PAGSANJAN (MAGDAPIO) FALLS
Height: 90 meters
Jump off point: Pangsanjan, Laguna
Access: Shooting the rapids (1 hr)
Sidetrip destinations: Talahib Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, Kaluykuy Falls
Entrance and guide fees: P900
One of the most famous tourist spots in the Philippines is Pagsanjan Falls. Majestically descending in an enchanting place, it is one of the earliest tourist spots in the Philippines, introduced to outside world by an American missionary who visited it in 1902. It was he who first published the name ‘Pagsanjan Falls’, even though its original name was Magdapio Falls. There is a legend that lends credence to this name, recounted by Dr. Gregorio Zaide, about Magdapio who lost his brother Balubad in an ancient drought. Desolate, Magdapio wandered around the forested gorges in search of water. Finding none, he cried out to the gods. Taking pity on him, the gods caused a waterfall to spring forth in what is now the famous waterfall. Meanwhile, the name Pagsanjan comes from the Tagalog word “Pinagsangahan” which means “where it branches”. This refers to the branching off of the two rivers, Bumbungan and Balanac.
Although the waterfalls itself is under the jurisdiction of the adjacent town of Cavinti, the boat trip to the falls – a crucial part of the experience – is in Pagsanjan town. From there, you could arrange your trip in the resorts and inns. As of 2007, the rate has been standardized at P660 owing to intense haggling and ‘extortion’ which has discouraged many a would-be tourist to visit the waterfalls. There is also a toll fee for the town. You would pay an additional P90 for the bamboo raft that will take you to within the falls itself, feeling the descent of the water. Allow a budget of P1,000 for the entire experience, including a tip for the boatman (they expect you to give a ‘voluntary’ tip).
The “shooting the rapids” experience is both an adventure and a visual treat. Decades before the whitewater rafting of Cagayan de Oro and Chico river were developed, boatmen skillfully maneuvered their bancas through the rapids of Bumbungan River. This has become an art, and now a license is even required to certify your skill! Another amazing treat is the Pagsanjan Gorge on both sides of the river. The forests are intact, and monkeys love to hang out across the river. Careful though: As of 2007, tourists have to wear helmets because monkeys are said to pelt humans with rocks and branches! A sidetrip is Talahib Falls may be done before proceeding to the Main Falls. During the rainy season other waterfalls swell and also become noteworthy sights: Wedding Veil Falls, Kalukuy Falls, and other nameless waterfalls.
And then the raft ride to the falls itself commences, as the climax of the trip. A bamboo raft will take you right through the waterfalls to reach the Devil’s cave! This adventure, together with the ‘shooting the rapids’, sets Pagsanjan Falls apart from the other waterfalls to remain the best waterfall experience in Luzon.
Shooting the rapids in Pagsanjan