Having found a warm spark after our rock climbing meet-up, Sheila and I decided to try another adventure. And, not surprisingly, it turned out into our first adventure date!
Now, hold on! What comes into your mind when you hear the word “date”? If you’re like most people, you’d probably visualize smooching in dimly lit movie theatres, whispering sweet nothings while enjoying exquisite cuisine in fine-dining restaurants, holding hands while window shopping, or simply relaxing under the trees of Plaza Independencia. Seems pretty okay, but I’ve outgrown these teenage dating schemes. I yearn something more exciting and blood-curdling, something that will allow us to truly know each other.
Well, guess what! Sheila and I had an extremely unusual date hundreds of feet under the ground. Yes, we went caving in Camp 7, Minglanilla. Instead of walking down the immaculate hallways of a posh mall, we trekked and crawled inside wet, muddy, and cold caverns and tunnels. Instead of a candlelit dinner in a cool and romantic restaurant, we bought delicious carenderia food which we devoured under the canopy of trees. Instead of watching a blockbuster in an air-conditioned cinema, we witnessed stalactites, stalagmites, rock formations, and bats.
The Seven Caves in Minglanilla are renowned for their challenging traverses, spectacular rock formations, treacherous inner cliffs, and quartz crystals. Many adventurers consider these caves as some of the best natural treasures of Cebu. The caves are not networked to each other except for the 5th to 7th caves which are all connected to the White Cave Cathedral.
Sir Willard, one of our fellow climbers in Cantabaco, invited us for a caving expedition last April 28, 2012.
We first started the adventure by trekking into the DENR reforestation site in Camp 7.
After a quarter of an hour, we reached a boulder-filled area. The gigantic boulders are perfect for bouldering.
Then, we came to the gaping mouth of the first cave.
Exploring cave 1. It was an easy-peasy trek inside the earth’s bowels.
You can find interesting rock formations here.
After half an hour or so, we exited the first cave through its wicked, snarling exit.
It was close to 11am, so we decided to have an early lunch in a clearing that we found in the middle of the jungle.
No, Mitch, you don’t eat your lunch like that.
Our tummies refreshed and filled, we proceeded to Cave 2’s mouth.
We found interesting rock formations, including this nasty, malicious one.
That’s my sweetie coming out of a corridor.
An hour or so later, we squeezed through Cave 2’s exit.
On our way to Cave 3, the most challenging cave, we took a pose by this gnarly tree.
And sweetie tried her hand, err…feet, at descending a tree.
We headed deeper into the jungle.
After almost an hour, we reached Cave 3’s entrance. This cave entrance holds a special place in my heart because this was where I first placed my hands around her.
Curtain-like speleothems are abundant here.
A very young speleothem. It sparkles when you shine a light on it. Never touch speleothems because they are very delicate.
Old and massive stalagmites inside Cave 3.
Inside the cave, we walked, ducked, sidestepped, and executed positions that enabled us to traverse the many challenges inside.
The best part of it all? We crawled and barely squeezed through hundreds of feet of narrow passages.
Getting through ordeals never fails to produce sweet smiles and lasting camaraderie.
After an hour or so, we came out of Cave 3, all muddy, wet, sweaty, and dirty! We love it!
The long trek to Cave 4, or the main cathedral.
Holding sweetie so she won’t “lose her balance.” Well, that’s what she told her friends when they teased her about us.
After an hour of uphill trekking, we finally reached the White Wall, a cliff even higher than that of Cantabaco.
Very high and beautiful pure limestone cliffs. We’re planning to develop and bolt this cliff in the future so we’ll have another crag for rock climbing.
A massive roof with pods at the entrance of the cavern.
The combination of plants, moss, cavities, and pods make this limestone cliff a perfect habitat for swallows and other avians.
Before we entered Cave 4, we drank coconut water to refresh ourselves.
To give you an idea of the size of the cliff, check out the photo below. That’s just a quarter of the main cavern! And scale that with the pitiful humans at the foreground.
A massive “organ” inside Cave 4’s cathedral.
But in this expedition, I also witnessed the dark and sad side of the area. The caves bore the scars of vandalism and mutilation. Graffiti abound, even in the toughest and deepest parts of the underground network. Some of the graffiti were even date-stamped as far as 1963! It was horrible to look at, and it is a very blatant violation of the LNT rule. What’s even shocking is that the caves are part of a DENR-protected area!
6:00 AM – Citilink Vhire Terminal
6:30 AM – ETD Cebu
7:30 AM – ETA Camp 7, meet guide
8:00 AM – start trek towards DENR reforestation site
9:00 AM – Exploration of caves
11:30 AM – Lunch on the trail
12:00 PM – Resume exploration of caves
2:00 PM – arrival at White Wall
3:00 PM – trek toward lagoon
3:30 PM – freshen up and swim
4:00 PM – Camp 7, ready for departure, wait for habal-habal to take you back to Tabunok
5:00 PM – ETA Citilink Vhire Terminal
* There are 7 caves in the area, and you need a local guide to help you safely navigate through the dark corridors. If you need a guide, please contact Willard Elemino at 0947-9220289.
* To maximize your caving experience, start as early as 8am. That means you have to leave the Citilink V-hire Terminal from Cebu City early.
* For safety, bring a helmet to protect your head from sharp stalactites, a headlamp to light up your way, a long-sleeved and a pair of long pants to protect your skin from scratches and bruises, and trekking shoes or sandals to prevent sharp rocks from penetrating your foot.
* You will definitely crawl in the mud! Expect to be wet and dirty. Bring extra clothes.
* After you have your fill of the caves, ask Willard to take you to a nearby lagoon where you can take a refreshing dip.