Friday, October 28, 2011

Aliwagwag Falls

Where can you find the highest waterfall in the Philippines but in Davao Oriental called the Aliwagwag Falls!

Davao is blessed with numerous gifts of natural wonders such as talcum-fine white sand beaches, sprawling expanse of lush greenery of towering palm and varieties of forest trees, spectacular diving sites, awesome waterfalls, and many other geographical wonders. 

Situated in the middle of a lush forest some 25 kilometers away from Cateel proper in Davao Oriental, is the Aliwagwag Falls, the highest waterfall and one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Philippines. With a towering height of 1,110 feet and an average of meters in width, it is a series of astounding cascades of 84 falls with various heights ranging from 6 to 110 feet that look like a huge spiraling stairway carved out by the wonder of nature, forming almost a hundred steps cascading from the forest to the edge where it enters Cateel River and then empties to the coast. 

Aliwagwag Falls

The Falls is very accessible and can easily be viewed along the main road that connects Cateel with Trento in Agusan del Sur. The bridge over the river is a good viewing area to this waterfall where many locals can be seen enjoying a good splash in the rapids. While Aliwagwag Falls may be way off the tourist map and is known mostly to locals and intrepid adventurers, many have come to this beautiful spot, foreign and domestic tourists alike, and left with a lasting memory deeply embedded with a promise of return in their hearts.

View of the Falls

Aliwagwag Falls

Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Republic of the Philippines

Being the foremost landmark in Davao Oriental, incumbent President of the Republic of the Philippines, Benigno S. Aquino III, declared the mountain range of Aliwagwag as a protected area under the category of protected landscape and its peripheral areas as buffer zone through Proclamation Number 139 known as the "Aliwagwag Protected Landscape." Not only was the  proclamation the result of the untiring efforts of by local environmentalists for the national government to help them provide protective measures that would effectively preserve this wonderful gift of nature to the people of Davao Oriental, but it also serves as a tremendous boost to the province’s tourism program.

Corazon Malanyaon
Davao Oriental Governor

Long before Corazon Malanyaon assumed office as Davao Oriental governor, then a representative of province’s first district, she had sponsored the bill in Congress for the declaration of Aliwagwag as a protected area. She was supported in the Senate by Senator Pia Cayetano who sponsored the same bill in the upper House.

Being a vital and potential source of energy, Aliwagwag Falls plays a critical role in serving the irrigation needs of the vast rice fields in the area and the massive volume of water it continually creates may be tapped as an indispensable means to harness renewable hydro power to augment and sustain the energy needs not only of Davao Oriental but its neighboring provinces as well.

Now that the Aliwagwag Falls and its vicinity had been declared as a watershed protected area and landscape under Republic Act No. 7586 otherwise known as the National Integrated Protected Area System (NIPAS) Act of 1992, this will immediately facilitate the ultimate conservation and preservation of the habitat of important and vanishing species and outstanding scenery which are critical in the sustainable development of natural resources and biodiversity of the area and will help prevent environmental exploitation brought about by the influx of unscrupulous people penetrating the area.

Map of Cateel inDavao Oriental

Davao Oriental has the largest protected areas in Southern Mindanao, covering 778.45 square kilometers or 43 percent of the total protected areas in the region. Aliwagwag Falls’s aggregate area is about 10,000 hectares, 78 percent of which falls within the province of Davao Oriental while 22 percent belongs to the Compostela Valley province. Municipality of Cateel is bounded by the Pacific Ocean in the east, Compostela Valley in the west, Boston in the north, and Baganga in the south.

According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), there are now seven protected areas in Davao Oriental, as follows: 

1. Baganga Bay Protected Landscape
with an area of 205 square kilometers

2. Baganga Protected Landscape
with an area of 1.14 square kilometers

3. Mati Protected Landscape
with an area of 10.17 square kilometers

4. Pujada Bay Protected Landscape and Seascape
with an area of 212 square kilometers

5. Mount Hamiguitan Range and Wildlife Sanctuary 
with an area of 68.34 square kilometers

6. San Isidro Protected Landscape and Seascape
with an area of 175.90 square kilometers

7. Aliwagwag Protected Landscape
with an area of 105.9 square kilometers

Moreover, long before President Benigno Aquino III issued Executive Order No. 23 that imposes a total log ban in the entire country, Governor Malanyaon, through the Provincial Board of Davao Oriental, had already imposed the provincial government’s absolute log ban policy. The Executive Order No. 23 is a declared moratorium on the cutting and harvesting of timber in the natural and residual forests in the Philippines which also led to the creation of the Anti-illegal Logging Task Force.

How to get to Aliwagwag Falls

Cateel, Davao Oriental is some 360 kilometers away or about three and a half hour drive from Davao City and is easily accessible by bus at the Ecoland Transport terminal, or L300 vans for hire in Davao City.

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