Shooting the rapids on “Apocalypse now” river

Once upon a time there lived two brothers on the eastern bank of Bumbungan river in Philippines. This region, normally was a green zone with water issues and so life went on happily. On a particular year drought hit and the effects were devastating.

Nothing would grow on the soil. People had to go hungry and eventually became ill. All flora and fauna apparently vanished. Everyone prayed for rains, so did the two brothers. No avail. Eventually the elder brother died of illness and thirst. The younger one took it upon himself to find water for his tribe and walked for days up the mountains. After several days, he still could not locate water so in a fit of frustration threw his stick on some rocks. And surprise, a small spring formed which gave rise to a big waterfall now called the Magdapio waterfall named after the younger brother.

rowing to Pagsanjan

There was no way I could have captured the whole length of waterfall without going further up.

He also informed that this was the location for the popular movie by Francis Coppola, “Apocalypse now”. The so called Vietnamese boat people shown in the movie were actually local Ifugao people.

The boatman was keeping us engaged with his stories while returning from the Pagsanjan falls (Magdapio falls) in his canoe. He had already warned us to keep our hard hat and life jacket firmly tied and to keep the camera inside. There were some rains and of course there was the spray of water. On the upstream journey we knew that there were over 10 roughs.

rowing to Pagsanjan

Rapids started ! Cameras went into hiding so you can’t see the rough waters.

We waited with bated breath to hit the first of the rough and there it was. We just turned a corner and the bow hit the turbulent water. I was sitting at the front just behind the boatman and got fully drenched in no time. All amount of preparedness could not prepare me for the shock. 🙂 Good that all the electronics stuff was all safely ticked away.
The shock gave way to fun as we hit more and more of the roughs. The river was narrow and there were many rocks to deal with. At some places there were blind turns and we wondered how we went up to the Pagsanjan waterfall. Not that we were scared, it was just that we didn’t want it to end. Raindrops & splashes continued to play with us.

rowing to Pagsanjan

Big rocks and blind turns awaited us.

There were times it looked as if we would just fall, if not for the expert maneuvering by the Bankeros as the boat man is called. This feeling was to be alive ! This was to be awesome ! This was definitely an Alive is awesome bathing experience we had.

By the time we reached the smooth part of the river (which is good 6 kms again) and crossed the floating tax collector, we were fully soaked to the bone. 🙂

Once or twice some people came in boat (floating shops) with chips packets & cold drinks and tried to sell, if not for ourselves then for the poor boatmen. Aah ! The concern about fellow countrymen ! Naah, we were in no mood to feed them. We gave the boatmen hefty tips instead.

Here is a Video of rowing to Pagsanjan Waterfall. As I told you above, we couldn’t take any photos when we were crossing the rapids.

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