Saturday, September 10, 2005

SAMAR ISLAND GUIDE: EXPLORER JONI A. BONIFACIO TEL: 055-2512301
CELL:09192943865 / 09053233572

WEBSITE: www.bonifaciojoni.blogspot.com

MATUGUINAO CAVING EXPEDITIONS 2005
BRGY.TARABUCAN MATUGUINAO,SAMAR
APRIL 2,2005 TO MAY 9,2005

CAVING TEAM:
1.PAUL MARCEL-FRENCH CAVER
2.FERRET GERARD-FRENCH CAVER
3.FERRON CEDRIC-FRENCH CAVER
4.JOVENT LAURENT-FRENCH CAVER
5.JONI BONIFACIO-TREXPLORE/FILIPINO CAVER
6.SHERWIN ORBETA-TREXPLORE/FILIPINO CAVER

CAVES:




1.KATIAKLIHAN CAVE--(1 KM)
2.LOBO CAVE--(500 M)
3.SUPLAN CAVE--(8 KM)


CEDRIC FERRON (PICTURES)



























































































































































































































































































































































































































































FERRET GERARD (PICTURES)

















































































































































































PAUL MARCEL (PICTURES)







































































































































































































































































































































JONI BONIFACIO (PICTURES)



































































































































MATUGUINAO CAVING EXPEDITION 2005

French Tree Climber says, ‘I shall Return’

MATUGUINAO, Samar Fifty-year old Gerard Ferret, a tree climber from France, has promised: “I shall return!” He has been to this cool town that is home to six karsts and stayed there for 15 days.

Gerard was in samar eight years ago but he did not proclaim a promise to return. Last May 15, 2005 he made his first proclamation. He had gone through the Sulpan Cave which is also known as the Pinipisakan Cave. He was with three other Frenchmen and together they composed one team. They wanted to explore the whole of the cave, but strange things occurred as they were about to start surveying the numerous chambers and wonders of that karst. Those prompted them to wind up their trip. A retreat should be in order, not in defeat but as a tactical method of reevaluating their initial findings so that they would have a good reason to return.
He wrote on the diary of Joni A. Bonifacio, their Filipino contact who guided them from Catbalogan to this town guides for them:

“After 8 years in France it’s a very nice come-back. March 31 before the Samar Island Biodiversity Project representatives consultant Dr. Marcelino Dalmacio and planning chief Rosario Cabardo were asked to give an overview of the Gandara watershed.

He also cited the many repeated emphases made by the vice-governor on the need to find solutions to the flooding problem in the TAGASAPA zone, each time Vice-Gov. Redaja attended meeting and workshops of the work group.

Last May 31, Dela Torre argued strongly for an immediate focus by the members of the Samar Provincial Technical Working Group on those emphases made by Vice-Gov. Redaja. His manifestations resulted in the creation of the project team. In a subsequent meeting cum workshop on the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, he inquired about timelines for the completion of the original task of the group which is to find short-term solutions to the flooding problem.

The place here in Sulpan was a very good experience. For the few days we had it’s very positive. The karst is also interesting and the studies must be continued. We have to plan a new expedition of other places. The exchanges with all the people were great. ‘I shall return’!”

Paul Marcel, the team leader also wrote into Joni’s diary” WAOOUH! Like every time, we meet friendly people and big caves. I hope to be back as soon as possible to go further and deeper in the forest and in the caves, to meet the people of Samar, in the towns and in the forest. Special thanks to Joni for his help.. I wish he can form a good team … don’t forget to survey the caves you will explore!!”
Electrician-Caver Laurent “Lolo” Jovet just wrote down his e-mail address and telephone number.
Cedric Ferron, an acrobat, had this to tell Joni: “It was a nice expedition! Beautiful cave with many galleries, full of animals, sometimes full of shit off bats. The camp was like paradise. The guides very, very friendly and efficient. Exploring the caves with the Best Samar’s caver was a pleasure. Salamat Po to every body.”

These foursome gave Joni some caving equipments like harness, caving suits, carbide lamp, and SRT equipment which is used for climbing mountains, all courtesy of the French Caving Federation.
It was Joni’s first time to personally meet Paul and his members. Before, their only contact was via e-mail.

Paul, Gerard, Lolo and Cedric enjoyed the company of their guides whom Joni mobilized to attend to the foreign visitors needs. The guides: 24-year old Sherwin S. Orbeta of barangay Minda, Gandara, Samar, a member of Trexplore the Adventures Club which Joni heads, who accompanied them through a thrilling riverine ride to Matuguinao; and 35-year old Allan V. Garcia of brgy. Del Rosario, 46-year old Ermito Velardi of brgy. San Isidro, and 22-year old Nemuel E. Diaz of brgy. Mabuligon, all of Matuguinao.

Nemuel had stayed longest with the French as he was the only available local guide who can speak English. Into Joni’s diary, he also wrote: “Nalilipay ako nga nagin usa ako san mga guide nga nahiupod sini nga expedition ‘coz this is my first time, so I want to say, thanks to Joni & Sherwin for everything that they’d done for me, and also to my 4 French friends.”

For his part Sherwin had this to say: “I enjoyed exploring the cave with Kuya Joni, the local guides and the four French . . . Nice gallery inside, I felt nervous when we saw a snake but after that enjoyed caving again, because these four French, Kuya Joni and the local guides tough us how to be brave and strong inside the cave . . . I found new friends in this expedition . . . “

Allan could not hide his excitement. He wrote: “Nalipay gad ako nga nagsulod han lungib kay nakit-an ko sa sulod halason, higlarom an linaw. Nahadlok ako san linaw kundi maupay an design sa lungib. An French mga buotan. Dam an ira pagkaon, kompleto gamit, di nahahadlok pagsulod sa lungib. Bisan adlaw, bisan gab-i diri hadlok. Nagpapasalamat kami nga may inabot nga igsipareho Waray, kay nasabot kami han istorya. Maupay an batasan ni Joni, taga Catbalogan, ngan ni Sherwin, taga Gandara.”

Ermito had similar feelings: “Nagpapasalamat ako pag upod kay damo akon nakikit-an ha sulod nga maupay, sugad han igang. Maupay pagkita ha sulod. Sugad man han mga tamsi nga gudti sugad han Sayaw Tiakle ngan waray makaharadlok sugad han halas. An mga upod namon nga Frances nga foreigners, mga buotan, diri nahadlok, amo nakasubad ako pagsulod lingib. Nagpapasalamat ako nga umabot si Joni didi sa amon pag-api sa sulod sa lingib kay diri liwat nahadlok sa sulod. Kay nagkakaintindihay kami pag istorya han waray dialect.”

Matuguinao occupies an area of 172.51 square kilometers. Its 2000 population stood at 5,361 its internal revenue allotment (IRA) share based on population is 2,416,430 pesos, and based on land area, P6,437,771.53 while its equal share is P7,628,841.70. Its appropriation for last year was P17,522,427


Caving Experiences at Matuguinao

Future adventurers who dream to visit Matuguinao very soon for its bewitching caves and caverns may want to learn from the experiences of its most recent visitors - 4 Frenchmen, 4 locals.

Once you are in any of those caves, never say you’ve completed your adventure. Something more amazing could be just somewhere near your first target. This early, therefore, prepare for a longer trek into the unknown. Ten days may not be enough!
Look at this.

Exploring the big Sulpan Cave on May 5 without completing even half of it in their survey, the French cavers, equipped with advanced technology gadgets and device, found out two things: first, there was still much left to be surveyed; second, there was another object of bewilderment: a big gallery with its own serial chambers inside, each with its own irresistible attraction.

Just these alone already make the heart of Matuguinao an amazing town in the forested area of Western Samar. The rest-still so much unknown. That yielded another discovery: the foreigners must go back to France and come back only when they shall have gathered more sophisticated and complete caving equipment, perhaps a hundred others, far more enabling than what they have just brought in for their 13-17 days superb adventure into Matuguinao’s substantially untouched natural wonders.

On May 7, they went back to the Sulpan Cave, via the same route, to get through another gallery, one to the right of the cave, reaching it at past 11 o’clock in the morning. As in the previous day, the troupe fixed their bamboo raft and had two of the Frenchmen and a local guide wading through the river water while pushing the raft forward to get their gears across. They had with them cameras, 5 rolls of 135-36 shots Kodak color film, batteries, flash bulbs, Laser Survey equipment, food packs, and others. There had to be some swimming, too, for some 300 meters.
There was already a dead end for the right gallery, but further ahead, outside, more than 40 meters distant from the cave’s exit, was that awe-inspiring find. From the edge of the fairly wide surface of that gallery, they estimated a depth of also more than 40 meters, and then a giant stone wall that led to another gallery.

“We decided to climb that wall,” Joni recalled from his diary. When they reached the top, a big but friendly black snake met them. “We had a souvenir picture taken with the snake,” Joni chuckled in.
Later, they found another cave entrance when they were strolled to the open area outside.
“That gave us the cue that somehow those galleries were interlinked, somewhat like what we discovered inside the Sulpan Cave, “Joni would tell this writer two months later.

In this new chamber there are also a thick bats population, and mud. But not just mud, but a Mud Mountain. For the cave survey, the troupe had irresistibly climbed that giant heap. The climb led to a small passage filled with wondrous stalactites and stalagmites of various forms and shapes, and that in turn disgorged them unto a Giant Room heavily covered with mud. At the end of the tunnel like room was another 40-meter depth, and from this section, the strong lights from their helmets allowed them to see a gallery across, another gallery at the left section, and still another to the right. At this point, Joni saw a small snake crawling in the mud, about two meters away from meters away from Cedric Ferron, the acrobatic French caver. The little creature was not any bother. Cedric fixed his climbing rope with “Hardwake”, and used it to cross the depth to reach the adjacent gallery at the left. Joni and Sherwin Orbeta, a Trxplore-trained tourist from barrio Minda, Gandara, Samar, waited. One hour later, Cedric was calling from across. Joni and Sherwin had fallen asleep while waiting. For Cedric to complete his climb of the slippery giant wall The young locals took their turn and like Cedric, they had to make some fixing of the rope every time they moved.

Cedric surveyed the entire length of this Left Gallery. It was 300 meters from end to end. Joining Cedric here were French team leader paul Marcel and tree climber Gerard Ferret who had just finished exploring another section.
That was enough for the moment. They worked their camp site outside the main entrance of the cave. It was already 3 p.m. and time for lunch. While Joni and the locals next took their buko meal and their foreign guests instant food, Paul suddenly remembered that he had left behind, inside the right gallery, his blue water container. Joni accompanied Paul to retrieve that precious life-giving thing.

An hour later, the foreigners went back to the cave to photograph themselves and other objects of interest. Joni and Sherwin took another course, the River Junction.
By 6:30 p.m., the French declared they were through with their survey. All faces smiled. Lolo, the French artist with them, held up his drawing of the Sulpan Cave. It almost looked like the cave itself as viewed from the outside, and inside.
The rest of the night was full of frolic Minutes into midnight, Lolo fell from his hammock two times. He was drunk with rum, and now vomiting, and then, without anything to cover his body, he slides back to the hammock for a comfortable rest.There.

Think about these experiences before going to the caves in Matuguinao. Better still, consult Joni for a complete briefing. It will help to be prepared at all times. You can personally visit Joni at Abesamis Store along Allen Avenue in Catbalogan, or contact him by his mobile phone, number 09192943865.

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