Iligan: Tinago Falls’ Hidden Beauty
“To go downstream”. This is the meaning of the word ‘Iligan’ in the Higuanon language. Indeed, the city of Iligan is blessed with numerous streams and waterfalls. The tourism office tallied 23 waterfalls among the 44 barangays, each one having its distinct features and beauty.
One of the most visited among them is the Tinago Falls. Aptly called Tinago, ‘hidden’, the falls is literally hidden in the deep ravine. Covered by tall trees, the 420-ft falls flow down the basin that also serves as the pool. The clear, cool waters are sourced from Lake Lanao and flow through the plain. Another feature that gives its distinct wonder are the small streams branching at the waterfall wall, cascading among the green, mossy rocks leading to the basin.
To see its beauty, you have to trek 365 steps downward to reach the falls (or alternatively, you can choose the 480-steps on the Limanon side). Fortunately, concrete pathways among the tall trees make the trek more convenient. You will feel the excitement flowing when you start to hear the rushing waters on your descent. Entrance is free, but you can freely donate to fund the maintenance of the site, and you need to register. There are guides who will help you, though you can go on your own because the falls is just nearby. Any amount you can give will be a great help to the people here (like Jonathan, a student, who volunteered to guide us and his only other livelihood are harvesting copra).
Though the falls seemed to have gained public exposure just recently thanks to the social media, the site has already long since been visited. In fact, a resort once operated here, the Tinago Residence Inn that was opened in 2000. But because the tourist visits were just seasonal, the resort has to close five years later. Today, you can still see some of its structures, abandoned and well blended with nature.
After more than 15-20 minutes of travel, we finally saw the hidden beauty of Tinago Falls. You will be greeted with a cool welcome with a mist hugging you though the falls is still far away.
The flock visited on a weekend, so as expected, the site is crowded with visitors. Even though, there are still plenty of space because of its large size. Several facilities have been constructed, like concrete tables, comfort rooms, and cottages.
You can also enjoy different kinds of activities, like cliff diving, swimming in its cool waters and on the waterdrop, and riding a balsa or raft. And if you want to have a chill on one side, you can just stand in one of the small cascades at the opposite side of the falls.
We stayed here just for a couple of hours because our companion invited us to go to another nearby falls. If the descent to the falls is easy-peasy, the ascent back is a laborious one. But it’s a worthwhile experience especially with your friends or relatives that will surely enjoy this visit.
From the City proper, take a jeep going to Buru-un and tell the driver to drop you off at Buru-un junction (or going to Tinago). Fare is PhP15. Upon reaching the corner there are habal-habal that you can ride going to the fall’s drop-off point (P25 fare, P50 special; one way)
Entrance Fee – Free, Registration is required
Guide – By Tourist consent
Parking – 50
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