It was the evening of our first day in the province of Quirino and we were relaxing a bit; hanging out, passing tall tales, out-grossing each other with the crassest things we could think of, and drinking beer at the porch of the Capitol Plaza Hotel. A few minutes in and it started to drizzle.
Are you sure it’s still safe to push with the caving activity tomorrow? I asked, worried that it might get too slippery inside the cave for safe passage; we were not exactly the best example of a spelunking group. Don’t worry, we’ll go as planned. It’s perfectly safe, our guide assured us.
Well, goodluck guys, I’m sure you’ll all have fun inside Aglipay Caves!
|SHORT HIKE TO AGLIPAY CAVES ENTRANCE|
The next day, wet from the incessant rain, I stood facing the awning mouth of Aglipay Caves, thoroughly unprepared and totally undecided, wondering if I should turn back or follow my companions as the full darkness of the cave started to swallow them one after another.
|AGLIPAY CAVES PICNIC GROUNDS|
That’s right, it’s Aglipay Caves, with an s.
Discovered in 1983, the caves, named after the town and Philippine Independent Church founder, Gregorio Aglipay, is a multi-chambered system of caves located on a sprawling 101-hectare eco adventure area in Barangay Villa Ventura.
|CATHEDRAL-LIKE SPACE AT AGLIPAY CAVES’ CHAMBER ONE|
|GOING DEEPER INSIDE AGLIPAY CAVES|
It has a whopping total of 37 chambers, eight of which has been fully explored. And of these, only four are open to nosy tourists like us.
You may think, only four?
But going through those, even on a regular pace, would still take you at least an hour and a half plus of crawling through tight spaces, squeezing through hairpin cracks, duck-walking along low-ceilinged gaps and would definitely have you thinking, why in the heck are you doing this for.
|AGLIPAY CAVES CHAMBER ONE MOUTH|
The usual Aglipay Caves route would have you going from the cathedral-like space of chamber one, into a sunlit forest, then into chamber eight. From there, you’d duck-walk yourselves into chamber two and climb a slippery steel ladder right beside an abyss of unfathomable depth to chamber three.
Then you do everything in reverse.
|AGLIPAY CAVES, SURROUNDED BY HECTARES OF VERDANT FOREST|
So there I was, still wondering and undecided if I would allow myself to be swallowed by the unmoving darkness of Aglipay Caves. Two of our companions already backed out, knowing they were really not in shape for caving.
Me, I definitely know I’m not that spelunking type, having gone through quite a few caves myself and having that why, oh why did I enter thought bubble every time that I did.
|YOURS TRULY, SELFIE AT AGLIPAY CAVES|
So, why don’t I love thee? Let me count the ways.
First, I’m not physically fit. Second, I am a hundred percent clumsy; I slip and trip at every opportunity presented. Third, my legs cramp easily. So unless they’re willing to piggyback me back to the cave mouth as soon as both my legs start to turn to wood, well, Aglipay Caves is a no go for yours truly.
And so, after the last of my companions went in, and after a few more moments of panicked indecision, I turned and started to feel my way inside Aglipay Caves.
What the heck.
Aglipay Caves and Campsite
Address: Barangay Villa Ventura, Aglipay, Quirino
Contact Number (Quirino Tourism): (0917) 416-5945
Environmental Fee: Php25.00
Cave Entrance Fee: None
Tour Guide Fee: No standard fee yet, but Php250.00 is a fair enough rate
GPS Coordinates Map: 16°28'49.0"N 121°37'05.6"E