Enchanted River

 Enchanted River

When one looks at any of the millions of photos of Enchanted River, he may think that that image was ‘instagramified’ or ‘photoshopped’. It looks so magical that it’s hard to believe it’s natural. The most famous tourist spot in Hinatuan, Surigao Del Sur of Philippines is indeed a wonderful place to be.
It’s located twelve kilometres from highway junction and it shapes the boundary of Barangays Talisay and Cambatong in Hinatuan. The road leading to the river is not made of asphalt on purpose but it’s well-maintained and not bumpy and dusty.
This river is found in Barangay, Cambatong and it is rich in oral tradition. There is an interesting lore of how the water got its wonderful tint. No doubt, according to the lore, ethereal beings have bestowed that mystical tint in the water with their magical and enchanting powers.
According to the lore, during one night lit only with firefly, fairies were floating above the river and elves were looking at them from banks and cliffs. Then fairies stirred the water with their wands and played with some sapphire and jade. Those sapphire and jade melted into the water and gave the river its unique mystical bluish green tint.
Why was it given the name ‘Enchanted River’? Well, many fishermen have claimed from ages that they have seen variety of fish but they can’t catch it, however they try. They have used net, spear and their hands but all in vein. They lay their fish traps at dusk and find them hanging on branches the next morning. There are many other ‘enchanted’ things taking place. A foreigner plunges into the visible riverbed only to find it unfathomable later on. Once a father and son saw two long-haired and alabaster-skinned women who were bathing in the river and then they disappeared in a swirl of firefly within a wink.
There is also a cave farther away, just before the river flows out to Hinatuan Bay facing the Pacific Ocean. It can be accessed by foot during low tide. There are some amazing limestone carved furniture sets that look like the court of Neptune for underwater denizens. No wonder it’s called the Enchanted River because of so many enchanting things associated with it.
Modesto Farolan, Father of Tourism, gave the river its name through a poem called “Rio Encantado”. The poem is a romantic evocation of the Enchanted River as an unspoiled, untouched and undiscovered trysting cocoon for lovers. The poems speaks about “crystalline stream flowing from hidden spring,” where there are “rocky brims ‘mongst vines,” “orchids and ferns,” “canopy of rich green mirrored in water-tinted blue,” and “gold lined with gems.” (Francisco Rio composed the same poem as well.)
People are allowed to bathe into the river but in noon they are requested to come out by ringing a bell. Then Hinatuan Hymn is played and groups of fish come out from nowhere. Caretaker and tourist feed them. It’s a sight one can never forget!
Local government has also built some concrete stairs in place of cliffs for the convenience of tourists. There are some cottages few meters away from the bank that any tourist can rent for P100. Boat and ferry services are also available on hourly rate to visit nearby Vanishing Island and beach resort. Non-swimmers are offered pools as well. There are seafood stalls just outside the cordoned area that sell delicious sea-food at a reasonable price. Entrance fee is P20 and life jackets are rented out for P100 for the whole day. Lifeguards are employed for the safety of tourists. The only problem is parking. Although it’s not impossible, it’s difficult to find a nearby parking spot.
The Enchanted River is like a Monet Painting. The stunning visuals and the natural beauty make it an experience of lifetime. Although a picture is worth a thousand words, a visit to this place is worth a thousand pictures.

Christian Mc Karthy

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