Where there’s water, there’s life. Great proof to that is my hometown’s pride – our precious Aliwagwag Falls, the highest waterfalls in the Philippines.
Four months after Super Typhoon Pablo hit my hometown of Cateel, Davao Oriental, Aliwagwag Falls along with other Wonders of Nature we have in town is slowly getting back to her shape after suffering from tremendous mauling last December 4, 2012.
Long before Typhoon Pablo hit our town, Aliwagwag Falls is considered as the prized jewel not just of my hometown and the Province of Davao Oriental but the whole Davao Region. In fact, it is considered as one of most beautiful waterfalls in the Philippines luring tourists from different parts of the country to travel down south to see and wonder at this nature’s greatest gift to our town.
Aliwagwag Falls’ good reputation had become viral on Comcast internet and social networking sites. It became one of the preferred destinations of group tours, indie travelers and travel bloggers around the country. Photographers worshipped her. Every photo of Aliwagwag Falls became priceless. Some even landed first page on different publications and travel magazines. Different beautiful descriptions about her were made. But for us Cateeleños, Aliwagwag Falls is one true gift from Mother Nature.
When Typhoon Pablo hit Cateel, Aliwagwag Falls was not spared. Along with all the natural wonders we’ve preserved in our town, Aliwagwag Falls was massively battered by those demonic winds brought by Pablo destroying its vast rainforests and century old trees. The mossy forest was left balding. Wild flowers and orchids were gone. Waters overflowed. For barely three hours on that horrific morning of December 4, 2012, the majestic beauty of Aliwagwag Falls was tainted.
The first photo of Aliwagwag Falls that was shared on Facebook was completely heartbreaking. I cried so hard seeing her grandeur totally in awful shape. Typhoon Pablo’s wrath smashed our precious jewel.
My first visit to Aliwagwag Falls two weeks after the storm was unforgettable. I have seen some of its photos prior to my visit but seeing it personally was different. My heart bled as scenery of disaster was laid before my eyes. A gangraped Aliwagwag Falls was what saw. I was speechless. Tears fell uncontrollably. But then I manage to pray and said these words in tears, “My dearest friend, please get well soon. I can’t wait to see your rebirth”. For a proud son of Cateel, I considered Aliwagwag Falls as my dearest friend.
Almost five months after the greatest storm, Cateel and our people are moving forward from great devastation of Pablo. People are planting again. Rice fields filled with crops are aplenty. The brown mountains are greener again. The bald trees are budding again. Nature heals in its own way. Like my people, Aliwagwag Falls is getting back to her shape too.
Today, the thinned rainforests are now sprouting with greens again. The beautiful multi-tiered falls look still the same – appearing like a stairway to heaven. In the not so distant future, Aliwagwag Falls will be fully restored.
Along with fellow workers at #HelpCateel Movement, one of our goals is to “Rebuild a Cleaner and Greener Cateel”. Our group has done tree planting activities in various communities in our town for a month now. Clean-up drive has also been made. Last week, during our recent visit to Cateel, we launched VOLUNTOURISM, a concept that promotes tourism and volunteerism at the same time. We invite guests and tourists to visit Cateel to join us in our Tree Planting Activities and Clean-Up Drive to the different tourist spots in our hometown. Guests will be able to enjoy these destinations but at the same time help in restoring and preserving its natural beauty. Aliwagwag Falls is part of this project.
Even battered by Pablo, the exotic beauty of the Aliwagwag Falls is still without equal. Its enticing grandeur is like no other. Without bias, I have been to the different waterfalls in our country but Aliwagwag Falls for me is still unmatched. Even right now as I am writing this, I am thinking of her unrivaled majestic beauty! You too can see her!
JOIN US. COME TO CATEEL. BE OUR GUEST. BE A VOLUNTEER.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT HELPCATEEL VOLUNTOURISM: You can call The Travel Teller at 0928.231.9131.
POSTSCRIPT: My heartfelt gratitude to all our dearest #HelpCateel Movement’s Officers, Prime Movers and Volunteers who are until now still passionate about helping out dearest hometown of Cateel. Thank you so much for keeping that GREAT FIRE OF COMPASSION burning! Special mention to our Vice President Lualhateh D. Reyes, the only Cateel-based officer, for her untiring effort in the success of our Environment Related Activities. To all our DONORS, SPONSORS, BENEFACTORS and SUPPORTERS, salamatay gayud kamayong tanan! To our beloved people Cateel, the most resilient people on earth – the Cateeleños, KAYA NATO NGINI!