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Friday, May 2, 2014

Must Love Spelunking at Lahab Cave, Lights out for Pacquiao


Seated among other travel writers inside a van, we advanced further inland of Capiz province. As we passed by the scenic countryside my mind seem to wander towards the fourth fight of Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez, which at that time was about to happen in a few minutes. I was somehow unexcited about our next destination, a cave called Lahab Cave located at the town of Dumalag - around 45 klicks south of Roxas City. Little do I know that a shocker of a boxing result and a charming cave which exceeded my expectation, awaits me in a few hours. 

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The trail leading to the mouth of the cave could not be any greener. The thick vegetation opens to a spacious rice field and led us to a passageway covered by arching tall bamboo plants. We had an easy time negotiating the muddy trail for about 30  minutes of brisk pacing. I was still going through the motion, consumed with worries of what will happen to the fight more than taking a misstep and spraining my ankle on the trail.

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A bit of excitement shredded through my body when we finally arrived at the mouth of the cave. The entrance to the cave looks like the upper half of an alligator's mouth, ready to devour us inside it's dark interior. Good thing though, I've been in a few caves before so the feeling of claustrophobia drifted away in favor of my curiosity of a new found exploration opportunity.

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As we entered inside our guide pointed to us the different interesting stalactite formations, most of them hangs 4 - 5 feet and even longer from the ceiling, making it older than most man-made structures in the outside world. Our guides only took us to the first section of the cave as it gets darker and deeper further inside, something we could not fully explore with almost no spelunking equipment in hand.

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We stayed inside for an hour, walking slowly as I went inside barefoot because I'm a spelunker like that. Seriously, I don't know why I purposely left my slippers in the van. So I was like 'ouch', 'oooh', 'aray' each time I step over pointed rocks. We also waded waist deep waters with normal temperature. Stepping over a muddy and slipper portion of the ground underneath in pitch black darkness (without the flashlight), produces a bit of a  freaky sensation on my feet. 

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Overall, the spelunking wasn't energy sapping unlike the cave connection in Sagada (which still is, the best cave I've ever seen so far) so even while barefoot It was a walk in the park for me and collectively, our group. We took a few pictures inside and as we walked back towards the exit, my mind seem to wander like I was the oldest inhabitant of the place. I imagined what it was like in the old old days, of hunting for food and taking shelter in caves such as this. How many of these caves are scattered all over the country, I know of dozens in Tuguegarao and Palawan. I think spelunking would be an interesting hobby, given I've enough equipment to do it. 

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As I went out the mouth of the cave, my mind went back again to the Pacquiao fight. It must be over by now I told myself and as I went further back in the trail I met two locals, who even though were talking in their local dialect, I immediately got a grasp of what they were talking about and sensed bad news as they were in somber mood and shaking their heads. I asked one of them "Kuya Natalo si Pacquiao?" (did Pacquiao lost?), the younger man who spoke little Tagalog motioned to me by putting both his hand together beside his leaning head and told me "tulog".

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So there, as I found out later sometime in the 6th round while we were exploring the insides of Lahab Cave, Juan Manuel Marquz in retreat mode and on the verge of being knocked out by Pacquiao caught lightning in a bottle, threw a right hand which landed flush at Pacman's jaw and rendered our "Pambansang Kamao" unconscious on the mat for a minute. 

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Us travel bloggers. Photo credit: Christian of Lakad Pilipinas 
Pissed off at what happened in the fight, I tried to just enjoy the place by taking a dip at the cold spring pool located near the mouth of Suhot Cave, which is a popular weekend hangout of the locals. After a few minutes relaxing in the water, I recognized a feeling of gratitude to the people of Capiz tourism office for taking our group here and introducing a place in the province that caters to the more adventurous travelers. A totally underrated province, Capiz not only serves as another gateway to Boracay and the seafood capital Roxas City, it also boasts of many interesting outdoor attractions like caves and waterfalls

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