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AT LEAST FIVE CAVES in this city await cavers or adventurous tourists to explore them when the pandemic is over.

All these caves are within the jurisdiction of Catbalogan City, with distances ranging from 8 to10 kms. away from the city proper. However, more than half of the distance can be accessed by motorized cabs, which are available at the city proper. The rest of the way, however, cavers will have to hike uphill. Joni A. Bonifacio, a master caver and operator of Trexplore — that offers, among others porters, caving instructions and cave tour guide services — says cavers can be treated with various sights of rock formations inside these caves, like stalactites, stalagnites, flewstones, columns, curtains, chandeliers, and even cave pearls. He also believes that, with the support of the city government particularly the city tourism office, Catbalogan will soon earn the title as “City of Caves.”

Samar province, where many caves are found, is already known as the “Caving Capital of the Philippines.” Bonifacio says one of these caves in Catbalogan City, the Central Cave I, was discovered by him about five years ago near Barangay San Andres. This cave, which boasts of sparkling, crystal-like rock formations, has been visited by local tourists already. Another cave, the Napon-od Cave, was discovered by Italian spelunkers years ago. He went to Napon-od Cave on the second half of this year, together with some vloggers, to explore and assess if the cave is suitable for cave tourism. They hiked uphill from Barangay Cawayan passing through Sitio Peña before reaching the cavesite.

The rock formations and the presence of cave pearls inside will make Napon-od Cave a favorite destination, he opines. Near the Napon-od Cave are four waterfalls, and the river there are good for swimming, Bonifacio says. The other caves — Central Cave 2, Central Cave 3 and Oringon Cave — can be accessed via a motorized cab to Barangay San Andres and a kilometer trek to the caves, which are near to each other. These caves boast of prestine stalactites and other rock formations of different shapes and sizes.

The cave is about a kilometer long while the others are shorter. Bonifacio believes that there still caves in Catbalogan waiting to be discovered. He adds that there is already a cave that was discovered here in Catbalogan years ago by Italian cavers. “We still have to explore the Cagusipan Cave and assess it,” Bonifacio says. The Cagusipan Cave was where the Italian cavers found a Megalodon shark’s teeth stuck to a limestone rock. The Megalodon is an extinct shark species. It exists millions of years ago. “This shows that caves are very old rock formations here on Earth,” Bonifacio says. # (📸: courtesy of Joni Bonifacio)

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