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Ognop Cave | The Newly Discovered Cave in Agusan del Sur, Philippines






The Royal Staircase 


Now that "Lolong" is dead,  the world's record holder for the biggest crocodile in captivity, the province of Agusan del Sur in Mindanao has lost one great treasure enough to paralyze its tourism industry. This event prompted us to help the locals of the province by discovering another untapped tourist destinations in the nearby municipalities and to promote eco-tourism activities in the vicinity.


Wretched by the sudden death of Lolong, we were desperate to look for an immediate alternative to at least ease the grief of the province by gaining another wonder to showcase to its visitors.  And it was like an answered prayer when a group of mountaineers tagged us in an exploration to an uncharted jungle  of Prosperidad in Agusan del Sur, checking the validity of the reports of pristine  caves that are said to be a source of healing water  traditionally use by the indigenous people of Manobos. It was another opportunity for me to be the first to document a potential tourist destination that would suit for hardcore explorers, adventurers and mountaineers locally and internationally. 

A New Hope 

The newly found cave in Sitio Ognop was  discovered recently with the combined efforts of the locals and mountaineers of Caraga led by  Arnel Pasilan and company. This discovery had been fully recognized by the local government unit of Prosperidad  as  potential tourism attraction in the province. The cave was still pristine and not even a sign of minor disturbance or vandalism can be observed in the area.  

The Ognop Tribal Filipino Community School
In the report presented by Mr. Pasilan, there were some noted unique and unidentified fauna that have been seen inhabiting the pitch dark cave. 

But to protect these unidentified creatures from the greedy poachers, the exact location of the precious fauna was  temporarily hidden to the public until proper scientific studies have been conducted. The cave has a solution type of limestone bedrock with abundant of speleothms.

For the locals, the cave has been long source of a healing water, tagging it as holy water as a gift from mother nature. Children or any members of the community drink the water coming from the cave to cure their illnesses.

To reach the remote location of the cave, one must trek for at least three hours and set a temporary camp at the grounds of  Ognop Tribal Filipino Community School. The whole sitio of Ognop is covers the ancestral domain of Manobos for many generations. 

Committed to our goal, we woke up even before the sun have shone over the canopy of thick dipterocarp forest . A sip of hot instant coffee at dawn was very helpful to warm our cramping stomach, giving us a good kick to start the day. But the freezing foggy surrounding instantly weaken our knees and sent us back to our tent to warm up a little. 

But it was the long morning vocalization of unknown birds that reminded us with our mission to step outside and heed to our target site. From the camp site, it was a punishing experience as we trekked the steep and rolling narrow trail.

The Lady Guardian of the Forest
The trail seemed endless as we'd been walking for an hour that almost broken my spirit to continue. But our strong determination made us push harder until our perseverance paid off after we reached the  mouth of the cave. Our eyes couldn't believe seeing for the first time the gigantic opening  that was almost in camouflage, covered with thick bushes growing wild in the vicinity. 

The cave's mouth was approximately 20 meters wide extending to the rightmost part of the entrance and has a height of  3.5 meters. The first chamber of the cave has a length of 160.743 meters, maximum width of 15.619 meters and height of the cave roof reaches 6.302 meters. (Data courtesy of Mr. Pasilan,2012).

The White Lamb of Ognop

The brackish silt on the floor suggests that water runs coming from different directions, filling the cave during heavy rains .  As we scout the pitch dark cavern, we have not seen any evidence of bats roosting on the roof and not even a single animal manure was seen on the floor.

During the allotted 30-minute exploration, our eyes feasted on various rock formations, ranging from gigantic stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws and uniquely images seemed drawn on the columns.  These formations bear a resemblance of some images that were truly amusing to look at. 

One stalagmite looks like a masterpiece of a great sculpture resembling to Madonna and Child. At the mouth of the cave there were more than a dozen of strange stalactites that look like tentacles of the hell's creature "The Kraken". 

The golden staircase amazed us and looking at it would remind you of the great Banawe Rice Terraces. There was also a rock that looks like a lion guarding a crystal of rocks on its side. Some stalactites formed like onion and garlic bulbs. There was also a formation that looks like a painting of a woman depicting as the Lady Guardian of the forest that surrounds the cave.But the most interesting formation was the white sheep like rock standing on the middle of the cave as its innocent eyes were fixed on everyone of us. 



Madonna and Child


The Kraken from the Movie  "Titan"                                                       Guardian Lions of the Cave


The Resonating Gong                                                                     The sacrificial altar


The" Explorers"


Getting there

For first time visitors:

From Butuan City, take a bus heading either for San Franz, Davao or Tandag City. Alight at Bah-Bah Prosperidad and take a tricycle to the tourism office of Prosperidad at the Municipal Hall and register. You will be directed to hire a habal habal going to Brgy. Mabuhay. Register at the barangay hall adjacent to the basketball court. Hire a registered tour guide for Php 250.00/10pax. 

From Mabuhay, walk along the 4 km trail heading to Purok 5 . You have to walk on a muddy3.64 kilometer  trail towards  Ognop Tribal Filipino Community School. From the camp, your team will trek for another 1.2 km towards the cave.

Alternative:

You can also alight at Awa, Prosperidad at the entry point of Los Arcos. You will know you are in the right place upon seeing the big poster of Bega and Tugonan Falls. Habal habal are readily available at the left side of the junction of the road. Special trips will cost you higher around Php 100-200 going to Brgy. Mabuhay.


 Related Posts:

BEGA: Waterfalls of Beauty and LUST
Magdawat Cave: Unplanned Discovery and Exploration
Alocasia and Amorphophallus of Guinumhay
Nepenthes of Guinumhay Peak




20 comments :

  1. all sawewit community ....

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  2. who ? the members on the lower pics?---except me :(

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  3. welcome denz...u are one now heheh

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  4. Wow !!I like caves..Well, ang dami palang caves sa Philippines noh...That's what foreigners like to spend their vacation here in the Philippines..

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  5. ganessa archivalMay 18, 2013 at 12:49 PM

    Wow... the royal staircase looks astounding. This should be included in my travel bucket list :)

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  6. Rochkirstin SantosMay 18, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    Are there any living testimonies that were reported on the news or published on newspaper about the miracles of the healing water?

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  7. the area is an isolated place to be reached by media interested on some healing water . and the fact that the tribe survive from their illness without the aid of doctors, their claim is somehow convincing ... it must be the pureness of the water that cleanse their body rejuvenating their body system

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  8. Indeed a great discovery, I was awed by your photos specially those fascvinting rock formations. Sana, concern authorities must take the lead in developing this attraction.

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  9. Our country still has many undiscovered beauties. Let's just hope that the cave won't be exploited by humans.

    The photos are nice. I've been in a cave once palang. Sa Biak-na-Bato in San Miguel, Bulacan. :)

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  10. WOw! Sa prosperidad lang pala to? Ganda ng first photo

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  11. I agree with the other comments, it is really a very good discovery. can I ask, why is the color like that, kinda gold or bronze? It is fascinating... There might have another version of the hidden Yamashita treasure. hahaha

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  12. Sarah Andres EstorMay 19, 2013 at 4:51 AM

    I've never been to any cave before. I would really want to try someday. It looks so stunning. :)

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  13. Charlie Joy G. IntanoMay 19, 2013 at 8:25 AM

    This is a wonderful cave I've ever seen in my whole life, the rock formation really awakens my spirit. What I really appreciate about the people in Mindanao is that they are like treasure hunters they never stop searching to find a breathtaking view that can really attract foreign visitors. Mindanao is really blessed with good spots, treasures and everything. We need to protect & preserve this kind of tourist spot.

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  14. Amazing place! I really wanted to go there after I graduate...

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  15. Awesome Royal Staircase! Parang real talaga. I thought flowing gold yung nakikita ko. Great and very informative post again from LM. Kudos to you!

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  16. the place is heavenly!! amazing work of arts by nature!

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  17. What a great find! I always believed that there's still many undiscovered tourist spots in the Philippines. I hope that all of us will preserve and appreciate this natural treasures.

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  18. What another great discovery! Mindanao has a lot of potential for tourism and use of its natural resources. Great find! I would love to explore that cave too.
    - Wanderer Juan

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  19. Wow! This is indeed a very beautiful cave. Glad you shared this untapped tourist destination with us. The limestone and all the rock formations look majestic. Hopefully I'll be able to explore Ognop Cave too in the future :)

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