“This waterfall better be worth it,” said my friend Tonet in between gasps and pants. We had not walked even a quarter of the distance yet our legs and lungs were already complaining hard. It was exhausting, to say the least. But the view on the way there was highly encouraging. There we were, in the middle of the terraced hillside, planted with all sorts of vegetables. The view was nothing short of spectacular.
Bomod-ok Falls is also called the Big Falls because, well, it is definitely bigger than Bokong Falls, another popular waterfall in Sagada. Hidden deep in a valley, it takes an hour to two to get here by foot from the main road (and that’s just one-way). Bomod-ok’s cold, cold water cascades from the top of a beautiful naturally contoured cliff to a pool below, forming a 200-ft column of water and wonder.
The start of the trek was easy. The concrete path that leads to the falls is actually easy to walk on. It also provides visitors spectacular views of the terraces, the hills, the valley. It also allows a quick glimpse into the lifestyle of the community. On the way there, we realized how difficult it must be to live here — walking long distances. Yet, we came across locals, men and women, who effortlessly trod in between rice paddies while carrying sacks (yes, plural) of produce on their back. We even met a man balancing a stack of timber on his shoulders as he made his way up. (Nahiya naman kami kay manong.) We saw children planting crops, playing along the terraces, and singing while watching tourists pass by.
It was exhausting, yes, but none of it mattered. It was the kind of “exhausting” that still kept us going, all the while knowing that a paradise was waiting for us at the end of the trail.
The trail cuts across a small village. There are restrooms there and stores selling food and drinks. It also provides temporary shade and plenty of opportunities to exchange stories about things encountered along the first half of the trail.
After a drink and a few minutes of rest, we moved on and made our way further down the hill. From here the trail was steeper, and the thought of climbing back up was a little bit terrifying. Still, we walked on and on, across more terraces, over a small stream, along the side of a cliff. Though it got more and more tiring, the view got better and better. The sound of water cascading to the pool was both exciting and encouraging.
Soon, we had our first glimpse of the mighty waterfall. We wanted to get a better view of the falls so we hopped from one boulder to another and let ourselves get drenched in the water that splashed when the water dove to the basin. Tiny droplets of water got blown to my face and gathered on my eyelashes as I sat on one big rock near the falls. I did not plan on swimming at the pool but it was so inviting. Though the water was extremely cold, I knew that soaking in it would be the most refreshing part of the trip.
After over an hour of soaking, we agreed it was time to go. All we had to do was trace back our steps to the basketball court. Like I said, the going down to the falls was the easy part. The trek back up made me do something I had never done before — vomit air.
If from every tired gasp, a gold coin would pop out of my throat then I would have been a millionaire by the time I reached our van. But I’d surely give away all that gold anytime if it’s for Bomod-ok Falls to keep all its wondrous beauty. Worth it? You bet.