Mulao River Sparks the Outdoorsy Scientist in Me

Since 2013, I had been wondering which way to Mulao River. How could I get there? How could I see those massive boulders, feel its limestone, and wade on its river? What made me interested with this river so much? 

When I started teaching Earth Science, my interest to visit Mulao River heightened to a higher degree. Mulao Rock Formation in Liloan is a perfect example of the Earth's geological theory: Catastrophism and Uniformitarianism.
"Mulao River kept me enchanted. I thought I had enough but this view came up after the rain. - Mulao River for the 4th time."
"Mulao River flows clearly down to Cabadiangan..."

"This is how Mulao River looks like when it rained heavily the previous day..."
The Unplanned Trip to Mulao - 2017
“Excuse me,” that was the first word I uttered when I stopped by at the marketplace in Liloan where a group of motorcycle drivers were waiting for passengers. I believed that was where I could catch a ride to Brgy. Mulao.
"Climbed up a boulder to catch this view - I was no longer an alien to this place (my second visit)"
In Bisaya, the kind driver asked me where I would be going.
“Mulao,” I exclaimed with a smile.

The driver was curious why a girl in a striped sleeveless matched with a grey jogger pants in a black doll shoes was interested going to Mulao. I told the driver that I saw a poster in the Municipal Hall advertising Liloan’s beautiful spots. 

So after I took lunch in a mall and sipped my brewed coffee, my untamed horse was unleashed seeking to gallop to a place it has never been (in metaphorical words, though).

Well, I was informed that it would be a difficult and long ride to Brgy. Mulao. Instead of being discouraged, I was even more thrilled and excited.
“How much would it cost me, Kuya?” I asked him in Bisaya.
“50 pesos,” he answered.
“Let’s go,” I immediately responded.

True to his words, the ride was bumpy with series of uphill and downhill road and blind curves. I learned that the driver lived in Mulao but has not visited Laginid Hill, another attraction to visit, and the first one he introduced to me. We agreed that I would drop by Laginid Hill later after visiting Mulao River.

Mulao River Trekking

I arrived at Mulao Barangay Hall at Purok Kamanggahan. I was instructed by the residents who happened to be doing something along the road to have my name registered at the barangay hall. 
"The view of Lanigid Hills is as tempting as Mulao River Trekking."
As a protocol, I am aware that it is a perfect thing to do before any activity. Sir Lito who was the Barangay Lupon assigned during those hours greeted me and instructed me to log in the Barangay Visitors’ Logbook. I willingly followed.

“Is this your first time to be here?” he asked in Vernacular.
“Yes, Sir,” I answered him.
“I will look for a guide for you,” he said further.

Of course, I couldn’t say no with that and for safety purposes, I needed to have somebody who knows the trail. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to get one; nonetheless, he finally offered that he would come with me.

We had at least a kilometer of downhill climb passing by mangoes, tall grasses, and even an area with a trace of kaingin. Alas, we arrived at the riverside. 

Sir Lito instructed me to carefully step on the stones since it would be slippery and the current was quite strong. I did what he instructed me. The scorching sun was never considerate. I felt its rays burning deep in my epidermis while the rocks I was stepping on behaved in the science of convection. Both my feet and my skin were scorching hot.
"Ang Sakayan (The Ship) truly resembles an ark docked in after the great flood."
Sir Lito didn’t appear worried about me. Maybe because he saw that I was keeping up with his pace and the only complain he heard was that “init kaayo ang adlaw” (the sun is very hot).

Lo and behold! Two to three meters of huge boulder appeared in my sight. It was not just one but a lot of them. Round-shaped boulders and some even appeared like a ship. Moderate currents of the river were cutting off one rock formation to another. It allowed some thoughts in me.
"My second visit to Mulao River and managed to climbed up this boulder for a better view of Mulao River."

“The present is the key to the past…I recalled that line…”
Just looking at the humongous boulders of limestone with some granite and iron traces, I had a strong conviction that these gigantic and smooth rocks were once soaked underwater – a deep river. Through time, these rocks were slowly emerging because of the drying up of rivers and maybe shifting of its waters; though it happened gradually over centuries, the change came unnoticed.
"Look at the irregularly shaped yet beautiful boulders of Mulao River"
"Climbed up another boulder opposite to the "ship"
I contented myself with the sight though it made me worried. Would it also happen to those rivers I had been to? Would other rivers experience the fate as Mulao River in the turn of the millennium? Would climate change this harsh and maybe, beautiful?

Anyway, Sir Lito told me that the rock formation had been here ever since he was a child and it was confirmed by the driver who fetched me. The only difference was the clear and clean water gushing on its river basin in the yesteryear.

I only stayed at the Mulao River and Rock Formation for less than 30 minutes but the history and the story it unfolded was enough for me to realize that nature still knows best.

How much did it cost me to Mulao? Some tips and tricks:
1. Habal-habal drivers are just across Liloan Marketplace. The fare is 50 pesos for a one-way trip. I discourage haggling. The struggling road is more than enough to pay for that minimal fare. Befriend the driver, he could be of great help and he could even wait for you when you needed a trip going back to the municipal proper.

2. Please register your name at Mulao Barangay Hall and Health Center. This is to monitor how many visitors at the area and in case of emergency; you could be helped and identified.

3. Be honest when asked if it was your first time. For sure, the Barangay Lupons are kind enough to look for a guide for you. In my case, there wasn’t one so it was Sir Lito, the Barangay Lupon himself guided me down to Mulao River. He did not accept any guideship fee (I think it was against their duties, so I insisted if I could buy him a refreshing soda.) I salute, Sir Lito with million thanks!)

4. Be friendly to nature. Observe the LNT Principle.

5. If you still have time, I suggest you hike up Laginid Hill. Sir Lito told me that it’s a gruesome 500 meter uphill climb but it does worth everything. Another tip: Be there in the early afternoon and camp at the hill overnight. A starry sky and the bright city lights will leave you breathless filled with content. (Sir Lito’s words translated in English).

Update as of June 10, 2017
1. A Barangay Fee of Php10.00 is collected upon registration in Barangay Mulao.
2. Always ask a guide when trekking especially if it rained the previous night. The river's current could run wild and it would be dangerous to river trek alone. 
3. Always follow what your guide says. Never underestimate the river and its huge boulders. It could go tremendously slippery, current insanely strong, and the trek could be dangerous.
"Third time in Mulao River and I still feel happy to be here."

(P.S. I went back to Mulao River hoping to get a better view. Indeed, Mulao River offered me a different one and I still loved it. By the way, if you are planning to hike up Mt. Lanigid, I recommend that you climb it first before trekking down to Mulao River. The boulders are mentally and physically exhausting.)

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About Marie Angelique Villamor

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