The Secrets in Bayabas Untold

"The vastness of the universe is unfathomable. Every rock, every grain of sand and even our hair strands are unique. Each has a DNA embedded individually in it. Making everything a potpourri of a grand masterpiece."
"Masaba Waterfalls cascade at the 5th level"

I began these thoughts when I volunteered to become one of the board of "judges" in a barangay I first heard of. Barangay Bayabas, Danao City in Cebu Province is an underrated destination. The silent barangay is a home of lovely and hospitable people. The locals are pure-hearted souls. 
"Passing by mountains and hills"

Barangay Bayabas, itself, is a locked-away place located in the boundary of Danao in the East and Asturias in the West. It is approximately 22 kilometers (13.86 miles) from Poblacion, Danao City, Cebu. With an estimated elevation of 1,000 meters above sea level (MASL), the cool atmosphere of the highland readily hugs first-timers. 

The Journey That Was
My co-teacher, Charnel, and I rode the habal-habal all the way on a winding road.  The two-hour ride wasn't boring after all. We were amazed by the view of the mountains and hills. The rich vegetation and even locals had us appreciate the journey all the more. 
"Early morning the next day, the mountain greeted us with this view"

I was introduced by the different mighty mountain ranges in the Northern part of Danao. As we went higher, we saw the mountains and hills capped with fog. The dense clouds were hanging below the sky signaling that we were at a thousand altitude. 

After the long and winding road, Sir Arnel (another co-teacher) greeted us. He invited us for his barangay's fiesta. With cramped legs and stiffed back, we proceeded to his humble home. I felt happy for the opportunity to be in the place. Not only that it gave me a privilege to travel but also, it paved the way for me to appreciate what the locals in Barangay Bayabas have. 

Jurors and Talents
It was 9 in the evening when the event started. Miss Charnel, and I together with another judge were called on spotlight. It was an indication that the program would commence. I was judging the Miss Teen Bayabas and Matron Queen of Bayabas 2018. It was so fun! 
"Wrapping up Miss Teen and Matron Queen of Bayabas 2018"

I saw different talents and beauties in this solemn barangay. For me, given an opportunity to attend this simple occasion brought so much joy in my heart. The contentment and happiness I felt during this occasion radiated in my system. 

Scrambling at the Multilevel Falls
The following day, Sir Arnel and four of his relatives joined us for a short hike. I was standing at the top of the mountain with the "Sleeping Giant" behind my back. The trek brought us deeper in Barangay Bayabas. 
"The cornfield and a local transporting sacks of charcoal."

The flowing river of  Bayabas was both clear and cold. It remained untouched and undiscovered by the city dwellers. I was told that Masaba Waterfalls is a multi-level waterfalls. It flows from the top of a mountain with a cave and all the way down to Bayabas River. 
"Contemplating at the base of Bayabas River"

"First level of Masaba Waterfalls"

We scrambled from the first waterfalls to the next. The upstream climb was challenging but fulfilling. The water sparkled as the sun reflected its rays to it. The cascade was majestically flowing. I couldn't describe myself with what I saw. There were creatures I first saw and first discovered. Snail-like mollusks were abundant in the river. There were even freshwater crabs. Bayabas River is so alive and fresh!

Not an Ephemeral Experience
Barangay Bayabas shared its secrets to me. It opened up its beautiful and humble heart. Its locals are friendly, its vegetation abundant and its water forms untouched. I savored the serenity. I drank to its calmness. I embraced the opportunities the universe gave me. 
"Scrambled up to reach this 2nd level of Masaba Waterfalls"

"Miss Charnel at the Masaba Waterfalls - 3rd level"

It wasn't a short-lived experience. It was an experience I would treasure forever.  

How to Get There and Some Tips:
1. If you are coming from Mandaue City, take a jeepney bound for Danao City. Ask the driver to drop you off at the Danao City Terminal. It will approximately take you an hour. Fare at 30 pesos. 
2. At the terminal, take a habal-habal ride going to Barangay Bayabas. The fare is 120 pesos. Negotiate first before riding. I don't recommend haggling since the ride is absolutely long and winding. It will take you 2 hours to arrive in Barangay Bayabas. 
3. If you need a guide going to Masaba Waterfalls, I recommend to drop at Sir Arnel's house and ask for a guide and tips for your activities. 
4. There are plenty of activities to do in Bayabas. 

  • You can opt for a short trek. You pass by farmlands - corns, strawberries (Yes! One seedling is 40 pesos), and some other plants I barely know the names. 
  • Swimming to one of the levels in Masaba Waterfalls is also a recommended activity.
  • You can also go for scrambling and upstream climbing starting off at the tip of Bayabas River  and up to the water source. We stopped at the 6th level since it started to rain. 
  • Caving is also a common activity in the area for locals. However, much of the cave connections are unexplored. It will be one of the things I promised to do the next time I'd be there. 
  • Try the freshwater snail-like mollusks. Sir Arnel and his relatives prepared this delicious treat for lunch. It made my nerves giggle with glee!
  • Experience farming. Sir Arnel can take you to their farmland and he is willing to explain to you basic tips on traditional horticulture. 
  • Relax and do nothing. Enjoy the cool air of the highland.
Education Insights:
- I appreciate the hospitality of Sir Arnel's family. This co-teacher is a strong leader in his community. He organized the activities in Barangay Bayabas despite his busy work in the city. People may not see the whole picture once they were in the position. As a servant leader, he values decision and people's support for the betterment of the community. By the way, my co-teacher is also a model citizen in their barangay. He is one of the few residents in Bayabas who was able to finish and graduate from his profession. 
- As I listened to the folks in the community, most of them graduate highschool in Barangay Lawaan. Another barangay in Danao City which is approximately 10 kilometers away from Barangay Bayabas. Students would walk from the highland to get down to Lawaan everyday. Good thing though that Danao City was able to build a high school at Barangay Bayabas (Bayabas Integrated School). Imagine the dedication and hardwork these students possessed to finish their education. 
- Better infrastructure. Bring in technology. Road construction. These are the things I found necessary in Barangay Bayabas and even adjacent barangay. Let us do away with the political agenda. People in the office are there to serve their constituents. Let us serve with the right heart!

On Environmental Principle:
1. I want to mention about the last Principle of Nature: "Nature is Beautiful and We are Stewards of God's Creation." I admire Barangay Bayabas for keeping their place clean. The river is very alive and fresh. There weren't a trace of human exploitation yet. I hope it will continue for the rest of humankind. 
2. Though we can't stop the advancement of civilization, let us preserve this one of the last frontiers of Cebu Province. Hope this blog won't do any harm on conserving what Nature has. 
3. Travel and do your activities with respect of our planet. Always remember the LNT.

I have the same sentiments when I visited Mampueng River in Olongapo. Let us preserve the beauty of our Mother Earth. 

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About Marie Angelique Villamor

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