CHAPTER 4
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www.pagsanjan.org
Text excerpts from the book:
PAGSANJAN, In History and Legend
(1975 Edition)
By Dr. Gregorio F. Zaide

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PAGSANJAN FALLS
AND
SHOOTING THE RAPIDS

      In recent years Pagsanjan has become the premier tourist spot of the Philippines. More than 500 tourists from all parts of the world daily visit the town, from Monday through Sunday. These tourists are ferried to the enchanting Pagsanjan falls in native bancas paddled by expert boatmen. They all experience a thrilling memory of adventure, seldom surpassed in their lifetime. As Dr. Marguerite J. Fisher, American lady professor and globe-trotter, said: "I just love Pagsanjan, with its picturesque waterfalls and rapids. I've been there thrice and I've shot the rapids a number of times."

Upstream Banca Trip to the Falls

      Unlike the Niagara Falls (U.S.) which is located within the periphery of Niagara City, the Pagsanjan falls is situated three miles outside of the town of Pagsanjan somewhere in the rugged highlands of Cavinti. Its site is a national territory under the supervision of the Parks and Wildlife Office of the Bureau of Forestry Development. The only passable route to it is the Bumbungan River of Pagsanjan.
      To reach Pagsanjan Falls, tourists or visitors have to ride on bancas (native canoes) manned by skilled Pagsanjeño boatmen (bankeros). The upstream trip to the Falls lasts more than one hour and the return trip is less than an hour. It is on this return that one has to shoot the rapids -- an unforgetable thrill of a lifetime. There are fourteen roaring rapids in all.
      The trip upriver is a rather slow process, for the two boatmen are paddling against the stream currents. Before entering the gorge, one would see a broad bend or curve of the river, whose water is extremely deep. This bend is called Kawa-Kawa. According to local legendary lore, the muddy bottom of this bend contains a giant bell, whose thunderous peals frightened little children and pregnant women many, many years ago.
      The gorge, the gateway to the world-famous Pagsanjan Falls, is hemmed in by rocky cliffs as high as 300 feet, lush with tropical vegetation -- wild orchids, ferns, and vines. In early morning one may see little monkeys chattering among the vines and birds of multi-colored plumage gamboling or flirting among the bushes. "The gorge of Pagsanjan," commented Mrs. Isabel Anderson, American author-traveler in 1916, "is very beautiful." As the banca glides smoothly through the gorge, one may feel the sepulchral silence and cool atmosphere which comfort the agonizing heart or soothe frayed nerves.
      Before reaching the gorgeous Pagsanjan Falls, one may behold many mini-falls, especially during rainy days. The first of this mini-falls is the Talahib Falls. Farther on are the Kaluykuy Falls and the misty Bridal Veil Falls. The other mini-falls, numbering more than nineteen during the rainy months, have no names. Many of these are unseen during the summer season.
      After more than an hour of difficult journey upstream, during which the boatmen have to drag the banca, with two passengers on board, or lift it up across the rapids, the real thing emerges in view -- the enchanting Pagsanjan falls, whose booming waters cascade down a 300-foot high rocky cliff in full splendor. The echoes of the falling waters fill the air with symphonic thunder like the crash of a Wagnerian opera.
      Behind the curtain of the cascading waters is the mysterious Devil's Cave, so named because its opening looks like the profile of a devil's face.
      The base of Pagsanjan Falls is a huge natural swimming pool. Its water is clean and rather cold. A good swimmer can dive and swim to his heart's delight.

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