It started last Monday at work, while I was making my usual morning cup of coffee. I overheard one of the secretaries chatting with a friend of mine from HR. They were talking about filling up the slots of an organized white water rafting trip so that everyone on the van knew each other. My friend from HR caught sight of me and casually asked, “Hey, wanna go white water rafting in Real?”
I, just as casually, replied, “Sure. Can I bring my boyfriend?”
“Yeah, we still need to fill up more slots.”
And that’s how Derick and I ended up spontaneously joining a white water rafting trip.
I mostly know Real for its beaches, although I have yet to go; and also its waterfalls. I didn’t know you could go river rafting there. But that Saturday, we got to experience all three!
The day started off tiring as hell for me. School has started up again (ugh) and this semester, I haven’t got any Saturday classes. Which is great for my lakwatsera ways. Not so much for my sleep schedule. My classes end at 8:30PM, and meetup at Jollibee Cubao for me and my friends was at 2:30 – in the morning. So I had six hours to pack, grab what sleep I could, and then haul ass from Diliman to Cubao. Glorious.
I left UP at a little past 9:00PM after grabbing some dinner with old classmates, and headed to my boyfriend’s apartment in Sampaloc where I’d stashed my backpack. Took a shower, got dressed, and had a couple hours of sleep before my alarm woke me back up. Blearily, I brushed my teeth, ate a hasty breakfast of coffee and pan de sal, then Derick and I took an Uber to Jollibee Cubao.
My coworker Ate Chai had organized the trip, so thank God, I had nothing to do but clamber into the van and sleep. I was only vaguely aware of heading east, circling the Laguna de Bay via Antipolo, before heading up north. I drifted in and out of sleep, only finally awakening at 6:00AM when the driver yelled out that we’d arrived.
The jump-off point for river rafting in Real, Quezon is along a highway in Barangay Tanauan. You can’t miss it – there’s a giant sign, plus the locals who run the activity lounging by sari-sari stores, makeshift rafts of bamboo and salbabida at their feet.
We all changed into our rashguards and began a short trek from the highway down to the river. The river rafting course started at a gentle, shallow bend. On the shores, the local paddlers gave us a quick safety briefing, arranged us three to a raft, and off we went.
The first half of the river rafting was quite calm and pleasant. I had the chance to get some really good shots of the river, which I found out from the guy paddling our raft was called the Tignoan.
We even got to learn a little about the history of Barangay Tanauan. Years ago, back when environmentalism was less of a concern, the fast-flowing river was used to transport illegally cut down trees from logging sites down to factories in bigger cities. However, when flooding and erosion became an issue, the local government cracked down hard on illegal logging. To maintain their livelihood, the locals again turned to the river. But instead of transporting logs, they decided to transport tourists instead, and started up the white water rafting activity.
Presently, we came upon a sort of junction in the river, which turned out to be a small creek that flowed into the Tignoan. Up on the side of the creek was a small path through the forest which, according to the locals, led to the Bagumbong Waterfalls. After a short five-minute hike, we arrived at the falls which was the source of the little tributary we’d seen earlier.
We spent about an hour at the falls, swimming and taking pictures (mostly taking pictures, because everyone in this group is a massive instahoe). Then we headed back to the river…and the real fun began.
I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.
Ladies and gents, feast your eyes on an up close and personal look at the Tignoan River, courtesy of me being clumsy and almost falling in if not for my boyfriend grabbing the back of my rashguard and pulling me to safety.
After another hour, the river rafting adventure ended. Cold, tired, hungry, but super stoked, we went back up to the highway, where we were able to buy lomi and coffee at the sari-sari stores. The lomi, by the way, absolutely hit the spot. Perfect after getting tossed around in a raging river!
By then, the sun had started to come out. We decided to head to Balagbag Falls, which is one of the more popular waterfall destinations in Quezon. Unlike the Tignoan River and the Bagumbong Falls, which we had all to ourselves, Balagbag Falls was full of people. We didn’t mind though. There weren’t too many – just a couple of families. The rest of my coworkers decided to climb up to the second tier of the waterfalls, but Derick and I were tired, so we found a comfy spot by the water and decided to take a nap.
Let me tell you this: it was the most restful sleep I’ve ever had in my entire life. The sunlight was filtering through the tree canopy overhead; there was the sound of running water, and the muted chirping of birds and murmur of people conversing; there was a soft breeze, and the rock I was lying on was warm and smooth. Derick and I woke up nearly two hours later feeling refreshed and raring to go!
For lunch, we headed to the beach. Real is on the northwestern coast of Luzon, so there’s beaches aplenty to be found, with shores fronting the majestic Pacific Ocean. After a simple but delicious meal of spicy squid, sinigang, itlog na maalat, and fried rice, a bunch of us went to frolic in the water (while the rest went to sleep in the kubo.)
Our last stop for this trip was the Pilila Windmills in Tanay, Rizal – which were actually visible from the peak when we hiked Mt. Paliparan. We got there just as the sun was setting, meaning, yes – golden hour! The windmills were such a treat to photograph – not to mention the numerous food stalls sated our hunger with chicken skin, green mangos and bagoong, isaw, corn with butter and cheese, ice scramble, and siomai.
I couldn’t tell you anything about the logistics of this trip because, as the DIY traveler parlance goes, joiner lang ako. But it was the first trip I took this 2018, and it was a great one, so I definitely had to write about it and share my photos.
Also, I’ve never tried river rafting before, so here’s to opening my 2018 with a new experience!