Isla Gigante Norte, Carles, Iloilo
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This is one of the attractions on the main island (gigantes Norte). It is located srsly on top of a hill so my asthmatic lungs were screaming the whole way up. You climb up using some bamboo handrails but mostly just getting your footing on the rocks.
This cave apparently was used as a shelter for 50 families during typhoon Yolanda so sadly there are still marks of them living there like grafitti etc. There were some nice formations and spots inside but nothing majestic or awe inspiring imo. Also, I think the tour guides should be trained or be more knowledgeable about what they're showing to guests. Unfortunately, the tourism industry is still disorganized in isla gigantes.
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Bakwitan, according to our tour guide, was an evacuation site for the locals from the Japanese soldiers. Thus the name, "Evacuate-an". They still use it as an evacuation site today, as a shelter from strong typhoons. He also asked us not to touch the live rocks so that they won't "die".
I was expecting a "pabebe" climb or spelunking since our guide said it will just be easy. But no, it was not easy. The first part was easy, walk in the park lang. But after a while you will realize that this is some serious spelunking. The motivation that I had was I had to get out of the cave.. for my family. Haha!
There were two points in the cave where I really had a hard time. One - the point where we had to pull ourselves up. It was slippery and dark. And I had to follow where the guide would tell me to step or else I would not be writing this review right now. Second - the part where we had to crawl. The hole was around 2-3 feet high, 5 feet wide and 4 feet long. Medyo intense but I survived.
Once we got out, I was already celebrating but the challenge was not over yet. This was actually the harder part. We had to hike down sharp rocks which can be really dangerous. One awesome highlight of the hike is the Balete tree (4th photo). Balete nga ba yan beh?
We finished it in about less than 2 hours. It was definitely a great experience. Medj buwis buhay but sulit naman! 🏻 We were all a little muddy and all sweaty after so we went to the beach to watch the beautiful sunset! (Then scallops for dinner!!!)
- Don't bring too much stuff. You will get down, dirty and a little wet.
- Don't wear flipflops. I wore sandals.
- Bring water to keep you hydrated.
- Bring a headlamp or any light source. (I just used my phone.)
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If you find yourself in Isla Gigantes in Carles, Iloilo and you are looking for some adventure, try spelunking in Bakwitan Cave.
Our tour guide (Kuya Jojo) suggested that we do island hopping first in Isla Gigantes since it is also the normal routine of the tourists. But since we are hard headed girl, we convince Kuya Jojo that we will go to the cave first, best part is he is really nice and accommodating (️️️️️ for Kuya Jojo)
Since we don’t even research on what to expect on the cave, we were surprised that it is too risky. Kuya Jojo says that there are only four (4) obstacles, but then it felt like every part of the cave is an obstacle that you need to pass or else your life is at stake (Charaught! That’s OA!!!). There is one part of the cave wherein you need to pull yourself up, which is very challenging for me because yes I am too fat (ouch!!!), so Kuya Jojo needs to pull us up and good thing, the cave is not that crowded and we have all the time in the world.
Overall, I am proud that we got out of this cave alive. And yes, you must visit this for some blood-pumping experience and adventure!
- No. of Comments: 5
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The view is from the entrance of the cave. ️
This cave reminds me of all the buwis-buhay spelunking I did in Sagada. Going inside the cave will give you a challenge because it involves climbing up by holding on to the tree vines and ropes. The only difference is, it’s warm inside Bakwitan cave compared with the Sumaguing Cave in Sagada. I spotted some graffiti inside the cave and it deeply saddens me. Our guide said this cave used to serve as the island’s evacuation area during the Japanese occupation. Today it is still being used as an evacuation shelter when there is a typhoon. We no longer pushed our way to the exit on the other side of the cave because my friends were still tired from our trip and wanted to take more rest. At least now I have something to look forward when I go back.
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Bakwitan which translates to "evacuate" became refuge area to residents during the Japanese era. It also served as shelter for some families during Typhoon Yolanda.
This cave has 4 inside hurdles and there is nowhere to go but up!
1. 1.5 meters belly crawl
2. Ascend using a rope (spelunking)
3. Hurl your body up on a vertical hole (may body size limit ang hole na ito ) and after steadying urself on a ledge, climb a slippery and steep area where you would think it's a dead end.
4. Crawl again through a tiny hole to get to the other side which is the exit point.
And the real challenge begins...the descent! 30-45 minutes of climbing down sharp rocks where one wrong move will send you tumbling towards a rocky forest cliff.
Your guide will give you step-by-step instructions — detailed ones such as where to put your feet and hands while ascending. (Kanan mam kanan! Kaliwang paa yan e! Hahaha )
Caving at 7am is the ultimate exercise! My light at the end of the cave is the thought of breakfast waiting at the resort hahaha .
Difficulty - moderate
Must wear: dry fit shirt, leggings, trek sandals/shoes
Must bring: head lamp and camera
I dont recommend flash light because you need to use both hands to ascend.
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