There I was, relaxing at the pool heated at 35.8 degrees. A spa like experience amidst the bamboo and coconuts and trees, enjoying the cool windy place and a lukewarm bath. The water is clear and the pool, a pile of rocks and sealed with cement is right smack in the middle of the river. At the center is a large flat rock where bubbles were emanating. Ah, one of the sources of the hot springs and I had it all to myself, until a little past lunch time when more visitors came.
Malabuyoc is far. It’s around 130 kilometers or three to four hours bus ride from Cebu City but it’s a pleasant ride aboard the airconditioned Ceres bus that I took at the South Bus Terminal. I know the town as I’ve visited it previously and has passed it before but it was only late last year when I read about the presence of hot springs in the municipality. Hot springs. I can remember a few times I’ve been to in one: Ardent Hot Spring in Mambajao, Camiguin and the Panicuason Hot Springs in Camarines Sur. It’s a great way to relax, especially for a tired body or a good one to immerse to cleanse the skin. It’s rejuvenating as well.
I stopped at the crossing in Barangay Montañeza and rode a habalhabal to the Mainit Springs which was 1.5 kilometers away from the highway. The road is cemented and in just a few minutes we came to the junction. But we can’t proceed directly to the venue. I was told that because of the right of way issue, the owner of the land where one passes to the entrance has blocked off the road with barbed wire. Darn. We took a detour to a dirt path, a little longer, narrow and convoluted route. If you don’t mind the distance, which is actually around 200 meters, you can just walk, passing houses.
I initially imagined that the whole place was developed. You get this impression since as soon as you come to the entrance where you pay a P20 environmental fee, there is a board explaining the area, some cottages and enterprising locals have set up tables and smaller huts where you can dine for a fee. But once I got to the main spring area, it was just a little developed.
The Malabuyoc Mainit Springs have been there for ages, a local told me. They’ve bee bathing there for generations. But what makes this spring interesting is that the sources are directly at the riverbed. The warm water just mixes with the flow of the river and it was in 2013 that the municipality developed the area. They made pools directly on the source to contain the hot spring but unusually, built it right in the middle and along the river. There are currently four main pools, the hottest is at 42.8 degrees followed with 40, then 36.1 and then 35.8 degrees. Two smaller pools contain the river runoff and the overflow from the hottest pool.
I actually had a great time here. Relaxing at the different pools but just dipped in to the hottest as within minutes, my skin turned reddish. It was scalding. The 40 degree pool was tolerable but the 35.8 was relaxing. I was told by the locals that the Montañeza Falls with seven different cascades is just a few minutes walk but I didn’t bother going as its the height of summer in the country and waterfalls usually have minimal water output.
Now, how will this place look like during the rainy season and the river’s bigger?