The Itbog Twin Falls in Lake Buhi

The Second Part of “A Little Farm and a Grand Lake Nearby”

A Motor Boat Gently Glides in the tranquil Lake Buhi

The meeting point with my nephew Vince and his classmates was at the newly built port that also serves as a dike protecting the low-lying public market against the seasonal swelling of Buhi Lake with the monsoon rains. Walking to the western end of the levee, the stretch ends in a rocky ridge that has natural features perfect for landscape photography. It was only about 300 meters away, but seemed like so remote from the hubbub of the market. The short distance dampened the dissonance and obscured the cacophony by the harmonious chirping of vibrant birds harbored in the promontory.

The forest surrounding the lake is the home of at least 25 bird species. The five endemic species are the Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker, Philippine Hanging Parrot or Culasisi, Black-naped Monarch, Elegant Tit and the White-eared Brown Dove. Other fauna found in the forest are flying lizards (Draco sp.), skinks, monitor lizards (Varanus marmoratus), civet cats, bats and the Philippine Cynomolgus monkey (Macaca fasicularis).
From top right clockwise: Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker; White-Eared Brown Dove; Elegant Tit; Monitor Lizard; Flying Lizard (Draco sp.); Black-Naped Monarch; Philippine Hanging Parrot; and Philippine Cynomolgus Monkey. Photos in this collage are from free-sharing online sources.

There had been many places that stirred me to take endless shots trying different lenses in all possible perspectives with various camera settings. And, there are places wherein you just want to have few shots done so you can put your gadgets to rest beside you and get lost in your thoughts admiring the natural splendor. Places that just allow the mind to wander freely and declutter from the absurdities of the civilized world. A place where you feel breaking free from the dictates of pundits of modern day slavery. I was sitting on one of those kind of places for an hour and wish I could have stayed much longer – but it was time to meet the guys.

The rocky formation at the end of the dike.

After briefly introducing ourselves to each other and ran a final check of our provision, we talked to one of the boat operators and easily clinched a deal. Someone was dropping us to our destination, the Itbog Twin Falls located in a sparsely inhabited village at the other side of the lake. The same boat would have to come back for us later in the afternoon just before sundown. Without losing more time, we all boarded the motorized boat together with few other passengers with their merchandises. The boatman alone at the stern started the engine that stuttered for a while before it went steadily chugging on the placid water. We watched the people at the port as they became smaller and smaller until they all disappeared from view. We remained seated charmed by the serene magnificence of the surrounding water. I went out of the roofed arcade and stayed at the bow to have an unobstructed view. Soon, I was joined by the group as they got ready to do their assignment.

Vince Taday, one of my nephews, a senior high school student at the same school I finished high school 50 years ago – University of Northeastern Philippines, formerly Mabini Memorial Colleges in Iriga City.

It was amusing to observe the enthusiastic travel vloggers as they started filming selfies with their spontaneous commentaries. I then realized that I was witnessing the new generation of high school students who were born with the technology that would shape their role in their own identifiable generation. Was I born in a transient generation exulting narrative writing that had somehow kindled my passion in travel literature that was going to be extinct soon? Sometimes referred to as travelogue, it is a subcategory in which its earliest written samples include Pausanias’ Description of Greecein the 2nd century CE. I couldn’t help but wonder if these young boys were now leaving behind that period. Instead, they have started the era of their own mode of recording visual story telling.

The delightful boat trip was short and we were already approaching the irregular escarpment that serves as the natural port of the farming village. We could already discern the few scattered thatched-roof houses tucked in the dense foliage of the vast mountainous range enclosing the lake.

The narrow road is as exciting as the destination.

We trudged rather easily for only about an hour the sinuous narrow path with couple of stops more than enough to catch breath along the way until we made it to one of the major water sources, the Itbog River. However, climbing the steep wall of the gorge was perilously strenuous to get closer to the twin falls itself.  But the reward waits for those who brave! La voila, the jaw-dropping majestic twin falls! No one can resist the splendor of the cascading white water. I was completely enthralled by both its magnificence and the sheer power of the thunderous rush sixty meters down pounding very close from where we ended up at. Simply magical!

At the end of the rainbow, there’s a pot of gold.

Finally, the vloggers remembered the reason for coming to the place and soon became busy again filming the falls and the river from all angles, and of course, the surrounding lavish vegetation. They also interviewed three of the gracious inhabitants of the village who were all extremely proud of the twin falls. They cultivate the rice paddies of the narrow delta irrigated by the river diverging to several brooks and springs up to the mountains.

The group continued carrying out the task moving around and they even climbed up the steep scarp to have a plunging shot of the falls. We barely had an hour left when they were finally done. Not wasting a single minute more, we all jumped into the cool turbulent pools. Time went by in a flash but we couldn’t help staying for a little while longer although we knew that we would be running to catch the boat going home. 

The explorers reaping the reward: getting pampered by alternate gentle and hard massage from the rushing water that invigorates all sleeping muscles. No commercial jacuzzi can ever beat what nature freely provides. This is indulging in sheer luxury!

Still panting after an hour of brisk walking, we all managed to hop aboard the waiting boat moored among the huge boulders of the irregular coast where we had been dropped earlier. And there we all were, as the night slowly crept, the same boatman maneuvered us out of the rocky ridge and started the engine once more and it went plying the open lake. It was a lazy boat ride barely making gentle ruffles on the surface of the lake while we remained breathless gazing at the setting sun behind the thick cotton rolls of cloud. The immense sky slowly turned from mauve to crimson reminding me of the canvasses of impressionist painters in Musée d’Orsayin Paris. In front of us was the panoramic view of the grand splendor of Mount Iriga standing tall and mighty with its rugged peaks and steep scarps as it gently hides the ardent sun slowly sinking in the horizon. I was snapped out of my meditation as our boatman threw the anchor away in the clear shallow water of the now almost empty port.

Instead of rushing to the jeepney terminal, we decided we all wanted to linger for a little bit more and watched the setting sun behind the sleeping volcano.

The dormant volcano is also known as Mt. Asog which is one of the interconnected volcanic “breathers” in Bicol region comprised of at least 12 volcanic vent structures and complexes referred to as the “The Bicol Volcanic Arc”. Mt. Iriga is one of the three historically active, the other two being Mayon and Bulusan, and is considered the least active center of the arc having only two known recorded eruptions in historic times. Some historical studies claim that the catastrophic debris avalanche of Iriga volcano occurred during the 1628 CE eruption.

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