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Kapatagan, Lanao Del Norte: The Wonder Inside Malinas Cave

By Singcolinquisitor

Kapatagan, Lanao del Norte: The wonder inside Malinas Cave

Photo by Wilson Ybañez: Team B.


Caving for me is one of the amazing and best recreational activity or sport that offers a closer look of some of our natures most interesting wonders and natural geographical formations. However, spelunking (cave exploring) can be dangerous for people like me who do not know exactly on how to explore caves in a safe way. Therefore, it is precautionary measure that before doing or engaging such activity one should really be informed and get oriented with by people who have first hand experience. Further, this orientation should also serve as  a  special effort to educate the people who will engage spelunking - the fragile nature of the cave environment . More importantly, before embarking into a cave exploration make sure to prepare the following:
Spelunking Malinas Caves Must Haves
  1. Food and Water. Make sure you have eaten, before going inside the cave and bring something like a piece of chocolate or biscuits.
  2. First Aid Kit. Band-aids, alcohol, cotton, for bruises dressing. Being at Malinas Caves you wont get hurt, but its always better when you are prepared.
  3. Helmet. To protect you from bumping your head on the ceiling or if a rock might fall on you.
  4. Headlamp or Flashlight. Make sure to bring a flashlight with a life longer than two hours. Make sure it does not break or die when dropped. Its always important to get your purpose and that is to see the beauty inside.
  5. Batteries. Bring extra batteries for preparedness purposes.
  6. Footwear. Wear a sturdy shoes that will provide hold in slippery walk ways of which you are comfortable with.
  7. Gloves. To keep your hands free from bruises. A leather or something that will surely protect your hand from rappelling ropes downward. 
  8. Knee and Elbow Pads. As I said prepare for a duck-walk, climb and crawl so knee and elbow pads are a must.
  9. Cave Pack. Something where you can put all your extras like battery, food, first aid kit and etc.
  10. Camera. Capture the moments when you are in an extra ordinary place and you can't do that without a camera.
The trek to the summit of Malinas took about 4 hours. At exactly 2 o'clock we have erected our respective tents already, then the group was divided again into two to explore two different caves separately situated nearby our camp site. The first group should take the northern path that is visiting the big cave which they coined with the term "simbahan," because the cave ceilings features a numerous display of chandelier-like stalactites formation - a mineralized water formation that dangles at the ceiling of caves; the second group would explore the other smaller cave of which group I was part of.

Kapatagan, Lanao del Norte: The wonder inside Malinas Cave

Photo by Wilson Ybañez: Showing  a small cave passage which allows only one to pass "tight-pass." 

Over-crowding is the main concern why the group decided to split. Altogether, the 57 explorers inside one cave could endanger our lives for we might struggle with oxygen and get suffocated. Likewise, by regrouping, we could buy enough time as going inside each cave requires us considerable time for there are caves which are not easy to pass. According to the locals (trail guides), altogether there are eight (8) caves within the vicinity, but we are able to explore and visit two (2) only, because of some circumstances such as problem with accessibility, lack of right equipment and some of these caves are not yet explored before, unlike others which are regularly visited by the locals.

Kapatagan, Lanao del Norte: The wonder inside Malinas Cave

Photo by Wilson Ybañez

Yes, inside the cave prepare for a climb, a crawl and a "duck-walk," I mean literally walking like a duck, where you should really walk while sitting and move forward slowly or even for a fall. Oh yes, I really did fall in one of the difficult passages where I need to take a step up and the pathway was too slippery and too small to pass through. The only thing that console my pride from that fall is that I was not the only one who fell on that adventure---many did and the fall was all worth it. Nobody said that exploring a cave is like a helicopter ride ^.^
Claustrophobia or the fear of being locked or in an enclosed place or space - a phobia that I developed back in 2010, when I had difficulty in breathing and was rushed to the hospital. Since then, I have the fear of being inside a closed place alone.  I believe I overcome it already! Believe me the thought of being inside the cave made me struggle for breath, but I fought with it. The fun inside made me forget about that fear, specially when I fell on the ground :) There was so much to see inside the cave that made me forgot my fears.

Kapatagan, Lanao del Norte: The wonder inside Malinas Cave

Photo by Wilson Ybañez: Showing the 
opening of a second cave at Malinas
 referred to as "Simbahan"

Going down from that opening to where we are seated was a super extra challenge which took us almost 45 minutes (total time spent for 20+ people). It might take lesser time for some, but for inexperienced first time explorer of the cave it would be very difficult. With no ropes and no stairs you have to pass and slowly go down by just holding and sticking yourself on the stone walls and it was so dangerous, one mistake and you'll pick up yourself 5 meters on the ground with broken limbs. Trail guides said that there should be a bamboo stairs in this cave, but for unknown reason during our visit its nowhere to be found. The exploration inside the cave took us almost an hour after visiting different rooms with dead-ends which really require us to go back and then find another way. This cave has a lot of unexplored avenues of which you can only get yourself contented with peeping on its small holes which allows you to view that inside there is a wide space. It is important to note that at the end of this cave, it has a very small exit which requires you to climb and can only accommodate one person at a time.
Anyone entering a cave should be careful as bats are everywhere and will get disturbed when someone enters the cave with a light and a number of them will really try to fly towards you. Is it dangerous? Yes, of course, as these bats bites and will scratch you, if they can have contact with you. Likewise, there's danger being in contact with bats urine like leptospirosis and salmonella from bat's feces.
As a person who visited this caves and for safety reasons, I recommend that you should explore these caves with the trail guides, because these caves are not easy to find. They are not properly marked and the environment is deeply covered with trees and grasses. Locals are the only person who are familiar with the trail and the ones who knew which passage are for the exit and which are for avenues with dead-ends. Another, if you wish to explore the cave proper coordination with the authority is strictly required for safety purposes. Dropped me a comment or an email at singcol.inquisitor@gmail.com if you want to explore the cave and lets arrange it with my local contacts. 
After getting wet with the rain and the long journey of exploration everyone were excited to go back at our camp site! We heard a message that our tent got blown up by the strong wind! 
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