Finding Courage in Cambugahay Falls

Cambugahay Falls Vine Swinging

It was our second day in Siquijor. I was feeling more hopeful, trying to forget yesterday’s cowardice at Salagdoong Beach. Based on our jam-packed itinerary, the first destination was Cambugahay Falls. Known for its enchanting three-level waterfalls and must-do vine-swinging (ala Tarzan), I was super excited to see it. (Too excited that I didn’t check our camera’s battery.)

After thirty minutes of tricycle ride from Larena to Lazi, we stopped at the Cambugahay Falls sign. Then, we climbed down 100 plus steps of a zigzag ladder made of rocks and cement. I like that they chose this combination over pure cement. The color of the rocks blended well with the surroundings. As soon as we reached the third tier of the falls, a sea of people greeted us.

What happened to the Filipino tradition of “no daring activities” on Good Friday?

People didn’t seem to care what the day was. My mom would have scolded me had she known I was attempting something a little dangerous on a Good Friday. She’d insist that any injuries I might have on this day would not heal fast. Of course, they are superstitions. (Though I was beginning to worry about my bulging bruise, which I got from the badly designed bed in our hotel.)

Not in the mood to mix with the crowd, Neil brought out the camera to take a picture of the place. After turning it on, the battery icon screamed ‘red.’ He knows this ranks as one of the top three worst-case scenarios when you’re traveling. So he muttered: I’m so going to pay for this.

He Thought I Was Annoyed…

But I was just assessing the area. Wondering if I could actually swing like Tarzan like the grinning young boy who had been going back and forth vine-swinging. He couldn’t get enough of it.

There was sheer fun watching him and the rest in line do the swing and plunge into the turquoise pool of water. For the first time on this trip, I was happy to watch, not noticing I was tapping my right foot while someone swings through the vine and dives straight into the pool.

Neil thought I was ignoring him because the camera was not working. But I wasn’t. It’s not an uncommon incident and I wasn’t really concerned that we couldn’t take a high-quality photo here.

I wanted a more permanent souvenir.

The next thing I knew, Neil was asking me hold his backpack for him so he could jump, not swing, just jump directly into the pool. I said, ‘sure!’ Hardly surprising. He said jumping off is free, unlike the vine-swinging that charges tourists 20 pesos.

He jumped once. Hungry for more, he did it again. And on the third time, he asked me if I wanted to try.

I said, maybe.

Then he jumped again and smiled at me.

I was starting to think I could really do it.

So I tried. Gingerly walking to the edge of the waterfall, calculating how high it was. Neil said the water below was about 8 feet deep. Not bad. Maybe this time…

I plunged deep into the water!

Jumping Off Cambugahay Falls

Neil said a lot of things to assure me.

He said it was easier. He said I could do it. And then he reminded me about our rock-climbing trip – when I sobbed and felt bitter after I couldn’t reach and kiss the anchor. He asked me a question: do you want to feel that way again?

That was enough for me to muster the courage to jump off.

I would  be lying if I tell you I knew the exact emotions I felt when  I plunged into the water. My mind was numb and my body naturally took over. In an eyeblink, I was underwater and swimming back to the surface. I did it.

I wanted to freeze the moment I was finally able to jump but it happened too fast! I couldn’t believe it myself. So I had to jump again just so I could be more aware of the sensations. I did jump again. And I felt the thrill, the bondage broken, the deed, at last, done.

I never thought jumping off waterfalls could be a source of personal celebration. Until this day.

So when Neil asked if I’d like to try vine-swinging…

I said yes. What’s the worst that could happen? More fun? I was in.

That day, we didn’t swim anywhere else. We visited all the places on our itinerary plus more. Yet the feeling of achievement and excitement lingered.

Maybe, I went to Siquijor for this feeling.

 

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