Caving in Zamboanga del Norte
By  Ligaya B. Tomong

People go caving or spelunking, the sport of cave exploring, because it can mean different things to different people. For some, it can be escapism from the daily grind, no wonder that most of the professionals are involved in this kind of sport.

Photo shows members of the Dipolog Outdoors Society Incorporated at the entrance of the Libuton Cave in the Municipality of Manukan.

To others, they consider caving as a fun away of getting exercised and become physically fit because it is sometimes regarded as mountain climbing underground.

People go caving for various reasons, it can be for reason of escapism from the regular routines in life, that’s why most of the professionals are involved in this kind of sport.

Here in the vast province of Zamboanga del Norte, we have quite a lot of caves situated in the different municipalities but sad to imagine that only few of them are recognized and explored by our local cavers. Another reason is that, unfortunately, sad to say that we do not have much cave explorers in the province to call upon this need.

“Even some of the locals residing within the vicinity  do not have the guts and courage to explore their caves. Some of the residents have their strong belief in myths while others have the fear of the unknown”, said Basil Gonzales, a mountaineer and member of the Dipolog Outdoors Society.

Some of the locals residing within the vicinity of the caves do not have the courage to conduct their own exploration for a lot of them believe the myths and legends that’s been keeping them away from entering these caves while others have the extreme fear factor of the unknown

For this reason, cavers like Basil desire for a more progressive and developmental approach towards the important significance of our caves and that that locals should be well educated and informed about the caves so that they may fully enjoy the thrill of caving.

The development of the caves in Zamboanga del Norte may persuade more cavers to organize more caving trips and expedition.

DOS cavers felt a little relief of the penetrating beam that lights their way into the cave’s passageways.

Caves are often hollow and are also understood as the natural passage into the earth especially those with opening to the surface. The exploration and exhibitions conducted into these natural passageways is what we called ‘caving’.

It may not be the first time a cave has been entered but it might also be the exploration on a more personal level by someone who has not been in that particular cave before.

Besides the danger factor such as darkness and tight passageways there are also other aspects of the cave that should be considered for safety reasons like the presence of bats and other cave creatures makes the cave exploration a little more challenging.

Caving usually involves being part of a group of cavers who often get as much fun out of being together as a group while in the cave. This also means helping each other during the entire duration of the sport and helping each other through every obstacle they encounter. It is a simple pleasure in life to share your wonder with your companions of your amazement of these passages which brings out a good adventure experience that causes the development of camaraderie between cavers while being underground.

Last month, the members of the Dipolog Outdoors Society Incorporated (DOS) organized a caving trip in the Libuton Cave in the Municipality of Manukan. To them, caving is very dangerous especially to those people who are new in this kind of adventure and must need plenty of experience, endurance and the desire for adventure.

DOS seriously considers the danger factor in this kind of voyage because during the trip there are portion of the cave where they often encounter total darkness and that makes some people feel as if their in another world and to some this may cause fear and panic and that’s what they do not want to happen.

Besides the darkness factor there are also other reasons that should be considered like the complicated passages that lead to nowhere and the presence of bats, snakes, frogs, insects and other cave creatures making the cave exploration even a little more challenging.

Basil added that proper training is a must for the beginners because there are so many important aspects of caving that one is unlikely to come across.

Members of the Dipolog Outdoors Society at Libuton Cave, Manukan, Zamboanga del Norte.

Caving also involves learning to treat the cave as part of the outside environment and should be treated with respect and conservation because there are much more extra ordinary and beautiful things that can be found inside which has been shaped by nature for thousands of years. But if cavers are careless and hasty, they can surely destroy the cave in just a split second.

Caves are categorized into two, the horizontal and vertical caves. There are also caves that are flooded with water while others are dry and hot while there are also cold regions and some may me muddy and sandy.

Caving gives a person the chance to truly share their wonder and amazement with their companions of the beauty of the underworld such as this magnificent limestone formation found at Libuton Cave. Stalactites are formations that hang from the ceiling while those that stand on the floor are called stalagmites.

In caving, the needed equipments include caving helmet, lighting system and belt.  Cavers also like to wear gloves and pads to protect their hands, knees and elbows.  They also bring with them ropes and other useful tools used in their caving expeditions.

Aside from the thrill of adventure, there are also aspects that attract people such as the exploration of new caves, climbing, diving under submerged pathways, photography, even sketching and painting.

Complicated passageways such as these make cave explorations require a more challenging approach. Photo shows Basil Gonzales in a tight duct.

Caving can be considered very dangerous for non-professionals but for those experienced cavers, caving trips are carried out every weekend with people enjoying a safe and fun time, and to further attain such joys in life all it needs is just the proper training and a bit of common sense along the way.