Friday, April 27, 2012

Puerto Galera Part 3: ANINUAN FALLS

There are three waterfalls near White Beach, Puerto Galera. On the second day of our Mindoro escapade, we woke up early to visit one of these falls: Aninuan Falls. It is nestled at the foot of the towering Mt. Malasimbo and is under the vicinity of Brgy. Aninuan, hence the name Aninuan Falls. In order to get there, you can either give in to the offer of the local businessmen and hire their jeepney (or van) which will take you to the jumpoff point or you can just hike from your inn/hotel straight to the falls. Taking the former will cost you 1,000 - 1,500Php plus you still need to hike from the jumpoff point up to the falls. We opted to take the latter: hiking up at the wee hours of morning until we reach the waterfalls.

The other two falls near White Beach are Talipanan Falls in Brgy. Talipanan, Puerto Galera and the most famous of the three: Tamaraw Falls in Brgy. Villaflor, Puerto Galera.

Taking on the flight of stairs
Getting to the jumpoff point if you are coming from White Beach is very simple and easy. Facing the sea, go to the leftmost portion of the beach. Take the flight of stairs as your goal is to get to the road which is located uphill. After reaching the cemented road, follow it until you reach Brgy Aninuan. In doing so, you will pass by Tamaraw Beach Resort and Aninuan Beach Resort. There is a marker on the road that will tell you that you are entering the premises of the barangay. Just continue walking until you reach the signboard where you can get a glimpse of four tourist attractions around Brgy Aninuan.

The tourism signboard:

Turn left (do not cross the bridge) after the signboard. Tread inside the community until you reach the stream. It gets a little tricky around this community because there are a lot of forks leading to several alleys in the area. You can opt to hire a guide that can show you the way, but for a fee. Locals around Puerto Galera who offers their services, although they are nice, they can be a little disappointing. You can encounter a lot of these in White Beach. It is as if they see tourists as a walking cash. Especially during peak season, most of them triple charge you for the services that they will render. If you feel the adrenaline of discovering the waterfalls by yourself, then do not hire a guide. You can politely ask the locals to point to you the right way. The trick here is to follow the water upstream once you find it. The water from this stream is actually from the falls itself and it is very clean, cool and refreshing. You have to cross this stream several times. There is an established trail that will bring you to Aninuan Falls. You just have to spot it out of the several scattered trails in the area. It is an estimated 30 to 45 minute hike from the jumpoff point upto the waterfalls. 

York, Feigh, Weng, Marion, Ivan and Angel

We chanced upon a polite young boy, Janssen, who was selling mangoes that day. I negotiated for him to accompany us and show us the trail and he agreed. I've been here twice but I needed someone to point out the way to the stream since there have been several changes at the initial segment of the trail. We passed by his house where two of his sisters joined us, Pauline and Jhanelle. But instead of taking us to the stream, they actually went with us all the way to the falls (since Jhanelle has not seen Aninuan Falls yet).

Jhanelle, Janssen and Pauline

The greenery on the trail is amazing

An inviting clean and cool spring

Once you see a hut at the hillside, you are just less than five minutes away from the falls! Sooner, you will encounter a gate which is the entrance to the waterfalls. Here, the caretaker will collect 20Php as entrance fee. We brought our things when we went there because we planned on staying up until lunch. We laid out our things at the makeshift table and hut. There is no fee for using these.

Crossing several clear streams

Reaching the entrance of Aninuan Falls

The sight of the waterfalls, although not as grand as the other falls that we've seen, is a solace from a mildly draining uphill hike. Crabs and small fishes are present which represents an active ecosystem in the area. Add to that the fact that alive and fresh flora encompass the area. The caretakers are making conscious efforts of enhancing and supervising the place. As a matter of fact, they were digging the catch basin when we visited the place so that the water will become deeper so swimming will be more enjoyable. They also sell some products but for a much more expensive price. (One small bottle of cold mineral water costs 30Php)

A crab found at the catchbasin

Mango for 30Php each, Banana for 15Php each

Tukayong Ivan
My companions surveyed the place, with the exception of Marion who was not feeling well due to an unexpected 'visitor' (it's a girl thing). While they were away swimming and enjoying the natural comforts around, I was busy preparing our lunch: luncheon meat, hotdog and fried chicken. Since it was my third time to visit the falls, I did not mind cooking for the group. At the same time, I took the opportunity to mingle with the locals near the rock table. I was surprised to learn that the name of the youngest brother of Janssen, Pauline and Jhanelle is Ivan. Cool! Also, the name of the son of a caretaker there is also Ivan. I realized this when I heard my name being called several times but when I tried to trace the voice, no one was looking at me. The caretakers are nice, amiable and are responsible for developing the place. The tables and shed there are for use without any additional charge. They aim for the continuous improvement and promotion of the falls. They even allowed us to use their makeshift shack when the sun's ray started brushing the rock tables that we occupied.

Janssen, Pauline and Jhanelle - hey it's Jhanelle's first time @ Aninuan Falls!

Weng mesmerized by the crystal clear waters
After eating lunch, I joined them in taking a dip. We crossed the catch basin and further explored the area. Reminder for those who would do this: rocks here are slippery. There was a commotion while I was cooking when one of the tourists accidentally slipped in this rocky extension of the park. Weng enjoyed bonding with Janssen and Jhanelle while basking under the rejuvenating sun. Chatting with the kids were very interesting. They told us tales which transcends their youth. They blithely brag their simple but happy lives. I missed the days when I was this carefree. I was impressed especially with Janssen, the youngest, with his humility. He uses his spare time to roam around selling the produce of their grandmother's mango tree. It is very remarkable for a young kid like him to be that dedicated, polite and hardworking.

Pogi pose with Janssen

Ready to take a dip
York posing at the rocks

A lush green vista

It was a nice escape from the busy, crowded and highly commercialized White Beach. Hopefully in the future, I will get to visit the other waterfalls in the area should I chance upon the shores of Oriental Mindoro again. After an exhilarating time enjoying the humble waterfalls of Aninuan, York and I prepared our backpacks as we commenced the hike back to White Beach.