Monday, September 12, 2011

Mag-aso Falls and Punta Cruz Watchtower

On our second day in Bohol, we visited the attractions in Antequera and Maribojoc towns, at least 30 minutes drive northwest of Tagbilaran City. Our first destination in our morning itinerary is the Mag-Aso Falls in Antequera.

To get there, visitors can ride the public utility vehicles from Tagbilaran to Antequera, but the trips seem infrequent, as we have not seen any jeep or mini-bus plying the route during our trip. Upon arriving at the town center's church and market area, tricycles can be hired to take visitors to the waterfalls, only 1.5 km in a narrow road. In our case, we hired the car services of Paul Incon in addition to the usual countryside tour.

Like many waterfalls we've been to, we have to go down a series of concrete stairs, a total of 197 steps to see the waterfall attraction of Antequera. The steps are easy to negotiate and not that steep, even for our 3-year old kid. 

Life jackets are available for rent. Toilet facilities are also available. The local barangay council will collect minimal entrance fees and optional cottage rental rates below.

Here's an initial view of the waterfalls from a natural ledge, where a third cottage was being contructed during our visit. 

"Aso" in Filipino language either means dog or smoke. Not many Filipinos know that "aso" also means smoke, a very old Filipino term for smoke. Mag-aso falls got its name from the smoke-like water spray it produces, as the water come splashing down the pool and rocks underneath.

The water from the mountains above is cold, especially in the morning. However, this beautiful waterfall has a violent history when 3 young men died some years ago, while swimming in its natural pool. Sudden strong downpour in the mountain above caused a flash flood, surprising and drowning the unsuspecting swimmers.

Best time to see the waterfalls is during sunny weather, as the water is clear and perfect for a safe dip.

Next place in our itinerary is the well-preserved Punta Cruz watchtower in the neighboring town of Maribojoc. Its quite far from the main road, so hiring a vehicle is recommended to save time and effort as well. There are minimal entrance and parking fees, about Php 20 each person if I'm not mistaken.

Watchtowers were built along the shores to give early warning against Moro invaders, during the 300-year rule of the Spanish colonizers. This watchtower was built with coral stones in 1796 according to the sculpted marker below, under the guidance of Recoletos priests. It is bigger and better-looking than its older counterpart in Dauis church area. Front view of the tower has some semblance on the Mayan temples in South America.

The watchtower has triangular shape on its first level. See the sharp edges of the triangular walls in the next photos, taken from other sides.

The stairs leading to the third floor has low headroom, so tall visitors must be careful not to bump their head. Too bad that there are some graffiti on the inner walls. Anyway, visitors will be rewarded with nice sea views and refreshing breeze at the top floors.

There is a staircase leading to the sea below, but I don't know if they have shower and changing room facilities, in case visitors would take a dip. There are picnic huts on the area, and a store outside the compound which sells drinks, junk foods, and souvenir items.

After we visited the Maribojoc old church here, we checked the biggest Burmese python of Maribojoc named Samantha. Entrance and parking fees are collected by the owners of this private facility, more expensive than the two previous areas we visited.

Its shorter than Prony, the local and biggest python in Bohol, but its body circumference is the the largest among the pythons in the province.

Aside from Samantha, there are few animals in the area like monkeys, eagles, civet cat, iguana, etc.

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