Wawa Dam, Montalban, Philippines…..Sometimes the urge to travel is just an itch that simply begs to be be scratched. One has to get out of bed and go somewhere, just leave, just go! The urge to see something new drives us to maps, thoughts and plans. I had been wondering if there was one place in Rizal that I had not visited before. My criteria is simple, it has to be historical and it has to be beautiful. Searching the internet, I came across a place called Wawa Dam in Montalban. The best part is that it is just 18.9 km from our home in Cainta. Since it was just a jeepney ride away, my son and I decided to travel the next day. We only needed a light back pack holding shirts, swimsuits, food and bottled water. That way my son could carry the pack.:) Starting at 4:00am was settled upon, as a departure time, so we could experience the sunrise at Wawa Dam. We had read that it was beautiful. Sadly, the best laid plans are always subject to changes. Traffic to Montalban was heavy and when we reached the town center the sun had already risen. We still needed to take a Jeep to Wawa Dam.
We began our trek along a ridge and a narrow paved trail. There were stores selling organic vegetables, assorted fruits, different fresh water finds like river shrimp, crabs, eels and carp in addition to charcoal, snacks and beverage for the tourists and locals. The number of sellers was more than normal. We were lucky enough to arrive on a Friday and we got to see all of the great deals on our way to the dam. Tuesday & Friday are the market days. The riot of colours from merchandise was a great way to start the day. My only regret was that I did not take photographs and left with just memories. A new lesson learned.
The sun was already moving up in the sky but the view was still spectacular. I regretted not being able to view a beautiful sunrise, about which the locals bragged. However, ones eyes are not disappointed by the beautiful landscape. White, rock walls of 80-160 feet high pleasure the eyes. The limestone and marble boulders makes one feel like they have taken a plane trip away from Manila. The reality is that you only need a Jeep to get there. Some beautiful places are so close to home.
After the beautiful came the history and then the legends. The historical Pamitinan’s cave site was so cold and mysterious. I pondered if only the walls could speak and tell the stories. What would we hear? What about the stories that it was used as hideout by the revolutionary leader Andres Bonifacio, who declared independence from Spain on April 12, 1895. The same cave site was also used by the Japanese Armory in 1945 and many Japanese died from American fire. In 1996 the Area was declared a Protected Landscape managed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Tourism. It wears a lot of history, clothes of different colours.
Wawa Dam is also a prominent landmark that was built in 1904 and started operating in 1909 to provide the water needs for Manila. It was closed in 1962 because of lack of water supply and replaced by the La Mesa-Ipo-Angat watershed system.
You can see the majestic Mount Pamitinan (426-meter high) and also Mount Binacayan (424-meters). If you listen carefully you will hear the howling of the wind and the splatter of water. In the legend of Bernardo Carpio we find a folk hero with extraordinary strength holding the two mountains apart by his mighty hands, to prevent them from colliding. The legend tells that whenever an earthquake happens, it is caused by Bernardo Carpio trying to free himself by the mountain.
Everywhere you look is just picture perfect and a heaven’s place for the photographer. It was a day, an experience and my love for my country was renewed. The itch went away….but just for a little while.