Tara! Abra: The Road Less Traveled to San Marcial Falls

WHEN something familiar turns into something unexpected, then one, unforgettable adventure is in store.

Traveling Journo Ph’s experienced this on its visit to Abra in September. Accompanied by my cousins residing in the Cordillera province, TJPh set forth to San Marcial Falls in the town of San Isidro.

San Isidro is located just southeast of San Quintin, the municipality where my paternal family hails. So our group of nine boarded our motorbikes—or habal-habal locally—confidently believing that would arrive at our destination within an hour of riding via entry on Pidigan.

Little did we know that we actually took the road less traveled to San Marcial Falls. It turned out to be a difficult yet exhilarating one.

The day started well with morning sunshine still touching us along the road.

Our ride in the beginning was smooth with us even complementing how well-paved the road of San Isidro was. 

After about 30 minutes, we entered a community with this chapel at the center. It was here where we first asked for directions. We were told that we need to make a roundabout into another town and reenter San Isidro again. From that alone, we got the idea that our journey would take longer than we expected. Later on, we found out that we asked the wrong question, and such, directed to the said route.  

The bridges we crossed indicated that rivers were big from downpours on previous days, and so would be the waterfalls. Another local we asked told us there was one bridge we’d pass in which the river had overflown. “Mag-ingat kayo,” said the manang in Ilokano. 

She was right. This was the bridge she was cautioning us to. With much care and jitters, we braved the strong river. 

Thankfully, we survived.

From there on, we appeared to have arrived at the base of a mountain with no signs of commuters at all, saved for the continuous passing of miners! Yes, some on mini tractors while others on foot, their shovels on their shoulders. It gave the feeling that we were entering the fortress of rebels or apparently, it was a mining area. Whether legal or illegal, it was beyond us.

Besides the dense fauna surrounding the rough road or trail if we must call it, it was also rocky and slippery. This made the climb a struggle for the habal-habals, which were not customized for the off-road! Once, we pondered carrying on foot and leave the bikes and just back to them. Good thing we didn’t because our destination was much, much farther away. 

We had respite on this rustic and aged bridge, a sign that people truly rarely pass the path we took! Thankfully, there was one miner on a tractor who was going back to their camp. He revealed to us that the waterfalls we were looking for was accessible in a different highway via Bangued, the capital of Abra.

But our journey gave a sense of excitement because everything we see, like the flowing river below, was so clean! It indicated that the water from the mountain would be as clear. 

And so we continued and from here, we climbed higher, the surrounding mountain exposing itself to us. We also passed by some little waterfalls along the way! 

Finally, we arrived at the end of our long and winding road where a small community awaited us. A little ride and finally, we entered the ark of Brgy. San Marcial. Around 30 minutes more and we saw parked motorbikes and tricycles before a small bridge. We had arrived.

Indeed, our journey became one for the books. And fortunately, our destination too! San Marcial Falls proved worthy of all our eagerness and exhaustion. It was not just a sight to behold but a wealth of surprises to discover. More of that on the next post.

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