Vera Falls is a stunning cascade nestled at the foot of Mt Malinao in the province of Albay. Its refreshing cold water flows down from the verdant mountain and meanders into the rivers and streams irrigating rice fields on the plains near the idyllic pastoral town of Malinao. The falls are about 8 kilometers from Tabaco City, an hour and a half drive from Legaspi City and about 45 minutes drive from Ligao City via Sabloyon Road.
I knew about Vera Falls years ago but I never got the chance to check it out until my recent visit to my hometown for my father’s birthday. It was one of those rare occasions when my brother Rey, who spends most of his time on water rather than on land, was home as well so we immediately planned an impromptu sojourn to the falls.
It was around 2:00 p.m. when we finalized our trip and, despite the unusually cold and dreary days in April, we still pushed through with our plan. Together with our youngest sister, we hit the road using our father’s motorbike, picked up our friend Jay and our guide on the way and went in a convoy to Malinao. We took the scenic route via Sabloyon Road, which we accessed through a fork in the road at Barangay Tuburan near Ligao East Elementary School.
It was a pleasant ride through lustrous rice fields, coconut plantations and acres of vegetation with a view of the majestic Mayon Volcano in the distance. The last time I had travelled this route was last year, also in April, when my relatives and I passed through Sabloyon Road to reach Busay Falls in Malilipot Albay. In less than 30 minutes we arrived at the turn off towards Barangay Comun where the scenery began to get even better.
While it started to drizzle, I couldn’t help but be amazed by the surrounding vista as we sped along the well-paved road and over an expensive-looking concrete bridge, which is quite uncommon for far-flung agricultural barrios. A sweeping view of Lagonoy Gulf slowly unfolded and a mist-covered Mt. Malinao came into view as we wound our way through more rice fields and over some hilly terrain. Except for a short bumpy section of road upon reaching Barangay Soa, the trip was smooth and we reached the jump-off point in good time.
We left our motorbikes at the empty parking space and excitedly traced a route down the concrete steps, which were covered with moss in some parts and with a few hanging vines overhead. We easily negotiated the slippery part of the pathway with the help of the safety railings and made it to the base of the falls with no sweat – literally and figuratively I supposed. The mountain crest was all foggy and the air was quite chilly for a summer month, I would have thought I was in the middle of a virgin forest if not for the concrete stairway and parking area.
As we neared the base of the falls, the surging 25-meter cascades came into view, playfully splashing a fine mist into the air. The falls flowed into a small but inviting pool hemmed by limestone walls covered in mosses, ferns and other greenery. I didn’t waste much time and quickly clambered over some rocks to take a few shots before joining the rest who were already swimming in the pool. I enjoyed our time here immensely just because I seldom find beautiful waterfalls like this with little or no impact from development and we were able to enjoy it all by ourselves. It was a bit shorter in height than Busay Falls but the cascade was stronger and the setting was rather more serene and picturesque.
It has indeed come a long way since Father Vera, then Parish Priest of St. Nicholas in Malinao, first learned about this natural wonder and introduced it to more people. It used to be a steep trek downhill with only vines and thick vegetation to cling to, and the road to access it left much to be desired. But all the effort exerted is nothing compared to the worthwhile reward of seeing a pristine attraction, wading in the cool refreshing water and simply enjoying the serenity of a lush sanctuary. A visit to Vera Falls is one invigorating escape that I wouldn’t mind doing again.
Bits and Info
- It’s advisable to take motorbikes or 4-wheel vehicles to access the steep part and bumpy section of the road.
- Free and plentiful parking is available.
- Bring change of clothes and towel.
- There is no restroom or changing room in the area but one can improvise.
- Bring your own food and water. Food and refreshments are not available.
- There is no entrance fee but visitors are advised to check with the Barangay Captain to register and arrange for a local guide. (The road directions are easy to follow and the trek down the falls takes about 5-10 minutes only)
How to get to Vera Falls
From Legazpi City take the main road north to Tabaco City. From Tabaco, turn left (west) to Sabloyon Road, towards Ligao/Polangui. Drive through Sabloyon Road and turn right at Barangay Quinastillohan, towards Barangay Comun. From Ligao City, turn left at the fork in the road at Barangay Tuburan and drive straight along Sabloyon Road. You pass by the turn off to Mayon Rest House and after a few more minutes driving, then turn left at Barangay Quinastillohan.
Turn left at the Comun Elementary School junction and left at Sampaguita Street then go straight until the road ends to Barangay Bulang. Park, register with Barangay Captain and prepare for the 1200m hike down to the Falls.