Waterfalls are supposed to be best photographed on overcast days. The lesser the sunlight, the better, since it enables the photographer to use longer time exposures that give flowing water that classic silky texture. Rainy weather also gives waterfalls a fuller look. So when we visited the coastal town of Real, Quezon on a cloudy day with intermittent rain we thought we had the perfect set-up for shooting Balagbag Falls. Or so we thought.
Getting to Balagbag Falls in Real’s Barangay Malapad is a breeze nowadays. After driving down the now concreted portion of the Real-Mauban Road and leaving the car at the parking lot overlooking the beach, we only had to cross the road and walk for about 3 minutes to arrive at the falls. Even Leo’s 80-year old mother had an easy time getting here on a previous visit.
To make our set-up even more ideal we were practically the only people at Balagbag Falls when we arrived, although a small Korean group and, later, two small truckloads of visitors would follow in our wake. But Leo had scarcely began setting up his camera gear and tripod when it began to drizzle. It wasn’t something to worry about at first until the rain began to increase in intensity. In a short while we had to head for the cover of the huts to prevent flesh and camera gear from getting soaked. And then after a few minutes the rain would stop, the sun occasionally peeking from behind the grey clouds. But just as we had begun shooting a few frames the skies would repeat the same cycle forcing us to make for the huts again.
Balagbag Falls is a two-tier waterfall. The first or lower tier is probably just about 20 feet in height. The second tier is much taller, probably about a hundred feet or so. It is possible to get a closer look and have a better shooting angle at the second tier by climbing a set of stone steps on the left that leads to the upper catch basin. But the rains have made the rocks too slippery by then and it was too risky to try to get up with all the camera gear.
Eventually we ended up shooting a few frames from the lower catch basin. We did get the silky water effect though. We didn’t even think of swimming at Balagbag. It was just too cold for us although the late-arriving Korean group put us to shame by diving into its freezing waters. Our photo shoot might not have been as ideal as we wanted it to be but we still got to enjoy the beauty of this waterfall, breathe fresh, clean air and enjoy the green surroundings. And that wasn’t all…
Sometimes we could get so carried away with documenting our trip that we neglect several pockets of beauty that God sprinkles along our path. We were about to drive away from the parking lot when noticed that there is an easy access to the beach. Soon we found ourselves strolling along the pebble-strewn shore amid the crashing turquoise waters of the Pacific. Real might not have white sand beaches but its coastline is still beautiful nonetheless.
As we drove away from Balagbag Falls we would stop at vantage points along the road just to admire the rugged, rocky coastline and pounding surf. After a while the sun again began to show its head and in a few minutes a magnificent rainbow appeared on the horizon. At other times we would have stopped the car for the obligatory photo shoot but this time we just drove on, electing to enjoy the rainbow’s beauty from our car seats. It felt much better that way.