The visual poetry that is Laswitan

Inquirer Libre - Davao - - PANGUNAHING PAHINA - By Romel M. Oribe

CORTES, Surigao del Sur -- When the waves stop in fury as they hit the rocks, that’s when the magic of Laswitan begins.

Everything is the handiwork of wave behavior, a detailed choreography only nature can dream up: A ground swell and an increasing wind speed create a wave that as it nears the shore, the crest rushes ahead of the base and begins to lean forward. The wave eventually topples over and hammers against solid rocks and penetrates their crevices, creating an exquisite water curtain and an exploding valance of foam.

But like most visions of absolute beauty, this rare facet of Laswitan is evanescent.

Laswitan is in Barangay Madrilenio, about 37 kilometers from Tandag City, the provincial capital. It comes from the Visayan word laswit, meaning to cause (liquid or a viscous substance) to spurt or issue in a jet, as from a narrow orifice. Laswitan then is a place where things squirt.

Facing the Pacific Ocean, Laswitan is an intertidal zone that offers a complex environment for tourists: solid rocks, stony cliffs, platforms, boulder fields, and tidal pools. The natural Jacuzzis come in different shapes, hues, and depths. Clean, clear, and calming, these are never stagnant as the tide regularly fills them with new seawater. And the way these pools are designed makes one think that maybe the fairies asked the gods to put up a rock wall wide and tall enough to shield them, as they go prancing about or bathing, from the tyranny of a rogue wave and the ogling eyes of mermen.

Now: Imagine yourself swimming in a tidal pool in one of the splash areas. You hear a thunderous clap and then sea sprays form a canopy above you. You close your eyes in reflex, but in half-a-second you open them. And there, right before you, the rock walls are totally transformed into a waterfall so grand you’re blown away. You look around and all of Laswitan has turned into a theater with ornately flowing draperies in blinding white.

Amazing magic or plain Earth science? Actually it’s more like the Earth spinning its own magic.

One ventures a guess that perhaps these rocks used to be welljointed. But due to alternate contraction and expansion, the joints or cracks present in them widened. Exposed to erosion agent such as rain water, these joints further expanded. And with stress building up within these rocks, they split along the joints, creating tiny orifices through which saltwater squirts. From this phenomenon called block disintegration, nature has composed for Laswitan a visual poetry.

Laswitan is subject to seasonal changes. And locals say it’s best to visit during southwest monsoon season (November-January) when winter swells are on and the waves surge in 5-minute intervals no matter if it’s high or low tide. But deciding not to visit Laswitan during “off-season” is like not eating the cake because it lacks icing. More than the laswit, this natural marvel in the central part of Surigao del Sur is also about setting.

From the moment a tourist arrives on a cliff overlooking Laswitan, he begins to wonder whose creative hand has picked up these huge boulders, set them down inland, on a rugged, windswept landscape, and in a pattern both random and deliberate.

From a panoramic perspective, the outline of the rocks baffles: Godzilla in repose? Giant toads hit by lightning in mid-croak? Or a band of alligators having their backs tanned to Hermes specification?

In scaling these black and gray boulders, one need not be steelynerved; all he needs is extra lung power. And although the colossal rocks provide small landings and a naturally-carved staircase that escalates towards the top, it’s still quite a demanding but enjoyable adventure playground for adults and kids.

Armed with only their physical strength and skill, tourists can climb up, down or across natural rock formations to reach the summit.

In Laswitan, there’ll be much, much more to behold.

Laswitan can be accessed via Tandag City or Surigao City. From there, one takes a bus to Cortes junction where habal-habal (motorcycles with “outrigger”) takes him to Laswitan on an unpaved road starting Cortes proper. While the rocks are not that jagged, it’s best to wear climbing shoes. There’s a cottage available and a lifeguard on duty. An entrance fee of P20 is charged per tourist.


FACING the Pacific Ocean, Laswitan is an intertidal zone that offers a complex environment for tourists: solid rocks, stony cliffs, platforms, boulder fields, and tidal pools.


NATURE has composed for Laswitan a visual poetry.

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