Sunday, November 15, 2009

Before I Hit The Twig: Spelunk and Survive (like Amanda Colley Van Coll Of Survivor Philippines)

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda
With CS Nabil and Darin inside Sumaging Cave in Sagada

Last Friday, November 13 was the Finale of the reality tv show Survivor Philippines - Palau that I had been watching for months. After being riveted on tv screens and watching the drama and excitement during the 39 days, 14 tribal councils, and 24 challenges of the castaways, I felt so nervous to know who the ultimate winner would be. I had been cheering and praying for Amanda Colley Van Coll

From day 1 I knew in my heart she would bag the sole survivor title for some reasons. She started really low-key but later on won the immunity and reward challenges, all requiring endurance, strength and wit. And despite that, she remained true to her friends and if she has to betray someone she would not deny it and tell the person. She is a good follower, a true sign of being a good leader. She showed maturity in dealing with relationship issues as well.

So during the announcement of the last vote, Amanda and Justine being tied at 3 all,I was silently praying it would be Amanda's name that host Paolo Bediones would call and viola! Amanda is the sole survivor winner!! I really jumped out of my seat and clapped my hands for a long while, as if I am personally known to Amanda haha.

Other than the reasons I already mentioned why I like Amanda, I felt that despite the mountain of differences about her and me (physically!!) and the life she went through in Palau (which is unimaginable for me), I could relate to her in a sense. The Survivor and the endurance she showed mirrored my whole journey through life where I meet many different people - some of them ended up to be really good friends who stood by me no matter what (like how Mika stood with Amanda till the very end!). But there are those who will push you to the limit and could only be grateful for them for the lessons I learned.

With CS Nabil 

Survivor Philippines also made me recall experiences in my life where in my own little way I showed endurance and pushed my self to the limit. It includes my visit to the Sumaging Cave in Sagada.

I had been to Sagada twice, one was in 2001 where according to my friend Judith Mayocyoc who hailed from Sagada vividly remembered me saying "I won't go caving again!!)

Well, I said those "giving-up" words because the whole caving (spelunking) involved more than two hours of grueling, exhausting and slippery walk, butt aching, wall climbing all under a very cold temperature grrrrr. But deep inside,I felt a great sense of achievement in having survived the spelunking adventure before and hoping I could find a reason to go caving again!

Glad I found that reason after eight long years, last September 16, 2009 when Nabil Mekouar my first couch surfing guest from Paris included Sagada in the places he wanted to visit. My mission mate Darin decided to join us for the adventure so that made three of us.
Our Guide Binsky Lighting The Way

Like before, we got a guide at the Tourist Information Center in Municipal Hall. For a maximum of 4 persons, we paid only P500 so that's only 175 for the three of us. Binksy was our guide.

We walked around nine hundred meters on a paved road leading to the cave. Entering the cave, Binsky lit his lamp and briefed us on the trail. Steps made out of stones lead us on the opening of the cave. Its dark, muddy and slippery rocks made the initial descent to the cave tricky that Darin fell over.
Gutsy Me!

But after the dark, slippery, wet descend and the hardships, the view of the pigpen, elephant heads, the Queen were all worth the hardships. Nabil and Darin thought that the smooth limestones and the calcium formations are slippery but I knew it wasn't. After setting their barefoot on these formations, they were surprised that they are not slippery and have remarkable grip on their bare feet.

Not Slippery As It Looks!

From there, we proceeded and saw the turtle head, the king, the chocolate cake and the curtain formation.

King's Curtain Rock Formation

We entered a small passage, had our selves soaked wet passing through a horizontal slippery limestone rock assisted by a rope and Binksy.

Hole In One

After the rope area, I was submerged in water(chest level).

River Inside The Cave

After the tunnel is the swimming pool. Darin and Nabil jumped into the water. The coldness and the height really scared the cat out of me so I was happy to just take their photos haha.
Swimming Pool Inside The Cave

Wow! It was all worth the experience. Another task accomplished in the book "2001 Things To Do Before You Die". Now I can say that I came, I conquered and survived SPELUNKING not once but twice!!. So like Amanda I feel like I am the ultimate SURVIVOR!

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