For a long time, caves are believed to be homes of superstitious creatures like fairies, engkanto or laman-lupa. This maybe because it’s part of Filipino culture to believe on them. I remember I was told as a kid that there’s nothing wrong of believing just to be on the safe side. But with the boom of tourism, adventurers seemed to show interest on caves just like the well-known Sumaguing and Lumiang caves in Sagada. Pretty familiar for those who already visited this really cool town. With these two, I only explored a bit of Sumaguing because of limited time. At that moment I thought the cave is big not until I visited Langun-Gobingob caves of Samar. Apparently it’s the biggest cave in the country and 2nd largest in Southeast Asia.
How to get there
Langun-Gobingob caves is located in the town of Calbiga Samar. Going there really depends where you’re coming from. Samar has 2 airports, one in Calbayog and Catarman but it’s nearer if you’ll take the Tacloban route. From there just take a tricycle going to the central bus station and ride one of those vans heading to Northern Samar. All of them will pass through Calbiga. Just ask the dispatchers. Fare actually depends on the final destination of the van and you might get charged for the farthest distance. Right expectation was set though. The first van that will get filled will of course the first to leave. I just want leave as early as possible so I agree with the arrangement. After around an hour and a half I was dropped in Calbiga town proper just in front of the cemetery. As creepy as it sounds, yes the cemetery is in the town center.
Planning the cave exploration
Honestly, at that moment, I have no plan at all. I just knew that I wanted to see the cave but how will I do it, and who will take me there, I have no idea. We’ll I had some research few months back and there is only 1 tour operator of caving adventures in Samar. Unfortunately, they require at least 2 persons to organize the tour. I inquired with them and I think they do not have a group that I can join at the time of my visit. I still did not lose hope and still decided to go to Calbiga hoping that there are other operators that are maybe not on the internet. We’ll I failed at some point because there isn’t. Luckily my home-stay host knew someone who can get a guide for me. Later, I discovered that he used to work for the same tour operator that I contacted. He agreed to be my tour guide and habal-habal driver for that day.
I got the tour very cheap for Php 700. Probably 4 times cheaper than with the tour operator. But of course there’s a catch, it doesn’t include the food, permits, no caving equipment and no photo/video documentation, even flashlights (Good thing I brought one). At first I was a little worried not having the right caving equipment but my guide Alvin assured me that the chambers we will explore doesn’t really need much of the equipment. Of course extra caution is still needed.
We started early in the morning with a habal-habal ride. After roughly around 30 minutes we arrived at a small community were we left his motorcycle. We walk through a trail which at that moment is already covered with tall grasses which my Alvin is clearing with his trusty bolo. It was drizzling at that time which makes the trek very challenging. There is one major assault that nearly killed me. Just kidding, I’m just over acting! But seriously that was kind of steep. After a little more than an hour (my phase, which is fast according to Alvin) we reached the cave’s mouth.
First impression… it’s huge! It can barely fit on a single camera frame. Alvin even told a story that they saw a monkey before who accidentally fell from the top of the cave’s mouth and didn’t survived. That’s how high it is.
We started entering the cave descending. Even at the entrance of the caves the stalactites on the ceiling were already huge. The main entrance is actually a small path enough to fit 2-3 persons. According to Alvin there’s a cobra usually on that entrance but we didn’t see her that day. Probably she went on shopping or food tripping. Just kidding. 🙂
After we pass through the entrance we can now see how big the cave is. The light on our flashlight can barely bounce on its walls and ceiling. We walk through a forest of giant stalagmites and cave corals. Most of them are taller than us. Everything looks so alive and untouched except for some marker probably to avoid getting lost. But everything else it looked raw and glittering unlike other most visited caves in the country. Cave pearls are even present.
There is one more reason I became interested visiting this cave, aside from how cool it is to explore the biggest cave in the country while it’s still not infested with tourist, I want to see the blind cave fish on my own eyes. This is something that I only see on National Geographic before. Luckily my mission didn’t fail and I’m able to see 2 of them in the muddy chamber of the cave.
After around 5 hours inside the cave we decided to end the tour. The parts that I was able to see was just a small portion of it. It will take 3 days inside the cave to fully explore it, or for hardcore adventurers, even more than that because there were parts that you need to dive with complete diving gears.
Langun-Gobingob caves is one heck of an adventure. I can say that you must be physically and mentally ready to do it. There were times that I felt worried if ever our flashlights fail, how are we going to manage to go out. Just like any other caves there is no phone signal inside and at that time, there’s no other tourist inside. It’s just me and my guide Alvin. But I manage to stay calm and we were able to end the tour with not a single flashlight failing.
Caving tour can be done anytime of the year except for very bad weather. Wear comfortable clothes, I’m not wearing any shirt at that time because it’s pretty humid inside. Wear strong shoes as well. My hiking shoes that I use to climb mountains gave up. Obviously slippers and flip-flops are not advisable. Bring something to waterproof your gadgets. Although I didn’t see any major part that you might soak your electronics, it’s still safe to do it.
If planning to do a tour on DIY you may contact Alvin on the below number.
Please note that the permit is not included on the tour price yet. It will cost 500 pesos but already good for as far as I remember is 10 pax and can be used to visit other spots as well such as Lulugayan falls.
I misplaced my notebook with all my expenses. I’ll update this post when I find it.