Cebu Destinations : Kabutongan Falls in Malabuyoc

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Have you ever dreamed of going in an adventure where you traverse dangerous waters to be rewarded with a breathtaking experience with an untouristed waterfall in the end? Then you are in the right blog to breath life into that dream. Kabutongan Falls in Malabuyoc offers such escapade for those with adventurous heart and the ultimate break to your mundane city life only to those who have the courage to embrace it. The river trek is more than enough to pump some adrenaline into your system and give your muscles a good stretching. You will be rewarded with one of the most satisfying waterfall experience for all your efforts and a good story to share to the monotonous city folks. Imagine a rock beautifully shaped by an undying flow of the waterfall dropping in the emerald colored water with cave swiftlets and bats flying in and out of the cave beneath it. I know it's too much for your senses to visualize I was overwhelmed too when I was there.





It was another weekend of adventure for the Project Waterfall team. We originally plan to explore Catmon and the town's hidden wonder  but we were discouraged by the commercialization of the area. Somehow for us it has lost its charm and add in the waiting list for people that you need to make a reservation first inorder to experience what is freely given by nature. So we decided to scratch it out of the list and go back to Alegria to conquer the remaining waterfalls and do a short side trip in Malabuyoc in the process.

That is how it came to be Malabuyoc was just a side trip and we are hoping to be done with the town before lunch but it turns out we spend majority of the day in this small municipality all because of that beautiful spot in Kabutongan. And we never regret a single moment of it.

It was Sunday and our thirst for adventure is burning like a midday sun. We left Cebu around 5 in the morning and arrived earlier than expected, a few minutes before 8 am. Based in our experience in that day we have proven that the non air-conditioned bus really is faster than the air-conditioned one plus it is much cheaper. I always prefer the latter because I crave for a good dose of fresh air in rural area and the unobstructed view of the scenic landscape is priceless. We get off the bus near the church of San Nicolas de Tolentino and I admire the cleanliness of this small town. They even have a free WiFi access in their waiting lounge.

We consumed our breakfast as fast as we can to save more time for the adventure ahead. We are a group of 8 explorers and we were supposed one more companion who spend an overnight vacation in the neighboring town. Unfortunately, that companion was unable to wake up early due to being drowned with booze and men the night before. For our itinerary going solo is possible but it is highly recommended to stick with a group because we spend most of our time making justifiable deals with habal-habal and tricycle drivers to take us where they don't usually go. It only costs us Php 10.00 per pax in going to Kabutongan from the Malabuyoc town proper in a tricycle.

The landmark where to stop is the wooden gate in the left side of the highway. From then on we took a short trek in a scenic forest that looks like the African Savannah and pass through a huge tower transmitter. We pass by a herd of goat and some domesticated dogs on the way. 



The first sign to know you are in the right path is a road which leads you down to a river and you can ask the locals here for directions. It is really not that hard you can just follow the source of the river. 



On the way to the waterfall, we meet a really enthusiastic local who shares a story with us about a cursed who was absorbed by the rock near the river. He even lead us to its location and said recently a lot of faith healers dig a piece of that rock for its healing qualities. As much as I love a good folklore story such as this I usually take it with a grain of salt. And I couldn't even make out a human feature in the rock and it is hard to spot due to its normalcy. He have to throw a stone directly into it so we would know where to look.



After almost a thirty minute relaxing trek, a beautiful small waterfall signal us that we are near our destination. A wooden arch welcomes us in the small resort they have build around the waterfalls. We paid the Php 10.00 entrance fee before we were let in and registered our name in the guestbook they have. The resort have small cottages, bathing area, diners and some small rooms for those planning of an overnight stay. Don't worry they have justifiable prices as of now for the establishment. 



Honestly, I was disappointed at first because I thought that was all there is to it. There is a clean river to dive in and a small waterfall that look more like a stream. The thoughts that keep running in my head at that time is we can't possibly be spending an hour in this dull place. I never expect a hidden beauty lurks somewhere in that area. As I was busy trying to get a good shot of waterfall I did not noticed my companions moved on to a path I did not noticed.



For those who possesses an adventurous spirit must proceed to the challenging river trek ahead. Leave all the dull companions in the comfort of the resort. Fortunately for our group we share that kindred spirit and accepted the challenge which awaits us even if not all of us are ready to face such ordeal. Another beautiful gateway of natural rock formation welcomed us to the starting point of the river trek. What awaits us is more than I anticipated and I was filled with so many emotions while traversing it alone. 




I have no idea what lies ahead of us so I guess that plays a huge part of my excitement in this experience. So I ask around if there's really a waterfall ahead. Hey! I have to make sure that my trek is worth it. I get a nod from almost every people I've encountered on the way. They say that it is not that far so that comes as a good reassurance on my part because I wanted to traverse it alone without any guide to lead me which way to take.


My explorer and loner side kicks in when I noticed the team left without me. I was like "screw them! I will enjoy this experience alone" in my head.  So instead of going in the regular route which is is by following the river I took the cliff side of the valley ignoring the danger sign the locals posted.

  That route started out as a breeze because there is a clear trail but as I go on I started to regret I ignored that signpost. The trail get really narrow and steep later on on and some parts I literally have nothing to step on so I mostly depend on some vines and rock to hold on to. In some parts I was literally hugging the side of the vale. Every time I look downwards to the team, who are having a hard time traversing through the huge boulders below, I got dizzy. I definitely have no fear for heights but in that situation it is so hard not experience an inkling of fear everytime I move my body to a foot barely holding on to a rock. My mind is filled with "what ifs" in that moment "what if I'd fall down that cliff will I be okay and still to continue this adventure..." add in the huge boulders waiting to catch me below if ever I'd be careless and accidentally made a wrong choice. 


Fortunately, the difficult level of this route was short lived and the trail go smoothly afterwards which lead me back to the river way ahead from the others. I look around when I was splashing my feet in the cold water not a single soul to accompany and I secretly love it. From here on it is the river that constantly present you with a fairly easy obstacles. In my case it added an extra challenge because I have no plan to swim around and as much as possible I avoid deep waters because I was carrying some gadgets in my not so waterproof knapsack.     


Probably out of pride and my competitive attitude I started a faster pace in traversing the river because I don't want the group to caught up with me. I want them to keep wondering where am I and be surprised to see in me first in the waterfall. I hop from one rock to another and sometimes literally crawl when I suspect the rock is slippy because of the moss growing above it.

Once in awhile I stop to catch my breath and be amaze of the beauty that surrounds me. The shade from the trees is a welcome comfort and the icy water helps in re-energizing my body whenever I dip my feet. The pair of a huge species of butterfly with a peach color dancing above added a magical feeling in the experience. They are like faeries guiding me in my solitary traverse in the river.


I reach a point in the river when the water collected to form a natural swimming pool and the flow once again shaped a natural slide which reminds me of the one in Da-o Falls. It saddened me deeply to see a lot of graffiti carved in the boulders surrounding it. When I got there I see a group of kids swimming and sliding through that small haven. I thought to myself I'm gonna give that slide a try like I did back in Da-o Falls.  


After almost an hour of river trekking I decided to stop for a couple of minutes to climb in a huge rock and look in a distance and wonder if the group decided to push through with the trek. Being alone in that dense forest with nothing but the flow of the river to serenade my ears can play tricks in my head. In an instance I thought I hear an almost muted female voice humming or maybe even chanting like I experienced in a waterfall inside the cave in Talisay.

I think it took me around 10 minutes of waiting in the rock that an urge in me to be alone with the waterfall came up again when I saw the kids which I pass by started going my way. I thought to myself that maybe have decided to give up so I went up and start my excursion once again. 

Surprisingly, I encountered one of our companions who was way ahead from us on his way back already. Elei was asking what happened with the others and I gave him an I-Don't-Know face while answering they have probably given up. He goes on illustrating how beautiful the waterfall not too far ahead. He decided to go help the others navigate because it would be regretful if they can't see it themselves. 

After a few minutes, I finally reach the bend where the waterfall is. It was not visible from that point and I have to navigate a deep water to see the glorious beauty of
Kabutongan waterfall. 

Fortunately, there are a group of five people when I got there and they did not stay long. Finally! I get to experience Kabutongan Falls all to myself. The guide of the group wave at me before they left that it is okay to bring a gadget as long as I follow the mound of sands that is barely visible. I was hesitant at first to bring my camera because I wouldn't know for sure where is the shallow part.


When it was finally my turn to dip into the river and walk to the bend I was filled with a mixed emotions of both excitement and tinge of fear. I grow up hearing mythical monsters from my old folks back at home and has become a believer of it unconsciously. There is this legendary river monster that they call Mantaga that is in the back of my mind in every waterfall chasing I did. Back in my province I used to hear tales of it terrorizing the people living near lakes and rivers. The way it was described it is actually a gigantic fresh water octopus which is capable of luring water buffalo with its tentacles and devouring it whole. I research it recently and it is quite known in the province of Cebu. Many reports said it likes to stay in submerged caves and waterfalls which is a perfect description of Kabutongan Falls.


The thought of this creature filled my head as I slowly enter the water. Each step I made is filled with uncertainty and what ifs. What if this creature comes out of its hiding and drag me into the water without anyone knowing because I was all alone at that time. I tried my best to push that thought out of my head as I go on. The water reaches around the level of my breast as I navigate that mound of sands slowly. Good thing there is a very shallow part where the sand comes out of the water and it even has a huge rock you get into if ever something happens. 

follow Elei IG account here : @iameleimath

As I navigated around the bend, the sight of Kabutongan Falls dazzled my senses. The imagery laid out before me was so unreal that I was left in awe for a few seconds. You have to be there to experience such beauty and a picture cannot replicate the experience. It is a horsetail type of waterfall which beautifully shaped the rock which it flows and there is an eerie cave behind it. The beauty of the waterfall and the eeriness of the cave makes up for a truly unforgettable experience. I can see swiftlets (balinsasayaw) and bats going in and out of the cave. When I look above me I see a sea of trees dancing as the wind passes by and their falling leaves reminding me there is no such thing as forever. 


My trance was broken when I hear a splash in the water. Can you imagine dropping an ink in a glass of water? That is how fast my fear quickly spread all throughout my system that in seconds I manage to get in top of the huge rock. To fully gaze the waterfall I submerged myself in a water at the level of my neck carrying my Lumix with me. It is a good thing I did not drop my handy camera into the water. My fear couldn't stop me at this time I go in and out of the water for a couple of times before deciding to go look for the others. 

follow Jun IG account here : @iamjumper

I saw them in a distance where I meet Elei on his way back. I stop and waited for them in that spot. I checked in a Google app wherein I record everything and we actually clocked in almost two hours getting to Kabutongan Falls. After reuniting with them we got back to the waterfall again and took a lot of photos and made memories. I'd say this is one of my most memorable waterfall chasing experience which explains how long this blog and I can highly recommend it to people who have a thirst of adventure. 

The Gang Enjoyed The Experience. Hope You Will Too!

HOW TO GET THERE?

STARTING POINT : South Bus Terminal, Cebu City
Tip! Take the earliest bus possible.
South Bus Terminal to Malabuyoc via Bus : Php 115.00 Travel Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
Malabuyoc to Kabutongan via Tricycle : Php 15.00 each Travel Time: 15 minutes
Kabutongan Trek to Waterfalls: Php 10.00 entrace fee 
Google's My Track App Recorded 1 hour 20 minutes of regular pace of the trek

DESTINATION: Kabutongan Waterfall, Malabuyoc

SUMMARY of EXPENSES:

Cebu to Malabuyoc Bus Fare : Php 115.00
Malabuyoc to Kabutongan Tricycly Fare : Php 15.00
Entrance Fee to Kabutongan Falls : Php10.00
Malabuyoc to Cebu : Php 115.00

TOTAL : Php 255.00 excluding food

Christian Vincent Literatus

Travel Blogger

Chris just loves to travel, and for a long time now has been drifting from place to place around the Philippines. With his combined passion for travel and photography, he’s managed to find himself in the middle of some magical moments and mind blowing scenery. The Bisdak Explorer is Chris’s way of sharing his experiences with you, and showcasing not just his travel photography, but the moments and stories behind those photos.

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