Maria Cristina Falls’
Hydro Power Plant

I find it quite difficult to populate the Structure category of my blog, even when I began this in 2010. So I am making a post about a really nice structure that I found recently. I am doing this with the hope that I can write about more fascinating structures this year.

As a little girl, my only interest was to answer Maria Cristina Falls in Kasaysayan quizzes and exams. Being the country’s second tallest waterfalls and prominent source of hydropower, the power plant of Maria Cristina is just something that I accepted as a fact off a history textbook. I was not that much of a fan of history books while growing up. While I learn a lot from books, recent experiences showed me that textbooks sometimes miss out on the stories or colorful experiences that lie behind a standard waterfall picture. If only kids can learn about history through actual experience of the sights and sounds, they will find themselves more privy to a more lasting and resounding education.

At the time of our visit, the waterfalls was at its maximum capacity of 90% power provision for the plant. And there was so much water. Unfortunately, the viewing deck was closed when we entered Nature Park to see this beast of a waterfall.

A mojon marking three barangay boundaries in the power plant was unobtrusively standing in a corner near the viewing deck:

Maria Cristina Waterfalls Mojon

Maria Cristina Waterfalls Mojon

A mojon means something to me as a geodetic engineer because it symbolizes the traditional mode of work in my engineering industry of choice. It holds the location or coordinates that will allow land surveys to be made more accurate around the vicinity of the power plant. People who know about the mojon are familiar about my line of work. Usually, it’s the old people who know what it is. Often, I find myself having to explain to young people that it is necessary for traditional survey work. In English, it’s called the concrete monument which is established and distributed as a network of points for accurately marking locations on the surface of the earth. Since this is a Barangay Boundary Monument (hence the BBM acronym inscription), it is quite crucial and useful.

There were some old legends that mojons during World War II were destroyed because of the metal detectors. Metal detectors, according to old tales, were used by treasure hunters who were looking for the buried Hiroshima Gold. And in their quest, they ended up detecting these mojons instead of the treasure and ripped it out of the ground.  There is actually a fine or penalty for ripping out control points or mojon setups like these. But these were installed long after the treasure hunters wreaked havoc on the old Philippine control point system. Usually, it is easy to find these concrete monuments in prominent landmarks such as the Maria Cristina Falls.

From where we stood at the viewing deck, it was still a mesmerizing experience. You will hear the water literally making an eerily powerful sound. It howls and can be heard from a distance, or as far back as the gate of Nature Park. The power plant is designed just right beside this mammoth waterfall, towering at a height of 320 feet. Leafing through the pages of a history textbook will not prepare you for the breathtaking experience of seeing it up-close. At least, this is the closest we can safely get. It powers around 70% of Mindanao, and small wonder that it does:

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The formal name of the power plant is Agus VI power plant. I heard that there are other features inside but it was closed for viewing when we went. There is a public lanai or deck that has tables where you can enjoy your meal (breakfast or lunch) while listening to and seeing the waterfalls from a safe distance. There is also a tiny zipline near the entrance but we were in a hurry so we did not get to try it. (It was really more of a makeshift rope contraption that crosses from one side of the falls to the other.) The entrance fee was in a range of 50 to 80 pesos, I think.

Notice that I did not really take much photos of the power plant itself. I felt like the structure was an eye sore beside the majestic waterfall scenery. But it was a necessary eye sore because it powers more than half of the whole island of Mindanao.

After this trip, I decided to revisit my childhood textbooks and see what else I can experience firsthand as an adult for 2015. Someday, if I will be blessed enough to have my own children, I will help them remember the country’s heritage by taking them to places like these. I hope that exposing them early to these things will make them better than I can ever be as a person and more loving of this country than me and my husband. Because that’s really what matters more at the end of life’s short rope: the legacy we leave behind to future generations. Books by itself can spark the imagination. Book knowledge coupled with an actual experience can extend the imagination and stir additional inspiration.

 

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Hydro Power Plant

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