Sagada Cave Connections (Day 4 Part 2)

We went to the Sagada Tourist Center to register us all.  (NOTE: There were no waivers or other safety measures aside from this) Each registrant is charged a registration fee of 10 php.  We also hired 8 tour guides because there were 19 of us who will be going through the Sagada Cave Connections.  Each tour guide has a service fee of 400 php.  Since there were too many tour guides we had to hire a van for them.  To our surprise, the cave was only a little further downhill from our location.  


Our guides told us to leave the rest of our belongings like towels etc. since they will only be extra weights to carry.  So we only brought water-proof bags, cameras and bottled waters.  It was 9:30 a.m. as we walked through the partially cemented trekking tracks going down to the cave site.  Our guide said it was cemented for the convenience of Senior Citizens (like my aunts and uncles) who want to enter the cave.

Entrance / exit of Sumaguing Cave

At this point I was expecting that we would be entering a simple and plain cave like what I see in batman movies.  Then when we reached the cave, we saw coffins and a warning sign not to go in beyond 5 p.m.  My companions ahead were already far down.  I was surprised that we had to go down the cave through the big rocks.  But I went along.  I was too curious to see what was inside the cave to be intimidated by some rock.  I went down one cautious step at a time.  When I'm uncertain if I can balance well, I would sit and crawl down on my back.  Its better to be safe and slow than to fall down and hit some rocks and injure myself.  The cave rocks were amazingly smooth though.

Guide instructing me where I should step
Soon, everything became dark and obstacles became harder and harder.  I had no idea of what lies ahead.  I just followed my companions and the listened to the guides.  Our guides carried their lamps to help us see which way to go.  They would instruct us where to go, what position to carry out and where to step.  Sometimes, I feel like my feet could not reach the rock where I'm suppose to step.  The guide told me I should trust him and push it even if I feel nothing and so I did.  I kept on stretching my legs more and more and somehow I managed to reach the point where my foot should touch.  I really had no idea that entering the cave would be like this.  I expected a walk through the park and just viewing rock formations.  I was misled by all the photos in the restaurants of the cave having people relaxing and smiling happily.

There were some parts wherein we had to enter a small crack in the rocks.  We had to listen to our guide so that we won't fall since we couldn't see where we are stepping. We kept on going downwards but we didn't notice it because we were too busy trying to accomplish one task at a time.  Soon we could see our companions already ahead and far below us.  We wondered how they were able to go down so far and so fast.  Then our guides instructed us to follow them and we did and then we ended up being where our companions were.  The guide told us to look up and we were surprise to see that just a few minutes before we were way up and now we have gone down quickly.

There was a part were we had to step on our guides shoulders and he would lift us up so we could grab the rope and climb up.  It was a bit difficult for me since I was not used to lifting heavy objects.  I had to lift my own weight to be able to climb up.  Perhaps because of my survival instincts or fear of falling into the dark abyss, I was able to accomplish such task.  After encountering many rock formations, we learned that sand colored rocks are good to step on especially when wet since your feet attaches to it while white colored rocks are very slippery and dangerous especially when wet.  During our caving, we noticed that sometimes the lamps of our guides get broken and they had to repair them manually while inside the cave.  We felt lucky to have many guides so that while others where repairing their lamps, our journey still continues.

The part I feared most in the cave were hanging through the edges.  This reminded me of the movie "Cliff Hanger" except that Sylvester Stallone had a muscular body and sometime had safety ropes attached to him and we don't.  I had to choose good sturdy holes to insert my hand and foot.  I had to secure myself otherwise I will fall.  There are no paths and no other way.  When I look down, I could only see darkness.


Along the way, we were awed by the rock formations we encounter.  They had weird names like pregnant woman, mickey mouse, curtains and rice terraces.  There was also a very large caulli flower in the middle of the cave.  We soon reached parts were there are cold waters.  We had to dip our feet in order to cross.  We had to go fast because the the cold water makes is painful to our nerves.  We also noticed that when you wet yourself smoke comes out from you.  When you breath fog also comes out from you. It also got a lot more slippery which made it more difficult to step on the rocks and balance.
At around 12:30 p.m. we were near the entrance.  One of the guides asked us if we wanted to go out already or continue towards an extension.  He said with our pace, it would take us an additional hour and a half.  We all said "Let's go there" and so we did.  The guides then asked us to remove our slippers (Flip-flops) and they threw them somewhere downwards.  We didn't see our slippers until later when we were near the exit.

This part was different from what we previously encountered.  It had more beautiful rock formations and it was always wet.  There was a part where I accidentally slid of the rope and splashed into the water hard.  Luckily, it was water and we really had to cross that water.  The water was waist deep and it was really cold so some of us even shouted when they submerged.  I was less fearful during these stages because it was water but even water was dangerous.  There were deep holes in the ground that you could accidentally fall on so you need to watch your step or stay by the rock side always.

I enjoyed most parts just stepping on sandy colored rocks.  But when we were near the exit, we were given our slippers back and climb a mountain sandy colored rocks.  It reminded me of the desert except that these were hard rocks we need to climb on.  After that, we had to climb large rocks covered entirely of bat poop.  My feet being wet and muddy from the bat poop made it slip through my slippers so it was very difficult to climb up.  I found climbing up more difficult and tiring than going downwards.
Stairs from the cave exit to the road
Entrance / exit of Lumiang Cave
After climbing different kinds of rock formations 1 even looked like a staircase we finally could see the light from the outside.  But the steps still looked endless. I was losing my stamina and so couldn't take my steps properly and balance so the guides had to assist me upwards.  After reaching the cave exit.  It was around 1:20 p.m. and we were so tired when we reached the top that we had to sit alongside the road.

The guides' van was waiting outside.  We gave them  tip for their excellent service.  After a few minutes, our ride came to fetch us too.  We were all so tired and hungry so our next stop was at Masferre Inn and Restaurant. (see separate entry)

 Tips: (Wish we had known before went in)
  1. Wear flip-flops that are not slippery when wet or have straps so your feet won't slip out of it when your feet is wet and muddy
  2. Don't bring anything except bottle water and cameras and if you can't carry them anymore, ask your guide to.
  3. Avoid stepping on white colored rocks they are very slippery like soap especially when wet.
  4. Don't wiggle the rope when you climb.  Keep your feet apart for more stability and climb one step at a time.  
  5. Listen to your guide.  Don't hesitate stepping on them.  It may be the only way.
  6. If you're out of shape, expect your muscles to sore after.
  7. Wear light clothes that easily dry (we wore board shorts and swim wears)
  8. Bring zip lock bags for your gadgets and money
  9. This is not an obstacle for the frail hearted 
  10. To avoid muscle pains, do stretching.  Had to stretch so much to reach rock to rock... (Don't be fooled if the guides seem to be relaxing themselves)