I’ve always wanted to go to Callao Caves even before the spot became famous thanks to the Bea-John Lloyd movie, The Mistress. Last year, we were supposed to squeeze in a trip to the caves during the Ilocos roadtrip with Reverse Band. However, due to time constraints, we headed straight home to Isabela. But there is really a time for everything because a month or so ago, I found myself with a day to spend in Cagayan. I forced Ramm to accompany me to the municipality of Peneblanca where Callao Caves are situated. Since we didn’t have a car, we rented a tricycle from the town proper of Tuguegarao City. The driver charged the two of us 400 or 450 pesos and though it was too much for me to swallow (overpriced, obviously), I didn’t have a choice since I needed to be home before dark.
We braved concrete roads, rough roads, green fields and even collapsed bridges over the Cagayan River just to reach the entry point of Callao caves. Riding a tricycle made the trip even less comfortable. Four-wheeled cars kept on overtaking us but I told the driver not to go too fast because I just lost a dear uncle to an accident involving tricycles. Anyway, if you’re the kind of person who enjoys the view and never minds the bumpy ride then you will surely appreciate the journey. We went after lunch and the heat wasn’t as piercing as we expected it to be.
Upon reaching the drop off point, you need to pay a minimal fee (20 pesos) and then ride a boat (20 pesos each for round trip) to the actual entrance of the caves. Make sure that the driver will wait for you if ever you are renting a tricycle because public transportation is non-existent in the area.
This is only the second cave I’ve been to and it wasn’t creepy at all (okay, maybe a little, for like, 5 minutes when we were alone in the farthest part). Up to now I can’t differentiate stalactites from stalagmites (when I hear the words, I only remember a piano piece I failed to play back when I was having lessons, ugh) but I enjoy the coolness inside these natural wonders. Walking inside isn’t too hard because there are already cement stairs. Callao caves has a church inside with the creepiest altar I have ever seen.
At one point in our journey we encountered a group of people with a tour guide and I was kind of envious because their guide explained things to them, like, how the caves were formed and other useless information that I love, AND HE TOOK THEIR PICTURES (this was before the monopod fenzy so). A few weeks after the trip, Ramm told me that according to her Aunt, if we only hired a tour guide and paid the amount (100 pesos each), we would have experienced riding a boat to another part of the caves. In short, we saw only a tiny portion of the whole Callao caves. Psh, this is what I get for being a cheapskate. Still, the minority we saw were gorgeous. God really is the best designer!
On our boat ride back, Ramm and I saw lots of families enjoying the river and we felt kind of nostalgic for our childhoods. We both grew up in the suburbs. I remember the feeling of rocks under my tiny feet, the clear waters, the grilled lunch and of course, wearing pins or anything sharp on our clothes lest we want to be taken away by mermaids. No matter where I go, I will always always be more comfortable in the province where life isn’t as luxurious but it’s sure as hell more peaceful.