TAGUM CITY—The assurance of our well-traveled boss —that the moment we alight from the car, is also when we set foot on the base of our destination— turned out to be a hoax.

Past the rough and winding roads that offer a panoramic vista of the hinterlands of Monkayo, Compostela Valley is the village of Awao, which hosts a three-tier waterfalls. It was the site of our sidetrip last week from Surigao del Sur, where as in many adventures, brought out the kid in us and made us catch our breath, literally. It turned out that our destination requires a little walking, and breathing breaks in between.

A short 15-minute walk led us to an imposing giant stone that dwarfed everything that stood before it, including us who all resigned to the fact that we are but a speck of dust in the universe. The giant black stone before us provided a striking contrast to the water that plunges in its boulders.

“Naa’y rainbow diri nga lingin,” (There’s an encircling rainbow here) exclaimed our boss, as if inviting us to join him in enjoying the cold waters of Awao. We are in Falls No. 1, as locals would call it, one of three tiers comprising the falls of Awao. I did not give in at first, but the sight of colleagues having a good time in the cascading waters made me join them.

There was indeed a rainbow, and the drop of water on one’s shoulder felt like a massage. Tourists who want to take a shower are cautioned to approach the base of the falls with extra care, as stones are slippery.

Negotiating the steep stones to the top of the falls.

In a town famous for its gold mines, Monkayo is poised to join Compostela Valley’s boom in tourism with the addition of Awao Falls to its list.

The province’s catchy and fun tourism slogan — “Laag ta Uy!” (a clever slogan bearing the name of its provincial governor Arturo whose son Jayvee Tryon will succeed him in running the affairs of the Capitol)— is a stirring campaign aimed at offering Compostela Valley to tourists at this age of backpacking weekend lifestyle.

The good thing with Compostela Valley is its ridge-to-reef tourism sites, meaning, they have in their land all the things any adventure-seekers want. From mountains and waterfalls, to cold and hot springs, to idyllic beaches and resorts, Comval is a stunner.

Back in Awao, Falls No. 2 is the crowd’s favorite due to its accessibility. Though cars can access the place, nothing beats the feeling of exploring the place like what locals do, either through an exciting habal-habal or SkyLab motorcycles that are abound in the barangay proper.

In Falls No. 2, we conquered our fear of heights and climbed our way up. The climb is not for the faint-hearted, as doing so requires extra amount of bravery. We spotted some people enjoying a dip in its greenish waters, some swimming and some just sitting to feel the drop of water on their back. A giant lagoon below is where the locals swim, as only few souls are eager to climb to spot we dared to explore.

From Tagum, one needs to go to San Josefa town in Agusan del Sur to get to Barangay Awao. Though part of Comval, this barangay can easily be accessed through this route.

In between deciding and itching to go, this journal attempts to tell you three things about Awao: that getting there requires you to summon your patience and energy, that there are indeed rainbows at the base of the falls, and that you will be definitely wowed by Awao.

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