You are always up for an adventure then suddenly your expectation becomes more than just what you have expected. Relate much? Ours is a story no one has ever drafted before it reaches the editorial board. Good thing we contacted the right people to guide us for this much unanticipated exploration. Kudos to Sir Jamis Domingo and his colleagues from VERTICA Outdoor Adventures and the personnel from Argao Tourism Office for keeping everyone safe.
Days prior to the scheduled trip people seems not interested to join our caving plan since TribuAdobo (our team) usually climbs mountains. It turned out to be a team of wanderers seeking for another adventure. I admit, as the lead of the event, we never had the proper preparation for the one-day activity. Thanks to our guides, we passed through the unfavorable circumstances without leaving anyone harmed the entire day. We went through the proper process to ensure our safety and security. Registration was made, waivers were signed, and orientation was conducted to officially set ourselves for the new challenge ahead.
Our journey started at Argao Tourism Office located at its Municipal Hall grounds. We got ourselves registered and oriented afterward. Ready to take our journey to a higher level, we took a less than an hour bumpy motorcycle ride towards the jump-off area where we registered our names again and prepared our gears before entering the cave, Balay sa Agta.
We took a short, yet challenging trek to the mouth of the cave. The verdant vegetation, melodious chirping sound from the birds and rushing river flow from the distant falls, and the other eye-catching sceneries along our way made us forget the sun’s scorching heat. We were actually traversing cliffs and there’s a part where we used a harness because of the narrow trail where a seasoned mountaineer ended his life.
Alas, we’ve reached the mouth of the cave; it’s actually huge, unlike the other caves I’ve known to have small entrance. Sir Jamis gave an orientation on the dos and don’ts and what to expect while exploring the cave. It was actually a pleasant surprise to find the many chambers of the cave, some of which are still yet to be explored.
Popularly known as Balay sa Agta for its myth of being a home of the agta (a mythical dark creature dwelling on big trees) named Mangao, this 480-meter long cave is rich in rugged landscapes, extraordinary creatures, sparkling rocks, water source and other discoveries. We pass through an area where there is a big hole above the labyrinth with a spectacular view from the outside. At the chamber housing Mangao, our guide then asked everyone to turn off our lights and pay respect to Mangao as visitors. We were also told about her partner, Maria Cacao, to whom locals asked help for.
Next, we entered the chamber towards the dome of bats and the chamber where we need to pass through a narrow passage. The passage is so small that you need to contour your body to find ways on how to get through it. The last chamber we explored requires us to submerge into deep water in which some parts forced us to swim and get out head into the water with only headlamps on the water surface. This exactly is the part I least expected. Yes, I’m well aware of the scenario, but not to the extent of risking myself right there and then. I, we made it though, and that’s the most important.
It took us 4 hours to wander inside the cave then headed to Bugasok Falls to freshen up our stinky and dusty selves.
Hitting Bugasok Falls
Our hired motorcycles transported us to Bugasok Falls and magnified by its rushing water flow. The limited time of stay given didn’t stop us from plunging on the waterfall. It’s just in time when the rain starts to fall warning us to go ahead before everyone gets soaked by heavy rain.
Despite my miscalculations of this activity, I will still do the same in other caves anywhere in the world. Always have room to try something new, you might just unleash the adventure in you.
6:00am – meet-up at South Bus Terminal
7:00am – ETD to Argao
9:00am – ETA Argao then head directly to Tourism Office for registration and meet the guide from Vertica Outdoor Adventures and orientation
10:00am-10:45am – Motorcycle ride to Jump-off (register)
11:00-3:00pm – Trek to the Cave and explore – lunch (packed meal) inside the cave
3:30pm – ETA Bugasok Falls
4:00pm-4:45pm – Back to the Tourism Office, wash-up, dinner
7:00pm – ETD to Cebu City
Package adventure fee – 600 (inclusive of helmets and headlamps, safety ropes for traverse going to entrance, habal2x ride from highway to jump off}
Bus Fare (back and forth) – 250
Total: 850/pax – excluding food and other personal expenses.
*Some photos credit to participants