We arrived at our friend’s Spanish-era house by midnight; had a quick dinner, chit some chats, and prepped up before hitting the sack. Wake up call would be at four in the morning for an early start up to two of Abra de Ilog’s waterfalls.
Everyone’s phone had been set before sleeping and alarms were going off one after another come 4:00AM. Still hazy from the short shut-eye, we blearily got up and had coffee to perk us up. Breakfast was held off as we were planning to have it once we reached the first waterfall.
The sun was already breaking out in the east by the time our tricycles sped off to the still deserted streets of Barangay Poblacion. Its paved roadways soon gave way to single-laned rough roads.
The rays of the sun were casting its golden hues across the palm trees lining the road and with Occidental Mindoro’s shoreline at our right I was holding myself back from asking our driver to stop so I can shoot a few snaps. Not wanting to be a nuisance, I made do with shooting one-handed while dangling at the backseat of the tricycle. We reached our drop-off point for the hike after half an hour and as a consolation; I was able to photograph some fishermen along the coast before starting the trek.
We started off at the small village of Aluyan, and then headed down to a rough trail that connects to the coast. With the sun not that high yet, it was a pleasant and easy walk down its sandy banks with lots of really interesting gigantic black rock formations lining its shore.
The first real challenge we encountered was the transition from the sandy coast to the rocky one. The next beach being blocked by a huge rock with a sheer drop, we have to scramble our way up its side through a steep four-inch path to reach the other side. It took us a not a few minutes to traverse this ledge as we carefully inched our way down. Lines started to form at our back as the locals watched us slowly and clumsily negotiate what their kids cross running. It only added additional pressure to us city folks used to flat horizontal sidewalks.
I have never seen an assortment of rocks like those we passed on the second beach. Seven to ten inches of incredibly diverse oblong rocks line the shore, beautiful to the eye but unluckily, extremely hard on the feet. After balancing our way past the rock-strewn beach, we finally passed a hut where a family was manually sorting out pebbles that were to be sold locally that signals the third and last leg of the trek.
This last part, being the shortest proved to be the toughest though. There are no paths, only people-high boulders to climb up to. With our stomachs already grumbling, we somehow managed to move our slow way up through its nooks and crannies ‘til the welcome sight of the gushing waters of Agbalala Falls rose to our view.