Thanks to how the Internet has evolved, people are learning about things that have been under their noses all along. For instance, it was only until travel blogs were ubiquitous and social media was rampant with
misinformation that I became aware of Bega Falls, located in the municipality just next to my hometown in the province of Agusan del Sur. Better late than never, I guess?
“Let’s go to Bega Falls tomorrow!” expressed a classmate during an afternoon trip to Pugad Beach—the only beach we had back in the day—in Surigao del Sur. Having had my fare share of drinks already, the declaration fell between “Let’s do it!” and “Sure, as long as everyone remembers it and wakes up on time tomorrow.”
The next thing I knew, I was packing stuff after groggily reading a message that we were supposed to have left 50 minutes ago.
As the future is nothing but uncertainties, at the time of writing getting on a flight to Butuan is the quickest way for you to biga at Bega Falls. Other options are the airports in and Surigao and Davao. Unless you’re taking the route from Surigao which doesn’t pass through Butuan, the point where you need to get off when taking public transportation is at Awa Junction (intersection) located in Prosperidad. It’s around 1.5 hours from Butuan and farther when coming from Davao.
If you’re taking public transportation all the way, there should be motorcycles known as “habal-habal” at Awa that can take you to Bega Falls which is part of Barangay Mabuhay. These rides are notorious for rough roads but you can bet on your sorry ass that there’s not gonna be any of it as there’s already a concrete road network all the way to the stairs.
Unlike the day before, the mastermind of the trip didn’t bring the kids so it was only her husband and our other classmate who was also around the day before and was probably as oblivious as I was earlier that day. I think I was the only first-timer. The couple had a car and from Awa, we made a wrong left turn which became evident when the road was no longer paved. We still asked a kid anyway.
Mastermind: Dong, mangutana unta mi. Diri ba ang paingon Bega?
Kid: Dili uy! Didto pa sa unahan!
The correct left was at the next three-way intersection. Watch out for any sign that mentions “Bega Falls” but if there’s no sign and your gut is telling you that that’s it, ask someone before turning 90°. From the right (the definition which means “correct” and not the direction) turn was a 15-minute drive to the entrance to Bega Park & Resort.
There was no other group when we arrived and first things were first: “Is drinking allowed and is there a store where we can buy something to drink?” The answer to both was a no, leaving us with the whatnots we grabbed from a 7-Eleven. Because in essence it was a spur-of-the-moment decision, our preparations were the complete opposite of what we had for Pugad Beach.
The orientation was primarily on wildlife preservation and the mandatory rental of cottage and life vests. It also turned out that children under a certain age were not allowed.
On our way to the car for a five-minute (approximately) ride to the actual gateway to Bega Falls, another group materialized with children who looked like they were under the age limit. It didn’t look like they won’t be allowed to go to the falls, though. Also, one of them ditched renting a life vest as she claimed that she won’t go swimming. Hmm… Don’t me!
Stairway to Falling
The point where vehicles become inferior to lazy humans are at the top of the stairs leading to the waterfalls. What immediately caught my attention was a notice which stipulated that only “excessive drinking of liquor” is prohibited. I knew it! Not that I had a single drop with me but you get the point.
The steps were supposed to be around 400 but I didn’t count to confirm it because there are much more important things in life. Still, it doesn’t hurt so feel free to do so when you get there
and let me know?. It was a walk in the park since it was literally all downhill (alam na!). You just need to be careful with each step especially when it’s wet. In less than ten minutes we were at the foot of our the stairs.
Bega Falls is essentially a tiered waterfall, described as those that have more than one level or tier but are close enough to be seen together from one vantage point. There’s gotta be more than three tiers, but as of this writing these three are the most accessible and have amenities in the form of concrete cottages and restrooms.
The first waterfall was deserted. We would’ve been told upfront if it weren’t the case, but I was really glad that the water was clear despite the weather. It’s not like there was a downpour every single day prior to our visit, but you never know when Mother Nature decides to be a bitch and turn the water brown, right? It was actually drizzling when we came on the scene but after seeing the vodka water I couldn’t have cared less if it suddenly rained cats and dogs.
Our crosshair was on the topmost waterfall so it was immediately exit stage left for us after taking a snap.
On our short walk to the third level (I’ll stick to this term and abandon “tier” hereon) we caught a glimpse of the second level. When we reached the coveted waterfall, I was blown away (in a wholesome way) by its monstrosity. It was ginormous and definitely living up to its name.
Now, where did Bega Falls get its name? I had to do some reading and while there are multiple versions of the folklore, it all goes down to a woman’s (fairy’s, in others) seduction. (Seductress ang peg ng lola niyo.) “Biga” is the easy translation of “flirt” in our mother tongue. That was also the first word that popped into my head the first time I heard the name even without knowing any legend pertaining to the waterfalls. But if you ask me, I would say that “lust” is a more appropriate translation. It’s more lubricous.
We weren’t able to get a cottage near the vertical drop because they were all occupied. But heck, we could’ve just settled on the rocks for all I care! I checked out the restroom, stripped to my swimming gear, and soberly munched whatever everyone had because it was already half past midday and we were hungreh.
There was a lookout for visitors but he wasn’t reprimanding those who were swimming without life vests. We were, however, told off that we have to pay for the bamboo raft tethered to a wire if we want to pull ourselves on it to the heart of the cold-hearted plunge pool. Being the close-fisted folks that we were (“baksidor”, as we would call it), we turned down the offer since we all know how to swim anyway.
I wanted to stay longer but since our arrival wasn’t the earliest and Bega Falls had more to offer, a quarter before two o’clock we descended to the lower level. Oh, oh! I wouldn’t skip mentioning that before we went back to our cottage and left, the people cleared up so we managed to score photobomb-free shots showcasing how minuscule humans look next to the waterfall! (Yes, I’m this ecstatic when it comes to these things.)
Can you spot the woman who has her back on the camera?
We didn’t backtrack and took a different path to get to the next level and the only presence that greeted us was that of another lookout. It felt surreal having the place just to ourselves. There were two visibly separated cascades on this level (twinning, anyone?) and the edge of their basin was overlooking the first waterfall that we skipped.
Kayaks were available and were most probably for rent but I’m not really into them so I never even thought about asking if they really were. At this point it made sense why renting a cottage is mandatory—each level has its own set of cottages and the payment encompasses the use of any of them. It would be problematic, though, when there’s a horde of visitors and some aren’t able to use what they paid for.
Reverting to the first level, we also followed a different trail. There was one group when we arrived but none of them were swimming. Similar to the previous levels, this one had a deep and very swimmable plunge pool. Don’t let that scare you if you ain’t a swimmer, as the compulsory rental of life vests is highly unlikely gonna go away.
It shouldn’t be surprising since it’s a forest but I was still amazed after seeing another exhibit (pardon the misspelling on it) of its fauna. Lots of snakes there, creatures that have always freaked me out and possibly the form a Boggart would take if I were to encounter one.
With the hundreds of steps fully going downwards to get to the waterfalls, reality must’ve been warped by Wanda Maximoff if by the time you return it’s not the complete opposite. If you’ve been skipping leg day, it’s not gonna be easy even with landing stations with benches for resting. A kid had a temper tantrum that he was throwing “Yeah, right!” at his mother each time she says that they’re almost there. No pain, no gain, kiddo! I won’t deny that it was really amusing to watch while realizing how hard it would be for senior citizens. I was panting like a
On our way back to San Francisco we stopped by a restaurant called Tikyo and filled the void of a hunger deep within. A decent meal, at least! Had to give the place a negative review, though, as the reply was in the negative when I asked, “Do you have beer?”
- Prosperidad is more known as “Bah-Bah” (yes, with the h’s there) so if you don’t wanna sound touristy, you could use it instead when telling the conductor or driver where you’re headed.
- As far as I’m concerned, “junction” isn’t widely used so when you mention it when asked where you’re getting off and they pull their eyebrows together, use “crossing” instead i.e. “Awa Crossing in Bah-Bah”.
- The road from Awa leads to a fork to Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur so if you’re having a sort of Mindanao tour and from Butuan intend to visit at least one of those provinces, dropping by Bega Falls wouldn’t hurt.
- Another road leading directly to the first waterfall was under construction so by the time that it’s finished the stairs’ popularity might start declining. Unless people are in for a leg day, of course!
- As with any other waterfall (shoutout to Igpasungaw and Nagkalit-kalit), there will be days when the flow of water is small-scale and days when the water isn’t crystal.
|Entrance fee (promo rate)
Visited: November 2020