Spelunking Callao – Penablanca, Cagayan

Spelunking – the hobby or practice of exploring caves.

Callao Cave is located in the Municipality of Penablanca, a 30-minute drive from Tuguegarao City. The road is paved and very accessible by car. There are two ways of going to the cave. One is by crossing a river by boat [“banca”] and the other by driving directly to the entrance of the cave. We wanted to take the way direct to the entrance. We failed at first. Blame it on the lack of sufficient signs.

While driving for sometime, we saw signs which read “To Callao Cave Resort.” We followed that sign because there were no other signs which indicate otherwise. I was thinking that the resort was somewhere near the cave, thus, the name. Following this sign leads you to “pinaucauan piver” where there are “bancas” waiting to take you to the other side where the cave is located. They charge about P300. We did not negotiate because my companion, John, was sure that there is another way without crossing the river.

So we went back to the main road. We saw two fast approaching vans and a bus loaded with what we presumed to be tourists who are also going to the cave. We followed, until we noticed a sign which reads “To Callao Cave via Quibbal.” That was the right sign, however, it came too late! It was not even conspicuous to motorists.

At the entrance, minimal entrance fee is collected. After that, we’re now ready for spelunking! Going up to see the cave was quitesurprising. I thought we were going down like the cave I have first spelunked in Sagada, which is the Sumaguing Cave, but Callao Cave is different, you go up. Opposite the entrance, is another set of short steps going up a viewdeck. You will notice an old tree to the right of the stairs which probably stands now as a living witness to who the early settlers of the caves were.

Finally, we reached the entrance of the cave after 180-something step of stairs [some say it’s 184, some say its 187 and I lost my count  going up]. Below are images of the entrance from outside and inside:

callao5.jpg

callao6.jpg

The moment you get in, you’ll suddenly feel an immediate change of temperature. It becomes colder and you’ll notice a different silence and serenity. Add to that the solemnity of the chapel on the first chamber.

callao7.jpg

(The Chapel: On top of the chapel is a natural light that comes from a sinkhole above the cave. The alcove where the “Virgin Mary” seats is already man-made.)

We were greeted by the caretaker who was sweeping the hardened muddy floor and you can hear an intermittent rhythm of waterdrops from the ceiling of the cave, complemented by some scattered light bulbs which add to the natural rays of sunlight that peeps through several sinkholes at the ceiling of the cave. It is highly suggested that you go early to avoid other tourists who go up in groups for you to have the most authentic “feel” of the cave.

Callao Cave is composed of 7 (seven) chambers. However, some of the chambers need guides. Even without going through the chambers that need guides, the chambers that are easily accessible are enough to experience Callao.

Here are some images taken inside the cave:

callao8.jpg

callao9.jpg

callao10.jpg

callao11.jpg

Don’t forget to read the “Archeology” of the caves at the entrance because it’s very informative. Example: I was surprised to know that as of 2003, archeologists are still discovering other “chambers” in Callao Cave. Another: Callao Cave is relatively new, having been inhabited sometime from 1960-1980. By the way, Callao Cave is just one of several caves that can be explored in Cagayan Valley. I was informed that the other caves are more challenging, thus you need professional guides.

After about 2-hours inside the cave, it was time to go down. The experience was enlightening. After Callao Cave, it was time to go back to Ilocos. That’s what we thought, again! Before taking the road to Ilocos, we decided to make a side trip to Aparri which I will post next.

See my callao cave video here.

POSTSCRIPT [15 July 2009]: Recently, I was invited by a local travel magazine Northbound to write an article on Callao Cave.

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44 Responses to Spelunking Callao – Penablanca, Cagayan

  1. I miss Peñablanca. Some of my college days week ends were spent there way back the year late 80’s with my friends in the group called Cordillera Mountaineers. We hiked and stayed overnight on mountains and rappelled down the high mountain walls even night to go back bec. we stayed long to spelunked un reached caves. I am proud to be one of the people who first expirienced to see the beauties of those un explored caves of Peñablanca.

    I am here in Spain but I will try to go back there again when i’ll have my vacation!

  2. Catherine-Vissy Cullen says:

    Hi,
    I was born in Callao, Penablanca, Cagayan. Sa Callao ako nag-aral ng elementary. Callao Cave is really one of the best caves in Asia di pagmayabang. Paved ang daan papuntang cave. Daming bonsai sa mga paligiran ng bundok at puede kang lumangoy sa ilog. May water falls din na lapit sa cave and it’s roughly a 5 minute ride sa banca. Napakaganda dito talaga and it’s clean. Enjoy pag pumasyal!

  3. garland says:

    yung tawi po na nabanggit ko e yun po yung mismong napicture ni constantine na pinacanauan river,, dun kmi mismong ngovernyt nung august, hehehe,, hhaayysss,, kakamisss mgovernyt sa tabing ilog,, haha

    • dragob wara says:

      onam addek kabbing ku kanyan nak mazihut,kanyan gunese nalimat i percing enni leonor grade 3 kami kattunay balun kami mangga antre asin, bahu peba yo bisikleta i percing calagui. gushh! b4 i forget pls help us support mr percival calagui sr for his candidacy as sb member of penablanca. hope this little thing of comment will help. from ngob wara of malibabag.

  4. garland says:

    WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA…. OOPPPSS TLGA!!!!!!!!!!!! HINDI KO NASILIP NUNG UMUWI AKO,, HUHUHUU,,, so sad tlga,, matagal ko na nman mkikita yang place na yan,, ang lapit na sa bahay pero di ko man lng napuntahan, gang tawi lang kmi waaaa… ngovernyt in two days sa tabing ilog.

  5. daixievin apurillo says:

    aNG
    GANDA
    NG
    PROVINS
    NMIN
    NOH!

  6. alma says:

    i been there last summer…..,,,super ganda talaga nakasakay pa nga kami jeep ehh,,,at nag swimming pa kami,,,,ganda talaga!! ala aqong masab…GOD BLESS,,,…..

  7. norman barrias says:

    ‘Archeology’ of Callao, inhabited only in the 60s? cmon boy, that’s probably where we and the entire austronesian speaking people came from. The southeast asian culture started and evolved in these caves inhabited by the ancient Itawis people before they suddenly became so adventurous and set their sights to conquering the oceans, and they became the ancestor of the polynesians, micronesians, indonesians, malays, merinos or you name them as long as they speak the austronesian language. This theory has been supported by recent but non-collaborative researches in the univ of wellington (about the origin of polynesians through dna research) and univ of hawaii (about origin of austronesian language). They point to the Itawit as the man they’ve been looking for.

    Norman Barrias, Itawit, naggafu kan Ihig

  8. Tony says:

    Thanks God that at last I’ve seen the beauty of Callao Cave. I heard a lot about this tourist destination since my school days. I’m a native of Abulug, Cagayan but never had a chance to visit the place…nakapag-asawa na kase ng Batanguenia eh! at dito na nilumot sa Manila.hehe…maganda nga kahit sa pics lang…thanks for posing these pics of one of the tourist destinations in Cagayan… God Speed!

  9. sonia says:

    That’s in my hometown!!! are you from there too?

  10. garland says:

    waaazzaappp guysss!!! anyway.. for who wants to stay long for two nights or more in this place,, dont worry coz there is a ressort,there are rooms for rents,, whole house if you want also and may more.. if you are at the side o the cave, just cross the river through boat(bangka) to the other side and there you can reach the ressort, kung andun lang ako pwede kayo sa bahay matulog, hehehehe…

  11. maryjane says:

    aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh……..i wanna see this placee tlga, so nice and beautiful… garland ganda nang place nio tlgaaaaa!!!! sama ako sa august ha…. hehehhe…

  12. garland says:

    wow!!! thanx for posing this pics. whew……i remember when summer times, also every saturdays and sundays,,,,i love bein there everyday, and diving/swimming along the river just beside this cave,its a perfect place for me, very very very wonderful place, i love it!!!!!!! im from this place. Callao, Peñablanca, Cagayan Valley, my house is a walking distance from the spot, hehehehehehe, wwwwwwwwwwaaaaaaaaaa i really miss it… and guest what, This coming august 2009,,,, its vecation time!!!!!!!!!! wanna go with me guys????.. hehehe.. thanx for posing constantine… godbless you!!!

  13. anne grace says:

    i’ve been there last Holy weekand the place is really beautiful.i love it!just the perfect setting if you wanna find peace and serenity…highly recommended.keep us posted for new features!
    tnxxxxalot!

  14. jay anne taguna says:

    ng ganda tlaga thanks sa nagpose sa pic na ito….i hope to go there soon…..

  15. espery says:

    sna aman mainvite kmi jan!!!!!!!!!!i’m very interested to come der!!!!!!!!!the place is interesting and wonderfull!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. aze says:

    hmmm…any contacts??? wanna know how to get there….please??? thanks!!!

  17. Jean M says:

    ‘Came across your website while researching for places to visit in Cagayan. Thanks for the info.

    I’m kinda clostrophobic. How’s the trek to the caves? How long did it take?

  18. mee-mee says:

    hi, mr. adventurer!
    my parents originated in that place and i grew up in that place.
    it’s quite surprising that my hometown is being discovered by other people who visited that place..

    i admire you for the description you have given about the place. hope you published more informations also to some tourist spots w have in the philippines. GOD BLESS AND MORE POWER…

  19. ehehe!. .
    ganda tlga ng place nmn. .
    explore nyo ang penablanca,dmi p kau mki2tang caves n mga2nda
    kea lng malayo xe ehh peo unforgettable nan. .

  20. jayruben pagulayan says:

    i love how u describe our place and the shots,they’re amazing

  21. mhyla says:

    …wowww…!its a nice place..sana mkapnta din aqoh jan..

  22. ClairE says:

    …Hi! been there 3 years ago.. and i can say that it’s a perfect place for those who are adventurous… I want to go back there…

  23. aLjen says:

    ,wh0oooo….grabeh’…
    ,m’ka2punta dn aQ jan..,
    ,whehehehe…

  24. aLjen says:

    ,nkaka’ingit nman ke0…..,
    ,i wnt 2 go der too….,
    ,iLuv traveling so much….
    ,pLagueh’ z mga pix Q Lng n’ki2ta…..
    _bk gz2 ñu p0 aQng sp0ns0ran…….
    ,whahahahahaahahahaha…..

  25. Torn says:

    Hi Gaby, sure, no prob. Hope it was of help somehow… 🙂

  26. michaela says:

    maganda then wala pa ring pinagbago! kaso, umuulan noong pumunta sila ng cousin ko doon for field trip..

  27. Gaby says:

    I’m using some of the info you gave for my homework, if you don’t mind 🙂 Thanks! By the way, I love the shots you took!

  28. lary says:

    its very interesting place
    i want to go there..

  29. vatski says:

    im hoping to be there soon. thanks for the info. 🙂

  30. myra says:

    Your paragraph about the ‘archeology’ of the cave is somewhat confusing. What do you mean by the cave having been inhabited from 1960 – 1980? thanks!

  31. sara says:

    It is very nice picture

  32. ELOY says:

    what a beautiful place!! my first time visit to the cave last June 09, 2007. ganda ng creation.

  33. Mars says:

    correction lang po sa name ng place of callao cave, its peñablanca po, by the way im from tuguegarao city

  34. bong says:

    the next time you and john go on a trip similar to this, yayain nyo ko ha! btw, september & august is perfect!

  35. Constantine says:

    Hi Myrna! Good to see you here again…:)

  36. myrna says:

    Wow!….been there 22 years ago…I was then with the Population Commission (Tug. Cagayan, Region 2)…..beautiful place!

  37. Constantine says:

    Wendell, thx for appreciating the pix, I hope I have some more hehe…Amy, the place was beautiful which deserved an equally beautiful post! 🙂

  38. amy says:

    This is such a beautiful post. I feel like doing the spelunking myself.

  39. wendell says:

    wow! breath taking pictures again..
    keep ’em coming..
    i’ve already bookmarked your blog….

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