Friday, May 9, 2014

Breathtaking Callao Bat Cave: Spectacular Show of the Natural World

Breathtaking Callao Bat Cave 
Spectacular Show of Nature 
Tuguegarao, Cagayan Series 8

 It is in Cagayan that we found 
two of the most spectacular shows
of the natural world that we have 
ever seen and witnessed in our lives.

 The breathtaking Callao Cave 
is the most spectacular natural 
wonder that  we have ever seen,

 …while the riverside early evening bat 
migration is the most spectacular show 
of nature  that we have ever witnessed.

 It was our penultimate day in Cagayan 
and  we drove to Callao Cave located 
in Penablanca town late in the afternoon 
after a whole day  tour on a rented van. 

 A young and very friendly competent 
tour guide accosted us and we decided 
to get his services and he took us to 
the 184 steps up a mountain slope,

 … that leads to the entrance of the cave.

 Callao Cave is one of the 300 limestone 
caves  the dot the western foothills of 
the northern Sierra Madre Mountains,

 …located in the municipality of 
Penablanca and it is the best known 
natural attraction of the province.

 Near the entrance was an excavation site 
where the 67,000 years old fossilized 
metatarsal bone of a Callao Man, and 
is supposed to be the oldest human remains 
of the earliest inhabitants in the Philippines.

 Pronounced as “Ka- law”, it was then that 
my teen daughter realized that it was the 
one taught to them in school, as we have 
 been wrongly pronouncing  it as “Kal- yaw”.

 The first chamber was apparently the 
largest room which is about 160 feet 
in width and with a height of 119 feet.

 The cavernous chamber 
was a sight to behold,

 …and a rock formation was turned to 
a beautiful natural  backdrop of an altar,

...of a man made makeshift chapel,

 …and dramatically lit by a stream of 
light coming from a roof top opening.

 The second chamber was located a little 
bit higher where there were more extensive 
stalactite and stalagmite formations,

 …that our tour guide likened to 
images of baby Jesus in a manger,

 ...and the Three Wise Men
visiting him,

…a man’s skeletal remains,

 …Singapore’s Merlion, 

…and even Jesus Christ's face 
wearing a crown of thorns.

 The third chamber was located way down 
and since we had young children with us,

 …we decided not to go down there 
anymore and contended ourselves by 
just taking photos from the second chamber. 

Inside the cave was cacophony of beautiful 
spleothems including glittering crystal helictites.

 After visiting the Callao caves, 
we took a river cruise in a boat 
at the pristine Pinacuanan River.

 The river snakes thru a scenic wall 
of limestone mountains on both sides,

 …and it is on these rocky virgin mountains 
where the the town of Penablanca was named,

 …the Spanish word for white rock.

 The river reminded of  the beautiful 
Cagayan de Oro River, where we had 
a  white water rafting adventure exactly 
a year ago but without the turbulence.

 We then docked at the sandy 
shore just below the bat cave,

 …and patiently waited 
for the bats to appear.

 There were several eagles hovering  in the sky 
and our tour guide informed  us that the eagles 
are bat predators,  and their presence is 
a sign that the  migration would soon begin.

 Then- the bats started to appear, 


…starting in trickles,


…then it was followed a steady
stream of bats coming out of the cave,


…and a deluge of millions and
millions of insect bats rushing
out of the cave opening,


…that it appeared like a living
and breathing volcano crater,


…spewing out black smoke
that trailed up to the sky,

…leading to the infinite horizon, flying up 
high as far as your eyes can see.

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