By: Mark Kevin Galang
The province of Rizal is close proximity to Metro Manila. The province is home to a lot of attractions that will surely delight outdoor enthusiasts. Take the case of the town of Tanay, home to numerous waterfalls, biking, hiking trails, hills, rivers, rock formations and caves. Calinawan Cave is one! Situated in Barangay Tandang Kutyo of Tanay, Rizal, Calinawan Cave is an enormous cave system composed of multiple levels and various chambers and openings.
After our visit to Pililla Windmills, we arrived in Calinawan Cave at 1:00 PM. Calinawan Cave’s main opening is along Calinawan Road in Tandang Kutyo, the first paved road in the right if you are in Daranak Road going to the waterfalls. Tour Guides are readily available on site for those who like to explore its interiors. The entrance fee to Calinawan Cave is ₱50.00, and a tour guide fee (recommended for a group of 5 maximum) is ₱300.00.
As we start the caving, Kuya Jek our official tour guide gave us a brief history of Calinawan Cave. During the American-Japanese period, the cave served as a shelter and hideout for revolutionaries. The name “Calinawan” was derived from the Tagalog word “nagkalinawan” (in English, made clear). It was said that the cave is where American and Japanese had an agreement to settle their disputes.
We were up to the challenge of exploring until layers 3-5. There were narrow passage ways where we had to do some baby crawl to pass through. The spelunking experience in Calinawan Cave was short, and I would say it’s perfect for first-timers especially since the path wasn’t slippery.
But more than its historical significance, the natural beauty of the cave’s interiors and chambers are magnets that attract a lot of people that even films and television productions often use the cave as their shooting location such as Ang Probinsyano by FPJ (2017). The sad thing is, because of its popularity as a set location, most of the stalactites and stalagmites are dead. Some were painted with cement and glitter to make the cave look alive and enchanting on screen, of which violations are still visible until today.
There were various rock formations that looked like humans in different positions found inside the cave. The one above is the face of a man looking upwards on a side view. Upon exit, a narrow passageway between two enormous rock formations made the ending to our Calinawan Cave experience dramatic and beautiful. It was a quick tour. The caving took us roughly 30 minutes to 45 minutes. Our pacing was not rushed, so we really got the chance to appreciate the depth of the cave.
No one really knows the vastness and deepness of the cave system as it is not yet fully mapped and explored, there maybe other pathways and tributaries covered by the boulders and hidden in the darkness. Some even say that one path leads to as far as the town of Montalban, while there are those that lead to the neighboring towns of Baras and Pililia. Uncertain stories that are yet to be verified but if there’s one thing certain, it is the fact that Calinawan Cave is a wonder built by nature and nurtured by time, its vagueness is a mystery and its mystery is a gift.