Monday, January 19, 2009

Ocbot caving

This came a long haul. An expression I got from a new Canadian flickr friend who now resides in Davao. I don’t quite get what this means but I guess he probably meant - for awhile. It’s true, this post is many months ago and only now that i strike a muscle so my fingers will start blogging again. Good for me, this well be my maiden posting for the New Year 2009. Yehey. And that comes without an exclamation point.
A day after the ‘Kadayawan’s indak-indak sa kadalanan’ stint, together with two of my officemates, Celio and Cris, we went to Sua-on, Kapalong, Davao del Norte through the invitation of our common friend Tonyo who happened to marry a local of the area.

How can you turned down the invitation when Tonyo was very persistent and he promised us with free meal and a guided tour to the infamous Kapalong caves. There was actually a natal celebration of the in-laws, on top of that, it was just a month that they had power connection, now that’s a genuine reason to celebrate. The coin-made-functional –videoke had to make a 24-hour rundown (I don't know if that’s possible) and it made a killing on the dime collection. Just imagine the humble microphone learned to forget landing as it was handed from one singer to another. I swear this was oh so true.

As instructed we arrived at the junction in Maniki, Kapalong, the one leading to Baranggay Capungagan, where Tonyo waited. The ride to Sua-on was bumpy and difficult. It was not that I’m complaining but the bikes we brought were not used to this terrain. Pity. Yes that was just our sympathetic gesture. We were not told of the road conditions beforehand (we could have brought instead our muscle bikes *wink*wink*).

Aside from it’s more than 45 degrees climb, it was also very loosely graveled. We were left with the option of going off the vehicles and strode uphill by foot with some “kalso” help. We decelerated from time to time whenever we past cracked road caused by water run-off. But the trip only took less than an hour, minus the stop-overs for picture taking times, of course.

After our as-if-there’s-no-tomorrow meal and a little chit-chat acquaintance with Tonyo’s relatives, we were led to one of the nearby caves. This cave was small but impenetrable because it was deep and there was no way down. It was cantilevered from the opening towards the walls of the cave. Okay, rappelling one’s way down the cave was possible but believe me there’s nothing down there that could ignite fascination except for mud and garbage. 

There were actually cave tour guides provided by the local government that collects a minimum group fee of 250 Php. Lucky for us we knew someone familiar with the place, the baranggay captain and tour guide appointment was a breeze. The fee was good for all the allowed caves for tour and possible protection from the feared “banakon” (certain Philippine cobra). We learned that Manong ‘the guide’ has unexplained skills of snake control of sort (ala Harry Potter slitherens power).  I thought the fee wasn’t just enough if the protection was really true. Really.

My two officemates hesitated and backed out from entering Okbot cave. Cris was not over his fear of snakes and maybe he has doubt of manong’s power. Celio reasoned than he cannot afford to get wet anymore because he lacked sleep and he was on the first place driving ( we all call it pasma fear). I have nightmares with snakes and even lost a tooth because of it (that’s another story). Snake is my waterloo, my weakest link. But what’s left with me was a push of “napasubo’ since we had already paid for the fee and maybe a lot of faith to Manong, our guide. I was joined by Tonyo, Dimas and Lito.

The small creek we navigated all the way up the entrance of Okbot cave was actually water coming out the narrow opening of the cave so we can’t help but get wet ourselves. It was pitch-black dark inside and gushes of flowing water were constant sound. The only light sources we got were from the two flashlights and a cell phone. Still these weren’t enough.

I was always left behind and it turned out that they were following my pace because we kept ourselves just within the range of the flashlight illumination. With little light source I just kept a keen and quick memory when ever the light hits the wall or an object because I wasn’t the one holding the flashlights. (I had a camera on the one hand and a cell phone on the other). There were times that I just pointed my camera to the dark and shoot on “bahala-na-si-batman mode”.  It turned out that  the walls had glowing crystallized stalagmites and stalactites formations facing vertically; reaching to one another. Columns were made when the stalactites and stalagmites meet. Just imagine how long it took to get to that union. When we pointed the lights on the ceiling, a scary sharp spade-like curtains hanging that seem to fall  any time  and pierced through or sliced up our clueless bodies. The static rocks formed anything depending on how you view it. There was a rocket, a pointed finger, a human image, mushrooms, mammary glands,  vagina and penis that I saw (what can you do with a corrupted mind, LOL).
Before we went on to narrow passages and a lot of water submersions and occasional climbing, I decided that we cut the trip short (we’re not even half way through) because my feet were aching and we don’t want to leave Sua-on before sunset.

There were still more than a dozen of caves in the area but Okbot cave was more than enough experience.

Here’s more of what’s inside:


How do you see this?


Amazingly scary. The sheer though of snake presence inside the cave was all erase because of these sites.


The trustworthy “manong” who slips through small passages easily with just slippers on.
He did gave us a small trivia though, Okbot was according to him from Datu Okbot who once lived and died in this cave a long time ago.

Though tired and bruised, this was the reason we all went home with big smiles.

Here’s a warning sign nailed at the entrance way towards Okbot cave that confusingly hilarious. Two thumbs up for the effort and for lightening up our weary feet.

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