West of Milagros lies Mandaon. There’s not much information I could get online about it except some mention that it’s a coastal town with strips of beaches, although they’re too far that it will probably be after sunset when we reach them. There are no proper accommodations for travelers, and since it’s a holy weekend, a ride back to Masbate City would be virtually impossible without having to pay a large amount for another special trip. So, Marlon, my motorbike driver, takes me as far as the Bat-ongan cave, located just off the highway between the beaches and the border with Milagros.

The fields of Mandaon can be seen from the top of Bat-ongan.
Marlon takes a break from an afternoon of riding around Masbate on a motorbike.
Local vistors climb the rock on a Holy Week weekend.
The Bat-ongan Cave contains numerous chambers with some interesting rock formations, although vandalism has marred the cave entrance.

The cave is located in a mole-like mountain that juts out of the ground in the middle of a large field. Approaching the mountain, its imposing presence gradually looms large, dwarfing the people climbing it and the motorbikes parked at its base. A swarm of Good Friday visitors are constantly streaming through the narrow paths going to the cave, which gives the place a bustling vibe, something I have hardly experienced so far throughout my stay here in Masbate.

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