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Sunday, July 9, 2017

Sunday, July 09, 2017
1
Laundry hour on Agos River






I once almost drowned in Agos River. I was about 10 and it was during a summer excursion where a whole clan of my relatives gathered at a shallow portion of the river in Infanta. Given that I couldn't swim, I waded just a feet away from the nearest person. When I suddenly felt that my left foot could no longer touch the river bed, I panicked. The unexpected depth surprised me so much that my right foot slipped from the rock that it was standing on. I recklessly tried to float for a few seconds but to no avail. I was sinking and no one knew it was happening! My screams were being muffled underwater and my reach was not long enough to tap the back of the nearest person I could see. The same person (probably one of my uncles), though, miraculously turned around and lifted me up to save me.

Unforgettable Flash Flood

Agos River can be that unforgettable to a lot of people. Case in point: the 2004 flash flood that claimed roughly 1,200 lives of residents in the neighboring towns of Real, Infanta and General Nakar. The river could only take enough volume of water after 20 days of persistent rain from four consecutive typhoons -- Unding, Violeta, Winnie and Yoyong. Worse, the water came flowing with mud, logs and other forest debris from the Sierra Madre due to widespread illegal logging. The damage to property was so massive that it took months before this part of Quezon Province was able to bounce back to normalcy.

A young Dumagat takes a dip while her mother does the laundry
Reaching Tutulakan that's part of Agos River
Kaybagbagan is just a 30-minute hike away from Tinipak Spring
Youngsters trying to catch tilapia

Long and Winding

The river's expanse through the Sierra Madre is long and winding. It flows from Infanta, parts of Rizal, and all the way to General Nakar, encompassing Tinipak River, Tutulakan River and other attractions like Kaybagbagan.

Life-giving In Different Depths

Where it's shallow, locals bathe and do their laundry. From using gugo before the advent of Western influence, they have now come to patronize today's shampoo, soap, and detergent. It's also where kids are usually seen catching tilapia with nets, so the modern products are clearly tipping the natural balance.

Carp fish (karpa) fresh from Tutulakan River
Tutulakan and Kaybagbagan courtesy of Google Earth

Where it's deep like in its part of Tutulakan, locals fish for the common carp because it's where the waters can be a bit turbid for the freshwater bonefish to thrive.

Idyllic Rock Formations

What lures most tourists from Metro Manila isn't just the clear water of the river. It's also the variety of rock formations that jut out from the banks and in the middle of the river itself. They only manage to appreciate the pristine water once they run out of their own bottled water in the middle of their hike or overnight camping and had to get directly from the springs that flow from the Sierra Madre for drinking supply.


Locals on a laundry grind
A youngster running an errand across the Agos River
The clear waters of Agos River
Check Out This Short Video of Agos River:

video
Whether we like it or not, Agos River is where God made her to meander. It may be through the remoteness of the Sierra Madre that makes the hearts of flash flood survivors skip a beat. Or it may be through villages and camping sites that end up depending on it for sustenance. What's certain is that it can be a source of both life and death.

Hiking in General Nakar to reach Tutulakan River


Special thanks to Zander Bautista for the assistance


Interested to visit Tutulakan River?

Contact Joel Astoveza of General Nakar Cablao Outdoor Guides Association (GENACOGA) at 0926-933-4286 or 0915-595-9988. For hike guides, visit the GENACOGA Facebook fan page here.








More Photos Below:

Where the river's shallow, locals gather to do laundry.
A female Dumagat chewing betel nut or "nganga" at the banks of Agos River
A remote part of the Sierra Madre called Kaybagbagan

1 comments:

  1. I always love reading your stories Karl! It's a mixture of tourism, culture, and nostalgia. Traveling to places like this makes us appreciate the simple beauty of life.

    ReplyDelete

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