Sta. Maria: Legendary Pinsal Falls
As the rumored footprint of the legendary Ilocano giant Angalo, the breathtaking Pinsal falls is a very popular destination in Ilocos Sur because of its natural yet mesmerizing landscape. The cold water flowing here is an ideal place for swimming so not only the local townspeople were coming but it also attracted tourists and backpacker adventurers alike.
It is located in Brgy. Baballasioan, one of the barangays in the far end of Sta. Maria, which borders Pilar, Abra. It is also accessible via the 9-kilometer concrete road so it is almost a 20-minute journey from the town proper. From the drop-off point, it would be almost only a hundred meters walk away.
This was our second visit and we haven’t forgotten the first time we came here in 2008 because it was an epic fail. We were lost while walking for more than 2 hours but it was all worth it because of this majestic falls awaiting for us. There were also only a few people back then so we were able to almost own the place.
Fast forward to 2017, we returned to the area. We were accompanied by someone who knows a shortcut so we became familiar with the road. Especially the inverted humps that are passable but needed to take extra caution especially for long vehicles.
You won’t spend a penny here unless you’re going to rent cottages. The natural pools here were deep so it is perfect for those who want to swim and dive. But if you want to just bathe it will be ideal to go to the basins above the falls. You just need to climb the summit of the falls, which is a little high and steep (you need to be more careful), to experience it. The view above the falls is even more spectacular. But your trip here will not be complete if you haven’t experienced the countless mini Jacuzzi-like pools that you can choose from to bathe and relax.
Due to its unique landscape above the waterfalls, it was immortalized through a local myth wherein it’s believed to be the footprint of Angalo. According to the story, they are formed by his steps while he was looking for his wife Aran (Some of his steps are located in San Quintin, Abra).
The place wasn’t only popular because of the local legends but it also became popular because it was the frequent place of shooting the film of former action king, FPJ. From the fantasy-action movie, “Panday”, to the action drama “Di pa Tapos ang Laban”, the area has a large contribution to the films.
There are still no available electricity and lightings at night so it was difficult to stay in the evening. So even when we wanted to soak up some more, we were forced to head back. There was an available footpath beside the mountain for easy access down because it is a little difficult to pass through the boulder.
Although there are cottages built, they are without proper toilets and dressing rooms. There is also a dam that is under construction to accumulate water.
There were still no signs of commercialization of the area, but it would really be great to keep the area well.
If you want to visit the place, better to do it as soon as possible before it gets too mainstream and overdeveloped.
Cottage Rent: 100-250
- It is advisable to check the local weather first before going to the place to avoid the inconvenience of having to walk through muddy water.
- Private: From Manila, travel to Ilocos Sur via Manila North Road. Upon reaching Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur, go to the bridge that connects to Narvacan, then turn right to a small path and go straight there until Barangay Baballasioan. It may take 20-30 minutes of travel from the highway.
- Public: Ride a bus bound to Vigan, Abra or Laoag. Ask the conductor to drop you to Sta. Maria. From town proper, hire a tricycle ride going to Pinsal (P250 fare).
The p250 fare is worth it when traveling 2-4 persons. You may ask the driver to wait if you’ll just stay to the falls for a while. Tip: If traveling solo, ask someone going there to let you join the ride.