Address: Maria Cristina Boundary Road, Iligan City, Lanao del Norte, Philippines.
Entrance: 50 Pesos
One of the most beautiful and useful waterfalls in the Philippines. It’s a sight you only see in the pages of the Sibika at Kultura (Hekasi) books during the elementary days. But once you see it in person, you will be awed by its imposing beauty.
Located in Iligan City, Maria Cristina is nothing like the ordinary. Not only does it boast its glorious beauty, but it is also very valuable to the locals there. The 320-foot waterfall has a strong current that has been estimated to have a capacity of around 200 megawatts, that supplies 70% of Mindanao’s electricity.
Because of this, people can’t swim in the Maria Cristina Falls. A visit here will not be a disappointment though because you can still admire it from afar, and just hop from one falls to another like the Tinago Falls. As you’d know, Iligan is home to many waterfalls, that’s why it’s called the “City of Majestic Waterfalls.”
Legend of Maria Cristina Falls
Filipinos love legends so it’s not surprising that you’d be hearing a lot of tales about the destination you’ll visit. This is one of the most interesting things about traveling to the Philippines. Legends and folklore make our trips more fascinating and memorable.
The Cristina Falls isn’t spared here. Before you go there, you should know first about the Maria Cristina Falls history. Here are the two tales about the majestic waterfall.
Legend has it that Maria Cristina Falls was actually twin sisters. Once upon a time in Iligan, there lived the beautiful twin sisters named Maria and Cristina who fell in love with the same man. The man loved them both and couldn’t decide who to choose. Because the twin sisters loved each other so much, they were both willing to sacrifice their lives to give way to one another. Maria, the youngest, went to the falls and jumped. When Cristina found out, she also went there and jumped. The man buried their bodies under the falls. In the end, the man decided never to get married to anyone and named a twin falls in the area in honor of his two loves.
The second legend of Maria Cristina Falls was about a beautiful maiden named Maria Cristina who was adopted by a Sultan. Maria Cristina was a daughter of a farmer-fisherman in Romblon. She was just taken away from her family when the Sultan’s army raided Maria Cristina’s area. Her father fought for her but died in battle. The army offered Maria Cristina to the Sultan. Because the girl was so beautiful, the Sultan decided to adopt her and treated her as his own child.
When she grew up, she had many suitors and one of them was a son of a Sultan. Maria Cristina fell in love with him. They were both happy with each other so they decided to get married. But one day, a witch came and told the couple that their wedding won’t happen. Little did they know, this witch was envious of Maria Cristina because of her beauty and her fate with the prince.
A day before the wedding, Maria Cristina remembered her mother whom she had never seen after the raid. She felt sad because she wanted to see her mother. Because of this, she went to a river, reminisced about the good moments she had back then, and cried her heart out. The witch saw her and cursed her because the witch was also in love with the prince. The witch told her that she will turn Maria Cristina into a mountain and her tears will not stop flowing that will become a river. Come the wedding day, Maria Cristina didn’t show up. People tried to look for her and after a few hours of searching, they noticed something new in the village. They saw a mountain as if it was crying. The water continued to flow.
The witch told the villagers that it’s Maria Cristina and they will never see her again. That’s the end of the Maria Cristina Falls story.
What to expect from Maria Cristina Falls?
Now that you know the Maria Cristina Falls history, it’s now time to list the things you should expect when visiting it.
Maria Cristina is often referred to as twin falls because the flow of water is separated by a rock at the brink of the falls.
The Cristina Falls is regulated by the National Power Corporation (NPC). They have developed the National Power Nature Park in the connecting area of the waterfall, so you can enjoy adventure sports like rock climbing and trekking.
The waterfall is open to the public only on Saturdays, Sundays and special holidays when the power plant is shut. You can go to the viewing deck on the 3rd floor of the NPC building, so you can get a great view of the falls.
Before going here, make sure to contact NPC first to confirm whether the falls is open for viewing.
Swimming is strictly prohibited here because of its strong current. But don’t worry, you can still enjoy other fun activities there:
1. Picnic by the river
There are areas in the Nature Park where you can sit down and have a picnic. There’s also a cafe and restaurant where you can buy food if you weren’t able to bring some.
2. Enjoy the Botanical and Zoological Gardens
Spend hours strolling through the park’s Botanical and Zoological Garden and get up close with some animals like monkeys, ostrich, crocodiles, and more!
If you’re looking for an adventure that will give you the adrenaline rush, try the zip line!
How to get there?
From Manila, you take a domestic flight to Cagayan de Oro City which arrives in Laguindingan International Airport, the nearest airport in Iligan City. From Cagayan de Oro, take a jeepney going to Bulua Market Bus Terminal.
After arriving at the bus terminal, ride the bus bound for Iligan City. From the terminal to Iligan, the travel time is approximately 2 hours.
From the town proper, ride a jeep bound to Buru-an/Linamon and inform the driver to drop you off to a corner going to Maria Cristina Falls. From there, ride a motorcycle (habal-habal) to Agus River that costs about P60 to P80 per way. There are also taxis available in the area if you want a more comfortable ride.