Mataudya Clean River and Seemingly Endless Mini-Waterfalls: Why Malay Is More Than Just Boracay

Probably one of the reasons why you love out-of-town trips is that you never really see how beautiful and rich your own place is before a tourist does. And when it happens, you regret why you didn’t see or experience it first. Suddenly, you feel like a stranger in your own backyard. Gladly, I am not. As a Malaynon who lives very close to Boracay Island, I am aware how famous the island is that almost all people who visit Aklan and/or Malay intend to go to Boracay. Well, I can’t blame them. Boracay is an ‘island paradise.’ But the town of Malay is not just all white beaches and the island is not the only tourist destination. Beyond the usual Boracay, the mainland is just as breathtaking - only much freer from the crowd of tourists. There is the lush greenery part perfect to feel attuned to nature at its purest form. If you’re into hiking, I have previously featured the Banderahan and Panaktakan viewpoints that offer a gorgeous vista of Boracay Island and its surrounding islets, Romblon Islands, and Sibuyan Sea accentuated by the spectacular sight of the rolling hills and an array of wind turbines nearby accessible via Brgy. Argao or Brgy. Napaan.

In this blog, I am featuring the sheer beauty of mother nature at mainland Malay’s clean river, diverse forest, and scenic waterfalls all in one place called Sitio Mataudya in Brgy. Nabaoy. It’s obviously an off-the-beaten path but worth wandering into. Yes, “hidden” is the right adjective for this place; you can only see this paradise after you hike for several hours on mountain trails and rivers. I recommend this destination far more than just an alternative to Boracay. Besides, the island is presently closed for rehabilitation.

It was Labor Day last year (May 01, 2017) when I, together with two friends, Jaylord and Thed, and a guide, Tay Turuto, ventured out into the boundary of Malay and Buruanga. Jaylord had already explored the area once but had not gotten enough so he decided to accompany us. We started our hike at around six in the morning. I’ve learned from the big sign beside Nabaoy Elementary School that the area is part of the Northwest Panay Peninsula. It started off through forested cliffs with a couple of river crossings (if you opt to go downstream, you may pass through Narra Resort or Dapdap Resort and follow an upriver trail). After one hour of walk in the middle of the forest, I spotted some interesting plants and insects then snapped photos of them. That set my excitement. After two hours, we checked our mobile GPS and found out that we have already reached the boundary and from a vantage point, we could see the central part of Buruanga and its surrounding mountain ranges. Further up is an open area covered with thick wild ferns. It was exactly 10:00 AM when we reached an abandoned house where we took a rest while our guide picked some buko for us. After finishing our buko juice and had some snacks, we continued our hike.

Not too long after when we reached the intersection of Nabaoy and Mataudya rivers. We took some time there talking about the water sources and stretches of the two rivers. It was good to note that Nabaoy River is mainly part of Malay while Mataudya River is in the boundary of two towns. From that point, we walked along and onto the river. It was almost endless and surrounded by virgin forest. What mesmerized me the most that I didn’t miss taking photos of each of them were the seemingly endless mini-waterfalls and century-old trees. I also enjoyed walking onto the crystal clean river and picking up edible snails locally known as ‘banag.’ That was very surprising for me. I didn’t expect to see and experience such pristine beauty in the interiors of my own town. I regret not knowing about it early. I could have spent a lot of time hiking or camping there for several nights.

There were lots of bouldering along the way and the climbing up to circumvent small waterfalls. Approaching 12 noon when we reached the heart of the river. It’s a patch of land surrounded by water ideal for camping. We decided to take our lunch there so as to enjoy the tranquility and diversity of the place. Jay took charge of our packed lunch and the moment he took it out from his bag I was surprised because they were packed in wilted banana leaves. I excitedly opened one and I saw a handful of steamed rice with adobo chicken flakes on top. He told me it’s called ‘pastil’ which he copied from Maguindanaoan dish. It was my first time eating it and it was delicious. I finished two and in fact, a day later I craved for it. Thank you, Jay!

It was just so timely that we’re already done with our lunch when we saw a snake skin on top of a wide rock. Continuing further, we spotted some more old big trees and waterfalls. More or less, we’ve walked onto 30 waterfalls. That’s quite fascinating! We walked on top and crawled under dead logs following the river until we reached the foot of another mountain. We scrambled over loose soil and clung on vines during our ascend.

On top of the mountain, we stepped on several marble stones and bumped into wild plants. They were interesting. Few minutes after 5PM when we successfully came out from the jungle and had a view of the entire Boracay Island. We also had a glimpse of the sunset before our descent. There was a huge rock along the way which I climbed up for a photo shoot. Exactly 6PM when we stopped as Tay Turuto opened some buko for us on trail. That quenched our thirsts. Around 8PM when we finally finished the hike and reached our guide’s house. We divided the snails before I headed home. I walked to my house that night very happy and fulfilled especially after giving the snails to my mother.

This amazing picturesque Mataudya is the perfect trip to get off the beaten path and see 30 or more mini-waterfalls in without crowds.