Tuesday, June 11, 2013

"CHURCH CAVE"

"This cave is found at a cliff wall. It has an approximate width of 40 meters at the opening and a depth of around 50 meters.
The cave was carved out naturally from the mountainside. It was once home to a spiritual sect Sagrada Familia in the early 19th century."
- taken from the flyleaf "Tignay Suyo"

This is now our second time to visit the town of Suyo, Ilocos sur. The first time was when we visited some of their waterfalls namely Sangbay ni Ragsak, Sangbay, Darawa and the Falls at barangay Man-atong. 


-my pagnapagna- 

It was 8:05 in the morning when we arrived at the junction at Bitalag, Tagudin, Ilocos Sur. We waited for some few minutes until we got a tricycle (white and green colored tricycles) that transported us to the next town which is Suyo (We departed at 8:40 am and arrived at Downtown Suyo near the Municipal Hall at 9:12 am).
At a nearby store, we bought some foods for our journey to the Church Cave and at the same time get information on how to get to the said cave.
This time we decided to hike all the way to the cave. It was 9:26 am when we started our hike from downtown Suyo. 


Waiting shed and the Urzadan Bridge
 
Following the main road going east, we arrived at the Urzadan Bridge at 9:45 am. We rested some few minutes at the waiting shed located just at the edge of Urzadan bridge. At this point of the road, it now branches, the one going to the right is the main highway leading to next town of Cervantes while the one on the left leads to the barangay of Patoc-ao which is where we were going.

A treat along the way to the Bailey Bridge would be this. Hmmm, it reminds me of a chocolate. If it can only be eaten.



We continued our hike along the cemented road which is generally overlooking the river below. We passed some two group of houses (villages) along the way.  



The Bailey Bridge


We also crossed the Bailey Bridge and hiked further more on the main road into a store along the road and inquired at a store as to where can we find the "Church Cave". The store owner accompanied us to the hanging bridge just a few meters away from the store and at the bridge we saw some ten men fixing the hanging bridge and one of them we recognize as Chief Barangay Tanod Eleazar Saydocen whom we met and served as our tour guide the first time we went to this town. He welcomed us and we went to the other end of the bridge which is sitio Ida and introduced us to Mr. Joly Punzalan who will be our guide for this time.


Hanging Bridge to Sitio Ida


Mr. Punzalan leading the way
 
Armed with his machete we went on our way (11:00 am) passing by the local elementary school. 
At the back of the newly being built classroom, our ascend to the mountain began on steep slope and rested halfway on the climb (11:45 am). 

Taking a stop-over. Sorry but he can't help it.



Passed by some "Ampalaya" (bitter gourd) gardens, then we walk our way up again to the mountain, this time on steeper slope to what it looked like a cliff. Thanks to the trees and bushes specially the bamboos, we have something to cling, hold and step on. 

Mr. Punzalan carefully cleared our path with his machete, he said that it was quite a long time since they visited the cave (which explains the overgrowth along the trail).



We finally arrived at the cave at 12:35 pm. We rested and looked around. 

 



The view outside is obstructed by some trees and bamboos. Inside the cave's back, we saw some nets which Mr. Punzalan said were used for catching bats. The bats were then cooked and eaten specially when the locals have their drinking sessions.






The cave was used to be a gathering place for some religious groups before. He added that there used to be rip-rapped stone walls on the cave but now destroyed. 


After eating our food we rested some few minutes more and then departed at 1:00 pm. 



Going down


Walking on the same trail, this time going down, we arrived at the village at 1:48 pm.


We had a snack at the local store then after which we thanked Mr. Punzalan and departed sitio Ida at 2:00 pm. Crossing the hanging bridge,  we walked until the waiting shed (2:13 am) and decided to drop by at "Sangbay ni Ragsak" falls. 

We took the merging road located along waiting shed's back. Along the way, it began to lightly drizzle. 
We reached the rough road or the trail going to the farm at 2:18 pm and into the waterfalls at 2:22 pm.
 
Took a visit to Sangbay ni Ragsak



We took a rest at a shed (roofed with corr. g.i. sheet) just a distance from the waterfalls. It began to rain hard so we stayed much longer hoping that the cascade will become bigger, but it never did. Rain turned into drizzle, we decided to take a dip in the river's water to refresh a little.

At 3:35 pm we left the place and headed back. Passed by the Bailey bridge, Urzadan bridge at 4:24 and arrived at downtown Suyo at 4:45 pm.
Although it was very hard to get a tricycle at that time of the day, we finally got one bound for Bitalag Junction at 5:21 pm where we took a bus going back to Home Sweet Home.


-end of pagnapagna-



Here is a video of the Cave

Subject   : CHURCH Cave
Location : Sitio Ida (ida)
                  Barangay of Patoc-ao
                  Municipality of Suyo
                  Province of Ilocos Sur

How to get there:
1-  From Manila, take a bus going to any of these northern Luzon places such as : Laoag City, Vigan City, Candon City and Abra. All of these passes through Tagudin, Ilocos sur, so get down at BITALAG JUNCTION which is located few minutes away after the Yellow Market (Tagudin’s Public Market).
2- At Bitalag Junction (Bitalag is a barangay of Tagudin) wait for or look for the tricycles with white and green paint (yellow tricycles are for Tagudin’s). With 25 pesos as fair going to Suyo , Ilocos Sur, you may pay the whole tricycle for 150 pesos for the total passengers of 5. Tell the driver to get you down at Suyo Municipal Hall.
3- At Downtown Suyo (Municipal hall area) you may:
a-      Ask the tricycle driver to get you at the nearest drop-off-point at sitio Ida at barangay Patoc-ao and from there cross the river through the hanging bridge and look for the barangay officials led by barangay Captain Adayan and chief Tanod Eleazar Saydocen so they can guide you going up to the cave.
b-      “Hike All The Way”. From the Municipal Hall of Suyo, continue going eastward following the main road (watch out for falling rocks along the mountain sides) until you arrive at the concrete bridge of Urzadan (Urzadan bridge). At the other end of the bridge, the road now branches. The main road leading to municipality of Cervantes is at the right side, while the smaller road leads to the municipality of Sigay as well as to Barangay of Patoc-ao of Suyo is at the left. Take this Left side smaller road where a waiting shed is located at its entry corner. Continue hiking along this cemented road passing some two groups of houses/village along the way until you reach the Bailey bridge. Cross the Bailey bridge and walk some few meters more passing by a waiting shed (the merging road going up at the back of the waiting shed leads to "Sangbay ni Ragsak" ) and into a group of some houses with a store. Just after the store, into the right side is a hanging bridge, cross the hanging bridge going to Sitio Ida and look for the barangay officials led by barangay Captain Adayan and chief Tanod Eleazar Saydocen so they can guide you going up to the cave.

Note:
Please feel free to visit their Municipal Hall for more info. You may look for Leah A. Esperanza (LRCO-1/Acting Tourism Officer) for guidance.


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