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Kandingon Cave: Unplanned Discovery and Exploration

I believe that I would the first to feature this cave situated in the heart of San Miguel, Surigao del Sur. There are too many places to explore in the said town, only no tourists have ever found their feet landing on the vicinity of the area. Even the locals fear to wander around knowing the possible consequences if caught in between of an unexpected encounter.

Row Row Your Boat

Paddling using a bamboo stick
As an adventurer/explorer,  I love to scout the place where I am living with no stone unturned. So on a boring hot weekend, I asked a local, Nonoy (Arturo Tubat), who used to work for us if he could guide us to the river locally known as “Suba”. He told me that it was the perfect time since the water was not that high and the wind was calm. So my two office colleagues decided to join me in this unplanned visit to Nonoy’s place.

From our office in Brgy. Tina,we rented a habal habal for Php50.00 to take us to the river bank near the fallen bridge of San Miguel. From there we rented two small boats they called ‘baroto’, and paddled against the soft shallow current of the river for almost an hour.

That was the very first time I laid my eyes on this magnificent river, accessorized with lush green vegetation growing on both sides of the cliff. It was like a hidden paradise only mystifying from the rest of the town.

I can’t believe that this beautiful river has the power to turn down a 100 meter concrete national bridge. After an hour, we reached the private land (ancestral land) of Nonoy that he always addressed as ‘bukid’ or farm.

In his little "farm" you can find lots of fruit bearing trees like marang, durian, coconut, mariba, jackfruit, and some pineapples on the ground among others.

We were only supposed to take a bath to freshen ourselves from the heat of the sun, until I saw not far from where we docked a small rock opening on one of the cliffs. Nonoy told me that was his source of his fertilizers used to grow his crops. His ancestors called the cave as Kandingon.

My curiosity ran on my head so I asked him if it was possible to take a look. With only one flash light on hand we entered the cave and explored what can be seen inside.

Eureka! Hidden Beauty Has Just Been Found!

It may have a small opening but inside it was like a giant cathedral. Not too far from the main entrance I saw a small source of light. It turned out that we have to climb a 68 meter steep semi hill dumped of rocks that originally came from a collapsed doline (roof) of the cave. My colleague Eric wasn’t able to climb and decided to stay down. Since I was little ‘fit’ enough, I continued to reach the top.

Paradise inside the cave standing over the collapsed doline
Reaching the top was a revelation like opening a pandora’s box. There was an “eden” in the middle of the cave. The cave resembles a looked like a mini version of Jomblang Cave of Indonesia. It was a “eureka eureka” event in my life . I excitely scouted the area and scan the type of flora growing within. I was amazed seeing tall trees as high as 20 meters such a lauan, tagkan, langkog and bantangale.

I Need A Doctor Very Quick!

What put my heart into a shock was seeing a not common endemic Philippine alocasia (Alocasia sinuata, quilted dream) which is only known to have been found in the island of Samar with a status as Critically Endangered according to IUCN. I guess it is now timely  to amend the description of locality of this beautiful species of plant.

Alocasia sinuata found inside the cave
My heart jumped with joy as I took pictures to be sent to Dr. Melanie Medecilo to confirm the species identification. The joy in my heart can’t be explained as I was overwhelmed with this unplanned quest.

On our right side, there was another huge chamber with some kind of terracotta guarding the entrance. A series of stalagmites (vertical shaped stones on the ground) appeared like a fortress that guard whatever lies inside the cave.

Stalagmites in the second opening of the cave
There are numerous interesting rock formations ranging from pillars, bulging rocks, and even miniatures of small animals lying on the ground. At the ceiling of the cave, some rocks resemble the formations I saw inside the underground river of Palawan, only this one has no water running inside.  

In the middle of the cave, the temperature dropped that made me shiver. It looked like a gigantic coliseum with thousands of bats nesting on the roof. I even saw numerous swiftlets or balinsasayaw competing for space with bats.

To Where the Dark Knight Dwells!

As I think very loud, I murmured the word, “how many are they?” and Nonoy suddenly clapped his hands that put all the bats flying everywhere. We dove into the floor to avoid scratches from the ‘stampede’, only realized that the cave floor was full of shit opps I mean "guano" or bat droppings . I also observed that the floor is inhabited with thousands of cave insects feeding on the droppings.  

Thousands of bats nest on the ceiling of the cave
After a few minutes on the floor, we walked farther but our flash light showed dwindling power. So we headed back walking through a knee high guano until we reached again the ‘eden’.  I was in the status of being unsatisfied and resenting we did not bring extra battery. But I promised I am going back with more batteries on my pocket.

We took a quick dip in the cool clear water fronting the cave. Afterwards, Nonoy cut and served some pineapple, coconut and marang as our lunch. We paddled backed to San Miguel. Since we were heading downstream, it took us only about 30 minutes before reaching the drop-off point.

The trip was way better than I expected. And some discoveries made it even special on which I shall present on a separate article on this blog.


Cathedral like structure upon entering the cave

Miniature of small animals as one of the rock formations inside the cave

Some rock formations same with the Underground river of Palawan

Cave insects feeding on bat droppings

Rich vegetation on the collapsed doline


  1. wow.. second to none talaga si dennis!

    1. grabe hindi naman po,nagkataon lang sir . hopefully makabalik ako jan malapit lang sa place ko but i wish to have companions when i return.matatakutin din ako sa unknown territory.

  2. wow that alocasia and those rock formations are fantastic!

    1. i just hope the place wont be destroyed by the locals....the cave is the source of the guano as fertilizer for their crops...

  3. Replies
    1. hopefully before the end of August or if not, first week of september... anyway it is just an hour boat ride from my place :D

  4. Replies
    1. Indeed it was...shall return when everything is ok .. I might create an invitation for those who can join me on my next visit....keep on exploring:D

  5. amazing!..ganda ng mga rock formation..hope makarating din ako jan..tnx for sharing this. :)

    1. very welcome sir... hope one day we can have a joint exploration sir ... that would be very nice:D

  6. Oi dennis set tau date i want to explore that cave! Para aq ang second jejeje;)

  7. OMG all comments are gone ! what is wrong Disqus ....grrrrrr.

  8. ganda tlga ng mindanao !!