The Paglugaban Cave

The Paglugaban Cave of El Nido, Palawan

The Paglugaban CaveIf you have not yet been, I can only describe Paglugaban Cave as truly amazing! This part of Palawan’s geography and geology is estimated to have formed about 300 million years ago.

As such, all of Paglugaban speleothem are very old. In fact, even the cave floor and all of its sediment had taken millions of years to compact and remain undisturbed. Regretfully, not everything has been good.

During our last visit a few weeks ago, we discovered many disturbances on the cave floor such as finger marks and depressions as deep as 5cm, obviously from divers pushing off from the bottom. We also found many other marks and tracks indicating divers had settled on the floor for whatever reason.

One even drew letters on the floor that if we attempt to erase, may just add more to the disturbance.

Hence, these marks are now permanent, or will at least remain visible in our lifetime. We found these and other irregularities such as hazardous line work left inside, and line arrows without any directional purpose. We have since removed these unnecessary incidentals, and the line-work is again safe to use for emergency exits.

Despite all the signs of ignorant but unintentional behavior, the cave remains majestic and breath-taking.

We believe this should be experienced by all who have the means and training to do so! We hope that you will find the time to dive Paglugaban Cave.

Through stewardship, education, and information dissemination, you too can share with others the experience, and inspire in them the value in preserving the Paglugaban Cave in its purely natural state.

Article by:

Alex Santos

Alex Santos

FCD Convention

The 1st FCD Convention

Last Sept. 25-28, 2014 the FCD conducted its first convention. Members from Luzon and Mindanao joined the Visayas members on Mactan Island, Lapu-Lapu City for the activities scheduled during the 3-day meeting. The group engaged in discussions on mixed team protocols, held a UTD Advanced Buoyancy and Propulsion Workshop, and conducted an extensive survey (photo, video, directional and distances) of the Pawod Underwater Cave System (PUCS).

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The logistics for the meeting was ably handled from the official HQ of the team– Jaime’s Dive Center.

Gas requirements, manpower support, transportation, accommodations, meals, on site coffee breaks (& after-dive cold beers), WiFi connection and hot showers were generously offered with the distinctive personal attention from team member and dive shop proprietor, Mr. Jaime Lapac and by his better half, Rio.

FCD donation

L-R: Jaime, Bernil, Mrs. Amores, Alex, Juan, Dean, Des. Image courtesy of Karen Amores.

The team also visited Mrs. Luz Amores to convey their respects and deep appreciation for the laudable efforts of the late Dr. Alfonso Amores, co-founder of the FCD. Mrs. Amores handed over monetary donations from their family and friends to be used in the continuation of his advocacy for the exploration and preservation of the underwater caves in the Philippines.

The passing of Dr. Amores was a very heavy blow for the team, but during the 3-day convention, the passion and determination of the FCD was renewed and strengthened. The projects that “Doc Boy” initiated will be continued and enhanced.

During the expanded survey of the Pawod Cave, the seamless actions of the team produced a detailed map of the site that will be used for the creation of an ordinance by the Lapu-Lapu City for the protection of the area.  A short documentary was made from the videos taken of the dives for non-cave divers to appreciate the hidden beauty of the Pawod underwater cave system.


The FCD Pawod Survey Team from L-R: Juan, Des, Bernil, Alex, Jaime & Ferdinand, posing with the FCD made Modular Survey Device. The survey tool is composed of a slate attached to an aluminum frame with an underwater compass, a dive computer, a forward facing light and a GoPro Hero3 camera. Recording of the depths, run time and directional changes is made easy with the camera capturing the compass and computer display during the survey run.

Kabagno Spring, Anda

The 2007 Bohol Underwater Cave Explorations

This article originally appeared in the “Chronicles of a Filipino Cave Diver” blog.


Written by:

Dr. Alfonso Y.  Amores

Dr. Alfonso Y. Amores

The project was under close cooperation with the Bohol Provincial Government –

Hon. Erico B. Aumentado, Provincial Governor; Atty. Tomas B. Abapo, Jr., Provincial Administrator; and Mr. Guido Valleser, a senior officer at the Bureau of Fisheries, Provincial Agriculture Office.

The Municipality of Antequera was particularly heavily involved through Hon. Cecil Rebosora, Mayor, and her trusted brother Police Officer Maximo “Boy” Rebosora.


DAY 1 (July 3, 2007)Tigdao Spring

We hit the town of Anda, 90 kms from Tagbilaran for our Exploration Day 1. This was the first working day of the newly elected officials, so we had to rely on the private sector to guide us to the exploration sites. We could not have found a better man to this than “Col.” Cipriano Bernido (actually a retired Army General), the well-respected elder statesman of the town.

The first spring we went to was Tigdao. This got our hearts racing right off the bat since the place looks similar to our Pawod underwater cave in Mactan Island. Bernil did the initial swim-around exploration down to a maximum depth of 8 meters at a blind cul-de-sac.

Kabagno SpringWe then proceeded to the Kabagno spring, a very interesting place indeed. Firstly, cliffs all around fringe it, with the water surface a good 5 meters vertical from the cliff’s edge. Exit problems became apparent very soon since the ladder was removed by the owner the day before we came, not in anticipation of our coming but to put and end to the illegal harvesting of his coconuts by people swimming in the hole.

We tried knotted ropes for clambering up. On a trial, this was successfully negotiated by Bernil…barely. We finally sent somebody out to get us a bamboo ladder. The underwater site in this area was nothing short of amazing – clear waters pierced by dancing sunrays. This is a truly amazing site indeed! No significant tunnel penetrations in this area, but what a place for confined open water instructional dives.

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Still in the same general area of Anda is Banilad spring. The area has long been converted into sort of a place of worship. A grotto with a statue of the Blessed Virgin serves as the center of attraction. Because of the extensive modification, only a small natural cave is left. This leads to a Banilad Springtight space with a small pond of cool and crystal clear water. An underwater tunnel exists but it appears significantly constricted. We wonder how beautiful this place must have been before its conversion into a place of worship.

Kalorenzo, the fourth cave we explored is very close to Banilad, right in the middle of nowhere. Following a small path through the brushes, we arrived at the entrance. Inside, there are a big variety of geological formations dominated by stalactites and stalagmites. We found small pools of crystal clear water here and there and perhaps an underwater tunnel, which appeared constricted. We put this one on our “to-explore-further” list.

Kalorenzo CaveThe last cave for the day was the Convento. This is a trio of three different entrances. The caves again present a fascinating variety of geological formations dominated by stalactites and stalagmites. Only one has a pool of crystal clear water at the bottom. A tunnel was explored but this leads to a constriction after a few meters – another one for the “to-explore-further” list.

No significant underwater cave found, but what an exciting day!

We thank Col. Bernido, our local host, and his associates for this – and Mr. Guido Valleser for introducing us to the Col.

DAY 2 (July 4, 2007)

Canawa dive prepCanawa spring is up in the mountains of the municipality of Candijay. This is a relatively big pool of water surrounded in three-fourths (3/4) of its circumference, in a horseshoe manner by a high steep slope that seems to funnel down into the spring. This explains the poor visibility of the area, what with all the rains of the last few days carrying soil and silt into the pond. The locals swear to the fact that during the months of January to May, the water is crystal clear. They further told us the story of how someone sounded this area and the weight still did not touch bottom after 50 fathoms.IMG_2616

In the murk, we registered a maximum depth of 15 meters after about three bounces. This was a truly unique dive, as we have to negotiate a jumble of downed logs every turn we made it seems.

Because of the long slow drive up the mountains to Canawa and the 90-km trip back to Tagbilaran, this was the only spring we did for the day. Definitely, Canawa is another one for the “to-explore-further” list.

DAY 3 (July 5, 2007)

We met the day with much anticipation as we planned to spend the whole day in Antequera. Bohol Caves 34Report has it that this town in the foothills of Bohol Island is studded with caves and springs. Antequera was my original interest to come to Bohol when I met the mayor’s wife in Mactan more than three years ago. She told stories about rivers, water falls, caves and springs.

Speaking of mayors, we arrived in town early in the morning and parked right in front of Antequera’s beautiful Municipal Hall. We must have looked funny as we put up a picnic scene in the plaza at 7:30 AM. The town’s mentally challenged mascot (Canawa had one too) just pestered us, pleasantly of course, with all the curious questions. A youngish looking lady in a typical municipal hall employee uniform came and rescued us from the pestering mascot. After she flushed me a welcome smile, I asked her whether she works at the Mayor’s office. Politely, she said: “I am the mayor.”

With this embarrassing start, this memorable day (in terms of discovery) started with her calling all available resources to have an informal conference with us in the town plaza while we were having breakfast of sardines and tuna-flavored spread sandwiched in “Amerkambred”.

Inambakan CaveThe Inambacan Falls was our first destination. The experience in this area started to shape our day like a tourism rather than an exploratory trip. We explored a small cave wading in against a strong current up to hip high in clear water. This was a very interesting experience of amateur spelunking cut short by fear of bats. No underwater cave here, but what a place!

Next tourism stop was the Mag-aso Falls. Like the tourists that we were already, we took a swim up to the main falls area. Much like the locals, we thoroughly enjoyed the cool and refreshing waters. But, with wet suits and hoods on?!Tourist

On the ride to the next site, Bernil and I discussed our slim chances of finding an underwater cave of significant penetration on this trip. Very shortly, we arrived at Dahonog Cave in Barangay (Village) Tabu-an. Another steep walk down improvised steps, we arrived at yet another cave with cool waters rushing out. Not minding the small headspace, we went under 2 meters of water to a pool area about 5 meters away. The cave space expanded considerably. We decided to split up and explore the walls from both sides. I took the right side. Less than half the circumference around, I dropped into what seemed like a void in the poor-visibility environment.

Dahonog CaveWe had a surface conference and we  planned to  descend to 2 meters, follow and keep the wall to the right until we dropped into the cave.

And what a cave this can be! Under the difficult circumstances visibility-wise, we religiously kept our positions. About 5 minutes into the dive, and not having reached the end of the cave, I decided to call the dive off. As a tribute to how much we stuck to the dive plan under the difficult circumstances, we had an orderly and uneventful exit. We will be back for a full exploration early in the dry season (January/February) when the water clears.

As we were doing the post-dive briefing somebody came and told us that there is another hole a stone’s throw away. Going through the bushes, we found a nice pool. After a challenging climb down carved steps, we hit the cool waters. We split up and took opposite sides of the Dahonog Cave 2circumference on a surface (mask and lights) look-see. I ran into cool water coming from under an overhang along a wide segment of the rim. I checked this out on one breath – another cave!

We went in on a two-man configuration with Bernil taking reel man position. After about 8 minutes, we exited – another cave with extensive possibilities.

It does look like we will be coming back to Antequera on a regular basis starting at the front end of the next dry season (January). I had a text-conference with Mayor Cecil. As much as we are, she is looking forward to the coming dry season.


A cenote, in the language of the Indian natives of America, translates as the underworld’s window to the outside world. In the language of the world’s community of cave divers, it means entrance to the unparalleled underwater world of Yucatan, swimming around preserved stalactites and stalagmites. To date, these are the only known geological formations in the world that the term “cenote” is attached to.Bohol Cave

Philippine culture is such that Filipinos in these contemporary times believe more in the existence of otherworldly beings than the native Indians of Mexico do. Unnatural beings populate the caves, both dry and underwater. So too, the trees surrounding the sinkholes and springs. The common practice is to ask permission from the resident beings when one enters the cave (a simple “Excuse me” will do). Henceforth, we will refer these karst formations as the Bohol cenotes.

The Bohol cenotes present an interesting view of the outside world when one comes out of a cave dive. One has to come and experience this “unnatural being’s eye view” of the outside world.



Coconut TecCave diving is extreme diving in its truest sense. A claustrophobic underwater environment, strict training requirements and logistical necessities make cave diving an adventure of a relative few – it is estimated that only 1% of scuba divers are or want to be cave divers.

A typical complete cave gear includes twin big-volume tanks joined as one by a manifold connector, appropriate “wings” (buoyancy control device to match the heavy gear), independent primary and secondary regulators with DIN valves, primary light that is as powerful as a car headlight, two backup lights, and a set of guide reels.

Additionally, logistical support requirements involving these complicated systems make cave diving trip relatively expensive. Our trip cost us more than Php40,000 over four days on transportation, food and lodging (cheap hotels).


Northern Florida in the USA remains the mecca for cave diving and cave diving certification. When I took my cave certification, I remember a small sign that hangs on the lobby entrance of the small motel in the town of Bransford that says “Under this sign pass all the future cave divers of the world”.

Cave diving started in these parts of the world in the 70’s. To date, there have been more than 475 deaths in the Florida caves. Most all were caused by lack of proper training.

At the outset, we espouse safety in cave diving here in the Visayas region. One must not attempt to enter the underwater cave environment unless properly trained.

Doc Amores 2007

Dr. Alfonso Y. Amores- Cave Explorer

Entrance to the Casili

Balamban’s Casili Underwater Cave System

6 explorations were conducted from Aug. 2011 to Nov. 2012

6 explorations were conducted from Aug. 2011 to Nov. 2012

The Casili Underwater Cave System (CUCS) is located in Barangay Arpili- Balamban [10.441806°N, 123.711667°E].

It was initially explored by FCD members Bernil, Doc Amores and Alec Toting on Aug. 23, 2011. Subsequent explorations by the 2-man team of Gastardo and Amores have determined the underwater cave’s deepest point at 40 meters/ 130 feet. The present cave line terminates 250 meters/ 820 feet away from the mouth of the cave.Casili Spring

Located several kilometers from the sea, the water from the spring flows into the riverbed alongside. The spring’s water outflow is noted to be of considerable volume but was observed to have stopped during the month of October 2012. Huge earth moving trucks were observed passing on the river bed where they continue to an undetermined site to collect river gravel and sand for commercial purposes.

Noted in the pool of the spring are various fresh water species of mollusks, chordates and arthropods. The last exploration in the area confirms the presence of a large freshwater eel with an approx. length of 0.75-1 meter (locally known as ”Casili”). The observation formed the assumption that the area’s ecosystem is capable of allowing such specie to survive and to possibly reproduce.

The following questions remain:

  1. From where is the source of the water that flows from the cave?
  2. What are the possible effects of the river sand extraction to the cave’s ecosystem and the spring’s continued existence?
  3. How far and how long is the underwater cave system?
  4. What other freshwater flora and fauna exist in the area?
  5. What threats are affecting the endemic species?
  6. Has the farming community in the area made any impact to the water quality of the spring?
  7. How is the existing large-scale shipbuilding industry that is flourishing in the neighboring area of Barangay Buanoy impacting the water table in the immediate vicinity of Barangay Arpili and does it affect Casili Underwater Cave System?

Huge earth moving trucks were observed passing on the river bed where they continue to an undetermined site to collect river gravel and sand for commercial purposes.The FCD is hopeful that the Local Government Unit of Balamban Municipality will see the value of this priceless resource within their community and create the appropriate steps to protect the area to include the following points:

  • An ordinance declaring CUCS as a Protected Area
  • Pre-intervention documentation of flora and fauna endemic to the area
  • Post-intervention documentation of flora and fauna endemic to the area
  • Preservation and documentation of species, fossils and other paleontological and geologically important features in the area
  • Monitoring and maintenance of the quality of the water in specific sections of the cave as per hydrological parameters
  • Establishment of a management body and an enforcement plan adopted and enforced
  • Zoning and regulation of specific activities passed by the management board/LGU

Article by:

Bernil H. Gastardo

Bernil H. Gastardo

Doc heading into the Pawod spring

Docboy’s Cave aka the Pawod Underwater Cave System

pawod locationPawod Underwater Cave System (PUCS), 10.280254°N, 123.989112°E, is the only known freshwater underwater cave system in an urban setting (within 25 kilometers of more than 1 million population).

Littered inside the cave system are fossils (cast) of marine animals ranging from small corals to giant clams. Inside the main chamber are boulder formations that may shed light into the origins of Mactan Island and beyond. Some coral rubble appears to be burnt, the baffling nature of which can generate scientific studies.


However, due to no or little concrete basis for sustainable use of PUCS since its discovery in 2001 by Doc Amores, PUCS condition has been steadily degrading over the years. Population explosion in the last 5 decades in Mactan Island may also have affected the water quality in PUCS considering it is the only accessible site for accurate sampling of the water in the study and monitoring of the status of Mactan’s aquifer and water table.

Some cave diving education outfits for cave diving certification now uses it, although without much regulation and supervision. Currently, it is managed by the local barangay unit with little support from the Local Government unit and without formal legal pronouncement wherein a certain monetary amount is imposed for cave diving outfits to dive in PUCS. Other than that, no other sustainable interventions are carried out.

Concrete blocks placed inside the Pawod Cave.

Concrete blocks placed inside the Pawod Cave.

Generally, the proposed project entails to address or mitigate the damages inflicted due to the unsustainable use of PUCS as a cave diving/tourism destination and to address the siltation and/or decrease in water quality in PUCS due to unsustainable use of the area and/or solid waste, population explosion through a declaration of PUCS a Protected Area.

The main stakeholders of the outcome of the project would include Local Government Unit of Lapu Lapu City, the community, regulatory agencies for utilization of water resources, national and international agencies.

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Conversely, proven scientific and/or traditional practices in mitigating such threats mentioned above will be applied to address such issues. Absence in sustainable interventions to address the said issues may affect the tourism and loss in paleontological and geological information PUCS may offer to the scientific community and the local populace in general.

We have secured approval from the Mayor herself, Hon. Paz Radaza, to undertake this project. Through the Executive Order 2014-24 which is “An Order Organizing Task Force Pawod”, she has pledged full support for future activities concerning the implementation of the project.

Executive Order 2014-24 " An Order Organizing Task Force Pawod".

Executive Order 2014-24 ” An Order Organizing Task Force Pawod”.

Doc Amores

Doc Amores- An Explorer

Dr. Alfonso Y.  Amores

Dr. Alfonso Y. Amores

Dr. Alfonso “Docboy” Amores was supposedly a retired micro-surgeon and reconstructive surgery specialist when he came back to his home country after more than 20 years of living and working in the U.S.A. But he was not the kind of man who would be happy to whittle away his years in a rocking chair while watching the seasons pass.

He instead chose to do cave diving explorations.

Unable to get satisfaction from breathing air or gas from a standard scuba set-up, he embarked to get educated in the use of a Closed-Circuit Rebreather (CCR). His weapon of choice was the Evolution CCR which he trained up to Trimix-level and of which he qualified as an IANTD Evolution CCR- Recreational Instructor.

In 2011 he made a dive with his unit to 100m/ 330ft.

Quite a feat considering he was already 65 years old at that time.

His efforts to go beyond certain barriers (like age) made people truly believe that he could do anything. Aside from being an extreme diver, he piloted his own plane (including a sea plane), skied on challenging ski slopes, organized noble medical missions, performed free surgery to indigents, educated children the value of the coral reefs and created marine sanctuaries. Yes, he could do anything he set his mind on.

We will not dwell on how we lost him. We will instead remember a man who cared a lot for his family and for his fellowmen. We will remember a man who made sure he lived life to the fullest!

The video below is a compilation of the dives we made in the Enchanted River on June 2011. We were denied entry by the cave at that time, but we were able to document a phenomenon previously unnoticed.

Verily, when certain doors are shut, other doors open to wonderful discoveries.

You will always live in our hearts, Doc!


By Doc Amores

The FCD Cave Diving Training Batch 2 is composed of Dean Apistar, Ferdinand “Bong” Edralin and Mark Berame. Dean is an avid diver and a marine biologist; Bong is a seasoned topside photographer for the Freeman Newspaper (Cebu) and an avid underwater photographer; and Mark is a divemaster by profession, freelancing in many dive outfits here in Cebu.

The group went through the very intensive FCD pool and cave sessions. Over the last 3 weeks, all 3 of them has fulfilled the “Final Dive” in Pawod, a voyage to the bottom of the well, completing the group’s Basic Cave Course.

I now proudly present them for acceptance to the Filipino Cave Divers.


(Dean, Mark and Bong are now required to contact FCD Bernil for their short bio)

End of Report


Report by: FCD Doc Amores


Fig 1. This twin cenotes is named after Bartolome “Toloi” Daclan, caver extraordinaire and natural naturalist of Siargao Island. Toloi is instrumental in FCD’s Del Carmen and surrounding areas discoveries.

April 2, 2014, Day 2 of FCD’s Del Carmen Expedition I, is a milestone. In the afternoon of this date, we discovered the first of many cenotes in the Del Carmen and surrounding areas. The Kantoloi Twin Cenotes, right off the concreted road that goes from Del Carmen to Pilar, the neighboring municipality, is a gem of a place in so many ways. At entrance into the area, one is greeted by an awe-inspiring scene of a head spring that forms into a small river that appears to have carved a gorge out of the limestone, and disappears through twin entrances into a subterranean river (think Palawan Underground River).


Fig 2. The gorge and spring at Kantoloi Twin Cenotes


Fig 3. The twin entrances to the underground river (foreground, Kap Randy top Kagawad of Barangay Tuboran, the heart of the Del Carmen Cenotes)


Fig 4. The underground river exits into the main river of Pilar more than 500 meters from the cenotes.

The run from the spring out into the Pilar river on surface craft (inner tube, short kayak, etc) can be an ecotourism adventure. This will need to be explored further following thorough exploration of the underground river – of course with the blessings and guidance of Hon. Lucio Gonzales, Mayor of Pilar.

The underwater cave diving potential of Kantoloi Twin Cenotes is enormously promising as well. There are 2 entrances in the area, possibly leading to 2 different cavities although physically right next to each other. The sump entrance was an eye-opening pleasant surprise to the team when the first foray did 73 meters of penetration. This was pushed  a day later to 120 meters. The head spring of the small river leading to the gorge surprisingly revealed  a 1.5 x 1.5 meter entrance leading to a cavity that seems to divert away from the sump cavity next door (Fig 2 above). This lone dive was only a solo, limited penetration look-see. The substrate at the entrance and on to the cavity was hard limestone rock formations, a bit of a contrast to the sump side next door.


Fig 5. The sump entrance to Kantoloi Twin Cenotes at the epic discovery dive

More dives need to be done to develop Kantoloi Twin Cenotes into a cave diving destination. No doubt after further pushes, compass bearing determinations and photographic documentation the “Twins” will end up a popular destination. This will be on the top list of FCD’s Siargao Expedition II tentatively scheduled to run between the second week of June to the second week of July.

Acknowledgement: All photos were ripped from Lyndon Cubillan’s videos.

Report by:

Dr. Alfonso Y.  Amores

Dr. Alfonso Y. Amores




The crown jewel of the FCD Siargao Expedition of April 2014 is the discovery of The Inner Sanctum of Del Carmen. It is a forbidden cave in the foothills near the center of Barangay Tuboran, Del Carmen, Siargao Island. Reportedly nobody has gone inside the cave before this expedition because of the unworldly inhabitants inside – a story handed down for generations. Figure 1 below shows the V-shaped crack on the ground that leads down to a landing about 4 meters below.


Fig 1. The V-shaped crack undoubtedly was formed from a violent earth movement thousands, maybe millions of years ago.

Access to the bottom of the first part of the cave was made possible by bamboo ladders constructed on the spot from bamboos and trees chopped down in the area.


Fig 2. The very efficient Kap Randy and his crew constructing a ladder faster than we could say “PLDT lineman ladder”.


Fig 3. The ladder to the left is ladder #2 beyond which the rest of the way to the sump is by rappelling.

As one can see, half of the fun is getting down to water’s edge. Beyond this, this discovery dive was nothing less than spectacular. As far as the team can recall from all the excitement, the diagram below depicts Del Carmen’s Inner Sanctum (after 1 dive).


Fig 4. Baby’s veil are water roots decorating the entrance to The Abyss, a huge chimney that drops straight down to points unknown. At about 27 meters, Milowka’s restriction, a narrow diagonal crack that leads to passageways and chambers of unknown dimension and extent, was encountered.

The dive is depicted in Figure 5 below on the team’s Petrel computer log.


Exploration of this exciting underwater cave has just started. Undoubtedly, this will end up as one of the must-do dive destinations in the world.


The FCD Siargao Expedition Team of April 2014: Doc Amores, Lyndon Cubillan, Ferdinand Edralin, Jaime Ballori Lapac, Larry Williams (Associate member), and especially FCD Jake Miranda for lending us his compressor

Hon Mayor Alfredo Matugas Coro II of Del Carmen, Hon Barangay Captain Marlon Matugas Coro of Tuboran, Vice Mayor Andie Tan of Del Carmen, the Cubillan clan of Del Carmen, Kagawad Kap Randy of Tuboran, caver-extraordinaire Bartolome “Toloi” Daclan, and the good people of Del Carmen.

Report by:

Dr. Alfonso Y.  Amores

Dr. Alfonso Y. Amores



The Del Carmen Cenote #1

By: Dr. Alfonso Y. Amores, FCD

The Del Carmen Cenote #1 is among the epic finds of FCD underwater cave explorations. It is located in Barangay Quezon of Del Carmen, Siargao Island right on the border with Barangay Tuboran, the heart of Del Carmen’s maze of underwater caves. Figure 1 below shows the roughly rectangular cenote.


Fig 1. The Del Carmen Cenote #1 depicting its Northeast and Southwest end.

Cenote (pronounced sen-o-teh) is an American Indian word which means “the underworld dwellers’s window to the outside world”. The word is now commonly used in the cave diving world, referring initially to the sinkholes of the underwater caves of the Yucatan Peninsula in Northern Mexico where cave diving is popular. Physically, it is a collapse of the roof of a body of water underground.

Figure 1 below represents a classic formation of a sinkhole in an underwater cave with a flow.


Fig 2. A classic formation of an underground river sinkhole

The Del Carmen Cenote #1 located in the municipality of Del Carmen, Siargao Island represents a classic underwater river sinkhole. Our FCD team dived the area on April 3, 2014.

Figures 3-5 below show the dives in the roughly rectangular sinkhole as depicted in the tide chart of Pilar, Siargao Island.


Fig 3. Dive at the northeast end revealing a siphon end (significant in-current) of the sinkhole


Fig 4. Dive at the southwest end approximately 15 minutes after surfacing from the dive in Fig 1 revealing the spring side


Fig 5. Four (4) hours after the dive in Fig 3, the same south end now becomes a siphon as the seawater recession (ebb tide) subsided pushing the flow back into the southwest opening.

As noted in Figures 4-5 above, the openings reverse roles – siphon to spring to siphon – depending upon the tide.

This makes Del Carmen Cenote #1 one unique cave diving destination. Not many places in the world are like this. The cenote is a 24/7 dive site, with many different options for diving depending on the purpose of the dive, using either opening. At proper tide timing this can either be a no-current dive or a spring dive with significant flow for pull-and-glide dive propulsion exercises.

Del Carmen Cenote #1 will end up a favorite dive site in Asia…if not, the world.


FCD Siargao Expedition Members: Doc Amores, Lyndon Cubilan, Jaime Ballori Lapac, Ferdinand Edralin, Jake Miranda, Larry Williams (Associate member).

Del Carmen Mayor Alfredo M. Coro II, Tuboran Barangay Captain Marlon M. Coro, Cel Carmen Vice Mayor Andie Tan, the Cubilan Clan of Del Carmen, Tuboran Kagawad “Kap” Randy, caver-extraordinaire Bartolome “Toloi” Daclan, and the hospitable community of Del Carmen.

Report by:

Dr. Alfonso Y.  Amores

Dr. Alfonso Y. Amores