Tinago is a word in Cebuano, a Filipino dialect, which means “hidden” in English. The word aptly describes the waterfall in Ditucalan, Iligan City, Philippines which is indeed somewhat difficult to find without exerting physical effort. Although the way to the falls passes through upland coconut groves, the surrounding area at the waterfalls is covered with trees, bushes and small wild plants.
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To see the waterfalls, one has to descend a 360-step trail that is carved on a side of the cliff because he cannot see it on the high ground because of the thick vegetation surrounding the area. Negotiating the route to the ravine is no mean feat. It requires strenuous effort to get there. During the wet season some of the steps can be slippery so that one needs footwear with corrugated rubber soles for traction. A slip or a fall off the steps may cause a serious injury. The various wild plants that grow on the cliff below and above the steps somehow helps provide the visitor a safe descent and passage to the ravine. As he gets near the ravine, the rumblings of the water gradually become louder and he begins to see the views that were concealed when he was above.
Deep down below, the visitor is greeted with the beautiful surroundings that he sees. There are a 120-foot waterfalls and cascades. There are also waters flowing out from the sides of the cliffs. Water from the waterfalls gathers in the lagoon-like pool and then drains itself into the river channel. Along the pool are stones and boulders. Tall trees and wild plants adorn the top and the sides of the cliffs. The mists and the rumble of the falling water are validations of the waterfalls’ might and beauty. Below one of the cascades is a natural cave which is concealed by the falling water. It can be reached by swimming into it or by boarding a raft.
The water in the pool is cool, clear and refreshing especially on summer days. Some people swim in it to enjoy the water and feel its soothing effect to the body. Others just love to see the falls and the bluish water that has gathered in the pool.
People from other parts of the Philippines to include foreign tourists come to Iligan City to see the beautiful Tinago Falls and swim in the refreshing and cool water below it. Filipino actors Sam Milby and KC Concepcion had the Tinago Falls area as one of the settings of their movie titled “Forever and a Day”. There were scenes in the movie where they took a dip in the pool and entered the cave that was hidden by the waterfalls.
After enjoying the view of the waterfalls and its surroundings and or the cool water of the pool now comes the hardest and tiring part of the journey because the visitor has to climb up the steps to get back to the top. On his way up he has to exert twice or thrice the amount of effort that he made when he was descending. Young people and even children can easily reach to the top, but older and less physically fit people will have slow progress and they may even have to make a brief pause along the way if need be. The activity is not ideal for small children and for people with health issues.
Reaching the top, the visitor breathes a sigh of relief in the thought that the arduous climb is finally over, and he then instantly realizes that his hardships and effort are rewarded with his memorable experience at Tinago Falls. Going there are for those who love adventure and admire the beauty of nature.