If this is how it feels to crawl out of a womb, I can clearly understand why babies cry out once their out in the open – its a cry of relief after squirming through a hole that can barely fit a person of average size there. We were at the second chamber of Aglipay Caves in Quirino Province, about half-way through our adventure in a network of chambers that let us squeeze through crack entrances, do duck-walks on low ceiling passages and negotiate slick and muddy trails in pitch black environs. But hey we’re not complaining, aren’t we here for the thrill?
Aglipay Cave Network
Aglipay Cave is found 10km from the captial of Quirino, Cabarroguis. It was in 1983 when was discovered. Since then, 37 cave chambers were documented, eight of them were thoroughly explored and about four are open for public exploration. The 101-hectare area were the cave was found was developed as the Aglipay Cave and Campsite with facilities for camping, trekking and nature walks including birding. There were 27 species of birds found in the area including the endemic kalaw (a species of hornbill). At that time, the facilities needs some overhaul but with the province’s active tourism promotion, we were assured improvements are on their way.
Chambers of Fun Challenges
How can I describe Aglipay Cave? It’s one of those caves that you should expect to get real dirty. and ready for some challenging physical activity. Aglipay Cave has such a large variety of chambers. While it’s not as as pristine as other caves I’ve been to, there are sections of brilliance in terms of rock formations. The fun in this cave really is going through different passages that will challenge visitors. From huge open chambers, there were really low passages that require people either duck-walk and crawl through a few meters. There were even a couple of small openings that requires proper technique to go through despite one’s size. And hey, challenging how tough one’s nerves on climbing a steel ladder a few meter’s high with unfathomable drop on one side to exit the cave takes crazy guts. Every one emerged from the cave a couple of hours later all with a sigh of relief and smiles. Yes we survived and most with the sentiments “Hey that was fun!” Dare say you try?
To arrange a tour of Aglipay Cave it is best to coordinate with the Tourism Office of Quirino province. Contact Ms Aurea Martinez (0917.416.5945). Before going to Aglipay Cave, there are things you must know:
- Always get a local guide. Aglipay Cave is a large network of chambers and one can get easily lost. There is no standard fee for a guide yet but Php 250 would be reasonable unless you add your own tip.
- There’s an Environmental Fee of Php 25 upon entrance.
- Bring spare clothes. It can get real dirty when exploring the cave but visitors can rinse with clean water and change.
- Bring a torch. While the guides have powerful torches to use, it always helps to have your own light.
- Bring minimal gear and waterproof them. Aside from the mud it can get wet as well from drips and puddles in the cave. If you are bringing a camera, it is best to bring only the lens you need and a padded case. Also, bringing less gear would be easier when squeezing through small holes.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.