An enchanted river has only ever existed in fairy tales and in our imaginations right? Wrong! It does exists as the Hinatuan Enchanted River in Surigao del Sur and it has been garnering lots of attention lately.
The Hinatuan River is a deep spring river located in Mindanao. It flows towards the Philippine Sea and the Pacific Ocean from Barangay Talisay, Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur. It is located within the boundaries of Barangay Talisay and Barangay Cambatong. Diplomat Modesto Farolan was the one who called it “enchanted” in his poem titled Rio Encantado.
The Hinatuan River was initially discovered by Alex Santos in 1999. Its underground cave was revealed eleven years after the initial discovery when three divers led by Dr. Alfonso Amores entered the cave in February 2010. The exploration led to the discovery of a hidden underground cave opening that is 30 meters deep.
On June 17, 2014, Dr. Amores lost his life in the very same underground cave! Once on an exploration, after failing to exit the narrow entrance of the underwater cave, he experienced a cardiac arrest while he was swimming in the 40-meter-deep tunnel. Explorations of the cave ceased after that.
However, in March 2015, Bernil Gastardo (one of the divers who worked with Dr. Amores) initiated the exploration once again, together with the University of San Carlos-Biology Department and DENR-BMB.
Because of the enchanted river’s unusual colors and unexplored depths, it has inspired local legends and myths from the villagers living nearby.
One story posits that fairies are the ones responsible for the river’s mesmerizing colors of jade and sapphire. Locals say that engkantos dwell on the place, hence its moniker of “enchanted.”
The river is reportedly closed to the public every day at 12 noon. This is because that is the “feeding time” for the thousands of fish living within the enchanted river.
The ones responsible for feeding the fish would allegedly play the “Hymn of Hinatuan” to get their attention.
Below is a video clip that features how the feeding is done: