Amidst a dramatic increase in Covid infections in recent days, authorities have again tightened travel restrictions in Metro Manila and its surrounding provinces. This means being practically confined to our home as we try to do our part to help control another wave of the pandemic. We were fortunate to have visited a number of places the past 2 months before the recent round of travel restrictions.
In what could be our last trip for weeks or even months to come, we drove for the town of Real, Quezon, 2 weeks ago, visiting the first 2 cascades of Cawayan Falls. But of course we didn’t realize it at that time, even thinking this trip to be the first of many to open summer or the hot and dry season in the country. Since it was already way past noon when we left Cawayan’s second falls, we had to retrace our steps and drive back the 11 km. to the fish market at Tignoan.
In the past we’ve always looked forward to snaking our way among the stalls here, choosing from the multitudes of fresh catch and having it cooked at our favorite kitchen also located along the line of seafood stalls. Our shift to a plant-based diet, however, meant we had to look on with envy at our friend who proceeded to feast on the fried lapu-lapu (grouper) and shrimps in sinigang (sour soup).
Fortunately there are vegetables at the Tignoan market, more than enough for the sinigang. But we couldn’t resist the lure of the groupers and shrimp and finally gave in to a few bites of each. We also had some fried groupers and steamed shrimps prepared to take home with us for a friend who couldn’t join us for this trip.
A brief rest after lunch and we were off to our final destination. Driving along the coastal road here at Real allowed us to take in gorgeous views of the rocky coastline. If we weren’t aiming to be at home before dinner it would have been cool to visit one of the beaches, savor the fresh breeze and enjoy the sound of the pounding surf.
About 6 kilometers from the seafood stalls we passed the entrance to Balagbag Falls. We’ve already visited Balagbag 4 times in the past. Besides we noticed several vehicles at the parking lot – a sure sign that it would be teeming with visitors. We drove on for another kilometer to Nonok Falls, our final destination.
We’ve been to Nonok 3 years ago but didn’t really spend a lot of time there since it was already quite late in the afternoon when we arrived. We had a little more time on this day and tried to make the most of it. Nonok Falls only needed a 5-minute hike from where we parked near the main road. It’s situated along a stream that winds its way towards a forested area.
Surrounded by a verdant canopy of trees and falling down a vertical wall of sculptured rock, Nonok Falls drops down into a sizable basin that’s probably the most swimmable of all the waterfalls in Real. The water at the edge of the basin is relatively shallow but in the middle and near the waterfall itself it is quite deep. Locals climb up to the top of the rock wall to dive down into the catch basin below.
There was a sizable group of swimmers at Nonok when we arrived and another group would soon follow. We decided it wasn’t worth it to spend time swimming here although the cold water was very inviting. We left at around 4PM, took a heavy snack – which turned into an early dinner – at Manay’s Eatery in Famy, Laguna then drove for home.
Right after this trip we were thinking about going back and hiking to the cascades that we missed at Cawayan Falls, and possibly even making the long hike to Buruwisan and other waterfalls at Siniloan on another trip (the road to Real passes through Siniloan). The recent and alarming spike in Covid cases put an end to those plans. There are many more important things than being able to travel again, however, and it is our hope and prayer that this pandemic would finally be controlled so that people’s lives the world over would not be as adversely affected.