Fall for Diatagon’s Ba-o Ba-o
ONE knows Ba-oba-o Falls is near when he reaches the section of the paved road canopied by clutching branches of Mahogany trees. And from the highway, it is 134 steps down concrete stairs with iron railings. Surigao del Sur
Waterfall chasers will find Ba-o-ba-o Falls Instagram-perfect. It may not be as majestic, as wide, and as big as other falls, but it’s the flowing together of features that makes one fall for Ba-o-ba-o.
As twin-waterfalls, Ba-o-bao’s unique attribute is its multiple jump sites. Catering to tourists with appetite for adventure, leaps are made possible and safe because the pool is deep enough to catch a jump from different heights.
The most popular jump site is actually Ba-o-ba-o’s viewing area. About four meters high, it is located at the center of the second tier. To its right is a robust branch bent naturally to serve as ledge for a higher dive. However, for the ultimate adrenaline-inducing plunge, one has to go left and clamber up large rocks to reach the side that offers two leap choices.
Ba-o-ba-o’s bathing area is a swimmer’s delight because of its deep pool. However, the section at the base of the waterfalls has strong undercurrent that it can be a challenge for some to swim to the fall’s rockface. There’s also a shallow area for non-swimmers where the same clear, cool mountain waters flow.
It is at the second tier that the rich biodiversity of Ba-o ba-o Falls is exhibited. As one swims in deep and refreshing turquoise waters of a kidney-shaped pool about half the size of a basketball court, he gets a chance to be kissed by a butterfly, whispered to by a dragonfly, and gaped at by exotic creatures in multi-colored wings and torso.
Also at the second tier are shallow, fast-flowing waters in streams that pour themselves into the emerald pool below. Slender, snaky and smooth, these rivulets serve as water slide for kids. And as tiny fish dart under stones, one can lie down and let pebbles press his back as he gets a hydro-cum-piscine massage.
According to lifeguard Wilson Rivas, there are two tales about how Ba-o ba-o Falls got its name. The most popular is that the place used to teem with turtles known locally as ba-o, thus the name. The other tale has it that when World War II was ending and the Japanese soldiers were retreating, they chanced upon the falls. Said to be carrying the Yamashita treasures, these Japanese soldiers realized they didn’t have to be saddled by the heavy load. Seeing the place crawling with turtles, they got a better idea.
And so they made a concrete turtle, stashed the treasures into its belly; and sealed them.
The plan was to reclaim these treasures in the future; and to mark the exact spot, they dropped the concrete turtle closer to the fall’s rockface. But then treasure hunters got wind of this secret and blasted the hardened reptile and ran away with the loot. Since then, people refer to the falls as a place where ba-o-ba-o [mock-up turtle] can be found.
To this day, the damaged replica remains submerged at Ba-o ba-o Falls and is still visible. In fact, bathers stand on it to have their photos taken.
Ba-o-ba-o Falls stays faithful to its natural design. It doesn’t have cottages, only tables that bathers can rent and carry to a place that gives them the best view of the falls, under the shade of a Banyan tree.
Lying between Britannia Islets in San Agustin and Enchanted River in Hinatuan, Ba-o ba-o Falls is located in Barangay Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur.
Just A Few Tips:
1. From the highway in Diatagon, take a motorcycle ride to the falls for P15.00;
2. Entrance fee is P10 and table rental is P50;
3. There’s a decent toilet and bath at the registration area;
4. There are sari-sari stores that sell food and drinks;
5. Hired hands are available to carry things and run errands; 6. Wear reef or water shoes; 7. Parking is by the roadside; 8. Closing time is at 5 p.m.