“Tired and restless from the long trip to Tuguegarao, It didn’t matter, because the trip gets better the further it gets”…. Quoting Marky at the beginning of this post is quite fitting as he was the Planner Master of this trip and got us moving on an itinerary hastily written on a small bond paper crumpled in the pocket of his backpack.

We arrived at downtown Tuguegarao that morning and then from the terminal we took a tricycle to Hotel Candice, even though they say this was the cheapest accommodation in the area, It will be our first time to stay in a hotel because we are hard core cheapskates.

After getting dressed and prepped we rode a tricycle and asked for the best place to have Pansit Batil-Patong and he took us to a two-storey kubo with an “al-fresco” kitchen. They had the special for 70 pesos while i settled for the regular at 60. The difference is having thin slivers of liver atop your Pancit and since i was not a fan of that i opted out. After paying and receiving your number you can now get your table and proceed to the chopping station where you can get condiments like soy sauce, patis, diced onions, crushed garlic and chili. Sharlyn was a graduate of HRM and possesses wicked chopping skills so she took care of that for us.

It’s heaped with loads of chicharon goodness, chorizo, hotdogs, mystery meat and an egg. It’s so good and super filling that none of us could finish it so we combined everything to a single plate and gave it to two young boys who enjoyed it too. Happily fed we walked back to our Hotel (oh, yeah) and got dressed to prepare for our trip to the Callao Cave, all 6 of us rented a tricycle and with much haggling got the price to 700 pesos.

After registration and paying a nominal fee (50Php+/-) we then hired a tour guide, Andoy who was featured in a local show Rated K. He shared some tidbits of information with us regarding the show and the supposed 4year HS scholarship grant for him that only lasted for a year. But all’s well since being the smart kid that he is, he got in at the National Science High School in the area.

Callao Cave has a total of 7 chambers and some of it is gifted with “sink holes” or holes from the ceiling that is caused by water pressure, if you are part of a tour they actually offer rappelling, too bad our group was too small to orchestrate such an event. Walking on deeper you can notice some parts are very dark while some are submerged in a small puddle of water.

What’s unique about this place is the Church that is built at the mouth of the cave. Although it’s a bit disheartening that the pews are not well maintained and there are names etched on it.

Andoy said to us that another cave was in the area but scaling it requires a permit from DENR, Sierra Cave which is said to rival the caves of Sagada. Since we are strapped of time and we have yet to witness the Pinagcanauan River Bat Flight of the Night we can leave that one out for another trip.

After exiting Callao cave we then walked a 180-or-so steps downstairs to our starting point and few minutes into the docking station of the boat that for 600 pesos can take us to and fro a rocky islet where we can witness the Flight of a Million Bats. It was here that i got curious about the lifestyle of these kids and asked them all sorts of questions like their hobbies where Andoy gleefully shared his passion for the computer game DotA. I said, why i love that game too and slipped out a tragic mispronunciation of the character “Magina”.

The short boat ride was punctuated by out boatman’s trick of passing through the small waterfalls thus giving us all an impromptu bath, cameras and all. No wonder that when he shared to us his experience of being on a comedy radio show, we weren’t surprised. He then wisely chose a spot at a small islet on a very nice angle with us facing the mouth of the Bat-cave and waited patiently for the event.

At around 5:50 or just about when the sun hits the end of the horizon, we heard a faint but distinct screech that was getting louder and louder. The sky grew dark and we thought of it as rain but no, the moment where a million bats will go out of its home starving for fresh prey has arrived. Chills go down my spine as i witness the event that will haunt me for a thousand nightmares. My ears go deaf from the sound of the bats flying closer and as they cover the last light of the sky with their massive number, i look to my right and i see……

My friend video-taping the event. The whole thing lasted for about 5 minutes with the last bat taking away the rest of the sun with him. I couldn’t help but clap at the beautiful sight i just saw and the fact that i get to walk away from it bat-poop free. We then boarded the boat and went back to our “Punch-friendly” tricycle driver who had the gall to ask for another hundred as a tip. But i gave in anyway because i’m gullible like that. He dropped us off at the town where i had Papaitan for the first time, and now i know why i don’t like it. Went back to our “hotel” and slept soundly with thoughts of the bats’ effort to prep up before the big show.