|The veil-like cascades of Tinago Falls|
|Climbing Tinago Falls|
Known as the "City of Majestic Waterfalls", Iligan City sits north of Lake Lanao, which drains to the lowlands through several waterfalls – over 20 of them within the city's jurisdiction. The most popular one is Maria Cristina Falls, located in National Power Corporation (NPC) Nature's Park. Since hydroelectric energy is harnessed from it, 320-feet high Maria Cristina Falls is a singular cataract on most days.
But on weekends, the plant releases water to create the iconic "twin falls" for public viewing. I waited for two hours to see her in full glory. In the end, patience really paid off. Wonderful! Aside the falls itself, the park has a small zoological park with ostriches and endangered Philippine crocodiles.
I hopped on another Buru-un jeepney to Timoga Springs, which was packed with local tourists, most of them students making the most of their last weekend before summer begins. I settled with having a generous lunch of lechon baby (roasted pig) and pusô (hanging rice) at Gloria's Ihaw-Ihaw, a popular beachfront grill house across the spring resorts.
|Endangered Philippine crocodile at NPC Nature's Park|
|The iconic twin falls of Maria Cristina in NPC Nature's Park|
Like Timoga, the place was packed with local tourists. Nonetheless, the beauty of the spot shone through: the expansive white-water curtains cascading down a cliff face of black rock and lush foliage to the emerald waters of a large natural pool. It was nature's playground. Visitors cannonballed from the precipices and overhanging trees; while others boarded a bamboo raft to get close to the main falls for some serious drenching. I think this is my new favorite!
HOW TO GET THERE: Iligan City is 2 hours by bus from Cagayan de Oro, which can be reached by plane or ferry from Manila and Cebu. From Lumbia Airport (Cagayan de Oro), I was able to ride a share car to Iligan for PHP 300.
The jump-off points to Maria Cristina Falls, Timoga Springs and Tinago Falls are along the national highway. From the city center, ride a Buru-un jeepney (PHP 8-12). Entrance to NPC Nature's Park, site of Maria Cristina Falls, is PHP 35 per head. A shuttle service (PHP 50) takes visitors from the entrance to the Biological & Zoological Park and Maria Cristina Falls. To create the iconic "twin falls", the power plant has to release water. This occurs around 11:00 AM every Saturday and Sunday. The schedule isn't on the dot, so confirm with the staff and be patient.
To get to Tinago Falls, ride a habal-habal (PHP 100, 45 minutes) from the highway junction. Donation of any amount serve as the entrance fee. Villagers can guide you down to the falls for a fee. Life jackets can be rented for PHP 20. Bamboo raft ride to get close to the main falls is PHP 10 per head.
WHERE TO STAY: Rene's Diner & Pension House (Tel. No. +63 632238441), along the national highway in the city center, has accommodations that start at PHP 380 for double A/C rooms with shared toilets.