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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CHAPTER 4
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<< Cont'd from Chapter 4, Page 1

The Exciting Shooting of the Rapids

      The climax of the visit to Pagsanjan Falls is the exciting "shooting the rapids" during the return trip. It is a rare experience of one's lifetime. The rapids, winding through boulders and roaring downstream with the velocity of an express railway train, are frightening to see. Shooting these rapids is relatively safe, for the Pagsanjeño boatmen, with their inborn dexterity in rowing and amazing skill acquired by many years of experience, have the know-how to navigate them.
      Many foreign visitors have enjoyed this unique adventure of shooting the Pagsanjan rapids. As a British traveler P. Armitage, gladly remarked: "Shooting the rapids is the most thrilling experience of my life. I've been to many capitals of the world, but the Pagsanjan trip is worth all the trouble." This is affirmed by General Chatechai Choonhavan, Thailand's Foreign Minister, who said: "Shooting the rapids is a thrill that is unequalled anywhere."

First Written Account of a Trip to Pagsanjan Falls

      Historically, the first written account of a trip to Pagsanjan Falls was by Joseph E. Stevens, an American trader-traveler from Boston. With four American friends, he made a banca trip to Pagsanjan Falls on Holy Thursday, March 22, 1894. In glowing words he described his exciting experience as follows:

    After breakfast we went down to the river and got into five hollowed-out tree-trunks (bancas), preparatory to the start up into the mountain gorges. It was worse than riding a bicycle, trying to balance one of the crazy affairs, and for a few moments I feared my camera and I would get wet. However, nobody turned turtle, and we were paddled up between the high coconut-fringed banks of the wonderfully clear river before the early morning sun had looked over mountains into whose cool heart we were going.
    Then came the first rapids, with backgrounds of rich slopes showing heavy growth of hemp and cocoa palms. Another short paddle and the second set of rapids was passed on foot. A clear blue lane of water then stretched out in front of us and reached squarely into the mountain fastness through a huge rift where almost perpendicular walls were artistically draped with rich foliage that concealed birds of many colors, a few chattering monkeys, and many hanging creepers. Again it seemed like a Norwegian fjord . . . but here, instead of bare rocks, were deeply verdured ones. Above, the blue sky showed in a narrow irregular line; below, the absolutely clear water reflected the heavens; the cliffs rose a thousand feet, the water was five hundred feet deep, the birds sang, the creepers hung, the water dripped, and we seemed to float through a sort of El Dorado, a visionary and unreal paradise. At last we glided in through a specially narrow lane not more than fifty feet wide; a holy twilight prevailed; the cliffs seemed to hold up the few clouds that floated far over our head, and we landed on a little jutting point, for bathing and refreshments. It seemed as if we were diving into the river Lethe or being introduced to the boudoir of Nature herself. In an hour we pushed on, passed up by three more rapids and halted at last at the foot of a bridal-veil waterfall that charmed the eye with its beauty, cooled the air with its mists, and set off the green foliage with its white purity. Here we lunched, and in lieu of warm beer drank in the beauties of the scenery.
    The return was a repetition of the advance, except that we shot one or two of the rapids, and that the banca holding the boy and the provisions upset in a critical place, wetting the crackers that were labeled "keep dry". We got back to our house by early afternoon, and all agreed that an inimitable, unexcelled wouldn't-have-missed-it-for-world-excursion passed into history.

End of Chapter 4.  

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