A Half-day Tour in Iligan Part 1

This post is long overdue. It’s been more than a month since we’d set foot in Mindanao. But I hope that’s okay. 🙂

In one of my previous posts, I talked about our very short stop in Butuan and our long journey to Cagayan de Oro. If you’d ask us what we did in the latter, well, nothing worth noting. By the time we arrived, I was already too hungry we took our late lunch; then after 30 minutes, I slept for around two hours. When I woke up, it was already 5, so we had to take our dinner–no, Bernard went to Centrio, which was a walk away from where we stayed, and bought me Chowking. So I ate in the cramped room.

The next day was a bit different and way better. We traveled to Iligan. Based on my research, the beautiful city has more than 20 waterfalls! We surely didn’t have the time to check most of them, so we settled for two: Maria Cristina Falls and Mimbalot (or is it Mimbalut?) Falls.

Iligan is supposed to be one to two hours away from Cagayan de Oro, but it felt longer. I don’t know why really. It’s okay, though. The bus we rode had a free WiFi, and Bernard mildly enjoyed the on-board film, which starred Mark Wahlberg. It’s about a burned spy or CIA. The bus, by the way, is located in Bulua Terminal, which is around 20 minutes from the city proper.

This is a very nice bus--comfortable, with a lot of leg room. It has steady WiFi as well.

This is a very nice bus–comfortable, with a lot of leg room. It has steady WiFi as well.

How to Get to Maria Cristina Falls

Maria Cristina Falls is located in Buru-un. From CDO, the bus stopped at Iligan’s integrated bus terminal. We ate breakfast then rode a jeepney to the public market.

Inside Iligan City's bus terminal. Bernard loved the seats!

Inside Iligan City’s bus terminal. Bernard loved the seats!

But even before we reached it, I already saw a jeepney with Buru-un sign. So when traffic stopped, we moved to the latter. Well, it still went around the public market, but it’s all right. It felt we’re having a field trip. Haha!

Buru-un was roughly 20 to 30 minutes, and the fare was about 12 pesos, I think. You’ll know you’re already near the falls if you pass by this bridge:

maria cristina bridge

I think they call it Maria Cristina Bridge. See the gorgeous waters? Amazing.

Right next to it is the NPC Park. We had to go in there if we wanted to see the waterfalls. A habal-habal driver approached us and offered his service for 30 pesos each. That’s for a one-way trip. I thought it was too much and that we’d rather walk. But I changed my mind, which was all good since the NPC shuttle service that cost 10 pesos for every ride was still under repair.

Before we could get in, we had to pay for the entrance fee of 60 pesos (that’s the for-adult rate). Manong Driver then drove us all the way to the falls.

NPC Park

I know that many had described the falls as gorgeous, majestic, and brilliant–but it really is and so much more. It was fiery, raging, overflowing, yet gently cascading from the mountains.

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The waterfalls was proud that day, and it ought to be.

The people behind its maintenance was considerate enough to build an equally pretty shed where you can eat and watch the falls without burning your skin from the scorching heat.

I didn’t do anything else in NPC besides eat ice cream. There’s supposed to be an aviary, a garden, and a zoo, but it’s a long hot walk for us, and we had another falls to go to. The sight of the Maria Cristina Falls was more than enough for me too.

Around 10:30 a.m., we opted to move to another. I asked around, which one is better: Tinago or Mimbalot? The lady guard insisted on the former. “KC shot a movie there,” she giggled. Manong Driver also wanted us to go to Tinago, but I felt he had an ulterior motive. It was a long drive, so we had to pay more. Besides, I was hard-headed, so I said, “No, let’s go to Mimbalot.”


Manila Days

A couple of days from now, Bernard and I will be turning 13. Yes, almost half of my life he’s there. You can definitely say we’ve been through A LOT of things. One of those that stand out is my Manila memories with him.

I think it was around 2010 when Bernard got a job that required 2 months’ training in Manila. For us, that’s the longest we’ll be away from each other (not counting the months we briefly broke up). Anyway, to make the long story short, I missed him a few weeks after he was gone that on the second month, I flew to live with him.

Bernard had to move out of a multi-room apartment, and together we squeezed into a very narrow unit that was around half the size of an average condo studio units in Cebu. It was that small. In fact, we didn’t have any kitchen, living room, and dining area, but only a bathroom and a standard-sized double deck. We slept below while our things were on top. There was only one white monoblock chair and a small desk, which worked as my teeny-weeny office. Most of the time, when it’s dinnertime, we’d squat on the floor.  As almost everything in Manila is expensive, ours cost 8,000 a month, excluding water and electricity. By the time we left, we paid almost 15,000 pesos. Honestly, there were only two things that made me stay there: Internet and location.

We were far away from our parents–well, most of our family members–and friends. We had to rely on each other, on ourselves, and on meager human interactions with his colleagues, my brother, and a handful of Manila-based friends. I experienced eating lunches alone and being totally out of place as noisy college kids occupied the rest of the restaurant. I was really a tiny speck anyone can easily miss out.

Our short Manila living wasn’t the most comfortable, but for me it was the sweetest. I’d wake Bernard up at around 11:00 p.m. so we could catch the last full show in Greenbelt 3. Then we’ll head to Seattle’s Best for a nice warm cup of coffee for him and a delicious iced choco for me. Or if we started running out of budget, we’d simply walk and watch the time and people go by.

For dinners, we’d walk a few meters out of the gate and order a pair of silog that cost 50 pesos each. During the weekends, most of our lunches were spent on this cute Japanese-cuisine fast food restaurant called Sumibiyakid. We loved it a lot not just because of the food but the people who had become our friends as well.

We hadn’t traveled to other provinces such as Laguna, but we had a grand time around Makati and Quezon City. Sometimes we’d spend hours in Rockwell checking out celebrities. Or we’d listen to our next-door neighbor fight at different times of the day.

Those were our most care-free days. It’s not like we didn’t have any more responsibilities back home. We were still paying for our mortgage and other bills. I still had to work. But it never worried me because we’re experiencing new things together.

As we’re nearing our fifth year as a married couple, I still hope we can continue on with our mini adventures and relive our “happy Manila days” over and over.

Gabii sa Kabilin 2013


There are only a handful of things I look forward to this year. It’s not that I’m less open to wonderful things. I just prefer to be surprised these days. It makes this life’s journey so much easier and less stressful for me. But one of the things that I’m always excited about is the Gabii Sa Kabilin.

Gabii sa Kabilin is inspired by the Long Night of Museums in Berlin, Germany. Around this time, all participating museums in the area open their doors to the public, who carry one universal pass–a ticket that grants them entrance to all the sights.

The cultural event itself has grown immensely it also covers churches, and participating groups provide special exhibits and performances, among others, to the public. Other countries have followed suit as well, including the Philippines.

Gabii sa Kabilin, nevertheless, is the first historical activity of such kind in the Asia-Pacific region. How’s that for pride? Most of all, over the years, more cities and establishments decide to join. For example, for May 31, 2013, visitors can go to any of the 33 destinations:

1. Casa Gorordo Museum
2. Cathedral Museum of Cebu
3. Cebu City Museum
4. Cebu Cultural Center
5. Colegio del Santo Niño
6. Don Sergio Osmeña and CAP Art Gallery
7. Fo Guang Shan Chu Un Temple
8. Fort San Pedro
9. Iglesia Filipina Independiente
10. Cathedral of the Holy Child
11. Jose R. Gullas Halad Museum
12. Museo Parian sa Sugbo
13. Museo Sugbo
14. Plaza Independencia
15. Plaza Parian-AboitizLand Heritage Pocket
16. Sacred Heart Parish Church-Alternative Contemporary Art Studio
17. San Nicolas Parish Church
18. Sugbo Chinese Heritage Museum
19. United Church of Christ in the Philippines-Bradford Memorial Chapel
20. University of Southern Philippines-Rizaliana Museum
21. University of the Philippines Cebu College
22. Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House.

1. Mactan Shrine
2. Muelle Osmeña
3. Nuestra Señora Virgen de la Regla Parish Church
4. Plaza Poblacion

1. Mandaue City Presidencia
2. Bantayan sa Hari
3. Plaza Complex
4. National Shrine of St. Joseph Parish Church

1. American World War II Landing Site
2. Museo de Talisay
3. Sta. Teresa de Avila Parish Church

Bradford Church, in celebration of its 100th founding anniversary in the city, is going to host the opening at 5:30 p.m. From there, visitors can take a walk and explore the highlighted art deco buildings, go in to any of the determined landmarks, or ride a bus that takes you to your other preferred destinations.

From 5:30 p.m. all the way to midnight, you can:

1. Watch a demonstration of Rizal’s favorite food in USPF, performed a la Kitchen Musical.

2. Listen to balitaw in Casa Gorordo.

3. Play Filipino games in Plaza Independencia.

4. Take the Old Opon Walk starting from Muelle Osmena.

5. Watch the Kadaugan reenactment in Mactan Shrine.

6. Dine on Asian food cuisines and see very old photos of the province (from Lucy Urgello) in Cebu City Museum.

7. Learn Chinese calligraphy and Buddhist etiquette in Fo Guang Shan Chu Un Temple.

8. Listen to classic Visayan songs in JRG Halad Museum.

9. Watch arnis demonstration in San Nicolas Parish.

10. Ride e-cars in Mandaue City.

Above is a very short list, however. View the e-guide for complete information. You can also buy the ticket or get updates straight to your FB feed here.

The ticket costs 150 pesos, and it gives you access to all featured and participating sites, as well as unlimited rides on buses. You can also ride the tartanilla once with it.

I hope to see you this May 31.