Jumping off at Cantingas River Resort - The Country's Cleanest River

Tuesday, May 14, 2013Ryan Mach

"THAT LEDGE DOESN'T LOOK high enough," I thought to myself while looking at the 35-40 feet diving platform where young boys jumped off bravely, doing various stunts mid-air before hitting the water below. From afar, at least where I was standing that time, it didn't look scarily high but once I got to the top, with the clear water a few feet below, I found myself weak in the knees. Confidence extinguished by the height of the diving ledge, I could only look down. I knew right there and then that I needed more guts to do it. I wasn't as brave as I thought I was. The river fairies must have been laughing their heads off at the sight of this scrawny little man too eager to jump but too scared to even let himself fall off.

In my head, I heard them giggling.

Fairy 1: Look at him, he looks like a wuzz standing there trembling and scared like a little kid.
Fairy 2: But he's a kid.

We waited till the river was people empty before doing our own exhibition. We didn't want to get caught dead chickening out. Lol. By four in the afternoon, after a heavy downpour, the crowd began to disperse. It was our time to shine, or rather hurt ourselves. We rushed to the diving platform feeling all giddy and nervous.
Save for a few excursionists who arrived at the resort quite late, there weren't very many people who could witness our little show. There weren't many competitors at the ledge either, except for a group of young locals who like us were eager to jump off. Those young brave boys have scurried home before sundown.
One lone kid however stayed a little later than usual. He did his stuff with ease and grace, letting us see how flawless and brave his jumps were. The way his body was positioned in his every fall showed how fearless his aims and intentions were.

"Can you show us how to do it again?" we asked the kid for the nth time. And for a hundredth time, he dove effortlessly. I could feel my heart in my throat. Seconds later, the kid was back at the ledge, ready for another jump. 
Our friend, Erpe, was one of the bolder souls among the bunch who challenged himself by jumping from the highest level of the platform. I watched him with great trepidation as he went about the ledge, plucking courage up the air, shaking his legs and arms to ease his nerves. After a few minutes of standing over the edge, he finally screamed and jumped. The water created a big splash below. When he emerged, he let out a victorious and gleeful shout.
[Jump, baby, jump!]

I held on to the railings and bent forward to see the water below. No, I can't do it. So I went a notch lower by going to the first level. Heart racing, I jumped. It felt good I wanted to do it again, at the same level still. Mach level, my friends told me. The only level I could jump from.
A FEW HOURS EARLIER we did some pre-jump exercise rather unnecessarily at a small river basin about a hundred meters away from the crowd.
We hopped from big boulders and crossed a strong surge of river current. It's the height of summer and yet, the river wasn't dried up. I could only imagine the state of the river during rainy months. It would be definitely dangerous to swim there. It's not entirely a baseless assumption. A few years back, the river swelled up when a strong typhoon hit the island, causing landslide that eradicated large portion of the resort built by the riverside.
 "This river is unpredictable," Manong Aning, the caretaker of the resort house we stayed at told me in an undertone as we were having a subdued conversation under the moon (the power went off during the last night of our stay). I looked at the river bathed in the summer moonlight, feeling much more enthralled and enchanted by its unique quality. I saw a lone firefly hovering over the rocks. By 'unpredictable' he meant that Cantingas River can swell for no apparent reason regardless of the season.
The river is relatively safe for swimming. We heard no stories about people drowning. There aren't lifeguards at the resort either, which ironically makes sense because almost everyone, even little kids know how to swim.
[Safe for drinking]

The water is also safe for drinking. We could tell that it's really clean because it's odorless and you could see the river bed. It wouldn't be considered as the country's cleanest river for nothing. A number of experts has studied its quality and they have all agreed that its water type is alkaline.
THAT CANTINGAS RIVER has been transformed into a river resort seems a little disconcerting. Manong Aning told us that large portion of the profit generated by the resort goes to the ABS-CBN Foundation, with a small fraction donated to the local government. In more ways than one, the regulation of the river keeps things in order and preserving and protecting it in the process. 
Apart from swimming, tourists and locals can do a lot of activities in the river like kayaking, tubing and ziplining. But if you ask me, the river's better off without those attractions. Cantingas River looks beautiful and serene in the morning when it's empty, of people that is.

Cantingas River is located in Cantingas, San Fernando, Romblon. 
Entrance fee is 50 for tourists. 

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