CALBIGA SAMAR | Known as the Largest Cave in the Philippines, Gobingob-Langun Cave offers an exciting and yet challenging outdoor activity that you will most definitely enjoy and make you proud of what you were able to achieve. This is what I felt after conquering this challenging adventure.
Located in Calbiga Samar, this untamed place is surrounded with numerous caves and waterfalls and a proudly covets the biggest cave in the Philippines.
While browsing the internet, I saw photos of the caves in Samar and I told myself that I want to go there. With much excitement, I messaged Master Caver, Joni Abesamis Bonifacio of Trexplore.Ph and told him that I want to explore the biggest cave in the Philippines. He was also featured in various travel magazines including Lonely Planet. With so much knowledge of the caves in Samar, I couldn't think of anyone better than him to guide me through this new adventure.
The quickest way to get to Calbiga is by booking a plane ticket to Tacloban. I stayed a night at His Capsule Hostel in Tacloban and the next day, off I went to Calbiga Samar. We all met at the Rutchel's Native Chicken that serves a very famous Chicken Tinola. While waiting, I walked around and reminisced while staring at the Calbiga River.
HOW TO GET TO CALBIGA FROM TACLOBAN ?
1. Take a multi-cab to Downtown
2. Tell the driver to drop you at Savemore and walk at the back.
3. At the terminal, just tell them you are going to Calbiga (Php 120.00)
4. Tell driver to drop you at Rutchel's Native Chicken restaurant. (Travel time: 2 hrs max)
After a nice lunch and sorting our stuff for the caving, it was time for us start our adventure. We hopped onto a motorbike or whatthe locals call a "habal-habal" together with some of the cave guides to Barangay Panayuran where we were going to start our hike towards the mouth of Gobingob Cave.
After a very interesting ride we finally arrived at our jump off station where we had an hour's hike till we reached the view deck overlooking Gobingob Cave. We were very lucky with the weather but as always humidity was at its maximum so make sure to always hydrate. It was also a good idea to wear pants to give you some added protection from branches and any other sharp objects in the undergrowth.
After an hour walking, we finally arrived at the view deck and we were awed by the beauty and size of Gobingob Cave. We couldn't believe that this is the place where we were going to explore and stay overnight. We were really excited and we couldn't wait to get inside this mammoth cave.
But before we all entered the cave, we had to be properly prepared. Master Caver Joni Abesamis Bonifacio oriented us all on the history of this cave and how Italians discovered the cave back in 1987.
He also discussed some of the safety tips on the do's and don't's when inside cave. We are all aware of the risk that is why we were taking extra precautions, specially while inside the cave. Safety is always a priority!
One interesting part of the discussion was where you would urinate or any other natural functions. Inside the cave, you cannot just pee and poop inside where you want. As a practice for Leave No Trace Policy, we have to put our urine inside this big bottle and this has to be carried back out of the cave. We were all laughing but yeah it's for real!
Together with the guides, we had our last photo and off we went to to explore Gobingob-Laguna Cave. One thing I observed about the guides, aside from being helpful, was the fact that they communicate in English very well which makes it all easier.
You will find steps down Gobingob Cave giving tourists a much safer descent. But it was a dramatic entrance to begin with. The cave was like saying, this will be one of the best caving adventures you'll ever do.
To wish good luck to all the cavers coming in to Gobingob-Langun cave, a good luck kiss to this rock is a must for safety and guidance.
After an hour or two, we arrived at our campsite which is called the Football Field. It was a massive chamber and equivalent to more than one football field. We were told to first get some rest before dinner time. It was a little muddy inside because it was just after the storm. It was also humid so make sure to keep yourself again as hydrated as possible.
At 7:00 pm, we were woken up by Master Joni and told that dinner was ready. He had prepared pork ribs, fish, rice, vegetables and more. We a had a nice variety and the dinner was generally good! He told us to eat a lot as we will use that energy for what lay ahead.
It was exactly 8:00 pm when we started preparing for the extreme adventure. We put on our trail shoes, filled up our water bottles and off we went. Master Joni said that the hike would take 5 hours back and forth. He also said that we would be climbing boulders, see huge chambers, and rock formations you wouldn't believe. And he was right, in the first part we saw this beautiful rock formation that glitters when struck with light. It was beautiful!
You will also find stalagmites, stalactites, columns in different forms and as high as you could possibly imagine. I myself couldn't believe what I saw.
Nothing comes easy when you are spelunking and I think that's the kind of adventure I like. You work hard till you get there. Along with this course, you will be walking on boulders, step on slippery rocks, hold on to some rocks to help you climb up the ascent. It was challenging for me but I am not here to give up because the landscape you see inside is worth every drop of sweat.
After 3 hours of non-stop walking, we finally made it to the end of the cave system and that deserved a big high five! I was about to reach the point of not pushing through because of the humidity and the intensity of the walk, but we had a great team and told ourselves that we've come this far, let's finish what we started. It was a success worth celebrating!
When we arrived back at our campsite, we just did a little clean-up and off we went to sleep. It was a weird feeling specially when they turned off the lights and all you could hear were the sounds that have been there for thousands of years. More than the bats, you could hear droplets of water creating a very soothing sound.
We woke up at exactly 7:00 am and delicious breakfast was served. We had spam, dried fish, noodles, omelette, and coffee. It was a delicious big breakfast!
After breakfast, we started preparing for an another 2 hour hike to our exit which is the Langun Cave. So we entered at Gobingob Cave and traversed to Langun Cave.
At first, I thought that the walk out would be similar to the hike we did last night. But this spelunking offers another exciting adventure and other beautiful landscapes you could only find in the largest cave in the Philippines.
The rappelling added more excited and thrill down to the exit. We walked through this small passage and as you come out, you will have a more or less 50 feet drop to welcome you. I thought I had overcome my fear of heights but this one triggered it again. But with the comfort and support from each other, I was able to do it with a smile.
As we were getting near the exit at Langun Cave, Master Joni showed us what they call the Chandelier. It was basically massive stalactite formations that almost reach the ground. They were so huge and they can be quite overwhelming.
As we walked further, we slowly started seeing light. I walked closer to it and it suddenly flashed back when I saw this photo on the Internet, I told myself, I want to see it for myself. And here I was walking through it. It was one of the most amazing feelings ever. It's better than the pictures on the internet. There's nothing like being in there and seeing it for yourself.
When you see it for yourself, it's beyond words. It's a magical feeling and I am very happy that I decided to go on this trip and experience it myself. You just want to sit and absorb everything that is in front of you.
After a light snack at the mouth of Langun Cave, we started our long walk into the forest to get to the spring which is also considered as the main water source of Calbiga to washup and also where we will be picked up and brought back to Rutchels Native Chicken Restaurant
First of all, I would like to thank Master Caver Joni Abesamis Bonifacio of Trexplore Adventures for the making this all happen and made me appreciate to learn more about Speleology. Also the importance of preserving and protecting these natural wonders which I learned from him in the process. Your knowledge about caving, specially in Samar, and your professionalism really was commendable.
I would also like to thank the guides that came with us and also kept us safe at all times, telling me where to put my foot and kept us calm when some of us became a little panicky.
To my fellow cavers from Sweden: Malin Ivarsson and Bosse Engkvist, Xabier Martinez de Narvajas Pastor and Beatriz Balerdi Elbustofrom from Spain. Thank you for sharing this wonderful adventure with me. I really learned so much from every body and we wouldn't be able to make it without each other's support. We were a great team indeed!
If you want to know any upcoming caving adventures in Samar,
you may contact Cave Master Joni A. Bonifacio.
CAVE MASTER: JONI A. BONIFACIO