Day 3 of the Bohol Cave Explorations 2007

[linked to the article: Bohol Cave Explorations 2007]

July 5, 2007

We met the day with much anticipation as we planned to spend the whole day in Antequera. Report has it that this town in the foothills of Bohol Island is studded with caves and springs. Antequera was my original interest to come to Bohol when I met the mayor’s wife in Mactan more than three years ago. She told stories about rivers, water falls, caves and springs.

Speaking of mayors, we arrived in town early in the morning and parked right in front of Antequera’s beautiful Municipal Hall. We must have looked funny as we put up a picnic scene in the plaza at 7:30 AM. The town’s mentally challenged mascot (Canawa had one too) just pestered us, pleasantly of course, with all the curious questions. A youngish looking lady in a typical municipal hall employee uniform came and rescued us from the pestering mascot. After she flushed me a welcome smile, I asked her whether she works at the Mayor’s office. Politely, she said: “I am the mayor.”

With this embarrassing start, this memorable day (in terms of discovery) started with her calling all available resources to have an informal conference with us in the town plaza while we were having breakfast of sardines and tuna-flavored spread sandwiched in “Amerkambred”.

The Inambacan Falls was our first destination. The experience in this area started to shape our day like a tourism rather than an exploratory trip. We explored a small cave wading in against a strong current up to hip high in clear water. This was a very interesting experience of amateur spelunking cut short by fear of bats.

Bats!

Stalagtites & stalagmite…

Stalagmite…

From the inside looking out..

Inambacan Cave, Antequera

No underwater cave here, but what a place!

Next tourism stop was the Mag-aso Falls.

Mag-aso Falls, Antequera

Like the tourists that we were already, we took a swim up to the main falls area. Much like the locals, we thoroughly enjoyed the cool and refreshing waters. But, with wet suits and hoods on?!

On the ride to the next site, Bernil and I discussed our slim chances of finding an underwater cave of significant penetration on this trip. Very shortly, we arrived at Dahonog Cave in Barangay (Village) Tabu-an. Another steep walk down improvised steps, we arrived at yet another cave with cool waters rushing out.

Dahonog Cave, Antequera

Not minding the small headspace, we went under 2 meters of water to a pool area about 5 meters away. The cave space expanded considerably. We decided to split up and explore the walls from both sides. I took the right side. Less than half the circumference around, I dropped into what seemed like a void in the poor-visibility environment.

We had a surface conference and we  planned to  descend to 2 meters, follow and keep the wall to the right until we dropped into the cave. And what a cave this can be! Under the difficult circumstances visibility-wise, we religiously kept our positions. About 5 minutes into the dive, and not having reached the end of the cave, I decided to call the dive off. As a tribute to how much we stuck to the dive plan under the difficult circumstances, we had an orderly and uneventful exit. We will be back for a full exploration early in the dry season (January/February) when the water clears.

As we were doing the post-dive briefing somebody came and told us that there is another hole a stone’s throw away. Going through the bushes, we found a nice pool. After a challenging climb down carved steps, we hit the cool waters. We split up and took opposite sides of the circumference on a surface (mask and lights) look-see.

Dahonog Cave Head Spring, Antequera

I ran into cool water coming from under an overhang along a wide segment of the rim. I checked this out on one breath – another cave! We went in on a two-man configuration with Bernil taking reel man position. After about 8 minutes, we exited – another cave with extensive possibilities.

It does look like we will be coming back to Antequera on a regular basis starting at the front end of the next dry season (January). I had a text-conference with Mayor Cecil. As much as we are, she is looking forward to the coming dry season.

EPILOGUE

A cenote, in the language of the Indian natives of America, translates as the underworld’s window to the outside world. In the language of the world’s community of cave divers, it means entrance to the unparalleled underwater world of Yucatan, swimming around preserved stalactites and stalagmites.  To date, these are the only known geological formations in the world that the term “cenote” is attached to.

Philippine culture is such that Filipinos in these contemporary times believe more in the existence of otherworldly beings than the native Indians of Mexico do. Unnatural beings populate the caves, both dry and underwater. So too, the trees surrounding the sinkholes and springs. The common practice is to ask permission from the resident beings when one enters the cave (a simple “Excuse me” will do). Henceforth, we will refer these karst formations as the Bohol cenotes. The Bohol cenotes present an interesting view of the outside world when one comes out of a cave dive.

One has to come and experience this “unnatural being’s eye view” of the outside world.

……o0o……

TECHNICAL NOTES

Cave diving is extreme diving in its truest sense. A claustrophobic underwater environment, strict training requirements and logistical necessities make cave diving an adventure of a relative few – it is estimated that only 1% of scuba divers are or want to be cave divers. A typical complete cave gear includes twin big-volume tanks joined as one by a manifold connector, appropriate “wings” (buoyancy control device to match the heavy gear), independent primary and secondary regulators with DIN valves, primary light that is as powerful as a car headlight, two backup lights, and a set of guide reels.

Additionally, logistical support requirements involving these complicated systems make cave diving trip relatively expensive. Our trip cost us more than Php40,000 over four days on transportation, food and lodging (cheap hotels).

– Doc Amores 2007

Comments
  1. […] Source: https://bernil.wordpress.com/day-3-bohol-underwater-cave-explorations-of-2007/ […]

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