Although I climb mountains frequently, I'm not really a fan of waterfalls. But when Akie and JA Paul went to Merloquet last February, I was envious. I've seen several articles about Merloquet Falls and I felt it would be a shame if I didn't see it.
I wanted to wait for a Sunday to go to Merloquet but I realized it would be better to spend my vacation leave time to go there while my granddaughter Gia was at school. That way I wouldn't feel so guilty I left her.
Suddenly diverting from my Sunday plan, I, together with my trek buddy Casimir, went to Merloquet on a Friday morning.
At past seven in the morning after Gia left for school, we set off for Vitali, an east-coast barangay 73 kilometers away from the city proper. I anticipated it would take us two hours to reach Vitali by land trip. We boarded a commuter van at the terminal. It left at 7:30am.
At 9:25am, we arrived at Vitali. Thankfully, the weather was good. By instinct, I knew that the group of habal habals at the area where we alighted was the one that brings sightseers to Merloquet. I was right. The habal habal drivers, about 7 of them simultaneously offered their best bids, convincing us that their ride was the best. Without unnecessary ado, we picked the first one who approached us. He said the fare was P60/person, one way. We immediately set off for Merloquet.
After we entered thru the bridge that looked like a portal into the unknown, we found ourselves in a beautiful green countryside with evergreen slopes of rolling hills and cool surroundings. I didnt expect there's an awesome place like this off the highway from Vitali.
Unexpectedly, the road was concrete all the way to the jump-off area, except for a few rough portions washed away by strong rains.
After 30 minutes, our Habal Habal parked along the front yard of what looked like a registration area: a Nipa Hut with a Sari-Sari Store. It was the only house in that area. It also had a clean rest room.
We listed our names, paid the P20 registration fee, offered our Habal Habal driver snacks, and started trekking to the Falls. We asked if there was a need for a guide but the young man who was manning the registration area told us there was no need for a Guide because the road will lead us to the stairway leading to the falls.
After eagerly treading the cemented but mossy road for two minutes, we found a beautifully constructed foyer which was distinctly the porch of the stairway. From that point, we could hear the roaring waters of the Merloquet Falls.
It was going to be a knee torture going down this stair for sure!!
After taking several steps thru the beautifully constructed stairway at leisure pace, I held my breath at the sight of what appeared to be a big black earthworm, but no!! it was a snake!! Good that I had strong brakes!
In my years of hiking thru mountains, there have been several encounters with snakes. But until now, I haven't really learned the proper reaction after seeing a snake. I've always been scared. I was scared! So I stood motionless and also almost breathless. I asked Casimir to check what the snake planned to do. But after closely observing it for a few minutes, we noticed that it was motionless. So we thought that it was sleeping. We quietly and carefully tiptoed at the extreme side of the stairs, and resumed our descent. From that point on, our minds were conditioned that this place is a snake territory and the mother of that baby snake might just be around, searching for its wandering baby.
As we came nearer to the falls, the roaring sound became louder... and louder and .........lo and behold, the marvelous Merloquet falls!!
I was rendered speechless by what I saw and heard. It was stunning!! it was bewitching! it was simply wonderful!! Although its waters were murky due to the recent heavy rains, still, it was lovely! We stood there for minutes, startled and stunned. Silently, I praised God and thanked Him for giving us an opportunity to see this wonderful creation...
As Casimir was taking picture of two weird-looking dragonflies doing a courtship dance, my gaze landed on what looked like an uphill trail. Curious, but still afraid that there might be snakes there, I asked Casimir if she was willing to explore what might be up there. Casimir, the fearless person that she is, did not hesitate. After several seconds, she disappeared into the wilderness.
While waiting for Casimir to come back, I looked around and admired the surroundings. It was really beautiful and I was glad, we went there.
I was starting to feel nervous when Casimir hasn't shown up yet. I was tempted to follow and check on her but I was hesitant to leave our backpack behind. As my eyes were navigating thru the fascinating details of the waterfalls, I saw a person and it was Casimir, waving at me and summoning me to go where she was. After tramping thru the ascending trail built mostly on roots of old trees, I saw another beautiful sight!!! another waterfalls!!! It turned out to be the first tier of the Merloquet Falls!
Now I recall the blog that I read when I was researching on Merloquet. Yes, Merloquet Falls, according to that blog, is two-tiered!! So this is it!! Its upper tier!!
It was as gorgeous as the one we first saw!!! We trekked thru the rocky slabs along the side of the river and posed for some pictures...
Worrying about our backpack, we decided to go back. From the trail the view of the second tier was unique and breathtaking!
When we arrived at the picnic area downstairs, again, we were mesmerized by the sight of the Merloquet Falls's first tier.
There were also some pretty flowers and a cute bamboo shoot there...
We almost forgot that our time was short. We had to go home for Gia's 5pm birthday party!
Also, we almost didn't notice that the sky was getting darker, signalling a heavy downpour.
So grudgingly, we left. We set off for the stairway, Casimir deciding to count the steps for "documentation".
I had to be alert again, because that snake might be planning an ambush.
During rests, I couldnt help but admire the vegetation along the stairway. There was a tall Santol tree with big ripe fruits that tempted me to climb and pick them. Reminded me of my childhood years...
There were also other plants and at the distance, verdant vegetation.
Because I did not forget about the possible snake ambush, I was continuously conscious and I watched out for that part where we first saw the motionless snake. Maybe this time, he would have been awake and might be waiting to greet us.
To our disappointment, it was still there and it was still in that motionless state. Poor creature... most likely, it was really dead.
Because I kept thinking about it, I researched, and found out that some snakes suffer sudden unexplained deaths. Aaaw...
Casimir counted 269 steps!! In no time we were back at the jump-off.
A beautiful sight welcomed us back. A loving cat couple by the window.
Indeed, life in the rurals is so simple, yet meaningful, especially when you have these loving creatures in your household.
After another 30 minutes of Habal Habal ride, we reached the highway at 11:50am. We immediately boarded a city-bound van and reached home at around 2pm.
In due time, we hope to go back to Merloquet Falls to spend longer time there, take a dip, set foot on its rocky layers and bathe in its cool clean waters.
Truly a hidden treasure of Zamboanga City!!
To God be the glory!!