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Spelunking in Occidental Mindoro: An Expedition to San Jose’s Obscure Caverns [Travel and Tourism]

Cave Assessment: An Expedition to San Jose Occidental Mindoro  Obscure Caverns


Caves are a critical part of an ecosystem being rich in biological, historical, and geological resources. It is indeed one of the wonders of nature and part of our natural heritage. With all exultancy, San Jose is a place that hides so much exquisiteness that is currently in the process of unfolding. 


cave in San Jose Occidental Mindoro Philippines


One thing is the discovery of its usual geologic structures like caves. Thus, in line with the implementation of RA 9072, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-San Jose in collaborative partnership with LGU-San Jose, through local offices including Municipal Tourism and Community Development Office (MTCDO), Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office (MENRO) and Municipal Planning and Development Office (MPDO), successfully completed a three-day Cave Re-assessment at Brgy. Pawican, San Jose Occidental Mindoro. There are two caves that were meticulously re-assessed by the team, namely Virginia Cave and Sadug Cave. 


cave in San Jose Occidental Mindoro


“Magnificent” is an exact piece of word that could definitely outline the experience of Cave Assessment. During the first day, the team entered initially the Virginia Cave which afterward followed by the Sadug Cave. With all the members of the team participating with each other, playing the role assigned to everyone, the re-assessment was done properly and safely, taking into account the significant features and concerns that must be assessed and be considered. 


magnificent cave in San Jose Occidental Mindoro cave tourism


To conduct the Cave Assessment accurately, the following elements must be examined including: 


✓Surveying and Mapping; 

✓Biological Inventory (Inside and Outside the Cave); 

✓Present Geological Features; 

✓ Hazards and Threats (Inside and Outside the Cave); and 

✓Key Informant Interviews


Spelunking in Occidental Mindoro

caves own distinctive limestone formations such as draperies, flowstones, columns, and moonmilks


The two caves were gifted with impressive geological features possessing both stalactites and stalagmites which can be found inside. Also, the caves own distinctive limestone formations such as draperies, flowstones, columns, and moonmilks. 


caves own distinctive limestone formations such as draperies, flowstones, columns, and moonmilks

amazing cave ceiling with stalactites


Furthermore, the Sadug Cave preserves a remarkable body of water inside with evolved species thriving on it, enriching the ecosystem inside the cave, which made it highly imaginable for ecotourism. However, considering the accessibility of the entrance, it is not advisable for the tourists to explore the Sadug Cave but hopefully, Virginia Cave could somewhat offer the best experience that Cave lovers and local explorers deserve. 


caves were gifted with impressive geological features possessing both stalactites and stalagmites

caves were gifted with impressive geological features possessing both stalactites and stalagmites

caves were gifted with impressive geological features possessing both stalactites and stalagmites


Moreover, based on the conducted assessment, the Virginia Cave is assumed to be under the Cave 2 Classification which some portion may be subjected for closure due to its hazardous condition and sensitive values while the Sadug Cave is considerably under the Cave 1 Classification based on previous assessment wherein mapping, photography and scientific study is the only allowed activity due to delicate and fragile geological formations, threatened species and extremely hazardous to explore. 


caves were gifted with impressive geological features possessing both stalactites and stalagmites

cave delicate and fragile geological formations

delicate and fragile geological formations

amazing cave formations


Even though these caves underwent meticulous assessment, still visitation and exploration are highly prohibited until further notice and permission by the governing local agencies. 


cave light rainbow

colorful cave rainbow


Finally, the Cave Assessment completed at the distribution of certificates at Inasakan Beach in Ilin Island which was awarded by CDS-BMU, Ms. Ma. Teresita P. David, Jr. and CDS-SEMS Chief, Forester Orlino B. Gacuan together with the DENR-San Jose Staffs. Also, the continuation of Cave Assessment was highlighted at the end of the activity, and a few significant reminders to keep the team going.



CATBURAN CAVE: The Cavern Exploration Continues


CATBURAN CAVE san Jose Occidental Mindoro


One of the marvels of the natural world is cave. Caves are typically hidden among mountains and inside them are overwhelming cathedrals of stone and considered as unique, natural, and nonrenewable resources with important scientific, economic, educational, cultural, historical, and aesthetic values. San Jose is among the places in the Philippines where limestone deposits are very rich with diverse natural resources and distinct characterization of flora and fauna. Based on the actual cave assessment conducted by the DENR-San Jose together with the personnel from the Local Government Unit (LGU) of San Jose through these offices including Municipal Tourism and Community Development Office (MTCDO); Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office (MENRO); and Municipal Planning and Development Office (MPDO), it revealed that the Catburan Cave has a unique feature that the municipality can be very proud of.


Philippines, Catburan Cave San Jose Occidental Mindoro

 
Catburan Cave owns exceptional beauty from rock formation

Just like other caves in the Philippines, Catburan Cave, which is situated in the Barangay of Batasan, was originated and formed through the creation of limestone which gradually dissolved with the interaction of rainwater and groundwater, thus creating a hole forming tunnel, large caverns, and other irregular passages. The Catburan Cave owns exceptional beauty from rock formation until the rich and diverse flora and fauna inside and outside the cave, it is truly a gift from above that San Joseños needs to preserve and protect. 


Catburan Cave owns exceptional beauty from rock formation until the rich and diverse flora and fauna inside and outside the cave

Catburan Cave owns exceptional beauty from rock formation until the rich and diverse flora and fauna inside and outside the cave


The said cave is favorable for ecotourism purposes because of its exciting and inviting characteristics that visitors can’t afford to ignore. Accordingly, there are reports that some locals are visiting the cave especially during the seasons of Holy week as their form of vow and sacrifice. However, proper management and protection of the cave is a must for its sustainability and its healthier environment. Also, other factors including the extraction of Guano are the main problem that the Catburan Cave is facing, which is highly evident due to the existing deep excavations that almost consumed half of the cave. Moreover, the extraction could cause disturbance and could lead to a possible diminution of the species inside. Thus, the cave is under the Cave 2 Classification which some sections may be subjected to seasonal or permanent termination due to its hazardous condition and contains sensitive geological and biological values. 


cave is favorable for ecotourism purposes
Catburan Cave, which is situated in the Barangay of Batasan
Spelunking in Occidental Mindoro: An Expedition to San Jose’s Obscure Caverns [Travel and Tourism]


Therefore, the report of the conducted cave assessment to the community, which happened on the second day, was highly focused on the possible interventions that both involving parties can possibly prepare, to somehow reduce the prevailing problem. During the intervention, stakeholders agreed to the idea of the temporary closure of the cave particularly during Holy Week since the cave was subjected to further study and assessment. Moreover, a formulation of a comprehensive management plan through a participatory approach that will enhance the involvement and participation of the communities in the cave management and protection, will be done and be discussed this May 2021.


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