As far as grade school students are concerned, there are only two waterfalls in the Philippines; the Pagsanjan Falls in Laguna and the more impressive Maria Cristina Falls in Iligan City. I wasn’t even aware back when my Sibika at Kultura teacher taught us about it that the latter is located in Iligan City. You can just imagine my delight when I saw the itinerary for the Waterfalling Adventure 1.0, we’re gonna visit one of the two Philippine waterfalls that really matter.
Unlike most waterfalls in the country where arduous trekking is usually involved, visiting Maria Cristina Falls has none of that drama at all. But a stopover to the NPC Nature’s Park also entails a bit of work, make sure you call first before visiting, else you might not see any cascading falls at all. But coordinating with the NPC peeps is basically all the work you needed to do. Nice eh?
The National Power Corporation (NPC) Nature’s Park is an eight-hectare hydro-electric power plant complex dedicated to the production of electricity for seventy percent of Mindanao. But besides its power-generating aspect, there are also a host of things to visit and see along its sprawling grounds. And what’s nice about it is that entrance is absolutely affordable; Php25.00 for the kids, Php35.00 for adults.
Together with the Iligan Bloggers Society, we got to visit their mini zoo. The place is situated in a naturally landscaped area, which is I guess is good for the captive animals. They have ostriches, swans, lizards, peacocks, Japanese kois, monkeys and of course, the requisite crocodiles.
A butterfly sanctuary is also located on one of the corners of the zoo. The greenhouse-like structure is netted to keep the frail beauties inside. And like most butterfly sanctuaries, the place is replete with colorful flowers; cameras went click-crazy.
A popular activity inside the NPC Nature’s Park is their Tree Top Canopy Tour and Zipline Adventure. It’s an excellent pursuit for adrenaline junkies and those wanting to conquer their fear of heights. I’ve tried a similar activity at Subic’s Tree Top Adventure before and was curious if it can equal or even surpass my experiences there.
After buckling up a ton of safety gear, we proceeded to the switchyard stairways. Climbing time.
Still panting and legs still shaking, we were herded to the treetop walk. One by one, we traversed the rope bridge; it was actually quite easy and not scary at all. Well, I guess it would be a different story if there were no safety harnesses attached to a cable above just in case we slip and fall hundreds of feet below.
The group then converged on a tree platform nestled on a trunk of a very very very tall tree; looking down is vertigo-inducing. Again, one at a time, we hooked our harnesses and went whooping across not one, but three ziplines; the last of which even crossed the raging rapids of Agus River.
Unfortunately, no cameras were allowed during the treetop walk except for the Go-Pro attached to a co-traveler’s protective helmet. That explains the lack of photos taken during the activity.
And then it was finally time to see the mighty Maria Cristina Falls of my Sibika at Kultura books.
Although it’s not considered as the highest falls in the country (which during my childhood I thought it was), it still stands at an impressive height of 321 feet. It is almost two times higher than Sagada’s Bomod-Ok Falls, which is the highest waterfall I’ve seen before facing the raw beauty of Iligan City’s Maria Cristina Falls.
One thing my Sibika at Kultura teacher failed to tell us is that the Maria Cristina is a twin falls; a huge boulder along the top edge of the falls divides the cascades into two drops. Unfortunate, the second drop was nowhere to be seen during our visit. An Iliganon friend jokingly told me, we can only see Maria today.
And how is it possible that there are times when only a single drop of Maria Cristina is visible?
Well, they simply turn the water off. Turn a huge waterfall off? Yep, like a faucet they can turn both the cascades of the Maria Cristina on and off at will.
Apparently, NPC needs to control the waters of the Maria Cristina to harness its power-generating potentials. The waterfall is one of the main suppliers of electricity in Iligan City and they said that if they turn both drops of Maria Cristina on, a power shortage will occur throughout the city; hence the scheduled viewing time.
The Agus River rampages along Maria Cristina’s foot and makes it impossible to see the iconic waterfall up close. Good thing the guys at NPC allows visitors to access the viewing deck surrounding the Agus VI Hydroelectric Plant. It’s not a close up, but at least we can see the whole majestic waterfalls in all its powerful glory.
Picnic tables and covered sheds are located near the banks of Agus River. And after being hypnotized by the Maria Cristina, the group decided to have our lunch there. Courtesy of Jacko’s Kan-Anan; tender pork barbeques, grilled tilapias laid on banana leaves and kinilaw’ were promptly feasted upon.
And what better way to finish off our tour of the NPC Nature’s Park than with a plate of Filipino dishes on our hands, the gushing waters of the Agus River on our left and the majestic view of the Maria Cristina Falls straight ahead.
Was I correct in my assumption as a kid that there are only two waterfalls in the Philippines? Indeed I was, but my Sibika at Kultura book was not mistaken in including it as one of the magagandang tanawin sa Pilipinas. Iligan City’s Maria Cristina Falls is nothing short of stunning.
Maria Cristina Falls
Address: NPC Nature’s Park, Maria Cristina, Iligan City
Contact Number: (063)221-3988 | (063)221-9032 to 33
Open Hours: Everyday from 9:00AM to 4:00PM
Entrance Fee: Php25.00 Kids | Php35.00 Adult
Zip Line Fee: Php 200.00 | Shuttle Ride: Php10.00
GPS Coordinates: +8° 11' 0.06", +124° 11' 39.32"
View Location on Google Maps