Why I lost 3 kg (6.6 lbs) in just three days after exploring the biggest cave in the Philippines
Langun-Gobingob cave, with 2968 hectares area, is the biggest cave in the Philippines and the second in southeast Asia. It is located in Calbiga, Samar. It is divided into two regions: Langun, the wet area; and Gobingob, the dry area. Langun is further divided into two parts: upper langun and lower langun. Upper Langun is the muddy area. It smells very bad as it was covered by accumulated excrements of bats. It is often flooded during typhoon seasons. This is where we can find the giant chandeliers. Lower Langun is the watery area. It has underground rivers, waterfalls, and natural swimming pools. We also had fun playing in the mud mountain of this area. Unfortunately, we are not allowed to go there in rainy season or else we will be carried by the water current, drown, and die. If you want to enjoy doing adventure, make sure there's no heavy rain or typhoon on your schedule of visit. Gobingob is the hollow and largest part of the cave. It is described as "a mountain within a mountain". It is impossible to see its ceiling even with a 30,000 lumens flashlight. It takes an average of eight hours from the camp site (please see the yellow box on the map) to explore the Gobingob area; that means you have to hike for 16 hours back and forth. We explored only half of it.
Below is a map of Langun-Gobingob cave (courtesy of trexplore.ph). I modified it so I can show you the places we have explored. Please take note of the color codes.
Going to the site
It took us an hour and a half from Catbalogan to Calbiga by bus. At our arrival, we had lunch at a restaurant, then we rode a habal-habal (motorcycle used for public transportation) going to Brgy. Panayuran. We still had to trek for about two hours to reach Gobingob area. Cavemaster gave us a lecture about the dos and donts inside the cave before entering it. He let us sleep afterwards so we can be in good condition for our succeeding adventure.
|Stolen shot by our cave buddy, Jens Köhler, while we were sleeping|
Reaching the camp site in Gobingob
We entered the cave past 5:00 pm so we wouldn't disturb the sleeping bats at the cave entrance. We first traversed Gobingob.
|We call it "the stage". The speleologists placed a barrier so that people will not touch it. Photo taken with flash.|
|This is the closer shot of the stage without flash. Photo by Jens Köhler.|
|Full shot of the stage. Photo by Marlon Flores.|
Gobingob has concave surface. We sometimes have to go up and down. Some parts are muddy, some are rocky. It took us about two hours to reach the camp site.
|my shoes after reaching the camp site|
|We had our dinner upon reaching the camp site because we are all hungry. Dinner inside the cave? Wow!|
|Water near the camp site|
|The water is clean and potable. We refilled our bottles there. The water from the cave also goes to the town and is drunk by the locals. |
We were not allowed to swim or urinate in it.
We explored Gobingob after eating dinner. It took us four hours to reach the center. As much as we want to reach the dead end, we were all tired and we already ran out of water, so we decided to go back to the camp site. We spent more than eight hours in total, including our resting time. We went back to the camp site at 4:00 am.
Gobingob is composed of big boulders. I had difficulty in climbing the rocks because of my short height. I always have to hold the rocks or else I would be out of balance. I didn't really notice how big it was because I was busy taking photos. Every area is unique. The stalactites and stalagmites were beautifully formed. Everything is picturesque, even the ground! I was totally amazed. I never thought I could find such mesmerizing things in my own island. I wish I could have taken more photos, but I was not able to bring extra battery. The battery of my camera suddenly became low because I used the flash all the time.
I stopped taking photos on our way back. Only then I realized that the area was very steep and high. Only one wrong move, I think I would fall and die. I realized it was actually scary, but I didn't get scared because I got distracted by the beautiful formations in the cave. My mind was more focused on taking photos rather than the pathway. I really wished I brought an extra battery. 😅
The following are some of my action shots in Gobingob. I didn't take photos in the difficult areas because I still love my life.
|Even the ground we are stepping on is beautiful. 😍|
|Awesome, isn't it? 😎|
|Photo by Joni Bonifacio|
|Photo by Joni Bonifacio|
|This is me! This was my first time to go inside the cave, so I always needed assistance. It was embarrasing, but sometimes you just need to thicken your face to prevent accidents. Photo by Jens Köhler.|
Traversing Upper Langun
After eating breakfast, we trekked again to go to the other side. In order to go to Langun, we had to descend 30 meters from Gobingob. Cavemaster tied a rope around our waist while we were going down so we won't fall because the rocks were slippery. It was quite scary at first because it's too dark. The rocks were also big, so it was quite difficult for me to reach the other rock. Good thing we have porters. We have three porters, and each one of them is placed every 10 meters to guide us while going down.
|Me going down from Gobingob to Langun|
You know you are already down when you see these:
|Me taking photo. I borrowed cavemaster Joni's camera at this time because my DSLR already ran out of battery. Photo by Jens Köhler.|
We also passed by the big chandeliers. Once you see them, it means you are very near to the entrance of Langun. You only need a few walks, then you can finally rest. 😊
You'll know you are almost there once the air starts feeling colder. Before we reached our camp site, we had to pass Guano (as its name implies, it's an area with bat excrements). There were a lot of bats flying around, but it was okay because the ceiling was very high, so we were far from them. We ran fast because of the very bad smell in the area. The ground was also very sticky. We had to make sure we won't trip or else we would smell like shit.
|We have already passed by Guano at this time. Photo by Jens Köhler.|
|At the entrance of Langun on our way to the camp site... the struggle is real! 😆|
|The mouth of langun. It's so big that even an airplane will fit in it.|
|My shoes after reaching Langun camp site|
|Even my socks were soiled! Good thing I brought extra socks.|
Unluckily, the camp site had a lot of ants during the time of our visit. There was also a snake. I didn't have a tent at this time, fortunately DJ (the guy wearing blue shirt) brought one. Gwen and I slept in the tent while the others slept outside. I really recommend you to bring a tent if you are planning to sleep there so you can avoid any unexpected situation.
|Snake found near the camp site|
Exploring Lower Langun
After eating dinner, we started exploring Lower Langun. We had to wait until night time because we have to pass by the snake chamber; it's the only way so we can go there. According to cavemaster Joni, the snakes at the chamber go out at night to catch the bats. By then, they are all gone and we can pass through.
The porters ensured that there were no more snakes at the passage before we went inside. We used a rope to go down in the snake chamber. Afterwards, we passed through a small hole to go to lower Langun. I swear it's very small, but you have nothing to worry. By then, I'm pretty sure you already have lost some weight after your experience in Gobingob (hopefully 🤞). It was difficult, but all of us were able to do it.
|Going down to the snake chamber|
|Passage from the snake chamber to lower Langun|
Some of our action shots in lower Langun:
|Gwen almost tripped becaused of the water current.|
|Me utilizing my ninja skills|
|The struggle is real! Some areas are high and we have to hold tightly to the rocks while passing through.|
|We swam afterwards because we were all dirty after passing through the mud mountain. I was very dirty because I stumbled many times. My pants also got torned when I slipped.|
The cave has underground waterfalls. We found two, so far. The picture below is the smaller one.
|One of the underground waterfalls|
Last Day of Exploration
We finished exploring lower Langun past 2 am. On the third day, we just ate breakfast and packed our things up. We trekked for another three to four hours to go back to the town center. We went to Lulugayan falls after eating lunch.
I was not able to walk properly for a week after caving. My whole body was in pain for two days and I couldn't get up. My sister was just laughing at me because she didn't want me to go there, but I still went. Well, at least I lost a lot of weight in just three days. I normally lose only 1 kg in a week by doing cardio exercises for two hours everyday. Caving in Calbiga is perfect if you want to wear bikini at the beach afterwards. ;)
This was the first time I tried caving, yet I chose to explore the biggest cave in the Philippines right away. Despite the body pain, I have no regrets. This is the most memorable cave I have visited.
9:00 am-10:30 am Traveled from Catbalogan to Calbiga
10:30 am-11:30 am Lunch
11:30 am-2:00 pm Rode the habal-habal + trekking
2:30 pm-3:00 pm Briefing about cave rules and regulations
3:00 pm-5:00 pm Rest
5:00 pm-7:00 pm Went to the camp site in Gobingob
7:00 pm-8:00 pm Dinner
8:00 pm-4:00 am Explored half of Gobingob area (time spent back and forth)
8:00 am-9:00 am Breakfast
9:00 am-10:00 am Pack up
10:00 am-1:00 pm Trekked going to Langun camp site
1:00 pm-2:00 pm Lunch
2:00 pm-5:00 pm Rest
5:00 pm-6:00 pm Bat watching
6:00 pm-7:00 pm Dinner
7:00 pm-7:30 pm Preparations; the porters checked if the snakes were already gone
7:30 pm-2:00 am Explored lower Langun
8:00 am-9:00 am Breakfast
9:00 am-10:00 am Pack up
10:00 am-1:00 pm Trekking and mountain climbing back to the town center
1:00 pm-2:00 pm Lunch
2:00 pm-5:00 pm Visited Lulugayan falls
5:00 pm-6:30 pm Traveled from Calbiga to Catbalogan
This was our itinerary. Yours might be different. Schedules may vary depending on the weather and season. For sample itineraries, please click this link.
Here's an eight-minute video of our exploration. All videos were taken by Joni Bonifacio and were edited by me using Videomaker. The quality was not yet good. I will just re-edit it after I study how to use Adobe Premier. 😅
Q: Did you take shower in your three days of exploration?
A: No! haha We are not allowed to take a bath in the cave. We cannot use soap, detergent, or anything as they can harm the environment. We were only able to wash our bodies with water in lower Langun. We didn't touch the water in Gobingob because it was used for drinking.
Q: What do you do when you have to take heed with nature's call?
A: We used plastic bags. We put all our body wastes in one container and the porters brought them out of the cave after our exploration. We are not allowed, in any way, to just urinate or defecate anywhere so we won't contaminate the cave. The water from the cave also goes to the center of town. We were very careful when excreting. We have to ensure that everything will be placed inside the plastic and that we are away from the water.
Q: Where do you put your garbages?
A: We brought them with us until we went back to the center of town.
Q: Why didn't you get scared?
A: I was very confident because I was with cavemaster Joni. If something happens to me, he will be sued by my family. hahahah Just kidding! He's a trusted tour guide in our town. 😄 He always takes care of his guests.
Q: How and what did you eat?
A: It is already cavemaster Joni's problem. It's a part of the package. The porters sometimes cook for us. We ate rice, adobo, noodles, tinapa, egg, hotdog, etc. Sosyal noh?
Q: What did you bring in the cave?
A: Extra t-shirts and pants, underwear, socks, wet tissues, plastic bags, deodorant, alcohol, camera, flashlight, food, and water. I forgot to bring a tent and a sleeping bag, don't forget yours.
Cavemaster, Trexplore Adventures
Allen Avenue Catbalogan, Samar