Antique is enormously endowed with eco-adventure activities from white water kayaking and waterfalling in Tibiao, island hopping in Culasi, and river exploration in Pandan. The northernmost town Libertad is no exception, with its Maanghit Cave amid the rainforest.
“Welcome Pinoy and Foreign Travel Bloggers to Libertad, Antique.”
We spotted the statement on a hand-woven mat on the side of the road. A convoy welcomed us to Libertad, Antique and led us to the Mayor’s residence for late lunch. We were overwhelmed by the efforts exerted by the welcoming committee. After the sumptuous lunch, we dropped by the Municipal Tourism Office to register for the Maanghit spelunking experience.
Before the spelunking activity in Maanghit Cave, the tourism officer directed us to a small plaza for the banig weaving demonstration. We’ve been using banig for a long time at home and viewing the weavers complete an area of the mat made me appreciate the grueling work they’re doing just to finish a regular-sized mat.
The weaving process basically starts with the sun-dried bariw, or screw-pine, which is ubiquitous in the municipality. The sun dried leaves will be stroked with a wood, and will be firmly rolled. It will then be straighten before slicing it into strands that will be used by the weavers. The different products of the Banig Weavers of Libertad include bags, hats, coin purses and even a dress.
After the banig weaving display, we headed to Barangay Union for the trek to Maanghit Cave. The trail to the cave passes by the Bungan-Bungan Spring, an area where the stones were lined-up to split some parts of it. The water of the spring is perfect for a therapeutic dip. Towering coconut trees cover the trail for a shady trek to the cave.
Maanghit was named as such because of the ghastly odor inside the cave due to bats dwelling in it. Dirt from these webbed-wing mammals drops directly from the ceiling to the ground making the spelunking activities uneasy. There were no hard hats offered and since the cave floor was slippery, rock climbing ropes were available to grip on.
We ascended a steep path going to the entrance of the cave with pointed rock formations that resemble the mouth of a crocodile having crooked teeth. Our guide pointed a small opening believed to be a sinkhole near the entrance where flowing water can be heard and seen when illuminated by light. We were also informed that cave scorpions are all over the place and we needed to be careful in finding our way inside. At the rear part of the cave is a small chamber with a stalagmite that the guides referred to as the Blessed Virgin Mary formation. From that area, with a flashlight, you can see the colony of bats inhabiting in the dome of the cave.
The spelunking activities ended with a snack of some rice cakes from Tinigbas Special Native Delicacies at Pucio Point. Pucio Point is the northwestern most point of Panay Island which is the perfect spot to catch sunset. We then headed to Ucoy Beach Resort for dinner and some socials and to officially end the Antique Heritage Tour.
* This Maanghit Cave Spelunking and Libertad Tour were part of the Antique Heritage Tour initiated by the Katahum Tours with the cooperation of the Department of Tourism Region VI and the Antique Provincial Tourism Office. Special thanks to the LGU of Libertad, Antique, Tinigbas Special Native Delicacies, Ucoy Beach Resort