Text and Photos by Henrylito D. Tacio
The former name of this tourist destination located in Maco, Davao de Oro, was Mainit Sulfuric Hot Spring. Now, it is called Bilawa Hot Waterfalls – a name given when it reopened after it was closed due to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
It was understandable why the original name was called as such because it is mainit (Pilipino word for “hot”), and the water contains some sulfur. It may be a hot spring, but the overflowing hot sulfuric water goes down from the upper portion and then forms a river below. Thus, the name is more apt. In fact, bilawa is a Mansaka word for “waterfall.”
The upper portion is teemed with trees. But what is amazing is that there’s steam coming out from nowhere, telling you that it is very hot. The heated water flows and cascades over a rocky side of the mountain, whose surface is being deposited with minerals. The result: awesome yellow stalactites.
The first time you put your feet into the ankle-deep water, it feels warm, but a few minutes later, your body will get to acclimatize with it. By then, you get to enjoy taking a dip in some of its natural pools.
According to Christine T. Dompor, the provincial tourism officer of Davao de Oro, the sulfuric water from the hot waterfall has some therapeutic benefits. “If you go under the cascades, you get to feel the soothing warm water and it gives you a feeling of being massaged,” she said.
Prescilla Decena, administrative officer of the provincial tourism office, said the natural health benefits you get from the relaxing warm shower include improved blood circulation, stress reduction, body detoxification, relieved muscle pain, and boosted immune system.
From Davao City to Tagum City, the travel time is about 2 hours. At the bus terminal, look for a jeepney bound to Masara. Inform the driver you will get down at Mainit Hot Spring. It is an uphill walk from the main road.
Another alternative is to take a bus from Davao City and get down at Mawab. Then, look for a habal-habal (motor-for-rent) and ask if he could bring you to barangay Mainit (the road is rough, so it will be a dusty trip).
However, if you have your own vehicle, you can go directly from Davao City to barangay Mainit.
Be sure to leave early from Davao City. The place is open from 6 am and closes at 5 pm. Most locals go to the place to relax. During weekends, it is fully-packed. So, if you want to really enjoy your stay, visit the place on weekdays.
The Bilawa Hot Waterfalls is run by the community. Entrance fee is only P5 for those who are residents of the place. For non-residents, the entrance fee is P80; but if you’re a senior citizen (60 years and above), a person with exceptionalities, or a student, the discounted entrance fee is P50. Cottage rental is P30.