The group was starting to enjoy the backpacking vibe of their Eastern Visayas adventure as they rode an ordinary bus from Matalom, Leyte to Maasin, the capital city of Southern Leyte. But with fresh clean air and nice sceneries during the 30 minute ride, you will not really look for airconditioned buses in this part of the country. The BACKPACKERS were welcomed by BP Weng's relatives whose humble abode served as a safehouse for their belongings. After being introduced to the local deli of Maasin City: the circular hopia and the hanging rice or 'puso' ~ the local's eco-friendly way of cooking and serving rice, they geared up for their next adventure: checking out Guinsohotan Falls and an unexpected spelunking challenge at Cagnituan Cave.
We Survived Cagnituan Challenge
by: Ivan Ignacio
|Author ~ BP Ivan|
HABAL HABAL IN SOUTHERN LEYTE
|We were joined by Ate Weng's cousin, Jhana (left) and BP Marion (right)|
Hidden beyond the mountains and the mystical forest of Maasin City in Southern Leyte is a natural wonder: Cagnituan Falls, or what the locals prefer to be called as Guinsohotan Falls. Its catch basin is wide, deep and stunning. But what's more majestic is discovering the source of its refreshing water that is sprouting out from the mouth of the equally enchanting Cagnituan Cave.
|Riding the multicab|
|Habal Habal style!|
BPs April, Marion and Percy
|Our ride! BPs Ivan, Chons and Heinz|
|Posing in front ofthe barangay hall of Cagnituan|
The first order of business that afternoon was to get to the mouth of the cave which is also the location of Guinsohotan Falls. It was a short trek passing through the abundant greenery of the rustic town. It was a pleasant afternoon walk which became a little muddy when a short downpour greeted us. And when we heard the rumbling water coming from the falls, we all got excited. The catch basin and the falls came in to sight as we came nearer. I have seen a lot of taller and more majestic waterfalls in my whole life as a traveler but I still could not help myself from staring in awe and amazement upon standing face to face with Guinsohotan Falls.
PICTURES OF GUINSOHOTAN FALLS:
|Heinz and Marion posing by the falls|
|Rocking it above the rocks|
BP April in Maasin City, Southern Leyte
|Enjoying the smaller cascades of the falls|
BP Percy in Maasin City, Southern Leyte
|Ready for a dip at Guinsohotan Falls|
BP Marion in Maasin City, Southern Leyte
|Hiding behind the greens|
BP Weng in Maasin City, Southern Leyte
We had a limited time enjoying the cascades and the basin of the falls because we needed to allot an hour or so exploring the cave in the area. Some were able to dip in its cold and refreshing water. When we all had our fair share of viewing the falls, we readied ourselves for the ultimate spelunking challenge inside Guinsohotan Cave.
|The entrance of the cave|
|These faces were both excited and nervous!|
|The BACKPACKERS working hand in hand|
|Posing after the hard part|
|We were challenged and we were loving it!|
|There's always a light at the end of every tunnel|
The light that we saw was from the other end of the cave! We huddled up when it seemed that we can no longer go any further as it was pure water basin. The challenge of Cagnituan Cave was already satisfied when we saw the opening but the guides challenged the members who can swim to float to the other end and climb the rocks to reach this other exit of the cave. Marion and Heinz accepted the challenge and soon after, all of us followed them when the locals arranged a long bamboo stick for the non swimmers to hold on to for swimming support. Then the tricky part was climbing through the slippery rocks so that we can get outside the cave. That crucial portion was where some members gained bruises and scratches. But after climbing and reaching the other side of the cave, it was worth it. We felt the accomplishment of surviving Guinsohotan Cave's challenge.
|Weng, April, Jhana and Percy|
Near the Cagnituan Cave exit!
|The group ~ almost there!|
It seemed like the start of a forest trail and the guides confirmed that we can actually traverse it but we would end up in a different barrio far from Cagnituan. We just took our time smelling the fragrance of our spelunking achievement while we posed in front of the camera. Until it was time to go back.
|What lies beyond this point?|
It was a creepy sight, honestly.
|The survivors of Cagnituan Cave challenge|
Ascending the rocks to reach where we were standing was hard; Percy had a cut, Heinz scathed his foot, and I also had some minor scratches on my right foot. Ascending was difficult because of the slippery rocks, but what more was descending on it? I knew that one slip could be bone breaking, but I would still choose to maneuver with the rocks than giving in to the guide's other suggestion of going down: to jump all the way down to the water and swim to the shallow end of the basin. It was an adrenaline pumping challenge but most of us opted to take the risk of failing at the rocks than drowning in the dark water basin. It was only Heinz who tried to jump when he was halfway through the rocks. Everyone survived the climatic start of our journey back. Trailing back was the same challenging experience.
|This was the tricky part.|
Jump or crawl on the rocks?
Just some concerns to those who may want to conquer Cagnituan Cave:
I have mentioned earlier that the environment inside the cave was like that of Sagada's Sumaguing Cave, but there is a big difference between the two. Guideship in Sagada is very well organized as compared to the one offered in brgy. Cagnituan. And we can attribute that to the lesser number of visitors going to this place. The guides in Cagnituan Cave may not know all aspects of the cave so exercise your own judgment in crossing the cave especially if you are composed of non swimmers. Water inside the cave can be very unpredictable and there was a point where some of us almost drowned when we trusted the guide who opted to lead us to the wrong path. If possible, ask for a better, older and more experienced guide from the barangay chairman.
|The top of Jalleca Hill is marked by a big statue of the Virgin Mary|
It was a very challenging activity in one of Maasin City's hidden natural wonder. We went back to town and spent sundown in one of Maasin City's famous tourist spot: Jalleca Hill. On top of Jalleca Hill is the Shrine of our Lady of Assumption. Two days in and we were all very appreciative of this time that we had together, thousand miles away from home. Atop Jalleca Hill, we had our reflections as we thanked the Lord for giving us a very beautiful country and for giving us, The BACKPACKERS, the opportunity to enjoy His creations.
PICTURES AT JALLECA HILL:
|On top of Jalleca Hill|
BP Heinz in Maasin City, Southern Leyte
|Stations of the cross|
BP Chons in Maasin City, Southern Leyte
|Did you see that sign: Dating is not allowed here?|
Jalleca Hill has a resting station
|In front of Our Lady of Assumption|
BP Ivan in Maasin City, Southern Leyte
|Dating is not allowed here, so the two needed to be farther apart|
Lovebirds Sheryl and BP Ralph in Maasin City, Southern Leyte
|BPs on top of Jalleca Hill|
The BACKPACKERS would like to thank the Aguelo family for their hospitality and for letting us stay in their house in Maasin City.
|BP Weng and childhood friend Michael|
|The BACKPACKERS conquered Maasin City|
Thank you very much Aguelo family!!!
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