Located within the territory of Biak-na Bato National Park, Aguinaldo Cave is one of the three prominent caves that exist along the banks of the Balaong River that circumscribe the historic barangay of Biak-na-Bato. It is one of the best tourist attractions in the town of San Miguel.
A wondrous history
The notable Aguinaldo Cave is where the late hero, Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, once took refuge while leading the resistance movement against the Spanish and American colonizers. The cave has narrow but long entrance coupled with the existence of secret chambers can waylay intruders. The enemy has to literally crawl through the low portal and would run smack against the waiting defenses of Aguinaldo's men.
A ten-minute boat ride into this underground river leads to a stalactite-accented cavern where, at its center, a smooth triangular block of marble juts above the surface of the clear emerald water. Local lore claims it to be "La mesa de Aguinaldo", the table on which Aguinaldo signed the historic peace treaty.
A majestic cave
Aside from the presence of stalactites and stalagmites which come in various hues and sizes, the cave also boasts of palisades or rows of columns (stalactites and stalagmites which have united in the course of time) which local residents refer to as the Cuarto-Cuarto Cave or cave of many chambers. Some palisades have developed into walls, partitioning off the cave area into several rooms. The cavern has two long, branching natural tunnels: one extending from the portal to about 130 meters horizontally lain; the other descended by a vertical crevice about 10 feet deep which situates the various chambers.
A thrilling adventure
To reach the cave’s chambers, one has to wiggle, waggle, wriggle, squirm, push and pull to get to the inside. At the lower mouth of the cave, one can sit on the rocks and cool off with naturally chilled air from an underground cold spring. The cave is entered via a higher orifice, and one must clamber down to get to the water's edge.
Bahay Paniki Cave (House of Bats), located some 300 meters south of the Aguinaldo Cave, is a bit risky to penetrate, considering the tons of debris filed by torrential floodwater (more conducive to cold-blooded snakes and poisonous scorpions). Beneath the gigantic portal, which stretches to about 30 meters up forming a large dome, are big boulders the size of a two-storey building and the way up the narrow and brittle natural bridges that lead to the inside are truly very dangerous. The cave is home to millions of bats. Tourists are treated to a rare and astounding display of natural beauty as the mammals fly overhead and out of the cave - aligned in two fronts and to converge some 200 meters into the sky on a single formation, only to disappear in the darkening horizon. In exactly 3 minutes at 6:15 p.m., the daily phenomenon ends.
The Bukal Cave situated on the approach of the Aguinaldo Cave. From the mouth of the cave flows crystal-clear icy waters emanating probably from a major groundwater recharge reservior. Marvelous stone formations like stalactites and flowstones deck the small dome of the cave. Faunal dwellers like mudfish, tilapia, biya, eel, freshwater shrimps, minimal bats and bivalves teem the undergound river. Bird species like kingfisher, layong-layong, tree sparrow and green doves are noted.
How to get there
Take the North Luzon Tollway and exit at Sta. Rita/Baliuag. From the exit, head north along the National Highway towards Plaridel, Baliuag, San Ildefonso (about 28 km). About 7 kilometers from San Ildefonso, keep an eye for a Y intersection. It should have a sign that points to Biak na Bato National Park. Take that road on the right and then, about 1 km farther, there would be another intersection, and the road on the right (eastward) will lead straight to Biak na Bato.