Samar caves tagged as protected areas

Posted on May 27, 2013

TACLOBAN CITY -- The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Eastern Visayas has identified two natural cave systems in Samar for immediate conservation and protection.

Manolito D. Ragub, DENR-8 regional executive director, said the Langun-Gobingob Caves in Calbiga and Sohoton Caves in Basey have been classified as Class II resources, which have hazardous conditions and contain sensitive geological, archeological, cultural, historical and biological values or high-quality ecosystems.

Such caves are open to experienced spelunkers or caving enthusiasts and guided visits, although some portions may be closed seasonally or permanently for conservation purposes.

The two caves are now under the administrative jurisdiction of the DENR. But the department may offer management of the two caves to the private sector through the public-private partnership scheme.

Management of the caves is currently in coordination with the Department of Tourism, National Museum of the Philippines, National Historical Institute, local government units of Calbiga and Basey, and stakeholders from the academe, nongovernmental organizations and other government agencies.

"A management plan is being prepared for each cave to consider all eco-tourism, scientific, educational and economic activities, as well as monitoring and reclassification in the areas," Mr. Ragub added.

The Langun-Gobingob Caves cover some 2,968 hectares and is said to be the largest karst in the country and one of the largest in Southeast Asia.

The system is composed of 12 caves that boast of giant columns of stalactites and stalagmites, unique rock formations, underground water course and springs.

Sohoton Caves, meanwhile, covers an approximate area of 840 hectares and features cathedral-like caves, hugs, limestone boulders, rock holes, weathered rock formations and underground rivers.

There are about 112 more caves in Eastern Visayas that need to be classified by the DENR’s regional cave committee.

Since 2011, the DENR has assessed four other caves namely, the Gahoy Cave in Guiuan, Eastern Samar; R.M. Tan Cave in Nueva Sociedad, Ormoc City; Candonicot Cave in Bantigue, Isabel, Leyte; and Cathedral Cave in Bontoc village, Hindang, Leyte.

The Philippines has about 1,500 caves. -- Reyan L. Arinto