Like many other parents, mine aren’t perfect. They argue, talk bullshit about each other, come up with poor decisions, and fight over the silliest thing. Like many other children, I once wished that I was not born from them. But as you get older and see your parents try their best to raise well the family, you’ll begin to understand that theirs are the real deal of “adulting” – bills, children, sustenance, work, and all the other complexities life can offer. While we complain about the little inconveniences in life, they struggle in silence so as to fulfill the promise, not of a “happily ever after”, but of “in sickness and in health, in richer and in poorer,‘til death do us part”.
The stories and adventures of my parents fueled my passion for traveling. For someone who grew up with the stories of dolphins tagging along fishermen, wild cats catching quails, carabaos and horses as pets, and fireflies lighting a whole forest, it became a dream to finally see and experiences those stories for real. One of the many adventures my father shared to me was the majestic waterfalls that resides in his hometown in Tuburan. According to the legend, this twin falls, hides a cave that connects to one of Tuburan’s wonders Marmol Cliff. This passage was bravely traversed by a famous snake hunter in the barrio. Upon his return, he recalled how gigantic the snakes inside the cave were. No written accounts could prove this story, but everything shared to children – most especially the fascinating ones – are considered truth, right? So, for a long time I have been bugging my father to visit this enchanting waterfalls, which he added as a sacred space for mythical beings.
Finally this faithful year, we put into realization this long time promise of visiting my father’s hometown – Tuburan. Together with my mom, who was also curious on that waterfalls my father kept on talking about, we ventured into the zigzag roads of Transcentral Highway, bumpy habal-habal ride across the excavated rivers, and steep trails towards Mag-atubang Falls. The waterfalls are literally facing each other, hence the term “mag-atubang”. Since it was dry season, very minimal amount of water cascaded from the top, making it less majestic in comparison to the other waterfalls. Nonetheless, it was still a sight to behold.
We were wholeheartedly welcomed by my father’s relatives and I got the chance to get acquainted with cousins, nieces, nephews, and all the rest of the families residing the area. “Nganong wa pa man kanagminyo, day? Tiguwangna kay ka.” Why aren’t you married yet? You’re old already. Ouch. Most of them are way younger than I do but they are already tagging along with them two to three children. Compared to the youngsters in the city, they looked happy and contented with their lives and the achievements they earned. It suddenly dawned to me how society has been shaping our views on success and in living a happy life.
Scouting over the place, it could be a good venue for adventure and tourism, however, looking at how tranquil the place and people are, I believe it is best to keep the sanctity of the place – away from IG-whore society. Since we planned to visit Marmol Cliff, we bade goodbye to the family; much to our surprise, they apologized for not being able to give us anything to bring back to the city, instead they gave one of their chickens to us. Horrified, I asked my parents to refuse but father explained that in such culture, to refuse an offer is an insult. So, off we went with the poor chicken. Isn’t it embarrassing? When people from the province come to the city, some people don’t treat them nicely and even subject them to humility. But they only bring back good stories with them and share to the community how nice the city is. Meanwhile when city people visit the province, they are treated like VIPs and served only with the best. Who’s uneducated now? Where did our morals and values go?
Marmol Cliff is a real epitome of expectation versus reality. Unlike the splendid shots shown on social media, the place is just a part of the river system which is used by the locals as path in going to their respective ‘sitios’ and ‘barangays’. At first glance, the rafts nearby the cliffs looked like a venue for tourists to have an adventure but in reality, it’s just part of the transportation system where people place their motorbikes to cross the river when the water level is relatively high.
Having been able to visit a number of majestic places around the country, Mag-atubang Falls and Marmol Cliff didn’t justify the magic brought about my father’s story. Probably, in his eyes when he was younger… they were. Remember, how enchanting things were when we were children? But such escapade didn’t center most on the destination, rather it was on the journey, the encounters we had, and the adventures we’ve been through together as a family – it was the unspoken commitment on making the trip magical. Same goes with traveling, if you commit to join an activity or promised to do something for the group, please do so. Not only that it would tarnish the bond you have, mostly it would spoil the whole trip. In the words of Goyo (AngBatangHeneral), ‘Nawa’ymagingtapattayosaatingmgasalita’ (May we be true to our words).
Hope you’ll keep your words as well. See you on trails?