Cantingas River and Why I Will Stay Away from Rivers For a While

July 10, 2023 Travel

I am the type who always signs up for something new when it comes to travel experiences. So although I am still recovering from a surgery performed in April, I could not pass up the opportunity to visit my 66th province, which is Romblon.

I joined a group of volunteers from Trails to Empower Kids, a group I co-founded in 2017, for a reconnaissance trip. During this type of trip, we visit a community or school, assess its needs, and decide if we would like to include them in our list of beneficiaries. 


But to be safe, I decided to just wait for our recon team at the jump-off place. Though cleared by the doctor to do some traveling, mountain climbing was pushing it. Another volunteer who also had a series of surgeries on his right shoulder stayed with me.


Upon recommendations from the locals, we decided to wait at Cantingas River Resort. 


Cantingas is known as one of the country’s cleanest rivers, with its water flowing from the great Mount Guiting-Guiting. It also helps supply electricity to Sibuyan Island.


What started as a relaxing dip in one of the country’s cleanest rivers turned out to be one my worst outdoor experiences.


My friend and I were catching up and were seated on a barrier made of rocks. In front of us, we could see the mountain where our volunteers climbed. The water where we sat was knee-deep. It was clear and we could see the riverbed. 


Behind us, on the other side of the barrier, were streaming waters forming rapids. 

The barrier where we sat is visible in this photo

It was a cloudy day, but the sun was starting to peek. 


After some time, we both noticed that the water was rising, so we decided to stand up—but by that point it was little too late. I tried standing up, but the current was already too strong. I could not hold on to the barrier. I remember reaching my hand high when I saw a resort worker coming to us. 


All three of us were thrown to the other side of the barrier and were carried by the strong current. I gasped for air. I swallowed water. I reached out for my friend.


Good thing that my friend was able to pull me and our rescuer out of the raging waters. A guest helped us out and was fuming mad at the resort’s lack of rescue facilities. Another resort worker was standing on a walkway and waving ropes, showing that they had rescue resources. The guest dismissed that and continued with his tirade.

The barrier where we sat is already covered here by raging waters


I was just happy I was alive.


For hours my adrenaline kept me up, and it was only when we got back to our inn, about six hours later, that it really dawned on me that I had almost died. That was when my energy decreased, and I felt exhausted. 


I thought of my mom. It would have been a tragedy for her to have both daughters die on June 29. My sister died on this date two years ago. 


I have always known the dangers of the great outdoors, and this encounter with the river was not my first experience. I had my mountain climbing accident in Benguet. My tricycle toppled and almost fell off a cliff in Kalinga. There was also another flash flood incident in Zambales. 


But don’t get me wrong: I don’t call myself a thrill-seeker. There are still so many things I would not do, like cliff-diving, skydiving, or anything really fast and furious. 


But I love the outdoors. I love its vastness. I love that every encounter gives those coveted memories—I just wish not like this one. And I love that the shared experiences build lasting friendships. 


My friend and I will be talking about this experience for years. 


I just have to remind myself to always keep my guard up. To always be aware of the possible dangers, even in a resort setting like Cantingas River Resort. And to always pray for protection.


But I think I will also be staying away from moving waters in the meantime. 

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