Swimming Around Hinagdanan Cave
The Adventures of The Roving Route #10
Sometimes you find a spot that you find tough to leave. For us, that is Panglao Island. There isn't much to do but the beaches are beautiful, people are friendly and finally, our accommodations were both comfortable and had fast wifi! While we originally only booked a few nights, we continued to extend our stay until a week had already gone past.
Apart from some of the best office views we have ever had, the sunrises and sunsets continued to impress. It also seems like animals still have an attraction to us as our morning sunrise photoshoot was accompanied by our resident dog. She was a great companion both during our walk and during our time spent outside on the grounds of the property.
Post sunrise we took the opportunity to get into the island's main cave, Hinagdanan Cave, during its slow morning period. It was quite a nice surprise to find out that other than one pair from the Czech, no one else decided to show up early. While the cave is not that large, the clear ocean water and hole in the ceiling made it an amazing spot to float around in. Once again the water was insanely clear. Though it looked to be shallower than Venice is today, it turns out it is almost 15 feet deep!
We commented earlier that the country is extremely faithful but on our last night, we had an opportunity to see it in a very strange way. Getting back to our place we were greeted by lights that could land a plane and a bass thump that could set off an earthquake. Apparently, the town was preparing for the next day's fiesta for the local church. We are not sure how these two are connected but damn do they like to party. Being waved onto the dance field, we were taken in by a young group! The highlight of the night was when everyone tried to teach us the local dance moves, in which they even had Derek dancing along.
But our time had to come to an end in order to continue to explore the wonderful Philippine Islands. Our next stop was the Land of the Gentle People, Dumaguete, on the interestingly named Negros Oriental Island. We soon found out we stumbled upon their last few days of the city's Charter (or founding) Festival which was full of food, music, dancing, and even more food. We also realized that there are numerous waterfalls surrounding the town. What was supposed to be just a quick stay turned into 4 nights of fun. Oh, the pleasures of having nowhere to be with all the time in the world!
The first night we stumbled upon a walking street that was full of teens preparing for the next night's "beat dance competition." One young, surprisingly skilled team took us in and let us join their group. While they didn't win the competition, they did great and it was clear by their attitudes that we were in the Land of Gentle People!
With it being the city's largest festival, we took the opportunity to attend Sunday morning Mass in the city's historic church. The massive church was filled with locals, some dressed in working clothes while others were dressed to the 9's! While it was an interesting service (in the local language of Visayan) with LOTS of singing, the most interesting aspect came just before the service started. As the only non-Filipinos in the church, we were standing off to the side in respect for the people who came to worship, when an older lady came up to us. She insisted we sit down and directed us to the end of a packed bench. We resisted for a moment but her response was "it looks like you do not feel welcomed in our church and you are welcomed. Everyone is welcomed in our church." We looked over and had the entire row squeezing together with grins on, accepting us which was a very touching moment. Though we are not very religious people, it was a very unique and truly welcoming situation! Once again, the Land of Gentle People lives up to its name!
As the Philippines was a Spanish colony for over 300 years, it's no surprise that their influence has made its way into most aspects of the Filipino culture. Open a map of any island and very quickly you will start to spot names like Seville, Toledo, and Ronda. Just outside of Dumaguete is even the town of Valencia with its famous Casaroro Falls. We spent part of the day checking out this stunning waterfall. After climbing an abnormally steep hill in a tuk-tuk, we then climbed the 300 sketchy steps down into the jungle river valley. Walking past the former crumbling cement walkways that have now been replaced by simple bamboo bridges, we finally got to the stunning falls. Cascading over 100 feet into an aquamarine pool, the waterfalls were a perfect spot for a quick dip after the hot hike in. Unfortunately, on our way out we stopped for a photo op in the wrong spot as a 10-pound rock toppled over the edge of a cliff and fell onto Jacki's arm! While she is mostly just bruised and scratched from the 30-foot drop, we are just thankful, nothing is broken and that she didn't take one step further which would have ended with a disaster!
The final day of the festival held the main parade. We don't know if we have ever seen such a large and long parade! It seemed as if the entire town had come out to either be in the parade or just watch. What started with just a few marching bands and accompanying cheerleaders, followed by a few hundred military members, soon became a 3-hour parade that involved every single club or organization within the city. And we mean EVERY club! At least 95 more bands and cheer squads came past, the accounting society, the engineering society, even the airsoft gun club, and anime club. When we first saw the schedule we were expecting a nice parade with some bands and such but didn't expect anything of this magnitude! We keep wondering who the thousands of people watching were as the entire city must have been in the parade! With the festival and week complete we are moving on to new places this week!
Unfortunately, we will have to move on from a spot we love once again, but we will not miss the 18+ hour a day karaoke going on right outside our window! We head back to the island of Cebu to tour the south and western edges dotted with dozens of amazing waterfalls.
We will also be celebrating Jacki's Birthday (YAYAYAY) this week so hopefully, the weather holds out for us to do something special for her champagne birthday!
Cheers from Dumaguete, The Roving Route