Quarter and One of Existence: My Unusual Kind of Celebrating My Birthday , Hint it Entails Fears, Dirts, and Darkness

Quarter and One of Existence: My Unusual Way of Celebrating My Birthday , Hint: It Entails Fears, Dirts, and Darkness

 

Birthdays are special days for most of us. Some of us may celebrate an additional year of existence by having a get-together party with loved ones; others may just treat or spoil themselves with sweet things of indulgences. I usually celebrate my birthday in a simple way with family and friends and sometimes I buy stuff as a memorabilia of gratitude for another year has been given to me to live my life again in this complex yet wonderful world.

However, in my 26th year, I opted to have a different way of celebrating my birthday. It entailed something extreme, something extraordinary and something unusual for me where I had to face my fears, spent few days in dirt  and dwelt in dark places. I must say that this was one of the greatest adventures I ever had. And to top it all, I spent it with strangers who turned out to be awesome friends. I could say that this experience made me live my life to the fullest.

These are the snippets and glimpses of my adventures during my 6 days in celebrating my birthday.

Day 1.   Catbalogan City:  Biking and Snapping Around the Town

I went to Samar for this birthday feat. It wasn’t my first time though to set foot on Samar Islands because during Holy Week 2016 I visited the northern part of Samar. (Click here if you haven’t read that yet.) This time I went to the Western corner. I arrived in Catbalogan City in the afternoon and met up with Sir Joni, our guide, for this birthday adventure. Do you have an idea what these adventures are all about?

Samar
Inside Trexplore Adventures House

Inasmuch as Samar is dubbed as the Caving Capital of the Philippines, my main purpose in coming here was  to do some caving/spelunking. But first, let’s see what other adventures we can avail of here in Samar. Hmm, I guessed I had to try biking around the town. 

Welcome to Catbalogan City

I was thrilled for it’s been years I haven’t pedalled. I was glad to be back on track not knowing about my destination, just impulsively heading to where the road would take me. I knew this biking journey of mine would be worth it.

Samar
Overlooking Catbalogan City
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Chasing sunsets while biking around Catbalogan City

Day 2, 3 and 4.    Langun Gobingob Cave: Spelunking the Biggest Cave in the Philippines

I had my birthday adventure inside the biggest cave of the Philippines, the Langun Gobingob Cave in Calbiga, Samar.
Together with my new found friends and Sir Joni, our cave master with his caving team, we spent three days and two nights inside the cave. The idea of sleeping inside the cave seemed insane and scary for me. But as what the quote says, “If it’s something scary, you better try.”

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Upon entering the cave, I was immediately mesmerized by its grandeur. Some parts of the cave were so wide that three airplanes could go flying inside without hitting and crashing against each other. Can you imagine how wide it is?

Photo credits to Sir Joni Bonifacio

Then a cave would not be complete without the interior designs and decors. What I mean was that we saw a lot of stalactites, stalagmites and other unique rock formations of different shapes, sizes, textures, and structures, some of which had sparkling effects like tidbits of glittering diamonds.

Every piece was stunningly and beautifully crafted in a very precise manner for over a thousand years by Mother Nature. And there were lots of them; any angle was a masterpiece of art. That’s why as we explored around the cave we made sure not to touch anything in it for the preservation of these natural and delicate masterpieces. The cave was indeed an amazing natural museum of magnificent art that our eyes feasted upon.

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The Giant Chandelier

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A forest of stalactites.
Caving in Langun Gobingob is not for the faint-hearted. It was an extreme adventure for me. It required attention to all elements. I got acquainted with obstacles along the way, like spending the whole tour in darkness (though there was headlamp), scrambling on the rocks, hiking for almost 8 hours to explore just one part of the cave (time check 8pm -4am hike), wading almost 4 hours in the underground river, walking and sometimes getting stuck on knee deep mud, encountering different faunas like thousands of bats, snakes, eyeless fish, crossing a very small passageway, getting down a 40m vertical cliff, walking a  mountain of bat shit, not taking a bath for two days, soaking myself with my own sweat and many more diverse death defying, challenging and daring activities  inside the cave. That’s why being vigilant in the cave is a must at all times.

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Wading the underground river
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Caves and stars 😍😍

Samar
Walking on a mountain of bat shit haha
Samar
Thousand of bats coming out from the cave

What truly amazed me most was getting acquainted with awesome folks who made my adventure worth remembering. It was my first time to try solo traveling but I guess it wasn’t really that solo because I got to know and socialize with different people from different parts of the Philippines who shared the same sentiments of love for adventure. And that made my trip unforgettable and more awesome.

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From L to R. Steph, Geann, Haz, Lloyd, Apple, Michelle and Patatas

To complete my birthday and to make it special, our guide and cave master, Sir Joni, gave me a surprise treat. He brought and gave me four customized cupcakes. My birthday was really special. It was such a delight to my soul. I’m really grateful for the special treat.Thank you.

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Thank you so much Sir Joni 😍😊

Day 4. Lulugayan Falls: The Magnificent Falls that Was Worth the Struggle

After spending our time in the cave, we visited another magnificent form of nature and that was waterfalls. It was part of the itinerary of the 3-day and 2-night caving in Langun Gibingob Cave. We had the chance to see  Lulugayan Falls, which was popular for its likeness to Niagara falls. The road going there was really rough and it took us almost 30 minutes  habal-habal ride to reach it. It was literally a pain in the ass. But I never complained because I enjoyed the habal-habal ride while seeing splendid rustic scenery. The view was truly beautiful. The verdant field topped with cottony-like flowers, the beautiful landscape of mountains, seas and sky, made me more grateful to our Almighty God for His creations. I may have used a lot of adjectives but it’s true. This made me believe in the quote ” sometimes difficult roads lead to beautiful places”.

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Words somehow cannot fully describe how beautiful this waterfalls is. Of the waterfalls I have visited this is one of my favorites. After the extreme caving and tough habal-habal ride, we had swimming in the waters of Lulugayan Falls which calmed and relaxed our jaded bodies. … such a relief! But the view of the falls itself made me loosen up more. It was a breath-taking view. The gushing sound of the waterfalls gave delight to my ears, and the sight of the cascading waters entertained my eyes. Truly, Samar has a lot to be proud of.  It’s definitely a paradise.

My feelings and appreciation of my adventures are beyond description. Words are not enough to aptly describe them. So, here’s my video for your reference.

Day 5.  Lobo Cave: A Cave with Captivating and Enthralling Surprises

My caving experience didn’t end in Langun Gobingob because on my fifth day in Samar, I went caving again in a spectacular cave, the Lobo Cave in Jiabong, Samar.

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This cave seemed to be a favourite of many as what I gathered from the people who have already visited the caves of Samar.  Because of that response, my curiosity was aroused and this led me to go caving again in Samar. I didn’t even read the many blogs about Lobo Cave unlike Langun Gobingob. This time I wanted to be surprised. I wanted to see what the cave will really reveal to my very own eyes. I didn’t expect anything fantastic. I just wanted to feel the essence of an adventure which is to venture into the unknown while journeying and witnessing the unleashed mysteries and beauties in the darkness.

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A rock formation that looks like an angel. Photo credits to Sir Joni Bonifacio

My first impression upon seeing the mouth of Lobo Cave was that it was a just a small cave. But as soon as we entered and explored the cave, it gradually revealed astonishingly grand scenery of wonders.

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Inside Lobo Cave
We had a day tour in Lobo cave but if we should have desired to explore all the nooks and corners in the cave, the tour would take 2-3 days. So, it is possible to spend nights in this cavern. Anyway, here are the highlights of our caving in Lobo Cave in Jiabong, Samar.

Just like in Langun Gobingob, we also got acquainted with diverse structures of magnificent rock formations, fine-looking canyons, exquisite natural water pools, stunning stalagmites and stalactites and other spectacular pieces of cave arts in this cave. But what made it different from other caves was that we swam its underground rivers while doing our exploration. 

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Swimming in the cave is part of the adventure which you must cross off in your bucket list. It is a different adrenaline pumping activity. It is exciting and scary at the same time. There is no need to worry because proper gear and suit are provided for this venture.

Lobo Cave has a long stretch of underground rivers. I say rivers because Lobo Cave has two parts, Lower Lobo and Upper Lobo. All these parts have waters. It took us a couple of hours swimming in the lower part to the dead-end and back to the base of the cave and another 2-3 hours on the upper part to the dead-end and to the cave’s exit literally swimming. That’s why it’s impossible not to get wet in this venture.
Sound interesting right? But wait there’s more.

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Swimming inside the rivers of Lobo Cave. Woooh

There’s a cascading waterfalls inside the cave. It was fun and relaxing when our bodies were massaged by the ravishing flow of water. And the view of the waterfalls itself was truly breath-taking.

Samar
Another fave activity of mine in Lobo Cave was mudpacking. There’s a specific part of the cave where we literally put mud in our face. Sounds filthy eh? Definitely not.  For some reasons mudpacking will help exfoliate the dead skin on one’s face. At first I didn’t believe it but it was true. As soon as I washed off the mud, my face became softer and smoother. Caving is not just for extreme activity but also for therapeutic nature spa as well.

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After exploring the cave, we ended up on another activity which was canoeing the Jiabong River. This was my first time riding a canoe. Well, it was basically a boat ride. The pace was slow and I loved it. I adored the slow motion of the canoe. It slowed down my life. I felt reconnected with nature. I admired the beauty of the placid Jiabong River with the nipa grove that surrounded it and the melodious rippling sounds of the paddle through the water.

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As we moved forward to our destination, the sun started to set spreading its blazing hues in the sky until we reached the highway. It was a spectacular 30-minute slow-moving of my life. I never thought canoeing was this fun.

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Jiabong is famed for its mussels so before we left Catbalogan, we bought freshly harvested mussels.

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Freshly harvested Mussels. Nomnom.

Day 6. Canyoning the Seven Waterfalls in Samar

To complete the adventure pack of my birthday week celebration, I tried another extreme adventure, not caving but canyoning on my sixth day in Samar. I was canyoning again, this time in Bangon Samar. We came across seven beautiful waterfalls, each had different levels of difficulty and beauty as well. We had more adrenaline pumping activities, like rappelling down some of the canyons or the waterfalls, jumping over the falls, swimming in the cold spring, river trekking and other nature tripping.

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Kaya mo yan Geann. Haha Photo credits to Sir Joni Bonifacio

My favourite activity was jumping over Bangon Falls.  I conquered another fear by jumping over the waterfalls. I took the courage to leap and plunge myself into the deep waters of the catch basin of the waterfalls, and as I surfaced I smiled and shouted to my heart’s content. #that-happy-feeling-when-you-have-conquered-your-fear was my hash tag for that day, haha!

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The ever beautiful Bangon Falls

It was a half day of daring adventure. Samar has a number of brimming natural resources. Samar is my kind of Utopia. I simply love being here that I wanted to stay longer. There are lots of places which need to be discovered and explored. 
That was my last activity in Samar. Time did not stand still for I went back to Cebu. I had unforgettable moments in Samar that I’ll forever keep in my treasure of wanders. I’ll be back for sure.

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While some of us may choose to invest their time and money on gadgets, or on expensive  things for  their birthdays; others would rather have an adventure. Well, I wouldn’t trade off this experience with luxurious things. I would rather get dirty, face my fears, spend my days in darkness and live my life to the fullest by travelling and seeking adventures. My present for myself was conquering fears I never thought I would be capable of doing, travelling to new places and making new friends With that, I’m leaving here with a quote “Fill your life with adventures not things, have stories to tell not stuffs to show.”

Of course, my adventure in Samar would not be possible without Samar Outdoor Shop, Trexplore the Adventures. With them I was assured of my safety with their state of the art caving and canyoning gears and equipment. Would you dare to try my experiences here in Samar? If so what are you waiting for? Book your adventure now.

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For bookings, tour packages and rate inquiries contact: 

TREXPLORE THE ADVENTURES
CAVE MASTER: Joni Abesamis Bonifacio
ABESAMIS STORE ALLEN AVE.
CATBALOGAN CITY,SAMAR 6700
055-2512301 / 5438550
0919-294-3865 / 0927-675-0062
trexplore.ph

How to get there

*taken from trexplore.ph

BY PLANE

There are daily flights from Manila to Calbayog City (1 hour) via AirPhil Express. You can also fly to Manila to Tacloban City (1 hour) via Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific Air, Zest Air, Air Asia and Airphil Express. You can also fly from Cebu City to Tacloban City (30 mins) via Zest Air and Airphil Express.

Upon arrival in Calbayog City airport,ride a tricycle going to Grandtours van terminal.
Upon arrival in Tacloban City airport,ride a jeepney going to downtown Tacloban then go to Grandtours van terminal

BY LAND
Van :
There are many van going here in Catbalogan City (like Grandtours,Van-Van,Duptours & Turbanada). A 2 hours ride from Tacloban City to Catbalogan City and 1 hour & a half ride from Calbayog City.

Bus :
Manila to Catbalogan City about 20 hours (Philtranco,Silver Star, Eagle Star,PP Bus Line & CUL)
Davao City to Catbalogan City via Philtranco about 20 hours and Bachelor Express Davao City to Tacloban City.
Tacloban City “Abucay Bus Terminal” you can find a bus to Catbalogan City for about 2 1/2 hours.
Calbayog City Bus terminal to Catbalogan City for about 2 hours.

Private Car :
A drive all the way to Catbalogan City via Maharlika Highway.

BY SEA

Cebu City may take one of the three trips(M-W-F) a week to and fro Calbayog City via Cokaliong Shipping Lines.
Cebu City via Ormoc,a fast craft for 2 hours,a ship for 5 hours daily.

 

Those naughty potatoes roll so fast that I could hardly catch up with them in SAMAR. I wonder what place will they be venturing next. So stay tuned for my next chasing potato adventure.

 

How about you? Have you tried travelling as a gift for yourself on your birthday? Where did you go and what did you do? Tell me about your birthday story.  Please connect thru  my FB page and Instagram. Join me in my adventure and misadventure. Let’s chase those potatoes. OH YESSS! Thanks for visiting.

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46 thoughts on “Quarter and One of Existence: My Unusual Kind of Celebrating My Birthday , Hint it Entails Fears, Dirts, and Darkness

  1. Wow, this looks amazing! I’ve never been to a waterfall inside of a cave before, I might need to add this to my list! Sounds like you had a wonderful birthday.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This post is beyond amazing on so many levels….I was exhilarated just by reading it–I can only imagine what it felt like to actually experience all that you experienced….and thanks to your gift for fantastic writing, glorious photos, and incredible video, I have witnessed wonders beyond anything I ever knew existed! And, I love and appreciate how you captured/expressed the spiritual context of your birthday present to yourself…being in the present, living all the days of your life, facing your fears, connecting with like-minded souls/adventurers….all of it…everything. Your zest for life is a gift….I am in awe of you! (Belated) Happy Birthday!…and thank you sooooo much for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Of all your writeups, this is my favorite. The happiness and excitement you felt during the adventure is very much visible on this entry. Explodes with awesomeness. 🙂 🙂 🙂 Happy for your adventure and for conquering your fears. To more adventure you go!

    Liked by 2 people

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