My Panay: ILOILO (Part 2)

6:41 am

For the first time in my life, I actually enjoyed the land activities more than sea activities. Isla Gigantes Norte is small enough that you could probably walk around its coast within a day or two. Nevertheless, it has a few lovely sights worth exploring.

One morning, we woke up before sunrise and took motorbikes to another part of the island. After a brief hike, we watched the sunrise at this old, abandoned lighthouse. Calming, awakening, invigorating.

The lighthouse itself is off limits (read: fenced) but the adjacent building was haunting. The building used to be the keeper's house. Some of the windows were boarded up a while back, but the structure retained intact. I found it beautiful and reassuring (not to mention somewhat post-apocalyptic) how nature was reclaiming the space.

After the sunrise, our guide told us about a cave hike we could do if we were up for it -- hells yeah! I felt that I was the only one in our group that was actually eager to go, so I told the others that they didn't have to come along if they didn't want to (for reals). "One for all, all for one" mentality trumped, and they came along to the hike. For me, adventure doesn't love company… and we were a group of 10 so I was actually hoping some of them would go back to bed like they (really) wanted. I'm also an impatient adventurer; I like to go at my own pace, regardless if others are slower than me. I probably wouldn't wait for you to catch your breath if my feet are itching to get a move on (and I wouldn't expect for others to wait for me either). Que sera!

After another quick motorbike ride, we were briefed on the Bakwitan cave hike and were all duly warned about what to expect.
  1. The hike would take 2 hours.
  2. It’s very dark and there are tight spaces, so if you are claustrophobic and/or are afraid of the dark… maybe don’t.
  3. There are 3 main obstacles: A crawling space, and two nearly vertical ascents – one of which we’d actually have to pull ourselves up with a rope. (YAAAS)
Aside from the not-too-eager/neutral people, I could tell that one person in particular didn’t want to do the hike, mostly cause they didn’t think they were physically (or mentally) able to. I think that person just felt bad that they would be the only one who wasn’t going to do it. Anyway, peer pressure won this battle.

According to the cave guide, the cave was and is used by the locals as a place of refuge in the typhoon season.

I didn’t get too many pictures because it was really dark (the guides lent us flashlights) and I really just tried to keep moving forward. I was at the front of the group the entire time, as I do. We had to use our arms to boost ourselves up the vertical ascent that didn’t have a rope, and I have zero upper body strength, so I did need some help there.

After an hour, we exited the cave at the top of the mountain and reveled in the view. We could see both sides of the island on each side.

Now the easy part – the descent! I still stayed in the front; I wasn't kidding, I really am particular when it comes to this stuff). Pia doesn’t wait! Sorry not sorry. One cousin and I were ahead of the group for the most part; at one point we couldn’t even see or hear the rest of group. We found out later that this was because that physically incapable person I mentioned earlier really didn’t think they could handle it, so they literally had to be piggybacked by one of the cave guides. Poor dude.

We paused a bunch of times to wait for the rest of the group, and in those moments we were able to soak in the view and breathe in that clean, cool morning air.

By the time we finished the hike, it was 9 AM and we were starving. We headed back to the resort (I use this term very loosely) to get changed and eat breakfast before going island hopping. To read more about that post, click here!

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