The person who can guess what Hoyop-Hoyopan means gets to win a t-shirt! Our travel guide jovially shouted through his mic as our van wended its way to Camalig, Albay for a bit of spelunking at Hoyop-Hoyopan Cave. Wind? I ventured. Nope. Blow! My seatmate answered. Correct! (Bigyan ng Jacket! Harhar)
Brgy. Cotmon, where the cave is located, is a bit far from Camalig’s town center and it took almost thirty minutes before we reached the area. An uphill climb to the cave’s mouth welcomed us, along with vendors selling raw crystals broken into small pieces and made as pendants.
I asked one of the vendors what would happen if the crystals they’re mining ran out. It won’t happen, she says, they’re too abundant. The local government should probably look into this and find an alternative and more sustainable livelihood for them.
Our group was briefed before entering Hoyop-Hoyopan cave. Vandalism, littering, destroying of rocks, drinking of liquor are prohibited. And wait, so is dating inside the cave! I guess the people manning the area had already encountered way too many amorous situations inside that they felt compelled to ban dating too.
The air was cool as we entered the cave. As it name translates, hoyop means to blow. And indeed we experienced that blowing wind sensation as we went inside its dark chambers.
The cave which has been discovered during the Japanese occupation has a total of seven major chambers. However, only three of those are available for tourists to explore. Normal tours take visitors inside two of its chambers and takes an hour to finish. The third chamber is exclusive for hardcore spelunkers and takes around six hours to navigate.
But fear not, neophyte spelunkers. Hoyop-Hoyopan is literally a breeze even for us non-cavers. Pathways and staircases complete with a comprehensive lighting system have already been built by the three families that maintain the cave. Except for a few slippery and tight parts, even your grandma can traverse this cave.
But even with such conveniences, a tour guide is required for every group that enters Hoyop-Hoyopan since the way inside is not always crystal clear. One moment, you’re facing a wall, and another, you’re squeezing in through a small opening that you’re unaware that’s there.
And let’s not forget how creative these guides are when spotting familiar objects on the cave’s rather grotesque stalactite and stalagmite formations. They see everything from the shapes produced by these rocks; from hands, to angels and even dinosaurs.
But not all features of the cave are make believe. Hoyop-Hoyopan, which is dated by priest and archeologist Cantius Kobak from 3000 to 4000 B.C., also holds earthenware artifacts worthy of the National Museum. Jars found in the area were dated to be from 200 B.C. to 900 A.D.
I remember one caving experience from years ago; our guide says that if a cave’s surface is dry, it’s already dead. Sad to say, but some parts of Hoyop-Hoyopan cave is already dead. Although there are still chambers where you can literally feel the air wet with humidity.
Halfway through the tour, we noticed a circular platform on one of the cave’s larger chambers. Ah that one, says our guide. He relates how during the martial law era, at a time when strict curfew was imposed, the locals used the cave when needing to extend a party late into the night. That paved circular portion? Their dance hall. Coolness eh?
Canine lovers would also adore this cave as it has become residents to two dogs. Our guide even related to us how during a shooting of a certain local movie, one of the dogs kept getting in the way of the camera, prompting the director to hurl expletives to whoever owns the dog.
Hoyop-Hoyopan Cave has various openings that lead to the surrounding areas, and one of those opens directly towards the Mayon Volcano. I’ve been to this cave twice, and it was cloudy both times, so no framed Mayon for me.
Isn’t there a local saying that Mayon only comes out when there’s a virgin in the group? :P
The final leg of the tour involves ducking through an opening that leads to a cool forest. From there it’s a downhill trek where we can actually see the outer shell of the cave, which is surprisingly, made of coral stones. We ended up near the side of Hoyop-Hoyopan entrance where we originally started from.
Hoyop-Hoyopan Cave may not be as beautiful and as challenging as the cave systems in Sagada. It may not be as cavernous and grand as that of Puerto Princesa’s Underground River. But it has it’s still a pretty good side trip if ever you find yourself in Albay, especially for people who want to try caving without the necessary slips and bruises associated with the adventure.
Address: Brgy. Cotmon, Camalig, Albay
Entrance Fee: None
Guide Fee: Php300.00
Parking Fee: Php25.00
GPS Coordinates: +13° 7' 15.34", +123° 39' 21.42"
View Location on Google Maps: Click Here