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12 February 2016

Daranak Falls and Calinawan Cave / Rizal, Philippines

When my sister and I went home to the Philippines for the Christmas holidays, we made sure that we will make the most out of every single day. We really wanted to go outside Metro Manila and see past all the traffic, buildings and the hustle and bustle of the city. Luckily for us there was this place in Tanay, Rizal which was only an hour and a half drive away. 

From Marikina, we followed Google maps for direction. Half way through the  journey, we got lost. Apparently Google maps led us through off roads that were really difficult to locate and drive through. In the end, we decided to just go round and follow the main road (Marcos Highway) instead. It cost us a little bit more time and we stopped once in a while to ask locals for directions, but we got there. Barely.

You see, because we went round and got lost, our patience were running out and so was our petrol. So we were there, driving in the highway in the midst of mountains running out of petrol. We were all praying for a petrol station to just magically appear. We arrived in Brgy. Sampaloc and there it was our saving grace - a petrol station... and 'karinderias'.

By the time we got to Brgy. Sampaloc, it was only a few minutes drive more to Daranak Falls. We didn't get lost this time, there was a massive signage that was quite impossible to miss. We paid 50 pesos for the entrance fee. We also hired someone who will be our guide for the day (200 pesos back and forth). Because when we asked around whether we can just explore the area ourselves,  most people have suggested to get a guide to avoid getting lost in the forest, as well as someone to guide us in the cave.

Our trek started from the site where Daranak falls was, through the muddy forest on the way to Calinawan cave. Then went back through the grotto and then back to the falls, where we started.

The crew.

We didn't really expect the intensity of the trek that we did, it was challenging. I think it rained the day before so the trail was really muddy and slippery, plus the weather was extremely hot. 

We eventually made it to solid ground and had a quick rest before going into the cave. Calinawan cave had 5 layers and we had a choice whether we want to go through all 5 layers or just do the first 2. Past layer 2, passageways will be smaller and harder to go through. We didn't want to miss out on anything and wanted to go for the full experience so we said yes to 5 layers. 

(50 pesos to go into 2 layers, and pay whatever amount extra you want to give when doing 5 layers)

It was my first time to properly explore a cave. I have never been claustrophobic so the thought of going into small spaces actually excited me. Inside the cave we saw stones that formed like teeth, the walls were dusted with sparkling crystals and as we went deeper into the cave the more it became pitch black. Came with the darkness was deafening silence. 

As we went past the second layer of the cave, we had to crawl and bend under crooked archways and  narrow hallways. We all laughed at ourselves after we got out and realised we were covered in mud. 

Yes, we still had time to take photos while down under.

We made it!!!

On our way back from the cave, we didn't go the same way as we did going there. We passed through a grotto, that was 300 steps down, and once we reached the bottom we had to cross this river. The waves were not that strong but not too calm to just easily cross either. We held hands so no one gets carried away by the waters. 

The last stop of the trek was the falls, and it was perfect. We got to swim in the waters after a hot, muddy, sweaty trek. But what the heck, it was all worth it. Although our legs were so weak and jiggly at the end of the day, it was worth it. Nothing compares to the feeling of joy in being able to witness God's creation and bask in it. 

We ended the day by pulling over on the side of the road and watched the sunset.