ROXAS CITY – Yes, folks, you heard it right. The best waterfalls in Western Visayas can be found in Tapaz, Capiz, some 60 km. from here. It is known as the Pangilatan Falls Ecotourism Park.
This writer only learned about his untapped tourist potential from the town’s Sangguniang Bayan member, Arnold Jaranilla, the SB’s chair of the committee on tourism.
Jaranilla, who was one of the participants to the two-day provincial tourism strategic planning workshop, lost no time in convincing his fellow participants about the potential of the place as a major tourist-drawer. He described it as breathtaking and unspoiled and, no doubt, the best of its kind in the region. Through the brochure that Jaranilla handed to us, we learned that Tapaz, once the hotbed of communist insurgency in the region, has more than 10 other waterfalls that can transform the town into a tourist haven.
With the impetus given on tourism by the provincial government under Gov. Victor Tanco, it is hoped that Tapaz and its various waterfalls, particularly this gem of a place called “Pangilatan Waterfalls and Ecotourism Park,” will get the needed attention, particularly in the area of infrastructure , that they deserve.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PARK
The Pangilatan Waterfalls Ecotourism Park is composed of a main waterfalls which has a water drop off of about 81 ft., countless mini-falls whose water drop offs are between less than a foot to as high as 7 ft., the total length of which is at least 3.5 kms and could go as far as 8 kms and a viewing area on the highest point of Barangay Artuz. From here, one could see the rolling hills and mountains of Tapaz and neighboring towns as far as Calinog, Iloilo in the south and Libacao, Aklan in the north. The hills could rival the famous chocolate hills of Bohol.
Residents used to call it “Pangilat-kilatan” based on the Visayan root word “kilat, ” which means lightning. It is said that lightning used to strike the place whenever somebody tries to fish in the falls even during summer of sunny days. The name was later modified to “Pangilatan.” This came about, or so the legend says, because the older ones had difficulty pronouncing the old and original name.
THE ROLLING HILLS
Tapaz, the biggest municipality in Panay Island (more than 51,718 hectares and is almost as big as the Province of Guimaras), is located in the center of the island and is gifted with rolling hills and mountains that makes it look like a crumpled paper. From the highest point of Barangay Artuz, one could see Mt. Baloy in the Province of Antique (the highest point in Panay Island) and Mt. Nacuron, where the headwaters of Panay and Aklan Rivers emanate. (Panay River is the name given to the longest river in Capiz, which starts from Pontevedra town and ends in Tapaz-Ed). Visitors could get a scenic view of these mountains from the watch tower located on the highest point of Barangay Artuz, where binoculars and telescopes are available for rent. Thus, visitors could watch the planets and the stars during nighttime with the aid of these gadgets.
The Park has several cottages which visitors coul;d rent during their stay. This as they try to discover the countless falls or simply frolic in one of the numerous natural pools. At a very minimal fee!
Visitors could tour the Park by following the trails and hanging bridges, or simply frolic along the streams and enjoy their cool and soothing caress. The best way to do this is by going horseback riding. One must not miss visiting the main falls with its 81-foot water drop by going down through a 140-step stairway, which is designed to test one’s stamina and endurance. One may also either swim the 100-meter distance from the river bank or hire a raft to get to the falls.
The Park is located in Barangay Artuz in Tapaz, the biggest among the 16 municipalities of Capiz, the Seafood Capital of the Philippines. Tapaz is 82 kms from Iloilo City and about 63 kms from the proper of Roxas City, the capital of Capiz.
Capiz, one of the Visayan islands in Central Philippines, is located at the northeastern section of Panay Island.
HOW TO GET HERE
Philippine Airlines (PAL) and Cebu Pacific provides daily flights to Roxas City. From Roxas City you can take a bus to Tapaz courtesy of Ciudadano Bus Lines. In addition to PAL and Cebu Pacific, Air Philippines provide daily flights from Manila to Iloilo. From Iloilo, you can take an L-300 van or Calinog Bus Lines in going to Tapaz.
The cheapest route to the Pangilatan Falls Ecotourism Oark is by boat either through Iloilo City or through Roxas City while enjoying the sights of the Philippine Islands. Negros Navigation and WG &A ply both routes on regular basis.
*By Roll-on, Roll-off (Ro-Ro)
Another cheaper and exciting way to reach the Falls is through the latest and surely the most popular mode of transport system –the roll-on, roll off (RORO). You can do this by taking a bus (Ceres or Philtranco) from Cubao, Quezon City. The buses will take you to Batangas City where a RORO vessel bound for Calapan Mindoro was stationed. From Calapan, the same bus will take you to Roxas, Oriental, Mindoro, passing through the scenic plains of the place. At the port of Roxas, another RORO vessel will take you to Caticlan Point in Malay, Aklan. The same bus will then take you to Iloilo City through Tapaz.
*From Poblacion to the Park
Once reaching Poblacion or the town proper of Tapaz, you can take a public utility vehicle to the Barangay Artuz proper, which is about 15 kms away. From there, you can proceed or trek to Sitio Agmalasogi, about one km away, where the Pangilatan Falls is located.
by: Gerry T. Pagharion – The Capiz Times
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