Mabinay's Pandalihan and Panligawan Caves


Back in 2011, to be frank, I hardly knew anything about the province of Negros Oriental except that it’s in Visayas – a very limited information I’ve retained from my Philippine Geography class. When my sister flew back from Doha she told me that we’ll be going for a short vacation in Dumaguete. And yes, I knew not a thing about that city too; nevertheless I was still so excited to finally have real depiction of that province and not stay behind the image of its name and map.


Now, I find it amusing that there were so many awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping, undoubtedly beautiful places to visit in Negros, yet it doesn’t seem to bang in the must-see lists of Filipinos. I’m pretty much convinced that foreign travelers know more about the jewels of this province than the locals. I saw a lot of foreigners roaming around the city of Dumaguete and in almost every town in Negros Oriental.


The more I visit this province the more it magnifies my desire to explore further. It not only homes a variety of wonders; from beaches, mountains, waterfalls, lakes, and pleasant more – it also ports near too many awesome islands and provinces. Let me name a few: the province of Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor, Bacolod, Antique, Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro, Bukidnon, and Zambaonga. 


If you’ve been following my blog, you probably knew by now that I’ve written several posts about places to visit or the things you can do there. In this post I will write about another must-see, must-experience, must-visit attraction in the town of Mabinay.


The Mabinay Caverns satisfies the cravings of thrill seekers, adventurers, and caving enthusiasts. In this town Mother Nature decided to carve over 100 major and minor caves one of which is recognized as the second longest and one of the most challenging caves in the country – Odloman. This cave named Odloman however is only for people who are not faint-hearted, if you are, don’t feel sorry as there are other caves you can discover with the help of a guide.


When we went there, my companions and I sadly were not wearing the proper attire for caving so the tourist information officer decided that our guide should take us only to the caves good for beginners. 

Forgive me as I can’t recall if the tourist guide charges per hour or per cave but I think we paid him more or less 1,000 pesos, and there were seven of us in the group.


Before the tour, our guide sat us all down to present us the rules about what is allowed to do and what is not, what to expect and also a brief history of the place. After the orientation we were advised to bring some water and trail foods with us since it would take us more than an hour of trekking.

We walked past two kilometers from Bulwang tourist centre when the rain poured down heavily which caused us to look for shelter and delayed our tour for about thirty minutes. But that was okay, because when you’re exploring, delays can be an avenue for chit-chats and create more fond memories with your companions.


Since the downpour was really heavy, we resumed our trek now with a muddy trail. It was challenging for me because I was only wearing slippers, but thank goodness Havaianas were as tough as my feet. 

Anyway, our first stop was a duo – the Pandalihan and Panligawan caves. Many years ago these caves were the usual venue for lovers who want to make their vows official and public, and thus these were also a common place for wedding ceremonies.


As I looked around, I bought the explanation and was convinced. Inside these caves were an auditorium-like place, with a man-made stairways for easy entrance to the cave, a large enough space to host several guests, a dome-like shaped ceiling, and nature’s crafted garden amazingly landscaped and situated in the center of the cave.


Unfortunately, we were told that it’s no longer at its top shape. What remained, the beauty that we saw was only a piece of its glorious beauty years ago. Our guide told us that 
due to soil erosion because of the incessantly cutting of trees, these caves deteriorate almost completely if not for an intervention. The roots of the trees, the minerals of the soil were the life blood of the caves; cut it, destroy it and soon beneath it dies too.

Good thing the department of tourism took over and decided to rehabilitate the forest, plant trees and protect these caves. It’s never too late if one begins to do something as soon as the need arise!


Since the above air now penetrates through the opening in the ceiling created by the eroded soil, we noticed that it now housed several types of flora. On the inner side of the cave where the air was more humid, the stalactites and stalagmites were yellowish in color; and those near the entrance and the ceiling hole were brownish, gray, and some were green. 

We were also told that the reason why they strictly discourage anyone from touching the stalactites and stalagmites were because it may cause it to die or discolor due to certain bacteria and chemicals in our hands that reacts negatively to it. It was hard to resist the temptation of keeping our hands from touching it because I believed we humans were a very curious being, but I’m proud we did control ourselves.


For beginners like me, these caves were not only accessible by foot but also have a friendly and safe trail even for children. The place, as its name suggests, looks very romantic and ideal for lovers who’d like to take ‘couple-ies” photos but it can no longer accommodate wedding ceremonies. :)

The Pandalihan and Panligawan caves also has beauty almost anyone can easily notice, but I have to admit as an amateur photographer with only a 16mp digicam, and oblivious to lightning or the right ISO, my photos did not give justice to the beauty of the place. Nevertheless, I recommend visiting this place; trust my words instead of my photos. :)

I went back to Negros just a week ago but was not able to go back to Mabinay as I planned to check the other caves. I’ll be back on July for a twenty days vacation and I will really try to squeeze this on my schedule. On my next blog post, I’ll be writing about Crystal cave. I did not include it here because it deserves to have a dedicated post written about it. 

Until then, stay awesome!

Other Travel & Leisure Articles:

The Pristine Mag-Aso Falls in Kabankalan City
The Forest Camp: Just Chill
Dolphins and the Island of Panglao

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