I am not by nature a risk taker.
I love to travel if opportunity knocks on my door, yes, who would not? But I am usually a very cautious person.
These past weeks, the world prayed hard for the safety of the boys soccer team and their coach who were trapped inside a flooded cave in Thailand. Thanks to God the rescue was successful. They all came out alive.
This reminded me of my experience of caving in the Philippines and what it taught me. Yeah, I have learned a lot.
Years ago I joined a group of professors for our department activity in Sagada, Mountain Province at the northern part of the Philippines. I brought Faye, my older daughter, with me so that my mother and my sister could focus in taking care of Fiona, my younger daughter.
After completing the academic activities, most members of the group wanted to go caving or spelunking at the Sumaguing cave. We, the mother and daughter tandem, decided to join.
At the entrance of the cave, one professor backed out because he had a weak heart. I told the 10-year-old Faye that we could go back to the guest house also. But she wanted to go on and see what was inside the cave. Honestly, me too. I was curious. Very curious, I had never been inside a cave before. I was just giving her an option to back out. She did not take it!
We had two male tourist guides. They brought a torch because it was dark inside. Faye and I stayed together. There were parts of the cave that we needed to climb the rocks. In some parts we needed to step on the guide’s knees then up to his shoulder to move to the upper parts of the cave.
I learned to trust the guides. They were very careful and thorough in assisting us. I trusted more my colleagues. It was not only me looking after Faye. All of them were also looking after her.
I let Faye went ahead of me in our every move. I was always behind her making sure she was okay. She was a brave little thing. Even braver than me.
The cave is beautiful. It is full of treasures. No questions about it. It was an awesome experience!
What used to be a three to four hours activity though became nearly eight hours.
We were a group of eight. We were slow by the guide’s standards. One male professor nearly passed out for how many times. We advised him to go back. He was adamant to go through.
That’s when I started to get worried.
We kept on looking up, then asked the guides if that was already the sky. They retorted, “no ma’am it is still the ceiling of the cave”.
One part of the journey was to pass through a small water hole which was very cold. It was so deep as some members of the group went in first. The guides told us there was an alternative way if we did not want to go through that.
I wanted to take that option. I was thinking of my daughter. But lo and behold she wanted to go.
The other members of the group cheered her on, for her courage. The water reached her head so they carried her. I followed them.
We needed to do rappelling to go out of the cave. You just trust your guides. Trust your colleagues.
We started very early. It was already dark when we were done.
I told Faye to never go caving or spelunking ever again. One experience is enough.
Or, if one really wants to go caving or spelunking, go with persons who can be trusted and can be relied on.