A "piece of heaven" in Zamboanga
Discovering a "piece of heaven" right at your very own place where you practically grew up and never knew it existed until you finally step foot in it is more than just amazing, it's jaw-dropping and breathtakingly surprising.
Maybe it could be compared to dreaming, 'dreaming of an enchanted place and wanting to keep that moment as long as you like.' How could such a wonderful creation of God not be recognized and shared all these years?
Merloquete Falls - Zamboanga
Like a majestic queen, the wondrous falls stands tall in between two mighty mountains. She cascades cool and crystal-clear water. She sends a calming and soothing sound of an angry but velvety- thundering water as it falls down from her bosom.
Mr. Joel Baysa of Dept. of Natural Resources says, if his assessment is right, the Merloquet Falls have been in existence long before we were even born. It means the breezy falls have been there for centuries! But why on earth have we not heard stories about its existence? Why have our grandparents not spoken about it? Was it because they too have not discovered this amazing treasure? For centuries, she lied "untouched", undeveloped and unknown to many.
Discovering Merloquete Falls Near Zamboanga City
After a not so "well-organized" preparation and coordination, more than 60 adventure enthusiasts-(members and guests) of Zamboanga Adventure Tourism and Eco-Recreation Society (ZATERS) (coming from the national government agencies, local government units, local media, private individuals and entities, young professionals and students) decided to visit the falls for the first time.
Not knowing what lies ahead, the group excitedly met early that morning.
Each one packed his/her own "baon" and shelved out a meager amount of P300 per head coming from the participant's own pocket for the bus fare and snacks for the five-member Red Cross Medical Team and five police escorts.
Other participants took their own family vehicle.
After almost a two hour ride, taking the Zamboanga city proper-barangay Vitali-barangay Sibulao route, we finally reached our destination half past ten that morning.
And so we began our trek to Merloquet Falls. The sun was scorching hot, almost blinding and painful. (Of course we were prepared with our sun glasses and visors). Everyone was sweating. The trek made all of us direly thirsty. Thanks to Coca-cola-Zamboanga for providing us with 120 bottles of 500ml Viva mineralized water. It helped us quench our thirst.
We continued our trek taking extra careful as the terrain was slippery because it rained the night before our Merloquete activity.
The way to the falls may be described as rough, downhill, rolling terrain. It was almost like going down a 45 degree angle. There was nothing to hold on to in case we rolled down the hill (thank goodness it never happened).
Our guide told us that we need to patiently go down the hill if we want to see the falls situated at the foot of the mountain (in the middle of the almost forested area or Sitio Merloquet). All of us were "first timers" to that falls, except for our guide, so it took as more than an hour of trekking before we found the "pot of gold at the end of the rainbow."
We knew at that time that we were nearing the falls as we heard the "musical" sound of powerful surging waters, as if it were having a duet with the strident chirping birds, enticing us to move quicker and faster. We started to feel the zephyr and smell of nature, the smell of trees surrounding us.
And in an instant, she appeared right before our naked eyes! A splendid beauty nesting gracefully as she boasts of her strong "down fall" of waters. We finally found what we were looking for! We saw what we came for!
We were all smitten by nature's wonder, of God's creation. "It was all worth it.
Immediately upon arrival, almost everyone plunged into the water, took a swim while others enjoyed the "hard massage" of the water falls on their backs as they enjoyed bathing. Others had their "infinite pictorials" and some further explored the area while the rest enjoyed bird watching using their binoculars.
The group packed up 2:30 that afternoon and arrived at the city proper at about 6 in the evening. It was the trek going up that slowed us down as we were all exhausted. We literally had to climb our way back up.
Merloquete Falls Route
Upper Falls of Merloquete Falls
Merloquet Falls is located at Sitio Merloquet, Barangay Sibulao, Zamboanga City. It is situated in the private area owned by a certain Gregorio family.
There are two ways to reach the area. One is by taking "Route 1" which is from Zamboanga City proper to Brgy. Tagasilay -57 km; then from Brgy. Tagasilay to Sitio Merloquet - 5 km to Acejas Residence to Merloquet Falls - 500 m.
ROUTE 2 - Zamboanga City proper to Brgy. Vitali - 68 km; Brgy. Vitali to Brgy. Sibulao - 8 km; Brgy. Sibulao to Merloquet Falls - 1 km.
Mr. Baysa who was also with us during the adventure said, "we found bird species within the Merloquet Falls area such as pigeons, doves, kul-kul, king fisher and coucal"
Merloquet Waterfalls is subdivided into two; the lower level falls with an estimated Height of 10m and a Width of 13m and the upper level falls (just above the lower falls) with an estimated Height of 5m and a Width of 8m.
Baysa said at the bottom of the upper level falls is a 10 foot deep pool where one could freely swim. "Just be careful with the "mysterious hole" at its left corner.
The multi sectoral movers behind the cause
ZATERS is a group organized by PIA9-DOT9-SPELEO. One of its objectives is to be able to help pinpoint and promote (in its own little way) adventure tourism spots in the city that would somehow help tone down negative impressions about Zamboanga and ambitiously catapult Zamboanga City as a safe place to visit and live in.
Members of ZATERS are passionate adventure tourism enthusiasts with the serious goal of realizing its objectives. (PIA/Jocelyn P. Alvarez)