Thursday, September 24, 2009

Catanduanes: exploring the falls of Maribina and Balongbong and passing thru Luyang Cave

maribina dramatic rocks and cascadeAfter a day of blue skies and sunny beach-walking, the weather turned somber and grey as we headed back to Virac from Puraran. Ahh, a good time to catch up on rest as we can't expect a glorious sunset or sunrise to shoot. Ditto, a clear night sky for long exposure sessions. so we slacked off for the rest of the afternoon and decided to try out the oft-mentioned Sea Breeze restaurant at the Virac wharf.  (read our review at scene from sea breeze restaurantThe food was good, the ambiance excellent, the food prices even more amazing. Save for the dim lighting and pesky mosquitoes, it was nice to dine out near a wharf which doesn't bear the stench of dirty waters. With no clear night sky to shoot, it was early lights out for us so we can get started early the next day.balongbong fallsAs we have a rented tricycle at our disposal, we were able to go around and sightsee more freely even on a rainy day. Catanduanes is known for its waterfalls and even though the sun hid the whole day, we had to visit a waterfall. We were billeted at Monte Karlo Inn which is located just a few minutes away from bato town so going to balongbong falls wasn't much of a hassle. there were twin cascades that flow to a big catch basin. further out, there was the remnant of a man-made pool, now strewn with dried twigs and leaves which is a sorry sight to see. I find M0aribina Falls in Marinawa more appealing with its lush surroundings and more dramatic boulders and cascades. The catch basin is deeper and more dramatic as well but a word of caution though, a dayo (visitor from out of town) recently perished when he dove into the waters in the aftermath of a typhoon. dangerous beauty indeed.luyang cave bridgeMaybe it was due to the somberness of the day that we decided that if we can't shoot the outdoors much, perhaps we can go and visit a cave. That we did, venturing westward to san andres for the Luyang Cave. We had a most amiable and knowledgeable guide/driver who took us through a circuitous but more scenic route passing through Igang, Lourdes, Magnesia, Buenavista, Palauig and Lictin.

it was humid outside but stepping inside the cave, there was palpable dampness. was it the cool, damp air? or something supernatural? after all, the cave became the tomb of natives massacred by pirates during the 17th century. the altar at the entrance of the cave was constructed to appease their souls. an interesting feature near the other end of the cave is a bridge across a deep chasm. bugs crowd our lone headlamp as we go deeper inside the cave. turning off the lamp to fend off the pesky bugs, the place becomes pitch black and very, very silent. there was a path leading upwards to the forest but we decided to go back the way we came in followed by a palpable presence and the eerie silence. 

INFO: tricycles can be rented to go to the outlying areas; fees vary so haggle well; the passenger/s is expected to shoulder the gas/fuel expense • alternatively, motorbikes can be rented out for as low as P500/day; just ask around in virac • bring a headlamp and spare batteries when exploring luyang caves (or any of the caves for that matter) as there are no petromax (gas lamps) available. luyang cave may have built-in concrete steps but it can be slippery when wet and ordinary flashlights will not suffice in the pitch-black conditions


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