While a medley of boy band songs from Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees and ‘NSync were blasting my ears from the public utility jeepney’s high-decibel stereo system, I remained half conscious by listening with eyes both shut under my sunnies. I held tightly on the steel bar to secure myself on my seat just in case the driver presses down his accelerator forcefully. My destination? Wawa Dam located in Montalban, Rizal.
Although it’s my first time to visit Wawa, I had a word from my dad and brother who used to go there on mountain bikes with my cousins, that the jeepney trip from Sta. Lucia Mall and Robinson’s Metro East to Montalban, Rizal via the towns of Marikina City takes 2 hours roughly with current fare of 26 Philippine pesos. Thankfully, I was on the road before lunch time and arrived safely in one piece.
“Looking back on the things I’ve done, I was trying to be someone
Played my part, kept you in the dark
Now let me show you the shape of my heart.”
I was still stomping my right foot with that lyrics from one of the famous Backstreet Boys’ songs when the jeepney halted to park as it reached its terminal in Montalban (now called, Rodriguez, Rizal) at around 1:30PM. I alighted quickly and this road greeted me.
I waited for another ride opposite that parked jeepney on the photo above. There’s two options actually – either to take a tricycle or another jeepney ride to Wawa. I chose the latter and paid 8 pesos. Few minutes after, I finally had a glimpse of those legendary Sierra Madre mountains. Where the jeepney ride ends, the hiking begins.
According to Philippine mythology, Montalban gorge was created by the giant, Bernardo Carpio, when he tried to separate 2 great rocks in the mountains where he was trapped. The folklore with various versions also associated Bernardo Carpio to the cause of earthquakes.
With a quick glance at Wiki, I learned that the Wawa Dam was built during the American colonial era in 1909 to provide source of water to Metro Manila. It was only abandoned when Angat Dam became operational.
I intently went to Wawa Dam to commune and make love with Mother Nature on a Valentine’s day. How fitting, right? Armed with my Malaysian android phone inside my cropped pants’ pocket, my DSLR camera and a bottle of mineral water in my backpack, I hiked my way to the gorge.
A few sari-sari stores selling assorted items from fresh produce to snacks, soda and even beers line the path to Wawa Dam. My slow-paced hike was frequently interrupted as I look, admire and immortalize with my camera the sights that I don’t usually wake up to.
This place is definitely picturesque at all angles!
The vicinity of Wawa Dam is not only home for a few local residents but was already transformed into a bamboo rafting, swimming, hiking and picnic areas that’s not too commercialized compared to other resorts and recreational spots. What do I mean? There’s no admission rates at the moment so people could freely come and go. However, if you plan to use the bamboo cottages for picnic and resting purposes, a PhP 150 per cottage fee will be collected.
Lush green, ginormous boulders, almost clean flowing water. It’s not difficult to appreciate such place definitely. I’m like a kid who’s so happy to see a natural and man-made waterfalls! The last time I saw waterfalls was at Yosemite National Park in California back in April of 2000; that was ages ago, I know! While the sight of flowing water from a dam was a reminiscent of my family’s trips to Villa Escudero in Quezon where a similar man-made falls from a gravity dam is also enjoyed by tourists.
Mother Nature at her best. How could you not be grateful?
I salute those few couples who opted to spend Valentine’s day with nature . The abandoned viewing deck in Wawa Dam seems imperfect and modest but indubitably, it offers a venue for extraordinary moments.
As I continued the hike, I was even more impressed with the gorgeous views!
As I went down amidst those boulders, I became more insightful. Seeing big things reminded me of how small I am. Indeed, humility and not pride, makes us more human.
Descending requires careful steps from one boulder to the next, and crossing a few bamboo pole bridges to reach the picnic cottages and the waterfalls need precise body mechanics.
I sat in one vacant cottage to catch my breath. Few cycles of deep inhalations and exhalations after, I smiled widely as I directed my gaze at the natural and man-made-waterfalls.
Prior going down to the river, I encountered a boy selling local rice cakes. I refused to buy initially. Then I saw him again stepping from stone to stone, on his way towards the few tourists soaking themselves under the falls. I called him and asked his name.
I met Jordan, a 12 year-old vendor at Wawa Dam. He goes to school in the morning and sells local rice cakes for a living in the afternoon. His simple story struck me and reminded me to be more grateful. Amazing how ordinary people can be so inspiring and motivating despite indirectly.
Native afternoon delights.
A few of Filipino favorites : Palitaw, Carioca and Bico. Simple indulgence all for PhP 35 only. Solb!
I also bought ice buco (coconut flavored ice cream on stick) for PhP 13 from an older vendor. Enjoyed it like a kid, rested and stayed in the cottage until a man was charging me PhP 150 for the usage. I told him, I didn’t swim and only stayed for few minutes. I paid him PhP 20 after telling me to pay him any amount.
I left Wawa Dam at around 3:30PM and arrived home past 5. Funny that I came to Wawa Dam without major expectations, but went home with relevant life’s lessons beyond love and nature’s appreciation.
Have you been to Wawa Dam in Montalban, Rizal? How’s your experience?
If you haven’t and if you’re planning to go, I suggest make your trip on a week day if possible, for obvious reason of having less tourists at Wawa (remember, it’s one of mountaineers and bikers’ favorites because of its proximity to Metro Manila) and you can have the place all to yourself. You may try exploring the historic caves too but may necessitate an official tourist guide from the local office.
HOW TO GET THERE? If you’re commuting from Cubao, take jeepney bound to Montalban along Aurora Boulevard or you may take MRT line 2 in Araneta-Cubao Station and alight at its terminal in Santolan, then take a jeep outside the station to Montalban. Alternatively, you can ride FX vans from their terminals in Farmers Cubao to Montalban, Rizal. Then as mentioned on this blog post, you need to take another jeepney (or tricycle) ride from Montalban to Wawa Dam.
If you’re from PHILCOA in Quezon City, take jeepney bound for Maly, San Mateo, Rizal, then take another jeep to Montalban, and another ride to Wawa Dam.
*This blog’s first post about Wawa Dam on May 2010 here : http://docgelo.com/2010/05/26/wawa/