One of the reasons why we love the city of Dumaguete in Negros Oriental province is because of its proximity to so many outdoor destinations, making it a suitable base for travel and sightseeing. One of the nearest tourist attractions to the city may be found in the town of Valencia, the municipality next to Dumaguete. There are two major waterfalls in this hilly town: Casaroro Falls and Pulangbato Falls.
Still suffering a bit from coughs and colds we decided to limit our tour to Pulangbato Falls (reaching Casaroro requires much more sweat, especially in descending and ascending the 350-step stairway going there). To our surprise, the trek to Pulangbato just got even easier. The new entrance to the falls, now supplied with a parking lot, is just a minute’s walk away from the main falls.
Pulangbato in English literally means red rock/s. The falls got its name from the rust or reddish-color of the rocks along the stream leading from the falls, most probably caused by sulfuric gases emanating from geothermal vents in the area.
There are actually three waterfalls here – the bigger falls with the red rocks, a smaller falls near the entrance and another waterfall higher up. The latter, already difficult to ascend in the summer, becomes just too dangerous to climb during the rainy season. Recently the folks here have built a new resort around the two accessible falls, widening and cementing the catch basin of the smaller waterfall near the entrance to form a natural-looking swimming pool and adding native-style wooden huts all over the place.
Besides the red rocks at Pulangbato, there are many other signs pointing to geothermal activity in the area. Located nearby is the Red Rock Hot Spring resort where one can dip and relax in warm water. This resort used to contain the pathway to Pulangbato Falls until the resort at the falls opened recently.
On the main road to Pulangbato we also encountered sulfuric vapors spewing out from fissures in the rocks along the side of the road – a clear sign of geothermal activity in the area. Taking advantage of this, the government has constructed a huge geothermal power plant in Valencia that is now helping supply the power needs of the island of Negros.
How to Get There
Compared to our trip to Niludhan Falls in Bayawan City, the journey to Pulangbato Falls was much easier. From our hotel in Dumaguete we asked a trike to take us to the terminal for jeepneys going to Valencia proper. Travel time for the jeepney ride is around 20-25 minutes for P12 per person. The terminus of this jeepney ride is at a spot in the town proper where habal-habals or trikes are waiting to bring you to Pulangbato Falls (and other attractions in town including Casaroro Falls).
The second part of the trip by trike or habal-habal (we chose the trike, fortunately, because it started to rain on our way to Pulangbato) usually takes 30 minutes. The price is P400-450 for a trike (usually good for 2 people). You’ll enjoy the scenery along the way including the forested hills and river plus the smoking rocks earlier mentioned. The trike or habal-habal will usually wait for you.
You can actually combine the trip to Pulangbato Falls with another trip to Casaroro Falls, both waterfalls located in the same town of Valencia. Other tours combine the trip to Casororo Falls with a trip to the Twin Lakes (Lake Balinsasayao and Lake Danao) in Sibulan but this will take the whole day.