Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Wednesday, June 22, 2016



Like my mood for love last February 14 when I visited Cagayan, Callao Cave is considered biologically dead. I set foot in the town of Peñablanca where the cave can be found at the most convenient time to be alone -- inside a dark cavern that matched the emptiness of my hollow heart. Spanning a couple of villages in the same town, the seven-chamber cave is part of the Sierra Madre in the Philippines which stretches from Quezon Province all the way to the northern tip of Cagayan.

"Sir, bakit mag-isa lang kayo sa Araw Ng Mga Puso (Why are you alone on Valentine's Day)?"

It was a question that my assigned tour guide at the cave greeted me with. Instead of replying with a decent answer, I asked the young local the same question to which he sheepishly segued about the cave being, well, biologically dead. From that moment on, we both knew that I was not there to muse about my humdrum city life. I was there to be enamored by the cave's past and its remnants of stalactites and stalagmites. I reached the place aboard a habal-habal as a solo passenger anyway so there was no need to fuss over heartaches and regrets. It was faster than a jeepney or tricycle ride for less than 30 minutes from my booked guestroom at Hotel Joselina in Tuguegarao City.

The altar found in the cave's first chamber
A view of Cagayan on the way to the cave

Distant From The World Outside

While tackling the 184 concrete steps leading to the cave's first chamber, I then contemplated with my guide that we were there for a reason and it was to forget the trappings of the world outside. I'm not into festivals and celebrations anyway so the pensive chiaroscuro formed at the entrance of the cave worked wonderfully for me like an over-the-counter pill. I was suddenly in the mood to see more of this melancholic sight.

Cathedral-like First Chamber

The first chamber initially appeared odd for looking like a cathedral which was actually the intention of the ones doing the upkeep in this attraction that's part of the Peñablanca Protected Landscape and Seascape. It's where a set of pews decorate a flat space that's accentuated by an altar set naturally against a cave wall. Catholic masses are held there on special occasions and this sacred spot seals this attraction's reputation as a tourist-friendly one right in the beginning of the tour.

A view of the cave's first chamber where occasional masses are held
Gazing at the flowing Pinacanauan River on my way to the cave

More To See

We proceeded to check out the rest of the chambers in the cave system and skipped two more which are considered off-limits to tourists. Inside each chamber, the prevailing feeling of epic sadness was palpable. Size-wise, the interiors were overwhelming. If not for a few crevices that let in natural light from the cave ceiling, the whole place would be less dramatic.

Inside each chamber, the prevailing feeling of epic sadness was palpable.

Next To The Flowing River

Outside, next to the cave system, the Pinacanauan River runs through the town's terrain of vast cornfields. The pathway to and from the cave offered that exact view. Leaving the attraction, I can just imagine how ancient humans marveled at the same sight I was gazing at.

After all, it was at the same cave system where the fossilized remains of the so-called Callao Man was discovered in 2007 by Armand Salvador Mijares. Its discovery is said to predate the remains of Tabon Man, the earliest known human remains in the country.

I was not at all surprised that he was found alone. Like myself, he was probably a recluse by choice.

Check out the Cagayan-related attractions per post:

• Palaui Island of Cagayan
• Duba Cave of Baggao
• Laglagto River and Rock Formation of Baggao
• Country Inn Hotel and Restaurant in Baggao
• Country Inn By The Sea in Sta. Ana
• Nangaramoan Beach of Sta. Ana 
• Jerolynda: Sta. Ana's White Beach Island Resort

More Photos Below:


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