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Medellin Discoveries

CEBU, Philippines - I felt good about myself after  having explored two caves in  Barangay Kawit in the town of Medellin. Coming out whole from those dark underworlds was quite a feat. I thought my adventures with caves in Medellin was over on the first day. I was wrong.

On our last day in this Northern town, Mayor Ricky Ramirez wanted to show us the different tourism treats of the town. First, we were taken on a sidetrip to the beautiful Gibitngil island, located just 15minutes’ boat ride from the town mainland where we could relax a bit from that grueling underground operation the other day.

While in the boat, we noticed the wonderful rock formations on the cliff of the islands. It was then that one of the sailors began telling us stories. He narrated that in one particular spot in the island, there were rumors of a cave with wooden coffins in them. The Cebu Speleological Association (CSA) suspected that it could be a burial chamber. We then asked the sailors to direct us to the said place; the team wanted a quick look. When our navigators pointed us to the spot, a few CSA members were already in the water, swimming towards the rocks across since the boat could not go too close the cliff because of strong waves. It came to me, what if the rumors were true? What if there really was a burial chamber? I thought: I'm a photojournalist, this could be a great story, and what was I still doing in the boat? So I borrowed a dry bag and slipped into it my small digicam. I couldn’t imagine swimming with my DSLR. The next time I knew, I was wading in the water with the rest towards the island.Once we reached the edge of the cliff, we had to work our way up through sharp rocks to get to the upper ground. Vegetation of shrubs and palms concealed any signs of a trail; the team just followed the direction the boatmen told them. Just beyond a plantation of cassava and banana trees was a small elevated opening on a rock formation facing the sea. We found the cave!

The climb towards the small cave's mouth was harder than I thought. With guano residues everywhere, the rocks were slippery for a handgrip. Dondon (CSA team leader) was first to reach the upper platform. As he began to open his headlamps and went inside, I became more motivated to follow. I just had to document this whole thing!

Inside the cave, swiftlets were zipping out from the darker portion of the small chamber. In my mind I picture out a great discovery — a number of wooden coffins and ancient artifacts just like the ones in the movies. But the cave was empty. It was already looted by treasure hunters many years ago. I didn't want to leave without any photos of the place, so I took some shots. When I came upon a higher section, I noticed something sticking out of the ground. There were these two elongated stick-like figures and when I turned my lighton them, I realized they were actually human bones! And just behind were pieces of broken earthen wares. Could these be the proof we were hoping for? Dondon confirmed that they were indeed bones, adding that they might be someone's femur or tibia and fibula. As we were about to share our discovery, the other CSA team below greeted us with a little discovery of their own. They found more broken potteries. The rumored burial chamber in this island was true!

The team took a few samples to turn it over to archaeological experts for further studies. We then returned to the boat and continued on our island tour. We had our lunch in a magnificent resort developed by the Medellin municipality. It was nestled on top of a series of rock formations just a few meters from the island's shore and is interconnected with concrete foot bridges. The CSA team scouted several areas for possible rock climbing and rappelling sites, discovering a few spots that are promising enough. While we were resting, we were surprised when some fishermen showed us several earthenware potteries they found by the beach while constructing a concrete floor court. The artifacts had several carvings below the lid. CSA believed that the carvings were etched using the tips of small sea clams. With all these findings in the island, it must have a very rich ancestral history; enough to send in experts for further scientific research.

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We were then ferried from the rock resort to a beautiful sandbar in a neighboring sitio. Everyone couldn’t resist the tempting waters and powdery white sands. We were only supposed to take some photos but everyone began jumping into the water. We had a great time!

When we got back to the mainland, the town's tourism officers brought us to Brgy. Caputatan Norte's Eco-Adventure zone. Situated on top of a scenic hill and surrounded by a beautiful tapestry of sugarcane fields and coco trees, the place has ZIP-AWAY and the TARZAN JUMP. Zip-Away offers a thrilling one way zipline ride with a taste of fresh air and pure adrenalin rush. The Tarzan jump however creates a different excitement. It is a "swinging" contraption, where one is fastened to a safety harness and will be dropped from a platform and swung to the air at almost 180 degrees, depending on your own weight, since the law of physics is applied for this ride. And soon to operate is the new addition to the adventure zone, a Cable Car ride!

We thought that our caving activities were over, when we overheard that there was a cave near the hill. So we decided to give it a visit. It was surprising that the trail towards it was already a paved pathway. Caputatan Cave is a very small cave with a diagonal opening. It has only one chamber but spacious with a high ceiling.

There is really a lot more to discover in the town of Medellin. Notable is beautiful HIDEAWAY, a resort located in a once remote and rocky beach in Brgy. Tindog. It boasts of a half-kilometer stretch of bamboo footbridge that connects the resort to a not so distant cottage.

For underwater explorers, a great adventure awaits in DISCOVERY REEF. The reef is a coral garden that stretches from Polambato canal to the water boundary of Daanbantayan.

There is also DAGUSUNGAN RIVER where one can engage in kayaking for a more intimate interaction with nature. You can explore its magnificent mangrove forest and you get to chose two different river routes, each having a  different rewarding experience.

Medellin is now fastly becoming Cebu's Golfing Haven with the rise of Queen's Castle Golf Club in Brgys. Lamintak Norte and Sur. The golf course will house a 5-star hotel, housing facilities, wellness centers and restaurants. The older Mercedes Plantation Golf Course and Country Club with its International standards is still attracting more tourists, especially Koreans who inked a deal to build their own residencial facilities for their retirees and vacationers within the property.

The town has really grown far from its old moniker as “a ghost town”. Mayor Ricky's vision has truly transformed it and put it in the map as part Cebu's eco-tourism trail.

As we were tucked back inside our coaster for our trip home, I could see everyone's tired faces. But nobody was complaining. The adventures we did and the amazing discoveries we shared are more than enough to carve Medellin in our memories.

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