03 September 2014

Exploring Bagumbungan Cave

Before our Maniuaya Island spree, we had this short spelunking course to a lesser popular destination in Marinduque called Bagumbungan Cave located at Brgy. San Isidro, Sta. Cruz. And by less popular, I simply mean it’s not yet fully known to public as a tourist destination. According to the local guides, the cave was discovered five years ago, and since then the local government has been doing efforts to protect it and at the same time promote it as a tourist attraction. Out of stress and tiredness from the long overnight bus-and-boat-combo-ride from Los Banos to Marinduque, we hopelessly hopped to our first destination few ticks after the much-needed brunch. The sun was radiating sultrily matching the excitement we feel while going through that long bumpy, arid, and dusty ride. It took us at least an hour before finally greeted by the cave’s welcome sign.

The cave is under the protection of DENR and the local government’s tourism office, thus environmental and guide fees (totaling 150 PhP per head) were collected prior to the drill, with a considerable discount for students, and inclusive of the much needed protective hard hat with built-in flashlights (headlamps). There was also another option to do a longer cave course which will lead to the other end of the cave (sort of traverse), however, we opted to avail the shorter trail due to time constraint. After all, there will always be another chance for that next time.

Eight of us converged on the orienteer’s seats for instructions and cave rules. After the quick and informative laying of directions, we eagerly geared up and walked a few meters before reaching the cave’s opening. I knew the course is not for faint-hearted, I would admit I have claustrophobic tendencies, plus I ignorantly associate caves with ghouls and goblins, so I needed to set those fears aside for that mean time. And before getting lost on that dark hole, we took some mandatory shots

The sight and feel was a sinister mix of dark and cold and filth the moment we sat our feet down the steep ravine of laddered entrance pitch. The pungent smells of the stinky trogloxenes and troglobites guano, I mean bat poop, were all over the place. Add up their annoying screeches but eventually turn into music to my ears. For the next few moments, we were just some tiny creatures of the earth spending the day on what seems to be holes beneath the ground, dilating pupils to a quarter size. Few more walks and we’re greeted by such famously amazing caving things called stalactites and stalagmites.

And the journey continues with those body-wrecking stunts and long dry crawls needed to fit ourselves on those unbelievably narrow and scrotty passages made of stockpiled large stones. There were parts of the trail where every step should be as careful as the other not to miss the right one or else something untoward will happen. There were pointy rocks as well as slippery ones, thus, it’s best to be in the best shoes. In my case I only had a pair of slippers with me so things went a little bit harder than what I expected. Mea culpa, on that account.

Crossing the cold, waist-deep frosty water was the next obstacle. Within seconds, my toes and knees were but a numb zombified flesh. To add more, there was that tingly sensation of what seems to be dump mud underfeet as we walked our way across it due to coconut husks allegedly from the residential areas. Though, that was not terrifying as it sounds. We barely made through it anyway. There were also moments when the trails were sandy and grainy. Talk about diversity.

A few cracks towards our protracted endpoint, the rocks started to become very slippery with ceilings that are relatively low characterized by pointy vertical ridges, quite looking weird for me. After further cascades, with moments of flat-out crawlings, and awkward letterbox climbs – we finally reached our turning point they markedly call as falls. Sadly I forgot the exact name.

And then we were there. Just before we finally decided to return, we rested for a while, admired the eerily-shaped rocks in front of us, and fondly did a surprise activity (courtesy of our dear tour guides), which I refuse to share details here. You have to experience it yourself. Their goal was to let us appreciate little things around us – which is the real cherry on top of this cake. It's one of the many perks of travelling, being educated beyond the four corners of our classrooms, beyond the limits of what our textbooks has to offer. 

We then started walking back to where we have entered; eventually giving us a view of that much coveted light once more, as we finally reached the mouth of the cave, and generously gave a final sight of such sarcophagus we just came out from. 

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