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Siquijor: From underground to the highest point of Siquijor Island

Cantabon Cave natural bath tub

Apologies for the slow updates here as I’ve been caught in between some side projects and work related projects as well. Promise to do my blog rounds as soon as I’m able. For the meantime here’s one of my last few entries for Siquijor. After doing some rounds of beaches and mangrove sanctuaries surrounding the island, it’s time to go inland and go subterranean and explore some underground wonders, after which, we’ll do a short hike up to the highest point of the island.

Cantabon Cave natural bath tub

Cantabon Cave natural bath tub

Apologies for the slow updates here as I’ve been caught in between some side projects and work related projects as well. Promise to do my blog rounds as soon as I’m able. For the meantime here’s one of my last few entries for Siquijor. After doing some rounds of beaches and mangrove sanctuaries surrounding the island, it’s time to go inland and go subterranean and explore some underground wonders, after which, we’ll do a short hike up to the highest point of the island.

Lighting the cave crevices

Lighting the cave crevices

Going inland, which is also the mountain regions of Siquijor, is easy since there is a main road intersecting the island. After resting by Guiwanon Spring Park, having lunch and securing our return ferry tickets at the port, we headed to Barangay Cantabon passing by Barangay San Antonio. The highland region of the island is also reputed to be the place where a lot of healers can be found. I actually want to meet one and see if he can heal my “dry cough” that time but our guide said that the most famous among the healers there is already very old and some are not there as well. We weren’t able to meet one.

Cantabon Shower

Cantabon Shower

We reached Barangay Cantabon and soon found the registration area. We were greeted by the locals and also the very enthusiastic guides who were mere teenagers. I guess this natural attraction seems to be generating good revenue for the locals as well. For 600 pesos, we got 4 young guides, 2 guys and two girls. And a short walk from the registration area, we were already at the cave entrance of Cantabon Cave.

Cantabon crystal white terraces

Cantabon crystal white terraces

Cantabon Cave is a subterranean cave discovered in 1985 by foreign hunters in the area. Since then has become an attraction due to its tourism potential. Measuring about 300 meters long with an area going as wide as 10 meters, the cave has very impressive stalactites and stalagmites formation. geologist and other scientist at the nearby Silliman University in Dumaguete considers the deposits found at the cave to be very important to study the kind and age of the soil in the area.

The terraces in Detail

The terraces in Detail

The cave is pitch black, only lighted by a single gas lamp our guides carry. Aside from that, they had 2 extra candles with them, which I think would be used in case of emergencies. Aside from that light source, Og and I each has our own LED headlamp as well. The other guides, while switching duties on who carries the main light are also responsible in keeping our so precious camera and other gears dry. They did a great job there by the way. It seems they had been doing this for some time and regularly that they could navigate through the cave even with their eyes closed.

Cantabon cascade and its 5 feet pool

Cantabon cascade and its 5 feet pool

The exploration of the cave I think took us around 2 hours back and forth, considering we have to take “long Exposure” shots from time to time. Fun factor from all the caves I’ve explored I think I’ll rate this around 7.5 out of 10. The cave’s main features are those large terraced stalagmites so crystal white and their uber transparent natural pools. Aside from some areas where you have to stoop down there are large chambers which feels like you’re climbing a hill. It’s a fairly easy exploration just watch out for those slippery spots and make sure to wear a footing with very good traction.

Stations of the cross at the trail

Stations of the cross at the trail

I actually wanted to get out of that cave without a single grime on my white shirt, but that seems to be next to impossible. hehehe. Anyways, Cantabon Cave is a nice eco-adventure destination in Siquijor. It’s fairly easy to explore and a nice diversion from the usual beaches in the area. After we washed up some of the dirt and grime, we settled our fee and headed to our next destination which is the Mt. Bandilaan Nature Park.

A blurred picture of the trail

A blurred picture of the trail

The jump off point for Mt. Bandilaan is actually a VERY short habal-habal ride from the Cantabon Cave. The mountain, which is actually the highest point in Siquijor is also a protected area under NIPAS (National Integrated Protected Areas System). On its foot there’s the Siquijor Reforestation Center and a Butterfly Sanctuary.

Three cross at the summit of Mt. Bandilaan

Three cross at the summit of Mt. Bandilaan

It was already late in the afternoon so we were pressed for time before it darkens. Our habal-habal driver told us we’ll meet him on the other side of the mountain where there’s an exit route. We started our climb at the said 200 steps of the grotto. Some of the steps are already loose due to age. There are stations of the cross on some turns and stops which makes this also a pilgrimage area during holy weeks. But some of the stations already fell. But more importantly, the vegetation here is excellent and lots of greenery. Temperature is also a bit on the cooler side. I think we climbed until the summit in about 20 minutes in a bit hurry taking quick shots here and there.

Mt. Bandilaan summit tower for a better view of the island

Mt. Bandilaan summit tower for a better view of the island

At the summit, there’s the three crosses and also a tower which you could climb to get a higher view of the surrounding areas. The tower seems old so there’s a sign there saying it could accommodate around 15 persons at once. It would have been great up there but the view was somehow obstructed by the overgrowth of trees. Not that I want them taken down, maybe at least people there can shave some of the top part to reveal the views. Still, the chill of the air there is nice and with the sunset giving the sky a dramatic color without the sun being seen. We heard the motor of our habal-habal driver below. I guess that’s it for the day and it was time to head back to our resort.

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