Charmed in Hinatuan's Enchanted River
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Tiwi, HInatuan, Surigao del Sur. The chirping of the birds awoke me in this early morning of December 22nd despite our late retirement the previous night. For few seconds I forgot that I was not in my familiar bed. I was in my friend’s house for my Year – end vacation. I was in Tiwi, HInatuan, Surigao del Sur with my perennial travel buddy – Queni.
This place is the hometown of Jen, a former officemate back in 2000. From Butuan City, we travelled 3 hours (1 hour of which is rugged) east to reach the town of Hinatuan. We hired Habal-habal to conduct us to the Barrio of Tiwi where we had to cope up with the rugged roads of the place.
Not used to visiting tourists from other places, the locals stared at us. We just responded by waving my hands (ala Miss Universe contestant) to them, to their amusement.
We were greeted by Jen’s parents and sister , who were very accommodating. Jen’s sister, immediately prepared a mouth-watering, sumptuous food – kinilaw na isda, crabs and lukon for our dinner at beach. It was raining hard that day but it never stopped us from hitting the clean and pristine beach of Tiwi. We had to endure another 10 minute habal-habal ride that led us to the seas. It was only 4 in the afternoon but it was quite dark.
We did not let the night slipped away without knocking into a popular local entertainment of Barriofolks – the Videoke. For P2 a song, we sang our hearts out to the tunes of the Corrs, Carpenters, Matt Monro, Abba, REM, Barry Manilow, Fra Lippo Lippi and other old time favorites. It was fun having to interact with the locals who did not bother us with our “makabasag sa tainga” voices. I didn’t remember how many bottles of beer we engulfed that night but I’m sure I was more than tipsy that night.
Early next morning, our gracious host already prepared our lunch for we will be going to the famed Enchanted River. The river gained popularity when it was the shooting location of a popular TV soap opera. Jen, Queni and I headed the place through a rented Habal-habal. We negotiated the long, mountainous and rugged road of the barrio. After 10 minutes we found ourselves in a vulcanizing shop because the tire of the motorcycle tire burst. Fortunately, the driver had a spare tire, so after waiting for almost 30 minutes we resume our trip. We made another 10 minutes drive before reaching the place.
The place was calm and still. We only heard the gushing of the flowing water springing from the cave and the chirping of the birds and insects nestling in the lush vegetation around the river. The blue green water of the river was so clean and to me it resembled an aquarium. I can even see my reflection fairly by looking at the water. The river was so deep estimated to be around 15 meters deep near the center. A kaleidoscope of big and small fresh water fishes of different kind and variety swam around freely as if playing with us as we dived and swam in the shallow part of the river. The locals never harmed nor attempted to catch those fishes for it was believed that they were enchanted, under the protection of magical creatures. Tragic event would follow if these fishes were harmed of killed. Thus, they named the place Enchanted River. I thought that those fishes were fortunate for they looked better in the river than in the skillet or plates of hungry mouths.
We didn’t noticed that our short sojourn was about to close. We needed to get urban civilization before the night falls and participate in the holiday rush. That short trip was indeed a refreshing breeze that invigorated our tired and restless spirit.