years of age and who was there looking after his two grandchildren.

He said that he will just bring back home his grandchildren. Afterwards we went walking the cemented road going north and then went off-road to a cemented trail along the rice fields where a creek runs below.
We passed by a residential area of some few houses then went down along the creek and into the forest then finally, went back down to the creek where just few meters was the tip of the waterfalls.
At the creek, we went looking for the rock and seen some but not really sure if it is was the one.

Manong Lauian explaining what the holes are for but still, 
not sure if this was the specific rock used

The Rock and the name of the place
The story states that (by the elders in the area) the big rock was used by earlier settlers.
During those days, "ugsa" (deers) and "alingo" (wild boars) were still abundant. They were hunted and then butchered at that particular area and afterwards the people would take feast. That particular rock was used as a table and because it has that natural upheavals on its surface, it acts as plate or small basins where they can pour vinegars with hot peppers. These vinegars with hot peppers or chilli are where they dip the meats of hunted wild animals thus the word "siwsiwan" or in tagalog "sawsawan". "Siwsiwan" is a local term for where you dip your food as in gravy or sauce but in this case is a vinegar with chili.
In the passage of time, the place was popular for that activity and so as the name "Siwsiwan" was used as the sitio's name.

Looking for the siwsiwan stone. 
I think we are standing at a table top here!

I went to look just near the edge of the waterfall where the distant low lying sitio of Salsalomague can be seen below. I asked manong "Lauian" if he knew how to get below and near the falls to look at it in its entirety but he seems to not know.
Afterwards we went to another trail going back to the road.

going back towards the road via another trail along the mountain side

At another waiting shed by the roadside we saw "Mario" who can show us the way down to the base of the waterfalls but his feet were aching that day so he just instructed my companion manong "Lauian" on how to get there.
We just went on circles so we went back where we came from. On the way, he went to get his machete which we will be needing it when we get down to the waterfalls.

With his barrio-mate who was on her way 
to plant "gabi" or taro at his farm

We also stopped by at a sari-sari store to have a snack which is owned by his married daughter and she is the mother of the little kids he has been with when i first talked to him that morning.
On our way back to the same trail, we passed by again on the residential area where he jokingly said "ada nalipatan mi, apan mi subliyen ta baka maiyanod" (we forgot something, we are going back to get it for it might get washed away)
Usually, people tend to think that we were treasure hunters and looking for gold that's why he jokingly said that.

One of the few residential house along the trail

We walked the same trail until near the creek where we got another trail going to the side of the mountain. Before we went down, he made some trekking poles out of a tree and bamboo.
The trail was very steep and the soil was a little bit loose that you can slide dangerously. The trekking poles was a great help as we went down.

Because i did not invest in a good quality short pants, along the steep trail going down, i can hear my shorts getting ripped-off and it got bigger and bigger as we went farther. Besides it was very old with some patches.

Clearing the way with his machete

We were nearly at the level of the upper base of the waterfalls when we traversed towards the waterfalls.
Finally we made it to the base of the waterfalls.

Forgive the attire, I think I'm ready to go surfing here  :)

I removed my ripped shorts to freely walk on top of the boulders and prevent it from getting bigger (I had a swimming trunks as under shorts).

Lingered there for a while and after i took some photos and videos, we went back on the trail (11:53 am). As we approached the residential area, i wore back my short pants even though there was a gaping hole in it.
At the residential area he again jokingly said "haan mut maala dyay gold" (The gold can not be taken) and they had some joyful conversations. 
Mang "Lauian" told me that before, someone dreamed that there was a gold hidden at the holes of the said rock along the river so they went looking for it but they did not found anything.
We continued walking along the cemented trail towards the main road. There, besides the small bridge was a water buffalo (carabao), it kinda looked towards me in an intimidating way as if ready to charge me with his horns. But everything went well.

The water buffalo (carabao) along the small bridge 
towards the main road

As we walked along the road, it began to drizzle. We finally reached the sari-sari store of his daughter at 36 minutes pass noontime. There we ate fish "sinigang" (a kind of savory sour soup) and offered them the bananas i bought downtown early that morning. It rained heavily as we ate.
Afterwards, i borrowed their thread and needle to sew that gaping hole in my short pants. 
The rain had subsided, I thanked them (gave mang "Lauian" something in return for being my guide) and went back walking down the road (1:25 pm), passed by the Amontoc welcome arch (1:43 pm) and arrived at sitio Kilat at 2:10 pm where i rode a tricycle back to downtown San Gabriel.
At San Gabriel public market, i went to eat again and afterwards rode a jeep to get me back to Home Sweet Home.

-end of pagnapagna-

As of September 2016, every visitors are required to register and pay a certain fee at the San Gabriel PNP (Police) office.

Subject  : "Siwsiwan" Falls
Location : Sitio of Siwsiwan
                Barangay of Amontoc
                Municipality of San Gabriel
                Province of La Union

How to get there:
From Manila, take a bus bound for any of these: Laoag City (Ilocos Norte), Vigan City (Ilocos Sur), Candon City (Ilocos Sur), Bangued (Abra), San Fernando City (La Union). You have to get down at San Fernando City and go to the jeep terminal bound for San Gabriel, La Union. At San Gabriel (La Union) you may take a ride on a passenger motorbike or take a hike and ask directions going to sitio Siwsiwan, Barangay Amontoc.
You may also visit the San Gabriel Municipal Hall.
 © All original content copyright sparkPLUG, 2012-2014. Please ask permission for content use.

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