“Row row row your boat, gently down the stream. Merrily merrily merrily merrily. Life is but a dream.” I was humming this nursery rhyme when we were heading to another rustic town in Sarangani Province called Maitum. Humming, I was painting pictures in my mind about myself experiencing for the first time a one of kind whitewater tubing I never experienced before. The point of destination was the Pangi River of Maitum, Sarangani Province.
Though famous for its pre-historic anthropomorphic burial jars and unspoiled rainforests, the town of Maitum is also known for its reputation being the water tubing capital of Sarangani Province. In fact, it is the only town in the Province with such outdoor adventure fully equipped with requisite facilities and trained crews.
Arriving at Maitum, we headed straight to sitio New La Union; this was our jump off point. Here, the rapids of Pangi River were pretty wild and raging. Going there took us about 30 minutes from the town proper passing through bumpy roads and some greenery abounding the whole place.
Upon arrivals, we were given safety gears we will need for the entire whitewater tubing experience. The excitement immediately ignited when everyone was all set,. Aboard the 4×4 military truck, we were brought to the river bank about a kilometer and half away from the jump off point. This served as the starting point. At the river bank, we were given quick briefing and orientation about the Pangi River and the Whitewater Tubing. This was my first; hence, I was paying full attention to our main guide giving us the needed safety measures of this adventure. After hearing his piece, I have to admit, I was scared.
Now, as the adventure started, my excitement was overpowered by my fear. I was so frightened seeing those raging rapids and the various boulders that abound the river. I felt I cannot make. But the thrill seeker in me pushed me to way go. Lying down on my half inflated tube, my guide who also served as my water tubing buddy, asked me to grip tightly those rubber handles located on both sides of the rubber tube. He said twice that whatever happens I should not let go of the rubber handles. Then literally, off we went with the flow.
Braving the first rapids, I felt victorious. I shouted at the top of my lungs when I felt a sudden thrill as I meander with rapids in the river. It was unexplainable. And there, my excitement went up. I was full of exhilaration. I felt successful. Same with next rapids. And then another and another. It was really electrifying. I felt the adrenaline rush in an instant.
Everything was almost perfect not until we sailed one treacherous rapids that turned my rubber tube upside down. When it flipped over, there I was, slowly carried away by the strong current. It was actually my fault. I was carried away by my excitement that I forget the safety measures instructed to us by our main guide – to never let go of the rubber handles. Good thing, my guide was quick and strong enough to grab me from that ravaging current.
It was fun flipping over though – even in slow motion. I have to admit I drank a mouthful of water. We continued tubing, this time with care and caution. Rocks were huge and untoward mishaps may occur. But I was keen to reach the finishing point, safe and uninjured. When we surpassed the other raging rapids, it was great a relief on my part. It was like I had greatest adventure in my life. It was bizarre.
Reaching the last stop, I shouted. “I survived!” These were my words to describe that adventure. I actually underestimated the thrill that it could give me but having experienced it, it was an adventure will never ever forget. And yes, I had wounds. I had bruises – all coming from this adventure. But it was all worth it. The experience will never be forgotten. It was my first and will always remain my very first. Thank you Maitum. Thank you Pangi River for giving me this White Water Tubing Adventure I never expected to be my first ever River Wild Experience.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Lying on the west coast part of the Sarangani Province, Maitum is one of the six municipalities that share the 230-kilometer coastline of Sarangani Bay. From General Santos City, the gateway to the Province, Maitum is 127 kilometers away and can be reached in two hours.
SPECIAL THANKS to my travel and photo buddy DR. OPHELIA CASEL for lending me her photos I am using for this blogpost. My heartfelt gratitude to Jon Perez of MinTC and the Provincial Government of Sarangani Province represented by Board Member Eleonor Saguiguit for this opportunity. To the brave men of Maitum White Water Tubing, my sincerest thank you!