Follow the Green: Anuplig Falls


My free time in Adams was spent trekking to Anuplig Falls. It normally takes one and a half hours to reach the waterfall on foot. We cut the time in half by motorbiking up to Anat. By the time the rush of water was deafening, rain began to pour, cooling down my overheated system instantaneously. I regret that the cam wasn’t properly protected, so our plan to take a dip was set aside for next time.

Anuplig Falls

Anuplig looks far more intimidating in reality. The raw stillness around was stupefying, the air so crisp, the pellucid waters invigorating.

Rain + WaterfallAdams Mountainside

There are spots that hit you in the heart like a piercing object. Kaingin (slash-and-burn farming) is always justified as a cultural facet of the indigenous peoples.

Anuplig Falls TrailBack RideAnat RoadWild Orchids

Photographed by Jermin and Blauearth
© Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2013

Epochal love affair (Benguet, Ifugao and Mt. Pulag)

Earth Day 1996. From Baguio, I tagged along behind the Ace Bikers, a group of mountain bikers, who dared pedal their stiffys (hardtail bikes) on one of the killer roads in the world, the main artery of the Cordillera road system, the Halsema Highway (at a time when the winding road was at its worst), to Mt. Data Hotel (110 km) on the first day, and continue the grueling ascent to Sagada (60 km) via dirt road on the next day to complete the first Baguio-Sagada Bike Challenge organized by Padma Lim Perez of Solana’s Manna. A frickin’ adventure for all us that soon ignited a love affair with the Cordillera Mountains. The road trip will be forever etched in my memory. It was freaky, but tremendously fun! I don’t even know where to start if I list down all the weighty elements.The daring mister was a big influence in my burgeoning career as a professional adventurer. An offshoot of Ace Bikers — in the year 1999, together with Benny Arce, they masterminded the establishment of the Province of Ilocos Norte Adventurers, Kampers Bikers and Eco-Tourism Group, otherwise known as PINAKBET (it was Benny who coined the acronym), but eventually left the group in 2004 to form the LEAD Movement or the Laoag Eco-Adventure Development Movement, which specializes in ecotourism development.The photo above says we went back to Sagada in 1999. It would have been a lot sooner had I not given birth to my fourth baby. We brought along two kids and the other two were left at home. That trip on our first Land Cruiser, an F40, was extra bumpy and excruciatingly  long. Halsema Highway was still as freaky as ever.We stayed once more at the St. Joseph Inn, a pretty comfortable inn run by nuns. The kids were still too small for extreme adventure, so we just walked around town, let them see the hanging coffins and drove to places like the Sagada Weaving Center, Lake Danum and nearby Bontoc, where my Chinese-Igorot relatives live.

We always ate at the cafe in the inn. The employees soon became our friends. Food had to be ordered in advance. Our standard eat was pork chop with buttered vegetables. Although there weren’t many food options available, everything from the kitchen was obviously fresh, deliciously organic and affordable.

The weather is cool, but can get chilly when it rains. Rustic-but-lovely Sagada is a place where one can temporarily liberate himself/herself from all the trappings of a citified life. Surprisingly, there’s nothing more refreshing than a cold water bath in the morning!That’s the Mangapit Suspension Bridge in Cagayan. From Sagada, we traveled back to Ilocos through Isabela and Cagayan. It was one hell of a ride in the middle of summer! I really can’t figure out how the kids and I managed to survive at the back of the cruiser.A true adventurer isn’t whiny. I can get a little whiny, but only for a while, and then I crave for more — and so we went to Sagada anew. On this trip, we stayed overnight in Banaue.We didn’t make it to Batad, but we were able to get a fine view of the world-renowned Ifugao Rice Terraces at the view deck for tourists. There were apparent changes in Sagada. All the hotels seemed full, there was cell phone coverage and there were more eateries around. We ate yummy homemade yogurt with preserved strawberries at the Yogurt House and gourmetish hard-crusted bread, baked by a Frenchman, at Alfredo’s.

This was my baby’s first long trip. The baby and I stayed behind, while the mister, my good friend Ona and the rest of the group went spelunking in Sumaging Cave. I slept my ass off, well, so that there is something new if and when I go back again. Oh, this time around, we had the luxury of a hot water shower.November 11, 2004. My LEAD Movement buddies and I hied off to Mt. Pulag National Park. The borders between the provinces of Benguet, Ifugao, and Nueva Vizcaya meet at Pulag’s peak. We passed by the Ambuklao Dam on our way to the Ranger Station (along the Ambangeg Trail), where we were given a seminar on the donts in the park and the Leave No Trace creed.Who would have thought that I could reach the second highest peak in Luzon and the third in the Philippines? Out of more than 50 climbers, I clocked in fourth. I know climbing mountains shouldn’t be a race, but hell yeah, momma! I’m  proud of my little achievement — 2922 m ASL!Sadly, these are my only photos of the climb. The endemic flora at the different forests were fabulous. Frozen, all I could think of was climb and climb until I reach the summit Thank God, he created bushes! Sue me, I think I even peed on my pants. My mountain guide was excellent! HHWW ang peg. Oh, and thanks to Boyet Leano, pinulot ako sa bamboo-han; I fell off a ridge — true story. Again, thank God for creating dwarf bamboo trees!Just one mini-rant — you need to go back to Baguio to use a toilet. Soon enough, we went back to Sagada. On this last trip, we took the Cervantes route. I was with the mister, Ona, Boyet, Buda, Larry, Berna and all of our little boys. We trekked to Bokong Falls and, finally, I was able to experience the thrill of spelunking at Sumaging Cave. It was the second coming of awesomeness! My bestest adventure was a chopper rappel, but that’s another story.Hope to see you soon, Cordilleras.

Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2011

The cliff diving adventure of Ericke and friends in Adams

A LEAD Movement baby right from the very first day the eco-adventure group was conceived, Ericke has grown to love Adams like a second home.
Together with her best buddies, they explore the alluring Anuplig Falls, the foremost waterfall in the idyllic town of Adams, located far up north in the Cordilleras.

Without qualms, she manages to dive in the water like a true eco-adventure junkie.

Cliff diving, through an uncooperative underwater camera

Ericke accounts, “With about two hours of sleep, we went hiking. Some of my girlfriends are not very ‘outdoorsy’, so we had to rest a couple of times, instead of hiking for an hour and a half; it took us two hours to reach the falls. We were sweaty, hot, our feet were covered with mud, our legs and arms had so many scratches, and on top of that, our knees felt like the knees of an 80 year old with arthritis. As soon as we heard the rushing sound of the falls and felt the sprinkles of cold water in our faces, all of the complaints and regrets went away. The water was ice cold, it’s my 3rd time to see Anuplig falls but I’m still so amazed by it. Cliff diving is always awesome! The water was so deep even if you jumped from the highest point you still can’t reach the bottom.”

Underwater fun in the unsullied waters of Adams.

Reveling in nature’s fresh simplicity

Striking a pose at the Baset Hanging Bridge, the longest and oldest of its kind in Ilocos Norte

Exotic food trip — starting with buos, or fire ants, cooked the Ilocano way.

Gamely trying fresh water palileng fish from the mountain streams.

Keeping up close and personal with nature, they choose to set camp by the Bulo riverbank.

Mesmerized by the mystic appeal of the town, they promise to make nature adventure a summer break habit. They figure on resuming where they left off in a journey of exploring the many other uncontrived,  natural destinations that Ilocos Norte can offer.


More on Ilocos Norte’s great outdoor fun and adventure
Photos by Ericke Tan
Text by Blauearth Copyright © Blauearth™ ALL RIGHTS RESERVED