Friday, May 11, 2012

Marinduque: Bathala Caves

I am not a fan of caves... it's dark, crawling with creatures and is not safe for equipment. But there is something about caves that I find mysterious and exciting and whenever someone ask me to go caving, more often than not, I would say YES!

Bathala Caves located in Sta. Cruz, Marinduque is the town's biggest draw. It is composed of dozens of caves that are said to be the playground of Gods. There are about ten caves that have names but locals said there are at least dozens more in the area that are yet to be explored. I was there at the area a bit late in the afternoon so I got to explore only three of them - Secret, Church and Python Caves. It took me a little less than three hours to navigate the sharp karst and some tight holes in and around the cave system and with a dslr and a tripod in tow, believe it, it wasn't easy.

You will not know why this cave is called "Secret Cave" until you have climbed it's very end because after you have gotten out of the cave, few more steps away from it and you will not see the hole where you came out. It looks like a secret passage, thus the name.
Jagged Exteriors
Secret Cave is alive as evidenced by the drips of waters that form stalactites and stalagmites inside the cave. It also has impressive wall sculptures and formations at the entrance. Also, this cave has lots of bats and guanos and roaches. It is impossible not to be caught by bat droplings whenever you are in this cave.
Bats and Roaches
There is a big entrance to this cave but going down is a bit tricky because of slippery boulders. You need to traverse to the other side of the cave to get out where you need to climb a bit and get out of a narrow hole.

The Light and the Altar
Kuweba ng Simbahan or Church Cave is the biggest cave in the area than can fit around a hundred people. It was called Church Cave because it was believed that this cave was the home of Bathala or God.
Holy Images?
History has it that this cave was used as a place of worship of extremist and religious sects who believes in amulets and that the elements in the cave can protect them against harm. If you let your imagination run wild, you will see images form before your very eyes inside the cave.
Church Opening 
What makes Church Cave attractive is that there are several holes above that provides ample rays of light the illuminates the cave's interiors. There is also evidently lack of bats and the smell of guano that is evident in some other caves and because of its size, this cave is not too claustrophobic like the others.

Rocky Horror Show
A running monitor lizard greeted us we approach the mouth of Python Cave. It went out directly on the same path that we are about to enter. Yay. Monitor lizards and python snakes, I asked my guide, are you sure we will still be alive after this one? My guide only laughed giving me the assurance that he has visited this cave a hundred times and out of those times, there was only one instance where a guest was bitten by a snake. Another Yay. Hope the law on averages do not caught me.
I See The Light
As the name implies, pythons once thrive on this cave. However, since these caves were opened to the public fewer and fewer pythons can be seen in the cave and most of them are in the the darkest and coldest cranny which is usually unreachable by visitors.
Bathala's Pet
I have seen shreds of snake skins but unluckily(?) I have not seen a python. FYI snakes are normally dangerous and aggressive, but here at the cave they are not harmful. But then again, visitors should always heed caution because when harmed, these pets of Bathala might strike back.

Note: Inset photos of bats and python snake are from flickr.


  1. Awesome cave! Reminds me of the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico here in the states! Terrific capture as always, Oman! Hope you have a great weekend!


  2. Love the lighting of the caves... it create drama in all the pictures.

  3. Super nice pics! :D

  4. Caves are a challenge to photograph..
    Especially the interiors..
    I can see here that you tend to shoot mostly where there is source of light.. and they look amazing!
    A very smart option! :)

    I like spelunking!
    It feels eerie and alien when your down inside a cave. :)

  5. i believe it's the element of danger that draws us to explore caves. I agree with Francis--taking photos inside a cave is challenging. you have great photos here--i seldom get good results. snakes, by the way, would only strike when threatened, and they're more scared of us. i'm more afraid of a scorpion or a poisonous spider than a snake.:p

  6. you did marvelously in capturing the interiors of the cave. it's the hardest thing to capture.

  7. The unbearable feeling of enclosure with crawling animals and dreadful stench of decay. I love caves.

  8. medyu nakakatakot pag may pythons na... hehehe! but would love to visit this cave pagbalik ko ng Marinduque... :)

  9. Ako din, I am not fan of caves at wala pa yata akong napupuntahan other than Biak Na Bato in Bulacan. Mysterious nga ang mga caves kasi di mo alam kung ano makikita mo.

  10. The interior of the Secret Cave looks beautiful. I don't know if I will ever dare step inside Python Cave.

  11. ganda nga ng cave. I wouldn't mind NOT seeing a python. ok lang yan, basta magtago lang sila. hahaha

  12. Astig yung python, parang handang manuklaw.

  13. Thanks for sharing this underworld feature. They truly have a world of their own.

  14. I always like to have a read about such things, my blog is related if you want to have a look round it please feel free. I have added yours to my bookmarks.

  15. Hi! Would like to ask, how much did you pay for the guide?
    Do you have his contact?

  16. It's really more fun in the Philippines!!
    I Love It!!<3