MANILA, Philippines – With the largest cave in the Philippines and the most number of caves (100 explored caves and an estimated 1,000 more unexplored) Samar Island is easily the country’s caving capital.
Overwhelmed by this sheer number, I decided that exploring just one or two during my visit to Samar would be enough. I was staying in Samar’s city capital, Catbalogan, and the caves in the municipality of Jiabong were among the closest.
I signed up for a whole-day caving tour, not knowing what else to expect aside from the usual spelunking through stalactites, stalagmites and interesting cave formations.
I got much more than that.
To get to Lobo Cave in Jiabong, my caving guide and I had to trek up and down a hill, and trek some more.
Up on the hill was a small, quiet barangay that occasionally came alive with children’s animated laughter. The children were friendly and wished us well on our adventure.
Once my guide and I passed the barangay, we were greeted by tall grass, a smattering of trees and men carrying baskets of freshly harvested pineapples on their backs. I got one and bit into the sweetest, juiciest pineapple I ever tasted. Its juice dribbled copiously down my chin.
The pineapples were planted in rich upland soil, whose plantations we saw later during our trek. I soon learned that the people of Jiabong take pride in their pineapples.
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