Saob Cave Chronicles | Discovering Basey, Samar’s Hidden Weaving Wonders

We were still a bit sluggish, probably because of the heat of the sun from our recent escapade at Pinalangga Beach Resort. The salty breeze still clung to our skin as we packed up, ready for the next chapter in our Samar adventure. My elder sister, Ate R., with a glint of mischief in her eyes, announced, "Next stop, Saob Cave!" I blinked in disbelief, "Cave? Wait, that's not possible. We can't be trekking or spelunking; we have seniors with us!" (Actually, a part of me was also concerned. I really didn’t fancy the idea of becoming exhausted or drenched in sweat, especially with the scorching weather.) Haha! But she simply replied with a knowing smile, "Basta."

Artisans weaving traditional banig mats inside the cool Saob Cave.

With a mix of trepidation and curiosity, we navigated back to Basey. Before reaching the city proper, we pulled over on the main road. There, nestled in Barangay Basiao, Saob Cave awaited us—not as a challenge for the daring spelunker but as a sanctuary of serenity and tradition.

(Note: Hi, fancy a visual treat? Catch a glimpse of the serene Pinalangga Beach Resort right away in the video! And if you're curious about the enchanting Saob Cave, just hang tight—it's the star of our video's second act. Watch the full video below or on 👉 YouTubeFor those who love a good read, our blog post is brimming with details and handy travel tips. So, whether you watch or read, an adventure awaits! )

When I spotted the sign for Saob Cave, excitement bubbled up inside me. Walking in, a burst of color from flags welcomed us, leading to a display of local crafts for sale—everything from bags to slippers to the famous banig mats. 

A serene view of Saob Cave entrance surrounded by lush Philippine forest.

Unlike the famed Sohoton Caves, Saob Cave doesn't plunge into the depths of the earth. Instead, it's a rocky outcrop that has, over millions of years, been sculpted into a shallow cavern, likely shaped by the ebb and flow of prehistoric waters. This cavern, with its cool shade and tranquil ambiance, has become an unlikely hub of creativity and livelihood.

As we approached, the rhythmic sound of weaving filled the air. The women weavers of Basiao, with nimble fingers and focused eyes, were transforming the pliable tikog reeds into vibrant mats of intricate designs. Each mat, a woven tapestry of time and effort, could take up to a week to complete. 

The tranquil ambiance inside Saob Cave, where tradition and nature coexist.

The cool environment of Saob Cave is more than just a comfortable workspace; it's a natural catalyst that strengthens the tikog grass, making it ideal for weaving. This cave, part of the Spark Samar program, is not just a geographical landmark but a living, breathing cultural heritage site. Here, the Banig Weavers, a community of artisans, continue to weave the threads of their generations-old traditions into each creation.

As visitors, we were offered a rare glimpse into this delicate process. We watched in awe as the women's hands danced over the reeds, their conversation echoing off the cave walls, blending with the symphony of their craft. And, of course, the opportunity to purchase these locally made treasures—bags, wallets, slippers, and more.

Colorful banig mats displayed against the natural backdrop of Saob Cave’s interior.

Our visit was short; some of our families stayed back, too weary to explore. But even in those few minutes, the cave shared its stories with us. We followed our guide to a quieter part of Saob Cave, there is an area where ancient human remains are respectfully laid to rest. These bones, dating back to earlier times, are placed in a tomb-like setting. Every year, the neighboring community gathers here to honor and remember the souls of their ancestors, paying tribute to their memory in a solemn ceremony. This tradition reflects the community's deep connection to their past and the enduring respect for those who came before them.

No photos allowed here, just a moment to reflect and a chance to give back, Ate R. dropped a tip for our guide as a small thank you for a glimpse into a world where every thread and stone has a story to tell.

The term 'Saob' is inspired by the Waray word 'Sakob', which translates to 'Enter'. This name captures the essence of the cave as a place inviting exploration and discovery.

Saob Cave, with its majestic rock formations and its legacy of craftsmanship, stands as a testament to the resilience and ingenuity of the Basaynon people. It was a humbling reminder that sometimes, the most extraordinary experiences don't require us to venture deep into the earth or climb the highest peaks. Sometimes, they're just along the road, waiting for us to stop and appreciate the beauty of simplicity and the enduring spirit of human creativity.

Saob Cave, a testament to the enduring culture of Basey’s weavers.

We embarked on this journey in search of adventure, and indeed, we found it—not in the adrenaline rush of the unknown, but in the warmth of tradition and the gentle weave of a banig mat. These woven mats, far from newfound gems, are etched into my earliest memories, representing a different kind of luxury, steeped in heritage and craftsmanship. As I reflect on their intricate patterns, I’m reminded of designer brands like Bottega Veneta, celebrated for their meticulous craftsmanship and elegance. The very technique that binds these banigs together resonates with the iconic Intrecciato Weave used by Bottega Veneta—a braiding of leather strips that creates a timeless texture, much like the memories woven into my childhood. So, whether it’s the banig mat or the Bottega Veneta bag, both carry threads of tradition, connecting us to the past and celebrating the artistry of skilled hands. 

A display of various banig products, from walletss to bags, crafted in Saob Cave

As we departed from Saob Cave, we carried with us more than just physical artifacts; we carried the stories and the spirit of the place—a sanctuary where every thread tells a tale, and every mat encompasses a world. It's a place that reminds us that sometimes, the most profound luxury lies in the richness of our traditions and the narratives they hold.

Exploring Saob Cave: An Asian Traveler's Guide

- Saob Cave is located in Barangay Basiao, Basey, Samar. It's easily accessible by road, making it a convenient stop for those exploring the region.

- Witness Banig Weaving: Take the opportunity to watch the local weavers as they skillfully create the banig mats, a traditional craft of the region.

- Learn Before You Go: Read up on the history of banig weaving to better appreciate the craft when you visit.

- As of May 2024, the entrance fee to Saob Cave has been set at PHP 20 per person. This nominal fee contributes to the preservation and maintenance of the cave, ensuring that visitors can continue to enjoy the rich weaving heritage of Basey, Samar. Remember to bring cash, as electronic payments may not be available at the site. 

- Photography: Capture the unique rock formations and the intricate patterns of the banig mats.

- Support Local Artisans: Purchase a handwoven mat or other items directly from the weavers, contributing to the local economy.

- The best time to visit is during the morning hours, when the light is ideal for photography and the weavers are just starting their day.

- The cemented pathway in Saob Cave provides a stable and accessible route for visitors. It ensures a comfortable journey as you explore the cavern's wonders. Remember to take in the unique rock formations and the intricate banig weaving while walking along this well-maintained path!

- Respect the Craft: Remember that the cave is a workplace for the weavers, so be respectful of their space and work.

- Leave No Trace: Be mindful of your impact on the environment and ensure you leave the cave as pristine as you found it.

- When interacting with the local weavers, show interest and respect for their craft. A little kindness goes a long way in making meaningful connections.


Disclaimer: This blog post is a personal narrative of our visit to Saob Cave in Basey, Samar. Details and experiences are subject to the whimsy of memory and the charm of storytelling. While I aim for authenticity, please consider this a creative rendition of an unforgettable adventure. Enjoy the read!

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