I will never forget this day as long as I live...

Cebu Travel Blog

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Things started off well and good as my 3 friends and I began our 3 hours + journey to Kawasan Falls. Upon reaching there, we walked along a path thru the greenery and woods. After about 10 mins walk, the beautiful cascading waters at the first level greeted us. I requested to climb up to the next level of the falls, and we settled down to have our lunch which we had bought earlier. The water at this level was much smaller than the previous. There were just a few other persons around. The sky was overcast then and started to drizzle soon after. Soon after, the drizzle stopped and again, I was the one who wanted to go down to the one which was larger. And so we began our descent to the 1st level falls.

Well, a guide told me that 2 'drivers' for the raft would cost 300 pesos each but i tried to negotiate saying that one would be enough.

He went to talk to the 2 drivers and they did not agree to my request. However, they lowered their price to 200 pesos each. After a bit of hesitation, i agreed. And so we went onto the raft and the men guided the raft towards the middle of the falls. As we approached the 'cave', we were told to lie flat on our tummies in order to pass beneath a big mass of rock. It was scary and I wanted to back out. But since my friends were already game for it, I had to cast aside whatever feelings or fears i have and follow suit. We came out from the other side after a few seconds. Phew! But little did we expect that our nightmare was soon to begin.

We had a 'cold' and enjoyable time beneath the gush of water and after a few mins.. ... It happened... The water that hit onto the raft was suddenly about twice to thrice the intensity and volume! The raft tilted badly and we all fell into the water! I can still remember the frantic look on my friend's fiance's face.

Due to the strength of the water, your reflex, right or wrong, will either cause you to go outwards or inwards (into the cave) then. my 3 friends went outwards while I, inwards towards the cave. My 3 friends did not know how to swim. 2 of them were pulled out of water shortly whereas the 3rd one was submerged in the water for a longer period of time before being pulled out of water. I was told then that she was not breathing! Fortunately, there were 2 nurses around; we had met them the day before in Bohol! They performed cardio pulmonary resuscitation on her (CPR, mouth to mouth resuscitation). Thank God she survived!!!

As for me, I was tracking water (paddling with my hands and kicking my legs) frantically to keep my head above the surging waters while trying to swim to the inside of the cave (it was not possible for me to try to swim out then).

My left leg nearly cramped; I would say given a couple of seconds more, i wouldn't have the chance to be writing this. I managed to catch hold of a rope and with the help of another driver (who went inwards as well), I hauled myself onto a 'step' in the cave. (Many of my friends heaved a sigh of relief upon hearing this, thinking that i was safe then, but the truth was that the worst was far from over.) We sat there, looking at the gush of water before our eyes and panicked even more as we watched the water level slowly rising in the cave. We would be submerged and drowned in the cave once the water filled it up. I can still remember vividly as I kept asking the driver if we would die. I wanted to try to get out, past the falling waters in front of me, and he warned me saying that I would surely surely die if I would to do that.
By staying put, we might still survive.. (just for a dozen more moments i guess..)

It was at this time that my guide shouted into the cave (just like the way it is in an earthquake) asking if we were in there. Thank God that my guide wore 2 life vests and half swam, half gripping the rope by the side, made his way towards us. I made my way out a bit and met him halfway. He threw one of the life vests to me. Wearing that, I caught hold of his vest, the rope and some dangling 'roots' and struggled, at last the rest managed to pull me out of the water. My friend was crying when she saw me. I was told I was as pale as a ghost then and i vomitted repeatedly.

 I could not keep my eyes open but my friend pinched me really hard as she was afraid I would doze off and never wake up again.

That was not the end of our ordeal yet as we are still required to scale the falls to go by a very long route as the way which we came by earlier would have been flooded by then. We had to evacuate to higher grounds as the entire area would be flooding sooner or later, judging from the situation. After I had vomitted all that i had eaten, all of us with a couple of locals began to climb up the falls. With one arm over my guide's shoulder, he helped me up. As we passed the falls at the 2nd level, I saw the ferocity of water gushing down and till this day, I still remember it vividly. 

We had to make it fast then as we had to bear in mind the little time we had then before sunset.

Half of my ascent was done barefooted and I cut my leg as a result. (as my muddy flip flops kept slipping off). My guide's foot was bleeding. Poor thing. After more than 1 hour of trekking, we were finally approaching the main road again. It was about 100 to 200 metres from the road and the sun has set completely by then.

I gave 2500 pesos, which was nearly all that I had in my wallet then, to the men who helped us out, who saved our lives. Without whom, my friends and I would not have survived. After the incident I had become more claustrophobic as well. As we parted, my guide told me that he told himself (while i was still in the cave) that he had to save me... Because of one thought, one conviction: that he was my guide and he had the duty to save me. Thus he risked his life to do so.

For that, i am eternally grateful to him for saving my life. No amount of money can actually express my gratitude for him.. And not forgetting the other guys who helped me and my friends out of the water and along the way as well.

The scariest part of this episode is perhaps not the experience itself but the fact that i was told this is the 1st time ever that flooding occured under such conditions. Flooding happened before of course, but not in almost clear weather conditions where everything was unexpected! In the past, no acitivity was allowed if flooding was expected. So the men there acted to save us without any prior experience at all!

emzie says:
while i was reading your blog, i was expecting that in the end, you will say that you finally woke up from a bad dream. But you didn't! What you experience was real!
I'm glad you and your friends survived.
Thanks indeed to your guides!
Posted on: Feb 08, 2012
yoghurt28s says:
Oh yes Carissa, it's one of those experiences that prob changes one's attitude towards life.. I am glad to be alive now. Just my 2 cents worth, never hit the waters without a life vest, no matter how innocent or safe things may seem at first.. Take care n wishing u safe travels always! :)
Posted on: Sep 22, 2011
canuck_downunder05 says:
Yikes, What a scary experience!
Posted on: Sep 18, 2011
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