June 12, 2015 – Independence Day to the maximum level. A day well spent for family bonding. Here’s a thumbnail sketch what it likes to be worry-free for one day. Only here at the Santa Victoria Caves, now called CITY OF ILAGAN SANCTUARY.
Sanctuary Maps and Signages. Nobody will get lost with the provision of these big maps and signages posted in conspicuous places in the sanctuary.
Hogwarts Express, er Sanctuary Express. Offering free group ride to and from the main entrance to the swimming pools and vice versa.
Tricycles on the Loose. A pair of these tricycles are going around the sanctuary offering free rides for stranded guests. These blue artistic tricycles is another innovative attraction here at the sanctuary that provides free mobility. Sanctuary caretakers call these mobility as the All Terrain Vehicle or AVT in short.
Zip Line Hub. This is how thrill seekers prepare for zip line
The Hanging Bridge. There are two options in entering the Santa Victoria Caves. One is the conventional way of walking through it for a quite a number of steps from the main road. And for the brave at heart, one can choose the hanging bridge. These steel and iron cables hang in suspension attached to at least seven separate trees in full stop, or comprising seven spans until reaching the cave main entrance. The thrill is on how to get hold on these cables and rustic metal steps. One unsolicited advice however, be confident and just have fun. Don’t wonder your thoughts on the idea of falling because if you do, chances are, you might really fall. Warning: Only 5 persons per group are allowed to go along each span at a time.
Sweet Couple. Before entering the main entrance leading to the cave adventure, caught this couple in their sweet moments. Thanks by the way for their generosity for the free mobility in going to and from the Ilagan Sanctuary and for the free entrance tickets, of course.
Spelunking. An exhilarating journey to the deep, dank, dark depths of the earth. I visited Santa Victoria Caves and its many chambers more than ten times already, yet I haven’t really understand the basics of spelunking, until we hire a volunteer guide here (mainly for safety purposes and more) who explained the difference between stalagmites and stalactices. He said, it is up to us to imagine what other rock formations we imagined it to be after pointing to us Casper-like, the Santo Nino, the ampalaya-cocumber like, and other rock formations inside the cave. By the way, spelunking is the traditional term for caving, the recreational pastime of exploring wild cave systems. A bit of trivia: spelunking or caving is now considered a sport or a hobby.
Tiger’s Den. Last full stop after an exhausting spelunking adventure, enter the den that houses two extremely dangerous tigers. We were fortunate to have been joined in by ABS-CBN Regional Network New’s MAG-TV NA host Kiko and staff who had been filming the whole day at the sanctuary.
The Animal Kingdom. A host of exotic, rare, endangered and nearly-endangered species find home here. They have been fed, taken care of and open for viewing. Of course, they are on cages for public safety.
Harmless snake, anyone? I don’t know if you agree with me, but this one is really harmless, debunking the adage, “Ahas ka, kinakagat mo pati nagpapakain sa iyo”. Quite huge, heavy and large enough to swallow a whole person, and certainly the biggest snake here in Isabela, yet doesn’t bite a bit. Spectators are even allowed to enter the cage for a “real touch” of snake and for selfies. The cage is the prime attraction in the Animal Kingdom here.
Ostrich Hub. Bits and pieces sort of trivia here, that ostritch is one of the biggest fowls with the biggest egg. These ostrich buddies here, though some are already bald (with age? hmmm…), are harmless, friendly, like to be with people and even steadied themselves for a photo shoot, and like to be feed with green leaves. Some of my companions fed them (maybe because no sign of “no feeding” have been posted in the area).
Public Enemies No. 1. Have you seen these persons? Beware, if they are outlaws on the loose, they are extremely dangerous. Along the paved way at the Animal Kingdom, we found this empty cage intended maybe for another animal specie. Yet, perfect for human cage at this time, lol.
Salabay. On a personal note, here’s Basty and Mac on “salabay” mode. Basty respectfully requesting his elder cousin Mac for a “salabay” (agbay” in Cebuano, I don’t know in Tagalog, hehe) after an exhausted and tiresome hanging bridge, spelunking and animal kingdom adventures.
Pools for Everyone. Swimming pools for kids and adults is everybody’s favorite. Taking a plunge from natural spring waters is quite a relief to beat the remaining heat of summer. One good thing here are the nice, clean and large space comfort rooms separating the males and females just nice to indulge before and after swimming. Yes, of course the footbridge leading to the CRs is really an innovate idea for safety and convenience. I also spotted few Safety Officers patrolling the area.
The Green Lagoon. Boating here is fun. Not quite sailing through the wind because one should exert extra effort just to move on. Now with extended space allows anyone to move on an extra “nautical” mile using banana boat for two and that “pato” boat for six persons.
Raging Waves. Well, not raging really. Wave poll is now the new additional attraction here at the improved Ilagan Sanctuary that allow thrill seekers to enjoy artificial waves. I guess LGU Ilagan is now busy on their drawing boards planning innovative breakthroughs that go beyond the next level of technological advancement of recreating this man made structure to look a lot like a real beach with white sand, complete with lifeguards and surfing instructors with a possibility to enjoy all the thrills and sensations of surfing in the ocean within a safe pool environment. Here’s hoping that in the near future, this man-made surf wave structure will be equipped with yet another surf machine capable of generating customized man made waves that could mimic surfing waves, points, reefs and beach breaks that will give people of all ages an enjoyment they wished for like an authentic surfing experience…beyond the oceans of the world.