Chamber Hopping at Callao Cave | Tuguegarao

There are many massive cave systems in the town of Penablanca in Cagayan Valley. The most popular of these is Callao Cave. Another cave one ought to visit is the Sierra Cave, a cave almost similar to the caves of Sagada where one would twitch and turn his/her body to enter small openings. This is in contrast with the vastness of Callao Cave which has a huge underground dwelling with an entrance as wide as the gates of Gothic palaces. After a brief rest in Tuguegarao we proceeded to Penablanca by taking a 45 minute tricycle ride. Callao cave is located near the scenic Pinacanauan River where we witnessed the circadian flight of over a million bats.

Lilliane Cobiao

To those who already experienced how hard it is to explore the chambers of the Sumaging cave of Sagada, they will be delighted that here in Callao Cave, a minor effort is needed to enter this almost magical chamber. One only needs to climb a couple hundred of steps before one can gaze at the small chapel erected inside. Highlighted by a rock altar and a sunlight opening at the top, that at a given time during the day when the sun moves directly above, it'll produce an almost perfect light coming from the sky stabbing through the darkness inside the cave.

Genesis Lee

Once inside, we passed by the seven chambers - with each chambers being identified by sort of a reverse worm hole at the top. We also saw rock formations like the "stalactites" - a rock formation that forms from the ceiling and the "stalagmites" - rock formations that originates from the floor.

If one will remember your guide in Sagada referring to "King and Queens" and comparing them to rock formations there, here in Callao Cave - the guides also has their own name association on some of the unique rock formations found inside. There are the Lion's and Dog' Head, Praying Angel, Elephant's Head, The Rocket and the Skeleton to name a few.

We came in at around late in the afternoon so we didn't really witness what it was like being inside during the middle of the day when the sun is at its highest and its beam glowing inside the cave like a hole from heaven opened up. Our guide "Andoy" described it to us as very dramatic and something that will make one fear that a voice from God will be heard after.

Eileen Campos

He also said that Callao Cave is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the various cave systems found around Penablanca. To date there are more than 300 known caves and more are still being mapped and explored. This information registered in my head accompanied by a light bulb with a mental note that says "more reasons to come back - spelunking galore".

The cave men of the early days of mankind must have loved this place, it is truly a caving haven. If we have the crowded big cities like Makati and Quezon City today, during the old times cave men probably crowd this part of Penablanca where the "socialite" cave dwellers must have held parties of their own. It's the 90210 of the cave men era. - Well it's just a funny thought that crossed my mind.

If these wall formations could talk they probably will share tales from the past and reveal an abundance of mystery as I've always been interested in earlier humans who took refuge to caves as no known infrastructures exists during those times. Today, the walls of the caves stares at you blankly, unperturbed by time but disturbed by physical elements like those stupid enough to leave a trail of graffiti and all. In our conscious mind, these kinds of subterranean world hides secrets we can only unearthed one by one and the more the need to take part in the ongoing preservation of such places.

And unearthed we did - a group of Archeologists from the University of the Philippines have discovered fossils of man, that is believed to be much older than the "Tabon Man", inside Callao Cave. The remains of these early inhabitants of the Philippines is pegged at 67,000 years old compared to the 50,000 year estimated age of the Tabon Man. Archeologists now refer to these fossils as from the "Callao Man" - a study is still ongoing whether the "Callao Man" is really a full human specie or just a part of a specie that provides evidence of "human speciation" that took place before the specie of man became as such. - I really am not sure if this is related to the "missing link" theory but keeps me interested to research more information about this.

So there, by visiting Callao Cave in Penablanca, Cagayan isn't only a trip that caress your nature loving spirit but it is also an opportunity to learn a bit of history. With its almost mythical and mysterious rock formations and different chambers it also gives a glimpse of what it was like being a cave man in the early history of mankind.

We wrapped up our visit inside Callao Cave in 30 minutes it was that short but rather sweet undertaking as we gear up for the kayaking stroll along the nearby river which at that time - we heard was very scenic and as my next blog entry shows, it's everything it was advertised about.