Where the mountains meet the sea is very true for the town of Pagbilao in Quezon Province, just at the east of the provincial capital Lucena. Sandwiched by Pagbilao Bay to the south and Sierra Madre Mountain Range to the north, Pagbilao sits at the foot of Quezon National Forest Park and Mount Pinagbanderahan. It is famous for its white sand beaches such as Puting Buhangin, Kwebang Lampas and Bilaran Sandbar but not everyone knows that its mountains hide more treasures which includes at least six waterfalls – Kagbuho Falls, Kamaluya Falls, Iringan Falls, Malicboy Falls, Bahay-Pagi Falls and Katapang Falls.
The first two requires at least two hours of trekking while the latter four, which I happened to visit, are easily accessible from the main road.
Situated in Barangay Palsabangon, Iringan Falls is at least thirty minutes walk and river trekking from the main highway near Iringan Bridge or in a site locally known as Fisheries. It is a single layer cascade with water dropping from a height of approximately five meters into small and very shallow catch basin before flowing to Iringan River, a tributary of Palsabangon River, and all the way to Pagbilao Bay.
The trailhead starts from a dirt road at the left side of Maharlika Highway after Iringan Bridge if you are coming from Lucena City. It is around two kilometers of trail and river trekking from there. Few meters away from Iringan falls is a river junction, turning left leads to a smaller cascade while turning right and passing a smaller cascade leads to Iringan Falls just few meters away.
At least thirty minutes of trail and river trekking from the main road of Pagbilao is another waterfalls frequently visited by locals – Malicboy Falls.
Located in Barangay Silangan Malicboy, Malicboy Falls is a towering cascade with a shallow catch basin. Along the river going to this waterfalls and further upstream are smaller and unnamed cascades, bur going upstream means braving the nearly vertical trail on the left side of the main cascade.
The trailhead starts near the waiting shed and Malicboy Bridge in Pulong Giting, on the left side of the road from Pagbilao town proper to Atimonan. Just follow the concrete trail of the irrigation and turn left at the trail junction going to rice paddies all the way to the river then trek along the river upstream.
Bahay-Pagi Falls is another waterfalls of Pagbilao located along Locohin River in Barangay Binahaan. It is a small one, around three meters high, with water droping to a narrow circular yet deep catch basin with strong current before flowing to a bigger yet shallow turquoise-colored catch basin. If you look at it at bird’s-eye-view from the top of cascade, it does look like a stingray or “pagi” in Filipino, thus Bahay-Pagi Falls.
To get here, get off at Sitio Lagpan (Log Pond) in Barangay Binahaan. The trailhead is at the dirt road along Maharlika Highway near a waiting shed at the left side of the road before Binahaan Bridge (also known as Locohin Bridge) if you are coming from Pagbilao town proper going to Atimonan. Turn right on the trail junction going to the river’s spillway and trek along the river upstream. The trek from the trailhead to Bahay-Pagi Falls takes around 20 minutes.
Also situated in Barangay Binahaan is Katapang Falls along Katapang Creek, an off-beat waterfalls of Pagbilao. Still images won’t give justice to its grandeur but Katapang Falls is in fact a tall inclined cascade, some say that it is the tallest in Pagbilao. From the base of the waterfalls, it extends up and further to the right.
Going here, the trailhead is the same as Bahay Pagi Falls, along Maharlika Highway in Sitio Lagpan (Log Pond) of Barangay Binahaan, but instead of turning right in the trail junction, go straight following the trail to the river then trek the river upstream. Estimated trekking time is via this route is 45 minutes to one hour.
Alternatively, you can reach it by trekking upstream from Bahay-Pagi Falls turning left on a river junction that is Katapang Creek and follow the river upstream. Estimated trekking time from Bahay-Pagi Falls is approximately 30 to 45 minutes. But taking this trail means swimming across the catch basin and climbing on top of Bahay-Pagi Falls.
How to get to Pagbilao
To get to Pagbilao, ride a bus going to Gumaca/Tagkawayan from Legarda or any Bicol bound bus from Cubao, Pasay or Buendia and get off at Pagbilao. Bus fare is around P230 per person and travel time is at least three-and-a-half (3.5) hours.
Alternatively, you can take a bus to Lucena Grand Terminal (around P210 per person, at least three hours) and transfer to another bus or jeep going to Pagbilao (around P25 per person and approximately 30 minutes).