October 8th, 2017
The first destination we had during our Surigao del Sur trip was the Enchanted River in Barangay Talisay, Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur -- Philippines. From Cebu City we took a 45 minutes flight enroute to Butuan City--the shortest distance we can get since we only have 3 days leave from work.
Mactan Cebu International Airport
Arrival at Butuan airport
Since we were in a group of 10, we decided to rent a V-hire (Van for hire) that will bring us to Enchanted River and for the rest of our itineraries and one of which is the Tinuy-an Falls--the small Niagara Falls of the Philippines which I tackled in my previous blog. The estimated time to travel from Butuan City airport to Enchanted River was 3-4 hours; numbbutt indeed but all worth the pained butt. Once alighted from the V-hire, you need to walk a short distance before reaching the main entrance of the Enchanted River. A welcome sign greets you before going down to the river.
An obligatory pose at the entrance of the Enchanted River
There are cottages available for P200.00 but we opt for a low priced table rental since we won't be using the tables all the time. So we settled in and had our brunch.
Actually, some of us including me took a plunged already before having our brunch.
Seeing the river in photos spreading in facebook newfeeds was surreal, but reality struck me and made me in awe as I stood and gazed the wonders of the river.
Who wouldn't be in awe with this view?
One FB friend commented: "it's just a tarpaulin" -- and I said: "go and see it for yourself, let's see if you can say it's a tarpaulin."
With my travel budds
There are life vests available for rent if you want to take a plunge in the water and it is rented P15.00 per hour rate. The green area of the river is an area where the depth of the water is for kids and non-swimmer adults. Though kids can enjoy the area but parental assistance is still highly recommended. The blue area of the river is where the hidden underground cave located. No one has ever explored the 80 feet depth of the cave. It startled me when I dipped my head to the blue water seeing the dark opening of the cave; quickly I lift my head out of the water and goose bumps all over me. Same goes with the rest of the gang. It's a mystical feeling that we can't explain but still we manage to enjoy the cool water and set aside the mystical feeling underneath.
The mystic blue river
This is what startled me -- the hollow.
The mystery of the river doesn't stop there. It was a minute before 12 noon when the caretaker of the river announced to stop swimming and to stay on the sides of the river to give way to the feeding of the fish, which I didn't see any. A bell rang by 12 noon, followed by a Hymn of Hinatuan played over loud speakers and in a few seconds fishes emerge to the surface of the water from nowhere and gathered near the riverbank.
The caretaker then began to scatter tiny shrimps and fishes dash over to seize the shrimps. Hearing alone the hymn is so mystic for me and seeing the unusual reactions of the fishes when the bell rang and the music played made me asked my travelmate Nancee if fishes can be trained? She also wondered if it can. We just stared at each other and made a conclusion that this is what made the Enchanted River enchanting. When all the tiny shrimps are consumed the fishes disappeared without knowing where they went. And according to one of the caretakers that we asked regarding the appearance and the disappearance of the fishes, he then told us that not a single fish has been caught in any means because they believe that those fishes are supernatural beings protecting the river and keeping it crystal clear, but there are certain areas in the river that is forbidden to swim for some reasons. In return, the caretaker feed the fishes everyday at 12 noon. As per folklores tale, this hour is said to be the hour of the supernatural beings. The ringing of the bell and the playing of the Hymn of Hinatuan was once played at around 3 pm. By this time, it is a special feeding time where the tourist/tourists can make a request but of course expenses will be shouldered by the requester. Same ritual and same mystical scene that we witnessed during this time.
The dark part of the photo is the opening of the underground cave.
My travelmate Joseph Bacalso just sit still underwater as he tried to take an underwater shot during the feeding session when suddenly this pleasant looking fish passed by. Mystic!
After the mystical experience in the water we decided to explore farther to the mouth of the river. We rented a small pump boat that will fit 4-5 persons. The boatman took us to a virgin island where we just dipped for minutes then went back to enchanted river due to time constraint. Though we were not able to explore the whole island but still it's good to be there and see the wonder of nature.
This one day trip made me realize that all beings in the world should be treated equal. We may not see those "supernatural beings" as they say, still we have to respect them and their privacy so they can give back what we deserve. Respect is the key to make this world a happy place to live and explore in.
Photos: are credited to the owners
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