San Rafael, Bulacan: Inside Malangaan Cave
A heavy muffled thud from a distance broke the rural reticence of this outlying village in San Rafael, Bulacan. Quite alarming at first, but for locals, the low-pitched pounding is just another average day in a far-flung neighborhood in Tukod – some remote hamlet that produces tons and truckloads of enormous limestone blocks one loud thud after the other. This valuable sedimentary rock can probably generate a handsome paycheck for the quarry operators, but for the locals, it may not be as much. Instead, some villagers, young or old, earn meager amounts from guiding a handful of visitors into the depths of Malangaan Cave.
Getting Guides & Getting In
The sun was getting bright and warm, and we’ve covered about 8 kilometers of uphill roads. Closing in to Malangaan Cave, we met three youngsters living in a modest cottage facing the unpaved street and on its back lies a vast stretch of green fields. The kids gladly offered to show us the way to and inside Malangaan. Two of them served as our guide and one left behind to watch over our things.
They led us into a maze of shanties and below a massive crevice split in between by a shallow running stream. These giant trench-like pits went narrower until reaching a thin passage on one face of the grey wall. Spaces became more confined – tighter until you have to duck and squeeze yourself in between the cold and damp surfaces. Light became limited – until everywhere you look, there’s nothing but pitch black darkness.
Environmental & Social Concerns
The quarry operations is least of a concern in Malangaan Cave – well, at least for now, no dynamites are nowhere getting near Malangaan’s gorges and caverns. However, the apparent threat comes from the visitors – outsiders, maybe even locals – who wander into the spectacular cave while negligently leaving their garbage, unnecessarily writing and carving whoever or whatsoever names on the walls.
Further disregard leaves this cave to rot until no one would bother visiting anymore. And since no one bothers visiting a rotten or vandalized cave anymore, others may find it useful and turn it to a money making quarry or mining site instead. And since there would be no more visitors to guide, locals, even kids, would seek backbreaking jobs in the quarry business. And beyond this chain of events, think of the natural effects, or how this would affect the locale – when Malangaan Cave is nothing but merely a memory of the past.
Or maybe I’m just overthinking? This is not even my field of expertise. All I know is that it’s a shame to see such beautiful places destroyed and we don’t even know we’re doing it.
This goes out not only to Malangaan Cave but to all other destinations under threat of further destruction.
1. Directions to Malangaan Cave:
From Baliwag Bus Terminal in Cubao, ride a bus bound for Baliwag or Cabanatuan (P75.00) and get off at Baliwag (approximately 1-2 hours travel). From the highway, take a tricycle and tell the driver to take you to the jeepney terminal bound for Pulo, San Rafael (P26.00; approx. 45 minutes travel). From here you could walk 9 kilometers to Malangaan Cave jump-off point or ride a tricycle which costs around P150.00 – P200.00 two way.
2. Registration Fee is free as of this writing.
3.You will be crossing streams so expect to get wet.
4 Wear sandals or if you don’t mind getting your shoes wet so be it.
5. There’s no fixed rate for guides. We gave a P150 for the boys.
6. I know you don’t have to be reminded but let’s not leave our trash, don’t carve our names – travel responsibly.
7. Exercise caution always.
8. The activity lasts no more than an hour, maybe a bit more depending on your pace.
9. More about Bulacan.
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