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‘Caged’ at the Zoobic Safari

This gallery contains 15 photos.

‘Caged’ at the Zoobic Safari. WHEN you watch tigers inside the zoo, you enjoy it but when its you who is inside a cage and the tigers are circling your cage looking for a possible opening and licking their tongues … Continue reading

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White House tour in the dark

?? `WE were late for our scheduled house tour by several hours, lost in time island hopping in Cantilan earlier and it was already past 7 p.m. when we stopped by the Century-old, Herrera Ancestral House in Lanuza. The house is one of the attractions that draw hundreds of tourists to Surigao del Sur province.

We were willing to go inside the house, except that there was power outage and the whole town was blanketed in darkness. The caretaker of the mansion was waiting for us but only two of our companions who felt the emergency need to use the restroom decided to brave the darkness.

The white old mansion looked forbidding in the darkness outside, and I was almost sure someone was going to open the French windows a bit a peek at us from the darkness above.

Then the caretaker issued the challenge for a night tour of the white house and most of us reluctantly agreed. I was more scared to be left outside so I joined the pack. The darkness swallowed us and all we stuck close to each other. Manang, the caretaker led the way with a small lamp and we mounted the two flights of stairs into the main hall

 

The gas lamp cast scary shadows on the old chandelier dominating the ceiling, making me renew my vow never to have any chandelier of my own. Still stuck to each other, we trooped to the kitchen and the rooms and were ready to go when the caretaker said we should check the ground floor where the library is. We were hesitant but we followed her down the dark wooden stairs and into a garage. She unlocked a door and we crowded into a room filled with shelves and dressers, mirrors and an assortment of old knick-knacks.

I discovered that they have relocated most of the relics to the ground floor including the century old iron, pitchers, stoves and other utensils, an antique typewriter, a whole row of religious statues, and I was shocked to find out I was leaning on a cabinet full of dolls. I never had a doll in my entire life, even as a kid. I was always scared of them and seeing them in the dark shadows.

I clicked the shutter randomly, not knowing if I got anything in focus or not. I kept aiming my camera at the open doors and flashed without even looking what was in there, too scared to peek. Aiming my camera at one of the dolls, I clicked, not aware that Roland had lowered his flashlight, giving the doll a more scary effect.

I visited this mansion for the first time in 2007 with photographers Rhonson Ng and Jojie Alcantara, in broad daylight and it was not scary at all, except for one of the rooms where I felt goose bumps but in the dark, it was different. An old rocking chair also fired my imagination, and I can feel it rocking by itself anytime like there was someone invisible sitting on it.

Situated just a block away from the Prospero B. Pichay Sr. Boulevard, the Herrera Ancestral House was built on May 28, 1898 for business purposes. The “White House” as it is popularly called is owned by the late Don Gabriel Uriarte Herrera, the first mayor of Cantilan. The White House is well-maintained and is now managed by his heirs.

Any visit to Surigao del Sur won’t be complete without a tour of this historical White House. Come on a regular day to view varied antiques and relics as it also serves as the museum of the municipality.

A few meters away from the White House is the Surf Camp and Boulevard Café, a favorite surfer rendezvous that offers reasonable rates for overnight to longer stays for tourists.

Getting there

By air: Lanuza is accessible by air through Bancasi Domestic Airport in Butuan City and Surigao Domestic Airport in Surigao City. Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific Airlines fly regularly to these routes.

By sea: Regular sea trips are available through various shipping lines like Cokaliong, Cebu Ferries, WG&A, etc. from Surigao City and Nasipit ports in Agusan del Norte.

By Land: Lanuza is accessible by land through buses, jeepneys, vans and other vehicles for hire from any point in the Caraga Region, Davao City and Cagayan de Oro City.

Hinatuan Enchanted River

?? `   I left my heart at the Enchanted River, and now I am dying to go back…

OR maybe not anymore?

SURIGAO DEL SUR, Philippines—Far away in the Northeastern coast of Mindanao is a 300-kilometer stretch of picturesque coastal roads, pristine beaches, quaint villages and historic towns; a place where time is of no essence and you move in your own sweet pace. The province is called Surigao Del Sur.

Dubbed by locals as the Shangri-La by the Pacific, the province is a land of enchantment, cloaked in fascinating history and rich in natural attractions still practically uncorrupted by the advent of commercialization and mass tourism.

A few years back, professional photographers Rhon Ng and travel writer Jojie Alcantara whisked me off on a three-day rough and bumpy road trip adventure in a pickup jam-packed with all their gear. Not serious about photography, I did not understand yet why they had so much baggage which Rhon guarded with his life.

I came with a backpack containing my change of clothes and personal belongings for three days, and my photography gear—a Sony point and shoot and my overworked laptop. Only later did I realize what photo opportunities I missed on that trip.

The adventure took us from one end of the province to the other, sampling the paradise it has to offer to locals and tourists, an experience that would beckon you to come again and again. One of the most unforgettable stops we had was at the famous Enchanted River of Hinatuan, and I was to know why it was named so.?? `

The Enchanted River of Hinatuan is about an hour’s ride from Bislig City in Surigao del Sur. We drove the rough and narrow trail, navigating a few twists and turns before stopping near a rocky mountain wall where the blue waters of the enchanted river flows in the crevice below. The place was deserted, and there was something about the eerie silence and that blue darkness that is quite hard to reckon with, something bigger and strange that I could not put a word to it.

The lagoon beckoned temptingly, issuing a silent but irresistible invitation as though challenging anyone to explore the secrets of its undiscovered depths.

The mystery and beauty of the Enchanted River of Hinatuan has been featured in TV programs, YouTube and stories and photos published in websites all over the world. Divers have gone on expeditions to uncover the mystery in its depths but no one succeeded. Strong currents no one has ever experienced before, sand or pebbles block the passages whenever somebody tries to dive, making people believe that enkantos are really guarding the river. Over the past years, expeditions ?? `have been made by divers to search for undiscovered tunnels and passages.

Our guide told us a group of divers once tried to reach the bottom but they were forced to surface after exhausting three oxygen tanks each, reaching only 150 feet down. He also told us that no one would dare swim in the river alone when it gets dark because sightings of enchanted beings had been reported to show up before locals or strangers.

Stories had it that three people were seen to have walked into the river and disappeared into waters, and at certain times, huge multi-colored fish surface but one has yet caught a single fish no matter what method they used. Whether or not they believe the river to be enchanted, they are unwilling to take chances.

Rhon was unable to resist the temptation and took a swim, jumping from a rocky ledge and into the blue waters.

Mystical no more?

A year or so?? ` ago, I learned the air of mystery in the river could be forever gone forever with the advent of commercialism. The place has become one of the top tourist destinations. There is already a 30 pesos entrance free per person, and restrooms have been installed where you can change if you want to swim. Life jackets are rented out, and fish feeding has become a popular activity. Recent online photos showed cottages and ramps erected near the river bank. Gone was the feeling of enchantment that engulfed me when I first stepped on the riverbank over five years ago.

Check one this expedition on YouTube to get an idea of how Enchanted Underwater Cave looks like. I’m not sure if the spirits and enkantos believed to be guarding the river still wants to stay with the everyday activities and the influx of tourists to the place.

Getting There

From Davao: From Davao Ecoland Terminal, take a bus bound for Mangagoy (Bislig) and transfer to a bus, jeep or habal-habal going to Hinatuan.

From Butuan : From Langihan Terminal, take a bus bound for Mangagoy (Bislig)

Buses ply the routes of Tandag-Butuan, Tandag-Davao and Tandag-Surigao City regularly. Vans for hire are also available.

Postscripts from Lake Sebu

For anyone who seeks peace of mind, body and spirit, the tranquility of the countryside and the fresh mountain air in Lake Sebu, some 45 minutes away from Koronadal, South Cotabato is the answer. It’s fantastically reviving that would make one wish to stay there forever and forget deadlines and pressures of work breathing down one’s neck everday.After being jam-packed in a van which transported us all the way from Davao City, we finally came to the lake which offers the opportunity of experiencing genuine serenity which is too good to pass.Situated at an altitude of 1000 meters, Lake Sebu irrigates the fertile Allah Valley.
It is home to two peoples, the T’boli, a highland tribe famous for their colourful costumes, woven work, intricate beadwork, and brass ornaments, and the Tasadays, a cave-dwelling people.Visiting Lake Sebu would be incomplete if one will not go on a boat ride around the lake, so with my companions Cha, Kuya Ben, Roland, Rhonson, Arjoy, Mai, Maam Marilyn, Edit, Germie, Romeo and Juliet from different media outfits, we spent the next 45-minutes taking in the breathtaking wonder of nature at its best.
On the way back to Punta Isla resort, we came to a portion where the water was very frighteningly and darkly green. It’s surface was so smooth, broken only by the ripples created by the boat.Nervously looking around for a lifeboat, the guide seemed to sensed my uneasiness and casually said, “Mga 100 meters na ang lalim ng tubig dito.” I didn’t listen to the rest of his recitation. I gripped my seat so hard and tried to recite the Last Prayer silently.
The trip around the lake brought us very close to the three islands in the lake and the fish cages that ring the tranquil 364-hectare lake.The three guys Roland, Rhonson and Arjoy stole a chance to go fishing at the lake but either they were too humble or they didn’t catch anything because I never heard mention of a single fish they caught.We had broiled tilapia and native chicken soup for lunch. Lake Sebu tilapia is simply delicious, giving off a distinct sweetish aroma that leaves us wanting for more even though we were already filled to bursting point.
Only 18 of the 32 servings of rice we ordered were served so the guys had to make do with the meager rice servings.
When only Tatay Rene and Michael of the Davao Camera Club were eating, in comes the waiter with the remaining 11 servings of rice. We wagered whether the two could consume it all but even the hungriest man on earth would go dizzy with the rice. They only consumed 5 servings.SouvenirsWhile Tatay Rene was busily selecting trinkets for pasalubong to friends back home, Edit and I were also busily selecting from Tatay’s collection for ourselves. Albeit grumbling, he still paid for our choices.
I contemplated on buying a pair of earrings which caught my fancy but was hesitant because I only have one pierced ear. Rhonson of Tourism (DoT) offered to split the price with me and said we would take one earring each but changed his mind at the last minute.Enterprising T’boli women in their clorful costumes spread a wide array of malong, shawls, embroidered and beaded blouses, coin purses, necklaces, key holders, penholders, and several other crafts produced by creative hands and minds, all screaming to be brought home. Only the limited contents of my billfold stopped me from doing so.World-class tourist destination.
Just recently, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has chosen Lake Sebu town as among the focal areas for the country’s ecotourism development program and as a world-class tourist destination over the next decade.Environment Secretary Elisea Gozun said the Lake Sebu watershed forest reserve, which covers the entire municipality, would be developed as among the country’s major ecotourism destinations in Southeast Asia by the year 2012.The 92,450 hetare town of Lake Sebu was recognized as one of the most important watershed areas in the country and was proclaimed as a Protected Landscape on 24 September 1985.*

A cool stop-over at Marilog

Up and away.
A scenic hour and a half drive away from the heart of Davao
city will give you a chance to deeply breath the cool mountain breeze of Marilog District, Davao’s summer capital which rests at an altitude of 3,000 feet above sea level.

The place is not only known for its lush vegetation and bountiful flowers but with terrains where one can experience Davao’s great outdoors to whet the stimulus of the adventurous.

I instantly said yes to the invitation of friend Manny Quisol to see something of the place last week. We reached sitio Epol and alighted from our vehicle, feasting our eyes on the array of lovely flowers displayed beside the highway.

We stopped by Foggy Mountain Garden owned by Bagahisan barangay kagawad Bilma Fuentes and were treated to a spectacular view of her vegetable, flower and strawberry gardens.

The place is very cool. No, I take that last word back, The right terms are cold and nippy because I was shivering in my thin shirt the whole day we were there.
We took a leisurely lunch at Seagull Mountain Resort and proceeded to Green Valley waterfalls at sitio Epol.
Manny and I had to drag Jojo, our driver to go down to the waterfalls with us instead of nursing his overfed stomach sleeping.

We trekked down a narrow and winding pathway, enjoying the peaceful quiet of the place broken only by the sound of crickets and gushing water until we got to the water falls.

Oh wow! The sight and sound of waterfalls always soothe my being. It made me regret I did not bring extra clothes. Entrance to the Green Valley Waterfalls is P7 for day guests and P12 for overnight guests. An overnight cottage with an attic and porch can be rented at P50 per person or for a fixed price of P1,000.
Tents can be pitched at no additional cost and guests are advised to bring their own baon. However, food can be ordered if reservations are made,

Open cottages can also be rented for P20 each, overlooking the waterfalls. This 2.8 hectare property, owned by Lolita Lopez Tan and Winston Tan started operating in 1993. There is not electricity in the place, giving guests a chance to commune with nature it but resort caretaker Bebeth Abergos said they can assure guests of security in the place. For reservations, you may contact Bebeth at cellphone # 0920-8179325.

Getting your fill of waterfalls

What’s a much better way to beat the summer heat than to go falls hopping and soaking your bodies in the cascading waters of the region’s waterfalls?For adventurers and nature lovers, give in to the lure ofCompostela Valley, a province blessed with nature’s mixture of magnificient natural attractions.

The province boasts of several multi-tiered water falls. The highest of these are Marangig and Tagbibinta Falls, which serves as the entry and exit points respectively of Mt. Candalaga.Falls hopping lets you experience the chance to walk, climb up or go down steep slopes, wade, jump from rock to rock, and finally swim in the pool at the very edge of the water’s drop-off. A whole day’s river trekking and falls hopping last month on our way to the peak of Mt. Candalaga allowed me to experience reactions varying from pure exhilaration to sheer terror but it was worth the trip.

Marangig Falls

A few minutes’ trek from Barangay New Albay, seven kilometers from Maragusan centerpoint brought us to Marangig Falls, composed of a series of thirteen (13) smaller falls. Delighted with the spectacular view, we lingered for a while but our guide egged us on as we still have the whole day to spend for river trekking before reaching our camp site.A few meters upstream, we encountered another waterfalls. It is another straight falls with much vegetation growing in the falls itself and jutting out of the cascading water.

After reaching the fourth falls upstream from Marangig, I lost count as I paid more attention to the rocks and boulders I had to maneuver before reaching another falls.Luckily, I was among the few of us who was able to avoid deeper portions of the river. Others were not so lucky and fell in deep waters with their backpacks while others intentionally took a bath.

Tagbibinta Falls

A feast awaited our eyes and consoled our tired and aching muscles as we reached Tagbibinta Falls the following day after conquering the peak of Mt. Candalaga.Tagbibinta falls, a series of seven falls is located just five kilometers from the center of Maragusan in Barangay Coronobe. The first falls measures approximately 700 ft. high and provides an ideal trekking and climbing site.There is a camp ground in Tagbibinta with open cottages for rent ranging from P20, P50 and P100.

Aliwagwag Falls

Go beyond Compostela Valley and treat yourself to a summer you will always remember by visiting the famous Aliwagwag falls in Cateel, Davao Oriental.Located amidst thick forests just some 25 kilometers away from Cateel proper, Aliwagwag Falls towers from a total of 1110 feet, cascading over 186 stairways of varying heights, the tallest single drop of which is 100 feet. Bathing in Aliwagwag’s clear and cool waters is an experience one will find hard to forget.

Safety tips:

*Carry practical all-weather clothing and remember that your mobile phone may be out of range.

*Wear sturdy footwear with a good tread.

*Always carry water, food, matches and a torch, map and compass.

*Walking tracks involves uneven and slippery surfaces, water crossings and rock-hopping so be extra careful.

* Respect the environment and stay on marked paths. Take note of signs and landmarks.

* Don’t wander off alone but stay with your group. Its so easy to get lost in the forest.

Believe me, its worth the trip to Maragusan or Cateel just to see and take a bath at the water falls, particularly in the summer season when the weather is at its hottest in the city. The trip will do wonders to your soul.

Getting there

Cateel, which is some 360 kilometers from Davao City is accessible by bus at the Ecoland Transport terminal. L300 vans are also available from Davao City.MaragusanMaragusan is about three and a half hours bus ride from Davao City. Bus fare is P140. Motorcycles abound in Maragusan to transport visitors to the jump off area in Marangig or Tagbibinta falls.

Goin’ bananas

More than 20,000 sticks of cardava bananas were grilled over 658 grills or (gang-gangan) which stretched for a kilometer of the circumferential road in Kapalong, Davao del Norte as they celebrated the first Musa Banana Festival lastAugust 1.
It was the first time that I ever laid eyes on so much grilled bananas. At the ceremonial go-signal from mayor Dominador Cruda, participants from the town’s 14 barangays lit up their fires, undeterred by the drizzle as they bent to showdown the main product of the place.It was a free-for-all grilled banana feast as the parpticipants handed grilled bananas to all passers-by.
Bananas were everywhere: on motorcycles, trisikads, stores and houses, at the gymnasium, on the streets, trampled under people’s feet and literally everywhere! People from all walks of life went to join the feast.My companions tried to outdo each other on how many sticks of ginanggang they had eaten but I kept silent because I was unable to eat any. I was too emersed shooting photos of banana eaters with the heavy camera I was carrying that I forgot to eat.
Highlighting the celebration was the unveiling of the biggest-ever three-meter long Cavendish banana cake covered with green and yellow icing. Stuffed with 4,000 banana cupcakes, the gigantic cake was set on steel stilts on top of the three-by-five meters base cake made of 377 loaves of banana cake.The whole cake consumed 1,000 eggs, one sack refined sugar, flour and 30 boxes of bananas supplied by Dole Stanfilco.
Kapalong municipal information officer Edna Parcon said it took them two weeks to set up the frame of the cake, three local bakeries to bake the banana loaves, another baked the cupcakes and another bakery owner volunteered to coat the cake with icing which took them nine hours to finish.Keeping hands off from the cake, especially kids’ hands, was the hardest part while the program was going on.

Expectedly, when pandomenium broke loose and a confusing tangle of banana loaves, cupcakes, white, yellow and green icing, kids and adults swooped all over the cake to have a taste.A sticky war of icing followed (yucks!), hitting anybody even those far away from the cake. At the end of the celebration, everybody went home banana-satisfied and happy.

Igacos escapades

The invitation to join a beachineering activity with the Pundok Habagat-Davao group came at an opportune time, when I had no plans for last weekend.The invitation came packaged with “tempting activities” (spelled as snorkelling, kayaking, cave and falls and island hopping) which would be irresistible to one who always hungers for adventure outside the four walls of the office. So come along and let’s sample some of the delightful places the Island Garden City of Samal (Igacos) has to offer.

Thinking that we would take a tour around the Igacos on board a boat, I was surprised when it was a hired jeepney waiting for us at the Wind and Wave dive shop at Sta. Ana Wharf.”Ay, land tour diay,” I nudged Au-au, who said that she too, thought we were going on an “island” tour.

Into the bat cave
The first on our itirenary was the bat sanctuary in Babak. A few meters from where we parked our vehicle, we heard a commotion coming from under the ground. We followed the direction of the noise and came to our first destination. I will leave you to imagine the smell emanating from the hundreds of thousands of bats, suffice it to say that only a few of us dared to go inside.

Falls-hopping we go
After a short respite at Punta del Sol beach resort where we were to set up camp, the group proceeded to Hagimit Falls, a newly-developed resort accessible by motorcycles (habal-habal) where we partook of our ‘baons’.The group got a taste of spelunking at the Tamborong cave in barangay Tamborong. No bats this time but did not venture far into the cave’s end because only a few of us brought flash lights. Besides, we were not properly-dressed for caving (as in most were wearing slippers..etc).To rinse off the smell of the bats and cave, the group proceeded to Tagbaobo falls in barangay Tagbaobo and had their fill splashing and enjoying a massage from the cascading water of the falls.

Tagbaobo cave is a sight to behold. On one side of the falls is a rocky wall ideal for rapelling (watch for this page in the future for I might go with the same group next month if I gather enough guts and write an article).The second day was spent on the beach swimming, snorkelling and kayaking until everyone got tired and packed up for home.More adventures are being cooked up every month by the Pundok Habagat group.

Feel free to visit Habagat at the second floor of SM Davao and contact Bernarjery “Benjo” Tenchavez, or any of the staff including Eric Rosete, Cliffer Lucilla, Francis Cunanan, Jerson Ray Rayona, Cyril Carrion, Romeo Laruan Jr., Ronald Renosa and Loreta Sacriz.

Into the darkness of Kapalong caves

THERE is more to caving than meets the eye. The word bespeaks a formidable yet exciting challenge of crawling, squeezing or climbing your way in through cold neck-deep waters, or muddy and slippery track. Beyond the twilight zone, your life depends on your skullguards and flashlights, but don’t resist the thrill of adventure. Gather your guts and let’s go into the darkness.

OKBOT CAVE
After an hour’s bumpy ride from Kapalong town to Sua-on Nature’s Park in Davao Del Norte, 35 media practitioners partook of the bountiful fruits in season courtesy of our gracious hosts, the local government unit and Kapalong Tourism Office before proceeding to the first cave on our itinerary, Okbot cave.Our guide told us that several years ago, a man named Datu Okbot lived in this cave for a long time and until his death after he was driven away from the village, hence the cave was named after him.

Water flows through the narrow passage, but the sheer beauty of crystal stalactites and stalagmites, delicate curtain formations, columns and draperies that nature has wonderfully carved through the years met our eyes and put us in a trance.In Okbot cave, one has no choice but to get wet. The water that flows on the cave floor and water that drips from the ceiling surely would make the caver wet.After hours of surmounting several hard maneuvers including the ‘slim test’ passage, we reached the cave’s end, posed for souvenir photos and made our way back. Ah, nothing’s sweeter than a long night rest after Okbot cave.

OTSO CAVE
After a hearty breakfast the following morning, we trekked to Otso cave, some 20 minutes away from the road accessible by vehicle. Unlike Okbot cave, one would hesitate to enter the dark entrance to Otso cave but once inside we were again treated to a spectacular view of nature’s wonders.Otso cave lived up to its name. One has to perform the movements of the popular dance ‘Otso-otso’ to dodge the stalactites or the stalagmites.A few meters from Otso cave’s entrance, Arjoy’s camera flashed. He then pointed towards the cave wall three feet from where I stood. I trained my flashlight towards the direction he pointed and thought it was just another masterpiece of nature.

What Arjoy had just taken a photo of was a coiling banakon, or the feared black mamba. Black mambas are known to abound the caves but they have never hurt anyone before.We emerged from the Otso cave looking like we had just engaged in a mud fight. Trekking through a portion of the 19-km Banakon River Trail which features an underground river and a number of small waterfalls washed off the mud from our bodies.

Caving evokes insatiability. Each cave has its own personality and after exploring a cave, The need to explore more is irresistible no matter how exhausted we are. One can hardly resist the pull to be taken into the bosom of the earth.Not satisfied with the two-day media tour, photographer Arjoy and I decided to come back for more exploration a month later. This time we have the chance to experience real caving.

MALTAG CAVE: the ultimate experience
Maltag cave is located in Dakudao Ecotourism Park, an hour’s ride away from Kapalong, Davao del Norte. The park hosts 18 caves and two cascading waterfalls. The area is unarguably an epitome of nature’s bounty.We hiked on a rough road under the heat of the sun for more than three kilometers (it is never wise to trust the local folks who estimated the distance by pointing with their lips) before we came to Maltag cave’s entrance. It was hidden beneath thick foliage. Kapalong tourism officials considered this as one of the technical caves (meaning challenging).

Entering through the narrow passage, we were filled with awe once inside. We could not stop the oh’s, ah’s and wow’s to express the intense emotions we felt as we passed through stalactites suspended from a thirty foot ceiling, delicate curtains and shimmering white crystal formations flanking us on both sides.

Maltag cave requires a caver to execute all kinds of movements- crawl, kneel, duck, climb, go over or under stones, roll, jump, swim, cry, name it, Maltag provides it but unless one has gone caving in Maltag, he or she has not really gone caving at all. The ultimate test came when we have to leap from a ten-foot cliff straight into neck-deep cold water below. There was no other way to go but I miraculously made it.After more than three hours of exploring, the cave’s end was in sight. Thankfully, Maltag cave has an exit point and we didn’t have to make a return trip.Maningo caveJust a few minutes’ walk from our camp site in Sua-on is cave. Hiding behind the shelter of a robust companion gave me the chance to really look at the eyes of a black mamba poised ready to strike.

On the way out, we had to maneuver 10 feet 90-degree slope but we did avoid meeting the black mamba this time.Kambal CavesIt was almost dark and we were tired but we willed our last few shreds of energy to conquer yet another pair of caves, the Kambal (twin) caves are short caves adjacent to each other. You get in at one cave, go out its exit and come back through the other cave. For the experienced caver, this one is not set with challenges but for a non-swimmer like me, it was hard. I had to hold on to a rope for life as the entrance to the second cave was filled with murky water.
(Lesson learned: take swimming classes)

KIBYAWAN CAVE
Nah, you really have to be good in ducking when entering this cave because Kibyawan cave is home to thousands and thousands of bats, filling the cave’s ceilings without an inch to spare. We had to wade in knee-deep ‘guano’ (excretes of bats used as fertilizer)We came out of the cave practically covered with bat dung and carrying the terrible smell of bats. We had to endure a 20-minute ride on a dumptruck scratching our itchy bodies after our other companions informed us we can’t go to the waterfalls anymore as it was already flooded. Uh-oh.

Eco-Tourism Destination
Kapalong is truly a mecca for cavers, enthusiasts and tourists. Kapalong Municipal Tourism and information officer Edna Parcon said Kapalong has been slowly carving a niche in the tourism industry as the caving and spelunking capital of the region and is attracting a fair share of local and foreign tourists.

Parcon said that of the 42 caves located in seven adjacent barangays, only 32 are explored, 24 are documented and 12 are open for spelunking and caving. The rest are for research and reservation purposes.Other identified caves for exploration are the Datu Balong, Putol Putol cave, Ungoyan cave,Datu Kugsing cave, Busay and Kapunit caves.

Caves contain so much treasure but violating simple rules can damage them. Few years from now, there may no longer be wonderful caves in their natural beauty to explore. They may just disappear from our midst with the growth of modernization and misguided activities of the people.It didn’t matter that I went home with all the mucles in my body aching (rightly termed as ‘grabeng pamaol’) but I have no regrets. It’s an adventure I will never forget, and will grab again given the chance.*

Magnaga Resort: A sun-and-sand lover’s haven

One simply can not miss Magnaga Waters Beach Resort in Compostela Valley, owned by Tagum City mayor Rey Uy because it is located just along the highway a few kilometers before reaching the municipality of Pantukan.This summer, take time to pack an overnight (or a whole weekend) bag and take your loved-ones for a dip in the sea or simply enjoy frolicking along the long white sands of Magnaga Waters.
The sprawling 13-hectare resort is well suited for families, providing a wide playground of soft white sand where kids can ran around barefoot or build sandcastles. The shoreline is fringed with talisay trees offering plenty of shade to tourists.Without doubt, the resort is an ideal place to just relax, enjoy and unwind with nothing to do but live in the sand, sun and water for the moment.
Sunsets at Magnaga, according to Ate Lily (the resort incharge) are just superb. I was unfortunate not to have witnessed the sunset in Magnaga when I went there as my buddy and I arrived there very late after a series of ‘mishaps’. (I haven’t included in my schedule a flat bus tire that had to be changed while we waited, not to mention nearly spraining my legs when just a few minutes away from our destination, everybody scrambled for the bus door to get out when some connecting wires at the bus’ rear end caught fire).
Guests can spend the night in one of the resort’s luxurious cottages, dormitory, in a tent by the sea or at the bungsod (cottage at the sea). Room rates range from a dormitory good for 16 persons at P250 per person, cottages at P800 to P1,200 good for two, tent rental from P250-P350, or the bungsod, which could accomodate 50 for a rate of P300 per person.The resortt offers access to various activities like kayaking, fishing, boat rentals, billiard and pingpong, beach volleyball, and diving facilities.
It also offers amenities like a restaurant/fastfood, convention halls for meetings and conferences, lodge and cottages, open area for catering, videoke machines, catering services, souvenir shop, and a grocery store.For inquiries and reservations, feel free to contact Sammy or Nita at the following numbers: 0918-5754229, 084-218-1216, fax: 370-1986.Getting there:An hour and a half ride in a Mati-bound bus from Davao City can transport guests straight to Magnaga Waters resort.