It came out as a big surprise for me when I met Aliwagwag Falls for the very first time. It was one fine morning of November 2016 when we ventured westward from the poblacion on board a tricycle (local tuktuk) with markings of Jesus Take The Wheel only that it was driven by Mang Biboy, the husband of the caretaker of OAR Inn.
Mang Biboy and his tricycle (tuktuk)
It was not that sunny a Saturday when we headed towards Aliwagwag. The sky was overcast. It rained the previous night, a welcome thought that perhaps, Aliwagwag Falls would have huge volume of water flow just like what we saw in Tinuy-an.
The ride took us almost an hour. To reach the falls, you have to take the Compostela-Cateel road. If heading to Compostela Valley, Aliwagwag is at the right side and can be viewed from the bridge.
Mang Biboy had a handful to share about Aliwagwag and the people of Cateel. In a span of 45 minutes and 27 kilometers, he talked about how isolated Cateel was before. But with the construction of the Cateel-Compostela road, it provided people with better access to Aliwagwag Falls. Now the town has become known as the home to one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the country.
Entrance to the Eco Park
The falls is located within the Aliwagwag Falls Eco Park. We arrived in the park just around 7am. The park opens at 8am thus we just make do with taking pictures from the bridge. Aliwagwag is truly a stunner.
Describing it in terms of measurement, Aliwagwag Falls is composed of about 123 cascades of various height and form, collectively the falls measures 1,100ft in height making it the highest falls in the country. The cascades resemble one flight of irregular steps, like white stairway to heaven amidst the virginal greens of the surrounding.
A view of Aliwagwag from the dining area
A lovely waterfalls indeed. Aliwagwag is incomparable and Cateel is very much blessed for this wonderful gem. At least the local government has managed to maintain the natural beauty of the falls. The infrastructure laid out in the park was well-planned, in the sense that the structures did not alter the natural form of Aliwagwag. Facilities at the side of the falls, from the dining view deck to the hanging bridge and to the cottages and gazebo near the upper cascades were hidden from view, amidst the tall trees and lush vegetation.
How to get to Aliwagwag? There are several options.
1. Get on a flight to Butuan, from Bancasi Airport, there are vans heading to Mangagoy or you may take a multicab going to the bus terminal and take the bus to Mangagoy, Bislig. Travel time is about 5 hrs. The important thing to note is that once you reached Mangagoy, you need to take another bus ride, this time to Cateel. There is only one scheduled bus trip to Cateel per day (Mallen bus alternates with Lyra bus). It leaves Mangagoy at 11am. Travel time to Cateel is 3 hours. From Cateel, hire a tricycle or single motorcycle to Aliwagwag Falls. Travel time is 45-60 minutes. Standard rate to Aliwagwag is between Php 500-600 return trip.
2.If you start from Davao City, get on a Bachelor bus to Cateel via Compostela Valley. You may also take the Davao-Mati route then a further trip to Cateel either by van or bus.
Entrance to Aliwagwag Falls Eco Park is Php 50 pax. Tables at the dining view-deck area can be rented at Php 75. The park is open daily from 8am-5pm. There’s a restaurant, a souvenir shop and food stalls in the park.
Stamped at Aliwagwag Eco Park entrance
There is a designated area for visitors to swim and enjoy the cold rushing waters of Aliwagwag. There used to be a 680-meter zipline parallel to the falls but its operation was halted for undisclosed reasons. At the end of the stepped path, at the upper tiers, there is a monkey bridge which let you cross the falls twice.
The monkey bridge at the upper part of Aliwagwag
We needed to keep track of the time. We made sure that we enjoyed the waters of Aliwagwag, taking as much photos as we can. But we needed to be back in Poblacion, Cateel before 11:00am to catch our ride for Mati City, Davao Oriental.
Mang Biboy was waiting for us outside of the park. I took a glance of Aliwagwag Falls one last time before Jesus Take the Wheel started to roll again and headed back to OAR Inn.
Integrated bus and van terminal of Cateel
Aliwagwag, indeed, is stunningly beautiful.