When I had gone to this trip up north to Tuguegarao City, part of the trip was a free tour of Callao Cave, one of the 300 caves in the quiet town of Peñablanca.
The cave is known for its 9 chambers. 7 of which are open to tourists, while the remaining 2 had been closed off due to an earthquake in the ‘80s. Each chamber is exceptionally huge, with 5 of them having sunlight that flows in through natural crevices from above.
The most famous of these chambers is the second one, where one of the rock formations resembles a church’s retablo and has been added wooden seats some time ago to resemble an actual church. Masses are held there on some occasions.
The first chamber, which is the mouth of the cave, was where the fossils of the oldest probable Homa sapien in the country was found. It was dubbed as the Callao Man, and was approx. 67,000 years old.
The third is the darkest, but has been permanently installed with artificial lights. The fourth greets you with sunlight as you climb up the clay steps to the fifth, which is the greenest part of the cave. It has the most plants, and even a small grotto at the top of the hill. The sixth is past a downward slope and is guarded by one of the rock formations, the Lion rock.
The seventh is just darkness and solid ground, and at the very end you could still see another source of skylight. We were told that the rest of the bones from our ancestors were found there, along with materials/weapons they might’ve used during the day.
Callao Cave was given its name by the Spaniards during the colonial era, using the word callado which meant calm. This name was chosen because from the trip through the river to the climb of 180+ steps and inside the cave itself, there is a consistent calmness that you would feel.