Because I lived in and traveled around Luzon and the Visayas, my memories are teeming with the richness of our country’s colonial history and heritage. When I finally settled down in Cagayan de Oro, I immediately realized that I would not be in touch with a similar experience. Unlike cities in the north, Spanish influence here is not predominant in its visible structures. Nonetheless, I felt I discovered something better. The true treasures of Cagayan de Oro are its indigenous history and its natural heritage. A trip to Mapawa allowed me to experience the latter.
Found in the serene hills of Sitio Mapawa in Barangay Indahag, Mintugsok Falls is undoubtedly one of Cagayan de Oro’s best kept natural treasures. With no ziplines and modern adventure activities as of yet, all you have is the relaxing vibe of unspoiled nature.
According to our guides, Richard and Earl, one way to get there is through the Cugman route which is the path to follow for beginner hikers. As if to tease the inexperienced hikers among us whose bodies have been weakened by sedentary desk jobs, they took us to a more advanced trail via Indahag.
To get to Indahag and Mapawa we took motorcycle rides (habal-habal) for Php 15 in Cogon. For the less bold, there is a terminal close by where you can catch a multicab ride. One downside is the long wait for the transportation to get going. On a habal-habal there is no lag time. In approximately 30 minutes a motor bike can get you to Indahag’s covered basketball court where the way to the hike trail begins.
The walk for us was surprisingly short, lasting no more than an hour across approximately 2 to 3 kilometers, with generous breaks throughout. I’d consider the short trek time doubly surprising considering that the path wasn’t exactly sane. It was a challenging natural obstacle course. We had to overcome steep, rocky trails; narrow hill paths; flowing water and huge, slippery boulders. The boulders were particularly menacing where one slip can result in a particularly painful fall.
Of course, Mintugsok Falls at the end of it all was well worth the physical anguish. Even if you don’t take a dip in its cool waters, the sight of it is enough to rejuvenate the body, mind and soul.