Reyma, Lei's friend arranged our participation with Roadtrip Pilipinas, a tour agency which caters to trips within Luzon. We were joined by Duckx Elsisura, a travel and photography enthusiast. After 10 hours in a van with a few hours of sleep in between, we arrived at Sagada, in Mt. Province for a much awaited vacation.
Our first on the list of activities is spelunking. Our option was to go through one cave or go through the connection which is two caves all in one go. Because we opt to make most of our experience, we signed up to the cave connection of Lumiang cave and Sumaguing cave.
I'm not really sure how I could write about the experience. The four hours of sliding, crawling, climbing, trekking and clinging to rocks is simply out of this world.
So what to expect in the Cave Connection experience?
Our pack was lead by 3 professional cave guides, with a lamp each. They are from Sagada Genuine Guides Association (SAGGAS), which not only gives you a hand in the whole spelunking routine but also gives you some information regarding some formations and images in the cave. You could also hand them your camera as they know when to take photos in action.
We entered through the Lumiang Cave and was welcomed by a burial site inside. Sagada ancestors used to bury their dead in a fetal position which explains why the coffins are tiny than usual. Also, according to our guides, as long as light reaches a graveyard, then it is a good place to bury the dead.
Just before the action, it is a good thing to have pictures taken... hahaha!!! You would probably get too exhausted that you could not smile at all...
After the burial site is a few short climbs and going down so we are still ok... but then when the first of the ropes were up, this is all the adventure began... I had a good experience at Palawan's Ugong Rock so this should be sassy and easy but I guess I'm wrong. And I was branded by my friends a slow mo so I was first in the pack so as not to get left behind. So, there I was through the ropes clinging to dear life. It was somewhat slippery so I grabbed my slippers and braised it up my arms and off I go with the ropes with our guides assisting especially with points that are out of reach. I think at this point, I have slipped a gazillion times but held composure.
There are a lot of stalactites and stalagmites in the cave. So as not to be confused, think of Ceiling for C in stalaCtites and Ground for g in stalaGmites. So stalactites are seen from the top while stalagmites start from the bottom. And when the two meet, they form a column. And as a rule, we should not touch both, because the acid in our hands stops the growth and it takes years for it to add a centimeter in its height.
There was a moment when we have to crawl with our butts down and have a tight grip with the rocks. Poor thing, my leggings had 2 big holes by the time I got out of the cave. What was funny was that, while climbing down, in a crab crawl, my friend ask "Uhm Reg, I think this is really unsafe." And I just retorted, "Everything here is unsafe, even before we entered the cave." I don't mean to be sarcastic, but I was only following the guide and true enough there is nothing safe in the place. But the no safety is the thrill of the adventure.
Also, another thing striking that I could never forget is getting into 4-5C cold water. The water was only armpit deep but the chilling cold was a nightmare at first but our bodies got used to it after 2 dips of our whole body, including our heads, it felt normal.
After 3 groups who got past us, and 5 hours inside the cave, not to mention the numerous slips, slides and crawls, it was time to exit the Sumaguing cave and end the spelunking experience. But the agony did not stop when the guides announced that we are exiting because we have to climb up more than 100 steps just to see the light at the opening of the cave. But no light welcomed our exit because it was almost 7pm when we got out.
I was dead tired when I reached the mouth of Sumaguing cave. My clothes are full of dirt and I was hungry, I could eat tons for dinner. My oh my, I think I found my Calvary at Sagada. Not that I didn't enjoy the spelunking experience. I guess, I wasn't able to prepare myself. I've only seen pictures but never really read about Sagada. So my guts and courage have been lost along the way...
But really, I was quite happy and relieved that I got out of the caves alive. I am a Sagada Survivor!!!
Lumiang Cave and Sumaguing Cave
Sagada, Mt. Province
Photo Credits: Duckx Elsisura, Bhing Espina, and Reyma Santiago