Getting used to Darkness: Kofnit Cave adventure with the Ubo People

Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content. ~ Helen Keller

We stayed inside the 600-meter dark Kofnit Cave for five long hours. But for the Ubo people of Lambila community, that isn't reason enough to complain about the darkness.

Inside Kofnit Cave

The sun was high when we arrived at the community. Around thirty outdoor people explored the interiors of the cave (by group of  10) after crossing a river and trekking the grassland and forested mountains as part of Takladtamig Onse, the eleventh installment of the Takladtamig Outreach Climb series led by our team, The Friends of Holon and Melibingoy (FHM) group.

The cold crept in from the moment we stepped on the underground stream starting from the entrance of the cave. It was pitch black inside until we put on our head lamps and some solar-powered lamps and we were all dependent on its limited glimmers.

READ: Kofnit Cave: Lake Sebu beyond the Lakes, waterfalls and Tilapias

For the Ubo people, an ethnic sub-tribe of the Tboli, the glimmer of light means a kerosene-powered lamp or a penlight from the butt of a cheap lighter. It's been like this since time only they can recount when they started building homes in the silent semi-isolated sub-village of Lambila.

Lambila is partially hidden in the forests and grasslands of Lamlahak in the uplands of Lake Sebu town. This scenic town in land-locked South Cotabato province known for its three lakes and seven waterfalls is dominated by Tboli indigenous peoples. The Ubo's numbers are but a tiny fraction of the Tbolis.

Integrating with the community
"Nalipay kami nga ara kamo sir. Daw importante man kami ba (We're glad you are here. We feel valued)", Kuya Bensilo, the community leader who owns the land where the cave is located, said in Tboli-toned Visayan. Further into the night the mountaineers invited everyone to gather under the bright moon and stars so they can share some household supplies, school kits and solar lamps for the community.

Kuya Ben shared to the group his happiness and stories of their common plights. He was happy with his visitors who are so keen in listening to their tales. He was weary of the fate of their farming livelihood that are always affected by multiple factors, and of his people getting sick with no experts to immediately attend to them.

READ: Kofnit Cave: Lake Sebu beyond the Lakes, waterfalls and Tilapias

Kuya Bensilo, the community leader and cave caretaker
Pasensya na sir kung dulom dire (sorry if its too dark in here), he said hinting of their distance from the last electric post and that darkness is normal. 

It was a privilege to have spent a short quality time with them. In gestures and words, we made them feel that the dark and the cold of the night blessed us with a more intimate experience with them as community and cave stewards. Under the stars during that fog-enveloped night, we became familiar with their concerns. More importantly, we became more familiar with each other's worlds. 

Okay ka lang sa dulom sir (are you okay with the darkness,Sir)? I just smiled in affirmation. Sadya ko ari ko di, Kuya Ben (I'm happy I'm here, kuya Ben). He smiled back. []

Hot to get there:
Lamlahak is around 30 minutes away from the town proper via a habal-habal or single motorcycle (P100). From Lamlahak area, Lambila is around 40 minutes away by foot.

Lake Sebu is only 40 minutes away from Koronadal City (P85), the gateway to biodiversity-rich Allah Valley area where the town is located.

Koronadal City is only one hour away from General Santos City (P90) where the nearest airport is located. Transportation vans and buses are the main means of public transportation going to Lake Sebu.

Our sincerest thanks to all our participants, donors and partners for taking part in this undertaking. Cheers!
This caving and outreach activity is part of Takladtamig Onse climb with FHM. 
All photos are owned by Louie Pacardo unless stated otherwise.


  1. really a wonderful experience. giving and taking back. so grateful for this opportunity.

    1. It was nice to be with you during the Takladtamig 11 sir. Til the next taklads. Cheers!


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