Thursday, July 20, 2017

A Walk Along the River Trail to Tangadan Falls 2017


"The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail. Travel too fast and you miss all you are travelling for."
-Louis L'Amour

Please let us practice the LNT (Leave No Trace) outdoor ethics/principles when going to these nature places.
Manage our waste products properly (pack it in, pack it out), don't leave your trash. Let us not vandalize/write/etch on its rock surfaces as well as on trees. Be respectful of the community's culture and traditions.

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-my pagnapagna-
(July 19, 2017 a Wednesday)

I've been to Tangadan Falls many times since my very first visit back in April of 2012. I used the mountain trail via Kilat-Amontoc and only got to know the river trail (via Duplas) when I met sir Samuel Cabading who encouraged me to use that trail on a rainy January day back in the year 2013.

One of my high school batch-mate living in Baguio City just recently private messaged me in facebook about his family's plan to visit Tangadan Falls in the coming weeks. I got questions from him which I myself do not know or not sure of the answers, like for example, the cost for hiring guides and the state of the river trail on this season of late afternoon monsoon rains.

I decided to visit the waterfalls for the "_nth" time and while at it, give something back to the nature that had opened its forest for a trail leading to this beautiful destination. I do agree that nature was my refuge and will always be from the urban living.

Early morning, 6:09 am, when the jeep bound for San Gabriel departed San Fernando City, La Union with 26 fare. Passed by the surfing area at Urbiztondo (San Juan, La Union) at around 6:22 am and the San Juan municipal plaza at 6:27 am. Finally arriving at downtown San Gabriel around 6:56 am. I alighted at the Farmer's Market, went to eat pinapaitan for breakfast and afterwards visited the nearby Municipal Hall.
At the Municipal Hall area, I went to the Police Station and informed the police officer on desk that I was going to Tangadan Falls. He just let me sign-in at a log book and advised me to go and pay at the municipal treasurer's office if it's open. Since it was still too early in the morning and office hours had not started, I'll just go to Tangadan for there is also a fee collector in that area. On my way out from the police station, I met Reymond, one of the guide, and he was with a group of tourists. I just asked him about the guide fees which was 500 for a group of 5 to 8 people.
"Apan ka Tangadan?" (Going to Tangadan?), he asked me. "Wen" (Yes), I answered back. He said, "Sumorot kan a kenyami" (Go with us). "Haan ta ada pay aramidek, agpidot ak ti rugit" (No, I'll do something. I'll be picking trash), I replied.
Reymond was one of the guides I met at Tangadan Falls and he always see me walking my way in and out of Tangadan as they passed-by on a vehicle (at mountain route via Amontoc) or walking along the river trail.
I rode a tricycle that departed San Gabriel town proper at 7:19 am, passed-by the barangays of Bumbuneg and Bucao and arrived at barangay Duplas (San Juan, La Union) to the trailhead at 7:31 am with 40 fare.
I started walking on a road going down to the rice fields. There was a muddy area of the road but further down, it was being covered with gravel by the construction workers of the irrigation canal and dam.
Walking along the mountainside by the river, I noticed that the irrigation canal's wall was raised a foot or two feet higher and it was being sealed on top with concrete slab where one can walk on it as a wider pathway but still, one have to pass carefully as from time to time rocks may fall down on that mountain rock face.
Through the newly renovated irrigation dam, I went to the other side of the river which was the San Gabriel side and I started picking up... picking up the litters.

Standing at the San Gabriel side looking towards the Bagulin side

Picking up the plastics that eventually find their way to the adjacent Baroro river, down to the sea and not clogging city's drains but the stomachs of most sea creatures. One thing more is that they also don't look good in the nature trail, we like it green and as much as possible all natural, don't we all agree?
The river had swelled a little and crossing the river was a tricky task. I saw a freshly cut bamboo pole bridge laid side by side with no handrail. Its opposite ends barely and loosely on top of the rocks. Using it needs a balancing act which I doubt having it at that time as I had a backpack with a considerable weight. I went on further on the trail and seen a safer, shallow area to cross the river. The rocks were mostly slippery too during these rainy days.
I was then at the other side of the river which was the Bagulin, La Union side of the trail. After the rice fields, into the forest trail again and the picking-up continued.

Plastic bottles tops the list of litters along the trail and others, to name a few were: 
drinking plastic cups,
little jelly cups,
plastic bottle cups,
ice candy plastic wrappers,
candy wrappers,
juice drink containers,
rubber shoe sole,
plastic bottle labels,
even sanitary pads,
San mig light beer bottles

Now, who will use them in the forest?

I think I've seen one designated trash area along the trail (if it was) wherein there was a sack on a pole, few plastic bottles and other trash around it which I believe they, the guides etc., will be collecting it on a designated day/s. I also noticed that there were some pile of plastics (mostly plastic water bottles) that were just burnt to get rid of it.
My large plastic bag was already filled. At the Diso-or area (the diving spot halfway along the trail), I sat down beside a hut and flattened the plastic bottles so that it won't occupy a large space. As I stamped them one by one, I said to myself, "kastoy gayam ti ritna ti basurero" (so this is how it feels to be a garbage collector). Picking up others' trash, how are we so inconsiderate to others. What thus the local residents might say when they see trash along the once pristine trail that they used to since they were young? We should remember that we were visitors to their lovely place. A passers-by or "nakikiraan" lang.
Having said that, it is more of a self-discipline and a way of life. What we do is a reflection of ones up-bringing.

Rest for a while, after stamping those plastic bottles

I kept walking. Nobody's home at the stores along the way as it was off-season for tourists and it was not a weekend. I picked up. My large plastic bag was filled and there were no more space for trash. It was frustrating that I can not pick them all up specially those piles of plastic bottles.
I was at a river crossing again. As the river had swelled, it flowed strongly. I had to confirm which was the best and safest way to cross the river from a local resident swimming nearby (Although I've been in the same "river crossings" last year). Carefully and slowly, I bravely dipped my feet on the river flowing strongly and made my way to the other side. Walking further, after that bedrock area, I dipped again to the waters to finally get into the Tangadan Falls area. Passed by a shed filled with life vest for rent and asked the smiling women on the table where can I put the trash. They pointed to a blue plastic drum. There I rest my load of trash gone astray. They were finally Home Sweet Home. Well, almost to their final destination.
I went to the desk nearby and paid 30 as environmental fee. The for rent sheds were now relocated at the concrete steps area above, away from the immediate area of Tangadan Falls.

For inquiries:
PNP Station - 0915-9787-272/0928-7802-268
Information Officer - 0917-7943-484

Sat down for a moment at the natural rock formation overlooking the waterfalls and its pool area. Went down, took some photographs and videos, then left.
Back to the trail and arrived at the trailhead in barangay Duplas, San Juan, La Union. I saw sir Samuel Cabading at the residential area who got me a tricycle ride going back to downtown San Gabriel.
At San Gabriel town proper, I rode a jeep bound for San Fernando City and eventually, I was Home Sweet Home.

-end of pagnapagna-

For other posts with Tangadan Falls:


Subject: Tangadan Falls
Barangay Amontoc
Municipality of San Gabriel
Province of La Union
How to get there:
From Manila, ride a bus bound for any of these North western Luzon places: Laoag City (Ilocos Norte), Vigan City (Ilocos Sur), Candon City (Ilocos Sur), Bangued (Abra) and San Fernando City (La Union) but you have to get down at either City proper/plaza of San Fernando (La Union) or downtown San Juan (La Union) at their plaza.

At San Fernando City, La Union:
-Ride a tricycle or walk your way to the terminal area of jeeps bound for San Gabriel. The jeep is parked at Gov. Ortega Street corner P. Burgos Street near the Old San Fernando Supermarket

At San Juan, La Union:
-Wait for the jeep bound for San Gabriel at the waiting shed of the municipal Plaza. The jeeps are the ones coming from San Fernando City.

At San Gabriel town proper:
Visit their Municipal Hall or the Police Station where you can inquire further and ask for guides (with fee) if necessary.
-There are two routes going to the waterfalls:
1st Route: Mountain Road (Via Kilat-Amontoc)
-take a passenger motor bike and back-ride going to Sitio Kilat of barangay Bumbuneg, up to the mountain top barangay of Amontoc and to the drop-off area. Then walk your way down to the waterfalls for around 10 to 15 minutes. Going back will require an uphill hike.
-private vehicle :  the driver must be familiar driving on a steep (uphill) one-lane mountain road. Ask directions or get a guide with you.
2nd Route: River trail (Via Duplas)
-ride a tricycle going to barangay Duplas at the trailhead area. Just tell the driver that you are going to Tangadan Falls. At the trailhead (Barangay Duplas of the Municipality of San Juan), walk your way along the trail going to Tangadan Falls for around an hour or more depending upon your pace. The trail at the south of the river is under the jurisdiction of the municipality of San Juan (at the trailhead) and Bagulin (most of the trail), while the north of the river is of San Gabriel. During the rainy season, the river will swell and rise that having guide/s with the right equipment and training for safely crossing the river (2 to 3 times) is necessary or you may be asked to use the 1st route which is through the mountains and does not require river crossing.
At Tangadan Falls area:
-you will be asked to pay an environmental fee


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