Tarlac White Water Kayaking
Now Showing: WhiteWater Kayaking in TarlacTuesday, September 04, 2012Ryan Mach
Running Time: Approximately 3 hours
Genre: Thriller/Action, a little bit of comedy
Budget: P2,000.00 (kayak tour, lunch, van rental)
Synopsis: 14 young people who have an insatiable hunger for thrill and adventure went on a whitewater kayaking escapade in the scenic rivers of San Jose in Tarlac.
|Idyllic town of San Jose|
San Jose is considered as a fourth class municipality in the province of Tarlac in Central Luzon. It has a population of approximately thirty-two thousand with an economy that is dominantly agricultural. To get there from Manila, take a bus bound for Tarlac City then from the Central Terminal, hop on a jeepney to Barangay Villa Aglipay. The jump-off point of the whitewater kayaking is at Maamot, an idyllic barrio nestled up the mountain about a 30-minute ride from the town proper.
It's much easier to get there by renting a van.
Characters: Colleagues from IBM and friends from IngramMicro and HP showed up in high spirits at Mcdo, QAve, a proverbial meeting place among travelers. Probably skipping booze the night prior, everyone looked rather well rested and ready for some serious paddling. After some quick breakfast and requisite introductions, the group drove (via a rented van) North beneath grey skies that hinted rain.
Backstory: Kate received an invite from a former officemate to try Kayaking in Tarlac and after getting the details (fees, date of availability, inclusion) from Rapid Streams, the company that organizes the kayaking trip, she shared it with us. We've been looking for another rafting after our unforgettable experience in Cagayan de Oro River last year. There's whitewater rafting in Kalinga, we heard, but its accessibility has always been a hindrance. We're stoked to have found out that we didn't have to go all the way in Cagayan de Oro or Kalinga just to ride the rapids.
Director: Christian Yap, the owner of Rapid Streams, is a young businessman and sports enthusiast. He manages the tour himself and executes the demo and briefing prior to the actual kayaking. He's a little soft-spoken but extremely approachable. His crew is composed of robust, local men whose six-pack abs can grab the attention of both the ladies and the boys.
Briefing and orientation are done at the 'office' of Rapid Stream, strategically situated somewhere alongside the river where the action happens. (Sorry, folks, I don't remember the name of the barrio but you won't have hard time finding it, believe me). The office is not brick and mortar, but a wall-less thatched hut carpeted with gravels and smooth stones. An elevated platform made of bamboo occupies the half part and serves as a stage in which Christian does the demo. In the distance, you get a glimpse of the river.
Our kayaking adventure came to a satisfying conclusion at around 2 in the afternoon. No one had an injury and everyone was dead tired and utterly famished. The journey ended right in front of the 'office,' where a spread of mouth-watering native food - native chicken tinola, organic veggies and grilled bangus - was on display. After a hearty late lunch, some boys took a nap at the mini-stage, others took a shower at the roofless shower rooms, and the rest decided to start on the booze they've especially set for the trip back to Manila.
Whitewater kayaking is a relatively new sport in Tarlac. Rapid Stream is the only company that organizes a kayak tour and they have just started two years ago. For people who have tried the whitewater rafting in Cagayan de Oro River, it's quite easy to notice the differences of the guides in terms of communication skills. Guides in CDO have a few tricks up their sleeves and they know how to entertain their guests. They throw in bits of trivia and funny anecdotes which make the trip more fun. You can't expect the same with the guides in Tarlac. They're quiet most of the time but they'll answer all your questions with honesty and they're well-trained as kayak guides.
|One of the guides|
|View of the river from Monasterio de Tarlac|
Our guide told us that a dam is going to be built in the river. The president has already signed the project. "Once it's built, kayaking is no longer possible here, will that be the case, Manong?" we asked, suddenly sad about the possibility. "Hindi naman," the guide told us. "However the water level in the river will be affected. And we're afraid that our town will have flash floods come rainy season. There's never flood in San Jose," he added.
How to Get There: Driving Directions to Rapid Stream