Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Sagada's Crystal Cave

Before you start reading this post, sorry the photos are not good quality because of our
cameras and it does not justify the beauty of the cave and our spelunking experience.
But hey, I am still posting this because I am proud of this experience!

CRYSTAL CAVE is not advertised as much as with the other caves. WHY?
They want to preserve the place from tourists/people giving damage to these wonders.
The guides would still guide you here but they prefer very small group as it's less disturbance and the tasks here are very hard compared to other caves in Sagada.

The guide rates are pretty high.
At first, I did not understand why but after the experience, the work that needs to be done is worth the cost.

Our entrance point is near the Sumaging Cave.
We're at the entrance of the cave with our guides. Ratio is 1:1

We started at 5:00pm at the entrance but really started the
spelunking at 5:30pm because they had to lit the lamps.
The guides said regular time to finish is around 6 hours or more.

We started with small spaces.

Then this took us some time.
 The guides were busy working on the ropes.
Take note that even if the ratio is 1:1, it's not as if you'll be holding hands with your guide the whole time.
So much work preparing and dismantling the ropes, assisting the guests and support if anything happens.

We were lucky because we were the first ones to use the harness provided by Kuya Erwin Quiore. This was exciting.

Our first time to rapel and it was this high and it was such a great experience.
For you not to get scared, you just have to learn to trust your guides.

These are the rules I just created based on my experience.
Number 1 rule: Trust your guide.
Number 2 rule: Follow everything they say. 
Number 3 rule: Don't explore on your own.
Number 4 rule: Stop asking if you're almost done with the activity. Kinda irritating.
Just enjoy and let time worry on its own.

Then the spaces became bigger.

Our guide looked tired already he he he

There was a reason why the guide on the above photo looked tired. The photo below
we took after I got teary eyed at the start. I picked the best guides to do this activity and when I found out one wasn't coming, I got all self-centered and acted like a customer who demanded her rights as if it was the end of the world.
The guide surprised us when he showed up. When we were inside and had our moment while we wait for the others to rappel down, he said he was sick and the reason why he couldn't make it at first but still went because he heard that I was pissed.
  So that explains our eyes here. Fine. I felt guilty.

Moooving on . . .  as we continued . . .
The sick guide was leading the group and he did pretty well.

We saw stalactites . .

. . . and stalagmites.

It was just lovely!!! This is my favorite.

stalagmite stalactite

Our guide explained in a low voice about stalagmites and stalactites.
We can't make much noise as it will be disturbed.

I tried very hard to just giggle and whisper here hee hee

A stalactite is a type of speleothem which is a secondary mineral that hangs from a ceiling of a limestone cave. It is a dripstone.
A stalagmite is the secondary mineral that grows from the floor.
They grow at 3mm (0.12inches) per year. So you can't touch them or make any noise that may lead to vibration and damage it.

So amazing to see these.

I enjoyed these quietly . . . no choice but to be quiet hahaha


We then headed to the flowstone.

They are composed of sheetlike deposits of calcite where water flows down from the walls or along the floors.

They are the most common speleothem.

Crystal Cave

You can touch 'em. This is Ann's flowstone. hahaha (inside joke)




Too many flowstone photos hee hee
It was just a beauty

Okay, I prepared for this. They said that there was a hole in the cave where the ONLY option is the snake crawl.They said the hole was tiny. I tried to lose weight for 3 months just so I can fit.
My fear of not being able to get out ha ha ha

I was the first one to do it and funny how it just took me really quick. Not because I was tiny (which I wasn't still) but because you just need a very flexible body that you can move inside.

I was surprised to see our guide with his camera on top as I went out. 
It's not that I was ready for it but I was having fun that's why I was all smiles.


I just had to do another one.


Mud was like very deep and we had to go into the waters at times. 
I was following this guide then it became deeper. 
I remembered my guide was taller than me.

As much as possible, we tried not to get really wet because we might suffer from hypothermia. This was almost near to the end though.


There are so much more but we failed to take photos because sometimes we were dirty and the camera would moist because of the cold temperature inside the cave.

My remembrance from Crystal Cave.
Our guides just smiled at it and said I should be proud!

Upper photo was from the snake crawl hole. I was using my hands to get directions so it hit the stones.

The photo below had another story. It was an accident. I thought I heard my guide who said I can slide down  from the rope but it turned out I heard wrong and I went straight down. The guides were very alert and he was able to save me from going more down.
Rope burn is what they call it. They immediately checked on my hands. The temperature inside made it numb. It hurt though when I took a hot shower after.

How dirty was I? That's how deep some of the muds were.

We were so hungry when we got back. Thank you my fellow blogger/traveler/friend, Breakaway Jan for making us a hot soup to keep us warm and nice dinner.

I'm glad I survived Crystal Cave. We were out of the cave at 9:30pm.
4 freaking hours!!!! WOOT!!!
We weren't about time. We were about just enjoying and surviving this cave.
I will do this again next year and share more photos and experiences!!! DEFINITELY!!!

I'm glad to have this great company of friends and guides.

You'll only get the best guides from SaGGAs!!!
I highly recommend them. They're more than the bank.
You're in GREAT hands with these men.
Not all guides can do this cave. Make sure you get the best!

Kuya Sotero Ngoloban
Kuya Benji Calpi
Kuya Erwin Quiore
Kuya John Justo

Thursday, December 20, 2012

D'Project 1: Cambulo Birthday Treat

I started last year making sure that every birthday that I have will be memorable. Last year was a solo trip to El Nido. This year I prayed that I maybe able to spend it with a family from the mountain and make them experience how we in Manila celebrate birthdays. As the months went along, my plans and prayers changed and became better.  Though scheduled at exactly on my birthday, it did not happen as my dad died two days before the big day and so I had to move it a week after. Still, I consider it as my birthday celebration.

I decided to do a cultural immersion instead. I was considering the aetas near Mt. Pinatubo or Sagada, Mt. Province. But all signs were pointing to Banaue, Ifugao. I wanted a village that's a bit far, with no/poor telecommunication signals and a remote place where help is a bit far. My guide, Kuya Dandy told me that they are in need of school supplies and medicines.  I asked a few friends who would like to share their blessings to these kids. I am no longer making as much as when I worked in the corporate world but I realized that I have friends who have big hearts to share their blessings to these kids.

The plan was . . . to do a cultural immersion and give the blessings to the school.
I did not know that my guide had cooked up something. 
The school had a program for me!!!
I thought he was just kidding. I asked him if I could just give everything to them 
and the teachers would be the ones to give it out.
My guide said it was a way of thanking me and my friends for the blessings we have shared.
Since it was an immersion, I cannot contradict the culture ha ha ha

When I got to the school grounds, I saw this.
 Hmmm . . . I guess it was fine to be acknowledged.

I had some photo ops with the kids first.

Then slowly, kids were running out from their classrooms and forming an assembly.

They took out all the donations I brought.

And next thing you know, Auntie Isabel (the woman to my left, who is a teacher 
and the owner of the house I stayed at) was dressing me up.

I was accompanied by tourists from Canada. They were just watching at first
but we had them joined me.

They said I was like the Queen ha ha ha

Every class performed a beautiful song.
These were some of the classes we were able to get a photo of.

Cambulo, Banaue, Ifugao

Cambulo, Banaue, Ifugao

Cambulo, Banaue, Ifugao

Cambulo, Banaue, Ifugao

Cambulo, Banaue, Ifugao

God has blessed me with these people who were so generous. I did not have a hard time asking. I did not mind if it was something small or big that they gave me as long as it came from their hearts. They did not think twice and their "yes" was all that mattered. 

Tony Dee Hortel
Dianne Bautista and family
Missy Rivera
Ms. Niza Sarmiento
Marlene Bautista
Marie Grace Coriage
Melay Zapico
Jan Enero
Cris Rito
Mei Tiongson Delos Santos
Mylene Mariano
CeeJay and Cielo
Marvin Ibana and family

The balloons was for me actually. 
Then when I saw they all wanted it and were having fun with it,
I wished I could have brought more.

They went gaga over the balloons.

The balls went to the barangay so anyone who wants to play, can just borrow it.
We thought we lost the basketball at first, then we found out that the kids got so excited when they saw it in the bag, that they played with it already.

The Barangay chairman shooting the ball.
(though the kids played with it earlier)

I was helping the teachers on what to give out.
Then they said I should be the one to give it out.

Here's a brief story before we move on.
The day before the gift giving, on our way trekking to this place, we passed by a store.
They thought I was the daughter of a running politician named Habawel
who so happened to be in Cambulo that day. They thought I was bringing
the donations that may have something related to his campaign.
I also had the features of the Habawel dude. hee hee
Of course, we explained that I was no way related to him and what I was doing was
not connected to him.

Moving on . . . it was fun doing this. It made me look like I was going
to run for politics but who cares . .  it was fun giving.

They were happy with anything I gave.
The teachers decided what to give to what class.

Every "thank you" and "salamat" they gave was so wonderful that
I wished my friends would have seen or heard it.

The gongs then came out and I was pretty excited because I love the gongs.
The man with the cap is Uncle Donato who is the husband of Auntie Isabel. 
They provided the place I stayed at and the food I ate for 3 days.

The cultural dance

The dance has a story that comes with it.

They made me dance!!!

A photo with the teachers, the Barangay officials and my guide.

Photos with two Canadian couples who watched and enjoyed the program with me.

with everyone.

The items we gave out:
A bag from a foreigner that my guide assisted.
120 notebooks
92 notepads
391 pencils
1 industrial pencil sharpener
50 eco-bags
30 bubbles
20 jackstones
20 bracelets
10 picture frames
1 basketball
1 volleyball
1 foot pump
4 multi-vitamins
4 ascorbic acid
8 paracetamol tempaid
60 crayons
4 sets of flashcards
2 bibles
1 boardgame
1 skipping rope
2 yo-yo
water bottles
hard bound notebook
others I think I was not able to list.

I was soooo HAPPY to see them happy with the little blessings we shared.
I felt it the moment I stepped in there until the time I left.
This was a great birthday and christmas gift to me.
I'm sure it is for my friends who shared.
God bless these kids and the people in Cambulo.
God bless my friends for having generous hearts.
God bless my guide for helping me make this happen.
All the glory to our God.

Thank you all for reading this post 
and I hope you will be part of my next trip to bless more kids/people. 

Here's a video I almost cried when they were singing.
Surely, it spoke right to my heart and I hope it did to you too.

For more of D'PROJECT, click here.