Located in the Province of Bucana Vintar, Ilocos Norte, Philippines is an adrenaline pounding haven called the Vintar Dam which most people not from the province know about. Only a 30 minute drive away from Laoag City. Vintar Dam is perfect for that quick dip on a scorching sunny day or an afternoon picnic with your family and friends. So if ever you’re in the area or planning to go to Ilocos this summer, you should drop by and enjoy the crystal clear waters of Vintar River or try to jump off the Dam itself. The best part is, IT’S TOTALLY FREE!
On a hot sunny thursday morning, just a few hours after me and 2 of my friends (Tricia and Boj) arrived at Laoag City and met with our good friends and hosts (Hosea and his wife Erika) for a vacation and a semi business trip in Ilocos Norte. They asked us if we wanted to jump off a dam. I was ecstatic when I heard them say “Jump off a dam”. I always wanted to try that since I bought my GoPro last December 2013. Jumped off a few cliffs here in the country but never a dam! and I didn’t know there was such a thing in Ilocos. I have been travelling back and forth in the province since I was a child (It was my ancestral province). Watched a few clips before from gopro where people jumped off bridges, cliffs and dams, and I told myself “Man I want to be foolish and try that!”. So after a quick rest and breakfast, the two drove us to the area. It was only 5-10 minutes away from their house (Talk about living near places that takes me hours to go to).
As we walked towards the dam, my knees started to shake. I was getting the jitters. Hosea told me that he already jumped here before and was always looking for other people to jump with him. At first, we took some pictures as the view was really stunning. The water from the river was crystal clear blue. I asked Hosea where we’ll jump to, he pointed the small canal just below us and I told him “What? wouldn’t that be dangerous since the canal is a bit narrow? we might hit the wall.” He answered with a smile on his face saying “Don’t worry, just jump diagonally.” Okay he had a point. Then I asked him “How will we get back up?”, He told me that there was a tunnel underneath that leads to the other side of the dam (This is going to be fun).
After a few more questions and conversations we decided to take off our shirts and prepare to jump. We we’re both insisting that Tricia, Erika and Boj should jump as well but they said no, and they will just take our pictures and laugh at us while we scream our lungs out as we fall down the canal. The jump is at least 35 feet (3-4 stories high) from the balcony, Hosea went first. As I watch him hit the water down the canal it made me even more jittery. The splash was really loud and I know for a fact that it would hurt. Local kids jumped after him, this gave me a chance to take videos and photos of them and gave me another reason to prolong myself from jumping. A few minutes went by and I keep on hearing Tricia, Erika and Boj screaming “Go TJ!”, even Hosea was screaming from down the dam for me to go already so we could do it again. I took a deep breathe, looked down and pick a landing spot, stepped back a few and counted to three. While I was doing that, it felt like a scene in a movie where the character was about to do something and suddenly all these flashbacks begin to reveal themselves and a theme song comes into play (HAHAHAHA!). Heard at the back of my ear again “GO TJ! Jump!”, took a last deep breathe and started to run towards the edge of the balcony and just jumped as high as I can, pointed my GoPro towards me and felt the adrenaline become more intense as my heart starts to pump harder and my screams become louder. Felt gravity suddenly take its toll, as I came near towards the water (here comes that splash) I start to close my eyes just before I reach the end of my fall *BIG SPLASH*. Gasped for air and swam up the canal (wow it was really deep). As i finally reached for air, the first thing I did was shout “Wew Sarap!!!(That was awesome)” and everyone started to clap their hands.
Both fear and pleasure boggles the feeling I was enduring that time. I wanted to do it again. Taking that leap of faith and just going for that jump made me realize one thing. To enjoy life while I’m still alive and kicking (Not that #YOLO thing).
So after all that thought and self realization, it was now time to go back up. Hosea showed me the way. We had to dive under a gate to enter the tunnel and swim thru it in order for us to reach the other side of the Dam and get back up. Took a quick hold of my breathe as i dive under the gate. It was dark once i got back up but you can still see the light coming from the entrance of the tunnel. We swam with the current out of the tunnel and towards the light (kind of like a scene from Prison Break). As we reach the end of the tunnel we found Tricia, Boj and Erika waiting for us with our stuff. We all stayed there for a couple of minutes for swimming and chitchats before eating our packed lunch and watch the local kids jump off the bridge just above the tunnel exit.
An hour came by after having our lunch just under a tree by the dam, both Hosea and I already wanted to do another jump. A few people we’re already coming in groups and also wanted to jump off the dam. As we were watching these people mostly consists of kids, we told ourselves “Man they have balls”. Some of them jumped from the top of the damn and even over the staircase. It’s our turn again to jump and the funny thing was both of us hesitated before reaching the edge of the balcony. But we just had to do it. Hosea went first again so I could take a video of him, then I came second. It was the same feeling I felt during my first jump, but this time I opened my arms wider (wrong choice), I splashed hard on the water hurting both my arms (Ouch!). But everything was all good since it just felt like someone slapped my arms (the burnt feeling will go away). After a few minutes in the water with all 5 of us and a couple more jumps with Hosea, we decided to head back to their house and take the rest of the day off, and just relax before heading for Pagudpod the next day.
Jumping off dams can be quite dangerous. So before you do it, make sure you know someone who knows the place or ask the locals if it’s feasible. Also, don’t hesitate at the last minute. Most accidents that happen during jumps are because of these hesitations or getting overwhelmed by panic attacks. This experience will definitely be one for the books for me. Another one scratched on my bucket list.