Pantoc Falls, San Quintin, Abra

An almost hidden waterfall in Abra

I was in a race for time as I alighted from the jeepney that I rode from the junction of Narvacan, chasing an almost hidden waterfall in Abra. Darn, I missed the yellow house and instead, went beyond it and after the blind curve where there were houses and it was well into the afternoon. I asked the people who were ogling me from their verandas. Where is the waterfalls? How do I get there? I asked politely. Ah, the waterfalls. Just follow the trail behind that structure and go down. That’s what they told me. I looked into the direction of the small building, went closer to find the dirt path. Ah! There it is! I followed this path, down a slight descent and into a beautiful ricefield. The path leads to a small slope with a big tree in the middle, like an island amidst the greenery. I continued until I came to the riverbank.

But there was no waterfall. Only to find a lady with, probably her daughter, washing clothes at the clear and cold stream. But wait, beyond her, at a rocklike projection and where the water starts to gush, is a steep drop. I went closer, I edged closer and was surprised to find that I was at the top of Pantoc Falls in San Quintin, Abra. There, the water was strong and wild, falling below the rocks and into a pool. I was wide eyed and in wonder.

I’ve been visiting this landlocked province for the past few years, Abra. First upon the invitation of then Vice Governor Chari Bersamin, and I have been fortunate enough to visit its many pristine wonders. And this particular visit was just a whim, a short sidetrip to a more beautiful waterfall deep in the highlands of Tineg, my eventual destination. But when I saw it online, I was thrilled. Why not?

The lady washing clothes then told me that there is a steep trail going down, or I can backtrack and take the more established route to the bottom of the waterfall. I took the latter. I backtracked. I walked passed the tree island, the paddy field. I traced back my steps to the small building and into the highway, walking calmly while carrying my backpack, my tripod inside its case and my small camera bag. Down the sloping highway until I glimpsed the yellow house that I missed and then stopped. There was a cement trail leading down. I followed it. To the dirt path after a few meters. Walking, one step at a time until I reached the river bank. I can slightly hear the rush of water but the waterfall was still unseen. I looked around, but there was no other way but to cross the knee deep water.

It was cold, while I was maintaining my balance, oblivious that I might slip and wet my camera bag. Slowly, wading until I reached the opposite side. But I was already ecstatic. The rush of water was becoming louder at each step, following the source of the water. The smell of rotten fruit, the small puddles then giving way to an open area. A few seconds later, I can see the white cascade behind branches. I inched my way closer until the view was freed from vegetation. It was glorious. It was beautiful. Pantoc Falls was in full cascade, gushing, raging waters falling down from the top and into the basin. I set up my tripod. I took photographs with my camera and my smart phone. I stopped and gazed in awe. Beautiful. Majestic. After that short trek, here, a stunning visual reward. But it was too tempting and, looking at my watch, I still have time to bathe. Just 15 minutes. And I’m going back to the road again, to Bangued.

Wow, the water was wonderfully cold and the wind comforting. I was the only soul at the bottom of the waterfalls. Eerie, but beautiful.

Majestic and beautiful, Pantoc Falls up close

Majestic and beautiful, Pantoc Falls up close

What a greenery! The ricefield just along the path to the top of the waterfall

What a greenery! The ricefield just along the path to the top of the waterfall

Mother and daughter laundering clothes at the top of the waterfall

Mother and daughter laundering clothes at the top of the waterfall

View from the top of the waterfall

View from the top of the waterfall

A girl gazes down the top of the waterfall

A girl gazes down the top of the waterfall

Blurred cascades becoming dream like

Blurred cascades becoming dream like

This sight just greets you when you come up face to face with Pantoc Falls in San Quintin, Abra

This sight just greets you when you come up face to face with Pantoc Falls in San Quintin, Abra

GETTING THERE: It’s quite tricky to get to this waterfall. Although located very near the National Highway en route to Bangued from San Quintin, there are no signages. What you need to know is the yellow house after the second road going to the town proper from the Tangadan Tunnel but just before the blind curve on a slight incline. A few meters after this yellow house is a cement trail at the left of the road that is good for a few meters before continuing as a dirt path. But once you miss this yellow house and goes after the blind curve, you’ll end up at a few houses. This leads to the top of the waterfall. I’ve included a Google Map location below.

Pantoc Falls
Villa Mercedes, San Quintin
Abra

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications.

He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces.

I’m open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

2 Comments

  1. Estan, Ang Langyaw (@LangyawMedia)
    November 14, 2016 @ 21:42

    In pursuit of #waterfalls, here’s an almost hidden one in #Abra

    https://t.co/zZOebKqvmp https://t.co/F8ME98sqqD

  2. Adrenaline Romance
    November 14, 2016 @ 22:21

    That’s a beautiful waterfall! It looks ethereal!

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