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Pagsanjan (Magdapio) Falls
Town/City:  Pagsanjan
Province:  Laguna
14° 15.756N   121° 29.958E
Listed in Gallery:   Waterfalls

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Do you know that the world-famous Pagsanjan Falls is actually not in Pagsanjan? This famous tourist destination is located in Brgy. Anglas, Cavinti, Laguna. A big "WELCOME TO
CAVINTI" sign erected on top of a big rock on the river on the way to the falls will let the tourists know that they are no longer in Pagsanjan - I do not know if foreigners care about this fact. Enclosed in parenthesis in that sign is the name Magdapio Falls which is the preferred name by Cavinti folks. From this point facing upstream, the left bank is belongs to Lumban and the right bank belongs to Cavinti. In fact, Pagsanjan Falls drops water from Cavinti River. If you have been to Cavinti, this is the river crossed by the overflow spillway on the road going to Lumot.

Another waterfalls, Talahib Falls, situated about 900 meters downstream of Magdapio Falls
serves a first stop for the upstream boat ride. Talahib is a sitio of Brgy. Caliraya, hence,
the town of Lumban hosts this waterfalls. This waterfalls is also called First Falls while the Magdapio Falls is called Main Falls. The Talahib Falls area has a souvenir shop, barbeque stand and most important, a pay-toilet for PhP10 per pee.

At the Main Falls (or Magdapio Falls or Pagsanjan Falls), the main attraction aside from a
view of the falls itself is the raft ride. For PhP70, skilled raftmen will bring tourists aboard bamboo rafts by pulling on ropes laid across the lagoon. They will bring you to the far end to have a glimpse of another cascade on top of the Main Falls. Another rope guides the raft behind and underneath the falls to the Devil's Cave. At the cave, visitors enjoy playing with their echo by shouting to their lung's desire.

It is interesting to note that the raft services is maintained by the Cavinti municipal government. Rightfully so, since they are the one hosting the attraction. Reciprocally, the revenue is shared with other host towns.

The raft crew has established a trail for their own use. It includes a series of ropes for the vertical portion. Even skilled mountaineers would not be allowed to use this trail for safety reasons - one wrong step will send down a small stone deadly for the people at the bottom.

How to get there?

This is not only a "How to get there?" but also a "What's in there?" narrative.

From Metro Manila, Pagsanjan is best reached via the South Luzon Expressway. After
Canlubang Exit, go around the cloverleaf to reach Calamba. From Calamba, follow the provincial road passing Los Ba?os, Bay, Victoria, Pila, Sta. Cruz and finally Pagsanjan. Of these towns, only Calamba, Los Ba?os and Pagsanjan are traversed by the highway thru the town proper, the rest is via by-pass roads or the town itself is out of the highway.

Getting to Talahib Falls and Pagsanjan (Magdapio) Falls is by boat paddled and pushed
upstream by two boatmen. Gone are the days of wooden boats. Nowadays, they use locally built
fiberglass canoes which cost about PhP18,000 that the boatmen rent from the owners for
PhP100.

The boat ride rates are conspicuously posted in various locations throught the town of Pagsanjan. So, someone who was able to read them should not be victimized.

Everyone is cautioned about dealing with flaggers. These are the "un-accredited" boatmen who will run beside your vehicle as you slow down trying to look for directions. We were told
that not only they overcharge; unsuspecting victims would even be charged again on the
return trip. Try to stop or slow down at every corner when you are in Pagsanjan and see
these flaggers wildly run after you. The more if you are on board a van.

Either you avail of the packages offered by hotels or find a friend from Pagsanjan who could
arrange with his boatmen friends for you. That was what we did for this trip. We found
"off-duty" hotel-accredited boatmen. We were satisfied with their service that we had no
second thoughts giving extra tips. We even paid for their boat rental. Another advantage is,
the boatmen being personally known, you will be content leaving your belongings with them -
as when you take the raft ride. (If you do not have a friend in Pagsanjan, post a message and this contributor will help you get in touch with one of them)

The boat trip starts from Pagsanjan. In our case, we did start from Brgy. Pinagsanjan near
Magdapio Bridge. (Shh! that is where the boat docks are).

The boatride fee goes at PhP580 per passenger for a maximum of three passengers per boat. A single passenger would have to pay the fees for two passengers. So it is not fun to come
here without company.

PhP35 entrance tickets shall be obtained beforehand from the Pagsanjan Municipal Hall. One of the boatmen could buy the tickets for you.
(The entrance fee is being shared this way: Pagsanjan PhP15, Cavinti PhP7.50, Lumban
PhP7.50, Provincial Govt PhP2.50, Trust Fund PhP2.50. While Pagsanjan do not host a single
waterfall, they are the one handling the tourists, and exerting efforts in promotion, hence
the bigger share) A collector on board a raft will collect the tickets with a tithe bag as the boats pass beside him.

Donning of lifejacket is compulsory. The boatmen will get them for you for a rental fee of
only PhP20. The hotels charge more for those lifejackets. The hotels would also offer
optional seat cushions and other extras. Of course, you may need to get a room to change
before and after the trip - that would cost a few more bucks. Now, if you need to change and
you do not have a hotel room? Hey! you are a trekker, aren't you?

There are at least 16 rapids (turbulent waters) that the boat has to go through. Going
upstream, the boatmen will get down at these rapids and push the boat or use their feet to
kick the rocks and propel the boat upstream. At places where the rocks are too many and the
water is too shallow, steel pipes were placed transversally at proper intervals so that the
boat can be slid over these pipes.

The real excitement is on the boat's return trip. This is what was dubbed "Shooting the
Rapids". See how skillfully the boatmen will manuever the boat between rocks, alternately
using their paddle or their feet. There are places that the rapids is on a curve but the boatmen will guide the boat through it. If the paddle is not enough to steer, the boatmen's feet surely will.

Tips:

Although not required, it is advisable to wear a helmet (a sports helmet or hard hat) because the boat moves too close to the big rocks which your head might hit. Also, the walls of the gorge is too high, that any falling object from it, such as small stones, can do some damage to an unprotected head. Rarely, some monkeys along the gorge are fond of throwing objects at those boats.

Don't look funny wearing clothes as if you're going to the mall. Be ready to get wet. Have
plastic bags for your cameras, wallets and other keep-dry-items. There is no use for your
cellphones once the boat entered the gorge - that is when you entered Cavinti. GPS receivers
works fair but loses signal at some portions.

Waypoint narrative by: GBLontok 2004     follow GBLontok on Facebook


Additional narratives or blogs:
The Pagsanjan government introduced measures to discourage illegal flaggers. It is no longer possible to choose or arrange for your own boatmen as the boat dispatch has been centralized and controlled.
2. The boat ride fee is now PhP800 per passenger, all inclusive (life jacket, entrance fee, etc.)

By: GBLontok 2008


I did not know that it was possible to reach Pagsanjan Falls (which is actually in Cavinti) by foot down the ravine (and without those serious mountain climbing gears). It is via the Pueblo El Salvador Park in Cavinti. Read more about it here

By: rally 2009