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Exploring Palawan

Spelunking in the Philippine Caves

Many travelers are wary of going inside a cave, perhaps due to the primitive belief that monstrous creatures lurk inside. For some, there is the fear of bats, snakes, or whatever predator that they may chance upon.

But some adventurous souls have learned to conquer their fear and dared to explore the unknown. In time, cave exploration has become a sport. Spelunking or cave exploration is an activity fast gaining grounds. A memorable spelunking experience includes witnessing a variety of cave architectures, interesting formations, and a challenging route.

The Philippines provide a wide choice of spelunking activities for cave exploration enthusiasts. Between the country’s lush mountains and beaches are caves waiting to be explored or better yet, discovered for the first time. Indeed, the Philippines has its fair share of some of the most exotic and majestic caves in the world.

Sagada, in the Mountain Province, has caves so deep that local folks believe they extend down to the ends of the earth. With rich lime formations and ancestral burial sites, the caves of Sagada are truly enchanting and worth every spelunker’s visit.

Also up north in the province of Tuguegarao, is the famous Callao cave. A visitor to this cave will be treated to a spell-binding spectacle at dusk when thousands of bats fly out from the cave’s mouth. But the cave’s greatest attraction is the chapel of stalagmite and stalactite arches created like a European gothic church only this time the architect was mother nature and complete with a stone altar and a natural skylight.

In the caves of Mt. Banahaw in Quezon, natives say they cam communicate with the supernatural within the chambers. Visitors are likely to be treated to accounts of the legends behind each inner chamber.

Further down south, in Palawan, there is the St. Paul National Park with its caves explored through the underground river. Also in Palawan is the historic Tabon cave. This is where the fossilized skull of Philippines's first “modern man” was excavated along with other artifacts that are described as a cultural link between the archeological past and the ethnographic present. The Tabon Man is believed to have existed during the Ice Age.

More caves can be found around the Visayan region and the rest of the archipelago. They sit there waiting to be explored responsibly. Remember that caves are extremely fragile and vulnerable. A damaged stalactite will take thousands of years to regenerate. In some caves, mere touching of the rocks is prohibited. Taking pictures with flash may also cause damage as rocks can be sensitive to too much light.


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