Cultural Properties Division
18th NATIONAL CAVE COMMITTEE MEETING IN BOHOL PROVINCE
The members of the National Cave Committee met in the National Museum Bohol Branch for their 18th national meeting on February 23, 2014. Participated in by representatives from the National Museum, Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, Department of Interior and Local Government, Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau, National Institute of Geological Sciences, League of Municipalities, and GAIA Exploration Club, the meeting was held in Bohol Province to discuss primarily the results of studies made relative to sink holes, cavities, caverns and caves in areas where the declared heritage sites are located. Observers in the meeting were DENR Region VII Director Montejo, PENRO Head- Mr. Nestor Canda, representatives from the Bohol Heritage Group, Diocese of Tagbilaran, members of the academe and Filipino Cave Divers.
The topics discussed during the meeting are the following:
Academic institutions offering cave ecology, management courses
Dr. Allan Gil Fernando, UPNIGS representative, presented to the committee the current courses on cave ecology and management courses being offered at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.
Ms. Marlynn Mendoza updated the NCC on the preparation of the book entitled “Beneath the Earth’s Surface: Philippine Caves”. It was agreed that the publication is semi-technical type. Dr. Corazon Sinha, NCC consultant, is now finalizing the outline of the book.
Status of 15 classified caves in Palawan
Mr. Edwin Caabay, PCSD representative, updated the committee on the status of 15 classified caves in Palawan. He also said that management plan will be prepared soon in coordination with the National Museum regarding caves with archaeological resources. Mr. Bautista mentioned that a joint exploratory work in the Municipality of Quezon will be conducted by a joint inter-agency group composed of the NM, LGU, PCSD and the Municipal Regional Cave Committee.
A case on illegal extraction of stalagmite in Guri Cave was also mentioned. PCSD Legal Officer, Atty. Adelina Villena needs additional documents before the filing of the case.
Archaeological resources in caves, rock shelters and ledges in Bohol Province
Mr. Bautista provided the members the list of caves and rock shelters with archaeological resources. The list includes 179 sites that could be traced back from the Paleolithic Period to the Age of Trade. These were found in the Municipalities of Anda, Mabini, Candijay, Guindulman, Loay and Batuan and in Tagbilaran City. Mr. Bautista recommended that the information that NM provided can be used to facilitate the classification of caves in the province. Eventually, the Regional Cave Committee and the National Museum can prepare the management plan for each cave to ensure protection and preservation of these priceless heritage.
Caves with archaeological resources in Banton Island and Gigantes Island
In reference to the minutes of the last meeting, Mr. Bautista mentioned that the infrastructure development in Guyangan Cave System in Banton Island is still in the planning stage. The National Museum is still waiting for the plans to be submitted by the LGU.
In Gigantes Island, he informed the committee that an inspection was already done two years ago by the Cultural Properties Division (CPD). One of the recommendations of the CPD is to conduct an archaeological excavation in caves where evidences of ancient burials were found.
National Cave Action Plan
Director Lim requested all members to submit their contribution to the 2014 National Cave Action Plan (Time line- medium term- 2013-2014). The primordial aim of the plan is to preserve the bio-diversity of caves and karst landscape including their hydrological, geomorphological and recreational attributes as well as to promote sustainable resource use and to enhance appreciation of their natural, cultural and historic values for the present and future generations.
7. Recovery effort of the National Museum in heritage sites in Bohol that were damaged by natural calamities (earthquake and typhoon)
Mr. Bautista updated the body with information regarding the recovery effort of the National Museum in heritage sites that were damaged by earthquake and typhoon. He presented a PWP on the activities being done in the Visayan Region. He focused his discussion in churches and other buildings in Bohol Province. In his presentation, he emphasized that activities being conducted are still in Pre-Restoration phase that includes securing the place, cleaning, recovery, retrieval, conservation, inventory and storage. These activities will be followed by scanning and Detailed Engineering Studies that will include the use of ground penetrating radar.
Mr. Bautista also included in his presentation the world renown cave in Lourdes, France that was also damaged by natural calamity – storm, melting of the ice and severe flooding.
Caving Congress and Cave Scientific forum
Caving Congress will be held in Marinduque in May 2014 and the Cave Scientific Forum will be postponed to a later date.
A Memorandum of Agreement between the PAWB – Biodiversity Management Bureau and the Philippine Speological Society on Cave Rescue Training / workshop is being prepared.
Cave Act Implementation of DENR Region VII including the status of classified caves
DENR 7 Regional Executive Director Dr. Isabelo R. Montejo updated the NCC on the status of classified caves in Negros Oriental. According to him, these caves have high tourism potential and should be developed for eco-tourism purposes.
Underwater Caves in the Philippines
Mr. Jake Miranda updated the committee on the activities being undertaken by the Filipino Cave Divers of the Philippines. He presented an audio-visual documentation of the underwater exploration conducted in caves and headsprings in Cebu and Mindanao.
The group wishes to be affiliated with local government agencies and National Cave Committee in the documentation of underwater natural and cultural heritage sites. Mr. Miranda suggested the creation of Underwater Cave Section under the National Cave Committee. This arrangement will enable the members of the NCC as well as the RCC to know the recent trends in underwater exploration of caves.
Information Sharing for Bohol Locals – Bohol Sink holes Update
Science Research Specialist, Ms. Liza Socorro Manzano and representatives from the Mines Geo-Sciences Bureau updated the committee and observers on the studies / survey made on sink holes in Bohol Province. According to MGB, hundreds of sinkholes appeared in Bohol after the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit the island in 2013. At least 627 sinkholes were identified based on the NAMRIA topographic map scale of 1:50,000 in southwestern part of Bohol. One hundred eleven sinkholes were thoroughly examined with the ground penetrating radar and each was found to have its own unique characteristics. These findings led to the better understanding of the subsidence susceptibility of the island. Further, the study showed that Bohol is teeming with underground chambers and passages. According to Ms. Manzano, plans for restoration of churches has to wait from 6 months to one year pending the final results of the studies.
The NCC visited Loon, Maribojoc and other areas in the northwest part of Bohol Province that were affected by earthquake. Among the heritage sites, Loon was greatly affected. Sinkholes were found near the old convent; and according to MGB researchers the church stands on top of big cavern or cave.
ANGEL P. BAUTISTA
Acting Assistant Director