Siquijor — The trek to Cantabon cave in the town of Siquijor was tough but rewarding. For Sweetheart and her relatives, it was a different and daring adventure to walk underneath the island known for its pristine beaches and dive sites.
My goodness, the magnificent chamber of stalactites and stalagmites and natural pools of water is breath-taking, exclaimed Sweetheart, who was home for three weeks in May this year from Toronto where she works as a personal support worker. Although it was her second time to visit the cave, the experience had always been exhilarating.
Sweetheart was with cousin Julius, little nephew RJ, and niece Yllizah in the two-hour trail. Their guides were two young locals, high school students, who were happy enough to show them the enchanting chamber. They earn from being tour guides (60% of the Php500 ticket for three guests goes to them and 40% goes to government for upkeep and safety) to be able to finance their education.
The cave, discovered only in 1985 by European trekkers, has a tiny opening from the earth’s surface that only one person can enter at a time. The guides remind each tourist to watch their heads of the sharp stalactites and walk slowly to guard against rough or slippery rocks.
Yllizah was shaking when she finally reached the deep bottom of the cave, not because it was cold, but it was eerie, enchanting, but eerie.
I thought of snakes. That scared me. But no, there were none, Sweetheart shared.
With just the illumination from their helmets, the four curious people marveled at the crystal white terraces of stalagmites, which included an elegant flowstone popularly called ‘the queen’s bed’ and enormous stalactites. The 5-foot natural pool equipped with shower was a refreshing treat.
On the way back up the surface, Sweetheart was gihangak (catching one’s breath). But she beamed and said, this eco-adventure was all worth it.
Siquijor is a tiny island lying on the Mindanao Sea but part of the Central Visayas region of the Philippines. The Spaniards called it “isla del fuego’ (land of fire) because it looked like an island of fire from a distance. It offers crystal clear beaches and mountain resorts and its home-grown industries include peanut and milk production.
(Editor’s Note: A stalactite is an icicle-shaped formation that hangs from the ceiling of a cave, and is produced by precipitation of minerals from water dripping through the cave ceiling. Most stalactites have pointed tips. A stalagmite is an upward-growing mound of mineral deposits that have precipitated from water dripping onto the floor of a cave. Most stalagmites have rounded or flattened tips. http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/facts/stalactite.html)