THIS should be my third trip to Pataan, a mountain resort in Murcia.

Before reaching Mambukal, you make a right on the road that takes you to PNOC. Signages will lead you to the resort which is just along the road. It should be a 15-minute drive from there if the roads are goods.

Whenever, we would have guests coming in and want to discover something new, Pataan becomes an instant suggestion.

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Pataan Falls is owned by an ex-policeman who saw the promise of the place when he would pass by on some of the days he was with PNOC. He bought the place in 1998 and slowly developed the area. What is interesting about this mountain resort is that Nonoy preserved the area from making it too “resorty” by just following the flow of the water streaming down the falls and erecting cottages along the path.

It is a short climb to the falls unlike others when you need brawns to make the ascent. Unless totally disabled, being within an arm’s reach to the waterfalls is a possible feat. Sitting by the falls and listening to the powerful energy of the waters revives drooping spirits and physical stresses. Despite a terrible headache I was nursing with an ice pack to soothe the throbbing and the pain, I easily managed the falls, sat for a moment to just immerse myself in solitude and take it all in…The gushing waters from a not too high altitude, the plants that were green and verdant along the water’s path did not seem to mind the steady punishing current and the small welcoming pool created at the bottom were so invigorating that life’s daily pressures seem to fade with every splash of water. The splashes would be mighty when the monsoon rains come. This time around, it was powerful yet gentle since we are ushering into the summer months.

There is a swimming pool to frolic in and food can be ordered if you decide to come in a moment’s notice. Prices are fair and will not damage your pockets. Cottages which can accommodate from 10 to a hundred are available depending on the size of your party. Seminars and overnight stays have become popular in Pataan Falls. It is great to commune with nature while absorbing programs and projects or just reuniting with family and friends.

For us, the occasion was a get together of the Simplicio Lizares clan with the arrival of youngest daughter Carmela with her husband Ben Du, who has made the United States home for four decades. With them were Tito Ben’s cousin Linda Du, likewise a resident of California and the Jarantillas, Elena and Rolly, of Iloilo and Cebu. Rolly, who is a frequent guest in Negros, was so impressed of this new find.

Our family was almost complete except for those who could not really make it. From the Canos, Miguelito with wife, Jen, and daughter Bessie loved to immerse in the pool. There was Lulu with children Marianna, Joachim and Isabel who had numerous photo ops by the falls; Inah came with cutie kid Chloe who was the darling of the group. Tita Teresing was with Amelito and AnnAnn after being assured that Tito Meling who just had an appendectomy was feeling good. From the Simplicio Jr. Family came foremost Tita Carmen; Mae and Ed Villanueva who were engrossed with stories with Tita Cami and Tito Ben. Son Johann was busy playing cards with Louie Montero, Christine’s son now in College and my three kings, Spitzie, Luigi and Andre, while the girl cousins with Maan were busy posing wantonly for souvenir shots with Tita Xenia as our signature model. After having a feast with lechon and lumpia and all goodies which we knew the America bound guests have missed, more stories about Tita Cami’s birthday bash in Maui plus photos of the celebration were the highlight!!!

It is in reunions like this that we bond as a family. Unlike in the days of old when we would all troop to our Papa Ande’s ancestral home in Talisay every Sunday, we now find moments where the family can come together, dine and update each other with the different going-ons in our lives. That way, we keep the bond, the concern, the support and the love for each other.

Pataan Falls was a great venue for such rekindling. There are many sights in Negros to see and to enjoy. I always believe that beyond the place are always the people to enjoy them with. We had a fabulous time and we thank GOD for HIS marvelous creation and the good people to share a great day with! A family that prays and have fun together, stays together!