Monday, June 26th, was a national holiday in the Philippines, so there was no school in session for us to observe or co-teach. We spent the day visiting a cave, swimming and lunching at our host teacher Kristina's home, and attending the Polangui Street Dancing Festival as VIPs, an experience I have written up in a separate post.
Hoyop-Hoyopan Cave, which translates roughly to "cave with the blowing wind," was carved out by groundwater and flooded until an earthquake elevated the area above the water table. Since then, it has had an eventful history. First, it was home to cavemen, some of whose bones we were able to see as they had been absorbed/fossilized into the walls. Later, it served as a secret base for the Philippine military and resistance during the second world war. We were told that the Japanese advanced over the cave without discovering it and the soldiers hiding within. In the 1970's, when martial law was in place and dancing was outlawed, locals built a dance floor in the massive central cavern, allowing for subversive and secret disco parties at any hour of the day. Today, the cave is a tourist attraction, but it is still used as a refuge for local families when typhoons impact the island.
I've been in caves that were highly commercialized and developed, with walkways and railings weaving throughout. I've also been spelunking for real, wedging myself into terrifyingly small spaces with a torch on my helmet. This cave was the perfect balance between the two: large enough to walk around freely, but natural enough that you were really experiencing a cave, not a walkthrough of a cave. Most of my photos turned out like crap, so here's a blurry one of me looking at a stalactite:
Kristina hosted us for lunch next. We visited her home in Camalig where we were greeted by her parents, grandparents, various cousins, and the barangay captain. A barangay is akin to a neighborhood, and the captain is the elected leader. So a town with several neighborhoods will have several barangay captains. They also serve as informal(?) law enforcement. Here is our group in Kristina's driveway. Kristina's house is on the right, not the yellow house visible to the left:
We took a half-mile walk behind Kristina's house along the top of several rice paddy levees to visit the community's natural spring. The spring is used for different things depending on how close you get to the source: right at the source is drinking water, next closest is for swimming, after that is the laundry and bathing zone, furthest leads into irrigation for the rice paddies. Angelo, Jenn, and Kristina utilized the swimming zone. Here are a few pictures:
For lunch, Kristina's family served us steamed tilapia, jackfruit that had been cooked in coconut water (outstanding!), grilled pork, fish stew with sweet potato leaves, and rice. Every item was delicious. There is no better way to travel than with a local who will take you in and share her home. Kristina has been such a great host teacher for us! Angelo and I are excited to finally join her at Bicol Regional Science High School tomorrow.