Tag Archives: Philippines

WATERFALLS IN BILIRAN ISLAND: Ulan-ulan

Biliran is a mountainous island in the eastern Visayas region of the Philippines.

I was able to visit two of the island’s numerous waterfalls last month.

Ulan-Ulan Falls, Almerio, Biliran Island

First peek at Ulan-ulan Falls. Be warned that the trail is slippery and dangerous.

Ulan-ulan

Ulan” is the Pilipino word for rain so the name translates to “rain-rain.” To my mind, it was named after its most distinctive feature — the heavy spray that the falling water generates. There is no Pilipino word for “spray” so the word for rain took its place.

Ulan-Ulan Falls, Almerio, Biliran Island

At least eight meters tall. What a glorious sight in the mid-afternoon sun!

Mid-afternoon sun piercing the spray of Ulan-Ulan Falls, Almeria, Biliran Island - 47.jpg

Mid-afternoon rays illuminate the fine spray. Nope, that isn’t smoke even though it looks it. That’s spray from the drop. It’s borne away from the drop by the strong wind.

Mid-afternoon sun lighting up the spray at Ulan-Ulan Falls, Almeria, Biliran Island - 49.jpg

Another view of the mid-afternoon sun’s rays piercing the spray.

Ulan-Ulan Falls, Almerio, Biliran Island

The near-identical view, in color, this time.

Deafening at Ulan-Ulan Falls, Almeria, Biliran Island - 43.jpg

Sheets of water tumble so powerfully that water ions are created from the turbulence.

Rainbow and spray at Ulan-Ulan Falls, Almeria, Biliran Island - 44.jpg

Double rainbow!  The fainter one is to the left.

Rainbow framed by the spray at Ulan-Ulan Falls, Almeria, Biliran Island - 37.jpg

The constant spray ensured a permanent rainbow!

Ulan-Ulan Falls, Almerio, Biliran Island

Ephemeral

Perfect Waterfall

It’s perfect. It’s large enough to create a nonstop deafening roar. It’s isolated enough to make visiting it more difficult and fewer visitors means it stays in pristine condition longer.

Eight meters high and gorgeous foliage at Ulan-Ulan Falls, Almeria, Biliran Island.jpg

At least eight meters tall (about the height of a three-storey building), Ulan-ulan is downstream from another waterfall named “Recoletos.”

Mouth of Ulan-Ulan Falls, Almeria, Biliran Island - 42.jpg

The mouth of Ulan-ulan.

Ions

Waterfalls create something good for us. The turbulence shakes water molecules so much that it creates ions of water.

Normal ion counts in fresh country air is 2,000-4,000 negative ions per cubic centimeter. At a large water fall you might find over 100,000 negative ions. Polluted air such as in large cities might have less than 100 ions.

Source: https://pranaviewaustralia.wordpress.com/2012/03/27/the-power-of-negative-ions-the-ocean-and-bodies-of-water/

water-molecule-h2o-isolated-oxygen-hydrogen-red-wh-17629172

Good old H2O

Negative Ions are Good for You

Negative Ions Create Positive Vibes (WebMD.com)

There’s something in the air that just may boost your mood — get a whiff of negative ions.

May 6, 2002 — There’s something in the air and while it may not be love, some say it’s the next best thing — negative ions.

Negative ions are odorless, tasteless, and invisible molecules that we inhale in abundance in certain environments. Think mountains, waterfalls, and beaches. Once they reach our bloodstream, negative ions are believed to produce biochemical reactions that increase levels of the mood chemical serotonin, helping to alleviate depression, relieve stress, and boost our daytime energy.

And these are a few of the reasons we see negative-ion generators being sold in stores and all over the Internet, but do they really work as well as antidepressants? Can they also relieve allergies by filtering out dust mites and dander?

watermolecule

Ions are created when one of the orbiting electrons gets knocked out of the atom or molecule. Hydrogen (H) has a single electron. Oxygen (O) has eight electrons. If any electrons are knocked out, the water molecule turns into a water ion.

ionized-water-molecule-formation-of-5239314_orig

Foliage

Ulan-Ulan Falls, Almerio, Biliran Island

I saw this large and gorgeous fern along the trail.

How To Get There

Take the bus that leaves at around 12:30 pm from the pier of the town of Naval. These buses follow the circumferential road around the island (clockwise).

Ulan-Ulan Falls, Almerio, Biliran Island

Maripipi Island’s hulking presence stands prominently in the background. This is the western shoreline of Biliran Island.

I don’t have a photo of our bus’s exterior but know that the buses don’t leave on time. They leave when they’re full or when the driver feels like it. (The buses actually wait until all seats are taken and then, they depart.) They also play their music at earsplitting volume. Bus capacity is about 30. On this particular trip, there was only one foreigner, a retired Aussie who used to be an artist.

Fare is less than 15 pesos. The ride takes about 20 minutes.

Ulan-Ulan Falls, Almerio, Biliran Island

Preacher man. He preached in Pilipino, the national language (which is Tagalog) although almost every passenger spoke Bisayan. He received donations from about five percent of his unwilling audience.

We disembarked in the town of Almeria, a namesake of the Andalusian (Spain) town of the same name. We mistook a videostore to be a restaurant, :-), and ate our brunch at the videostore of Mr L Morillo. He had served as the town councillor responsible for the development of tourism in town so he was very knowledgable.

It turned out that Recolet0s Falls — the waterfall just upstream of Ulan-ulan — was a name suggested by Mr Morillo’s brother. His brother, a Catholic priest in Manila, belongs to the Order of the Agustinian Recollects, a Roman Catholic religious order of friars and nuns.

Mr Morillo flagged a habal-habal driver for us. Fare would’ve been 50 pesos a head but we asked the driver to double as our guide, which he gladly did, and this earned him 500 pesos at the end of our long afternoon.
Ulan-Ulan Falls, Almerio, Biliran Island

A habal-habal. The roof is a Biliran novelty. Habal-habals are motorcycle taxis. You negotiate the fare with them beforehand. Most habal-habal drivers use 100cc or 125cc engines. “Rusi” is a Chinese brand.

Maps

getting-to-ulan-ulan-waterfall

Closeup

almeria-ulan-ulan-waterfall-and-navalalmeria-in-biliran-islandbiliran-island-and-its-surrounding-islandsbiliran-island-in-the-eastern-visayas

Scenery

Ulan-Ulan Falls, Almerio, Biliran Island

The platformed plots are used for growing rice, the staple starch in Asia.

Ulan-Ulan Falls, Almerio, Biliran Island

The ramshackle shed gives you a hint of the general poverty of the people.

Facing west on our way to visit Ulan-Ulan Falls, Almeria, Biliran Island - 7.jpg

Facing west. The smaller one to the right is Gigatangan Island. The larger one to the left is the northern tip of Leyte Island.

Residents

Ulan-ulan is located within Barangay Sampao. “Barangay” is the Pilipino term for “village.”

We ran into these kids along the way.

Ulan-Ulan Falls, Almerio, Biliran Island

Seriously washing his motorcycle

Ulan-Ulan Falls, Almerio, Biliran Island

Seriously washing his motorcycle

Ulan-Ulan Falls, Almerio, Biliran Island

Trio of 12-year olds. The third one is intentionally hidden.

Ulan-Ulan Falls, Almerio, Biliran Island

These kids are growing up in Barangay Sampao, where Ulan-ulan is located.

Seems to be suffering from an eye infection was this 16-year old boy who lives near Ulan-Ulan Falls, Almeria, Biliran Island - 29.jpg

This 16-year old seems to be suffering from an eye infection. Medical attention is difficult for people who live here. 😦

We also met Jhoc Nadal. He’s a native of Leyte and an outdoorsman.

He’s also looking for a “yaya.” A yaya is a domestic helper who cares specifically for infants and toddlers.

Strange sight as we walked up the road leading to Ulan-Ulan Falls, Almeria, Biliran Island - 19.jpg

What’s odd about this scene?

Wtf, hahaha, this out-of-place sign was a gag on our way to Ulan-Ulan Falls, Almeria, Biliran Island - 18.jpg

The dog. What’s the dog doing lying down on the middle of the street?

Jhoc Nadal, in his 20s, relocated to Ulan-Ulan Falls, Almeria, Biliran Island in early-2016.jpg

Jhoc Nadal, who relocated to live on the slope of this mountain, moved here in early-2016.

Ulan-Ulan Falls, Almerio, Biliran Island

Jhoc Nadal, 0950.373.4859

Ulan-Ulan Falls, Almerio, Biliran Island

Jhoc Nadal, jhoc.nalda@gmail.com

A visitor from Manila after coming from Ulan-Ulan Falls, Almeria, Biliran Island - 22.jpg

When we met Jhoc, he was returning from Ulan-ulan after guiding these two women from Manila.

Ulan-Ulan Falls, Almerio, Biliran Island

Another of Jhoc’s signs 🙂

Unspoiled

Filipinos are an untidy people. Being accustomed to western standards of tidiness, I found myself keeping a mental tally of litter — and whether the litter is paper or plastic. I’m pleased to report that I saw exactly a single piece of noticeable plastic litter — it was a crushed plastic cup.

According to Mr Morillo, Ulan-ulan is receiving about a thousand visitors a month. The foot traffic we saw seems to confirm this.

There you have it. Keep it tidy, Philippines. Ulan-ulan is one of the most beautiful falls in the country. Treat it that way.