We were picked up at six in the morning. The jeep that was waiting for us had two red rafts on its roof. Seated inside the vehicle were a family of six, two couples, and an European tourist. As soon as we boarded the jeep — and picking up two more couples from their hotel — we headed towards Masterson’s Avenue , the old Lumbia airport, and the Dominorog-Camp Kabaritan Road. In Mambuaya, we turned left and headed down towards the Cagayan de Oro River.
When we arrived at the banks, there were groups of people already there. I was surprised to see the Biology and Engineering Departments of Xavier University. One of my classmates, Astrid, was the first one to recognize me. She said that they were there for research. I introduced her and her team to Erick Salonga and Bok Pioquid, my companions in this ocular inspection for the Ateneo High School’s Eco-Spiritual Pilgrimage.
Shortly before getting into our rafts, our guides instructed us to don our life jackets and helmets and taught us simple paddling techniques. White-water rafting is a paddling watersport. The guides emphasized that everyone in the boat should follow navigation commands together for a smooth ride down the river. They also gave us tips on how to avoid rocks, and how to swim in case someone falls off.
When we got into our boats, the guides balanced us off. All riders should be strategically placed so that those of similar weight and paddling power were opposite each other. Erick and I were placed in front, two teenagers were in the middle row, Bok was on one side, while the parents of the teenagers were at the other side (the mom was placed in the middle). And then, two guides from Red Rafts stationed themselves at the back of our raft. They would use their paddles to steer the boat like a rudder of a sailboat.
The white water experience was educational. Though I did not have photos of the entire adventure down the river (I decided not to bring my camera because it was not water-proof), the guides gave us snippets of knowledge about the river. For example, he showed us shells embedded on cliffs, suggesting that there was a time when Misamis Oriental was underwater. He showed us wild orchids and kingfishers. And he pointed out the water level during Sendong that changed the course of the river. What touched me was the life of the people living at the river’s edge. We passed by children on a make-shift raft of old spare tires navigating themselves toward the opposite bank of the river. They were on their way to school.
Here are the photos taken by a photographer of Red Rafts. We took the basic course: the Mambuaya-Cabula course of around 14 rapids. The photographer kayaked himself ahead of us to take these photos. By the way, white water rafting in CDO is done with other groups. I think that makes the experience safer.
Here’s a video of our adventure which included our ziplining in Dahilayan Forest Park and Kampo Juan in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon.
And look: we highly recommend this adventure.