Iloilo’s Underworld: Bulabog Puti-an National Park

Red Tarantula
Philippine Orange Tarantula (Selenobrachys philippinus), endemic to Panay & Negros


Covering an area of 854 hectares, the Bulabog Puti-an National Park in Dingle, Iloilo, Philippines is a nature reserve with limestone outcrops and 34 caves. It is home to monkeys, wild chickens, 18 bat species, endemic snails, and native orchids. Because of a strong, sudden downpour, I spent a night in this park en route to Roxas City. The forest ranger offered me to stay at one the huts at the park entrance.

Bulabog Puti-an National Park
Entrance to Bulabog Puti-an National Park

Early the next morning, we set out to visit some of the caves following an old mining trail flanked by century-old dao (New Guinea walnut) trees. Maestranza Cave is a historical site of revolutionary leader Don Francisco Jalandoni’s headquarters and ammunition factory during the turn-of-the-century Filipino-American War. Spanish graffiti – which my guide misattributed as Latin – were scribbled across the walls by Jalandoni and his men. One of them read: El que ama verdaderamente a su patria no mira su provecho propio (He who truly loves his country does not see his own advantage). Another patriotic message read: Los Republicanos Juran Morir Antes Que Entregarse (The Republicans Swear To Die Before Surrendering). Meanwhile, smallish Tuko Cave boasts of phallic formations (as with many caves in the Philippines).

But the most exciting spot was Guizo Cave – the largest cave system in the park – which harbors strange critters like giant crickets, tailless whip scorpions and orange tarantulas! Prized by spider collectors all over the world for its rarity and beauty, the Philippine Orange Tarantula (Selenobrachys philippinus) is found only in the islands of Negros and Panay. They possess a mild venom and their bite can be very painful. So scrambling through a pitch-dark cave armed with nothing but flashlights was pretty unsettling. Guizo Cave was also home to hundreds of bats. We observed some juveniles up close, roosting in the crevices of the low-hanging ceilings. It was my first time to encounter such a diversity of wildlife inside a cave system.

Mouth of Guizo Cave
Entrance to Guizo Cave

How to Get There: From Iloilo City, hop on a public bus bound for Roxas City and alight at Dingle town (1 hour). Motorbikes (habal-habal) or tricycles can take you to the entrance of the park. Barebones accommodation available at the park entrance. Ask for a mosquito coil, or wear repellant lotion at night.

17 comments

  1. Cla says:

    wow! sobrang buhay ng mga pictures, like Ive been there na din 🙂 Thanks!

  2. Thank you Cla! Glad you enjoyed this entry. Do visit again =)

  3. ByahengBarok says:

    didn’t know much about this place before. sayang, we could have spent a day here when my friends and i were in ilo-ilo.

  4. Check it out when you visit Panay again. It’s a nice stopover on a road trip between Iloilo and Roxas. Encountering those palm-sized red orange spectaculars was most exciting. Thanks for dropping a line, ByahengBarok! =)

  5. Dee Quixotic says:

    That orange tarantula caught my attention! I want one!

  6. Guizo Cave looks like an interesting place to explore. I wonder how far you could go into the cave.

  7. michel says:

    Hi,

    Really great Post! I’ve enjoyed reading through your blog because of the great style and energy. I have a blog on travel theme. If you’re interested, we would love to have you on as a guest blogger. Please send me an e-mail and I can give you more information. Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Thanks

  8. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, guys! Really appreciate it.

    @Dee: They are fascinating. But take care not to get too close for comfort! =)

    @Lakwastera: If I remember correctly, we spent a little over an hour exploring Guizo Cave. It was the deepest we explored among the three caves we visited – it was the most interesting…

    @michel: I’m glad to hear you enjoyed my blog. Guesting at your blog sounds awesome! Will email you. Much thanks =)

  9. Pam says:

    whoah!! Bida best Iloilo. 🙂 Cool photos you have there. Loving your ‘blog-posts’ every time I check on it! Inspire me more!! hihihih

  10. Iloilo pride! Thanks for your appreciation. Your comments inspire me, too, to be more diligent on keeping my blog up to date. Cheers to more travels, Pam!

  11. Pam says:

    Well, Yeah! Hope you could find time to explore CARAGA sometimes also..シ wait, you’ve been here right? If I’m not mistaken you’ve already posted photo of Lake Mainit at your FB account..duh. that ‘always-guess-it-wrong’ game of yours #whereisthisinthephilippines シ

  12. Hi Pam, yes, I’ve visited Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Norte. In Surigao, loved Lake Mainit, Mabua Beach and Day-asan Floating Village. And I’ve written about Surigao del Norte and Augusan Marsh, too. I’ll be visiting Siargao and Bucas Grande next month!

  13. Orange tarantula… *cringe*. One hour in the cave does sound unsettling when you think of all those arachnids crawling around.

  14. Hi Gay, yeah, felt like a NatGeo moment – Here’s to my old aspirations of being a biologist! haha

  15. Pam says:

    Really? Whew! Naman! Good then. I’ll check it ASAP. You know what? There are still really lots of natural-wonders in CARAGA people haven’t see.. esp.in Surigao del Sur- ‘Tinuy-an Falls’ and the ‘International Doll House’ in Bislig City and ‘Enchanted River’ in Hinatuan..?? I dunno if you’ve heard about those na.. kakagaling ko lang doon kanina. BREATH-TAKING i’d say. 🙂 Good luck sa trip mo.. 🙂

  16. @Pam: Sorry, just read your comment now! Yeah I’ve heard of those sights in Surigao del Sur! That’s the only province I haven’t visited in CARAGA region. Siargao and Bucas Grande were fantastic!

  17. Pam says:

    🙂 visit there soon. hehehe i mean ASAP! Hey! You have such great talent! I loved your BEst of 2011’s travel!
    TO all: you guys find time to check those out.. 🙂

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