SAGADA, Nountain Province – Barangay officials of Taccong, Suyo and Ambasing, the municipal tourism officer of Sagada, and the staff of the Provincial Tourism office attended the presentation of the result of cave appraisal in this famous town by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
The main facilitators came from the Cordillera office of DENR represented by Wrexton Afidchao and Cristopher Bosaing of Community Environment and Natural Resources Office in Sabangan.
Bosaing appealed to the barangay officials and stakeholders of caves in Sagada to unite and cooperate for the preservation of caves, emphasising that rock formations and biodiversity inside and outside the caves are slowly being destroyed.
Afidchao presented the result of his team’s assessment on the two caves being frequented by tourists in Sagada, particularly Balangagan and Lumiyang.
He urged the barangay officials concerned to follow up with the Department of Public Works and Highways the backfilling of the top of the cave that was leveled for the proposed construction of a government building.
Bosaing pointed out that the “head” of the cave must be planted with trees and shrubs to hold water which seeps into the cave to form the stalactites and stalagmites.
Afidchao related that Balangagan have nine chambers with one chamber having been uses as a burial ground as manifested by the presence of some old coffins. He urged the barangay officials of Suyo and Taccong to put a fence so that vandals will not destroy the coffins and skeletons.
Lumiyang, once a famous burial ground, is the entrance to the renowned cave connection to the “big” cave Sumaguing, the 2nd longest cave in the Cordillera at 800 meters long, according to Afidchao.
Vanessa Pineda of the National Museum office requested the barangay officials to include in their ordinances the preservation of cultural values of caves.
Meanwhile, a DENR staff discussed the important features of RA 9072, or An Act to Manage and Protect Caves and Cave Resources and Classification of Caves. Class I are caves with delicate and fragile geological formations, presence of threatened species and archeological and paleontological values, and the conditions are extremely hazardous; caves under class II are those with sections that have hazardous conditions and contain sensitive geological, biological, archeological, cultural, historical, and biological values or high quality ecosystem. They can be visited by well-experienced cavers and visitors but with experienced guides; and
Class 3 are those considered generally safe to inexperienced visitor with no known threatened species, archeological, geological, natural history, cultural and historical values. These caves may also be utilized for economic purposes, such as guano extraction and edible birds nest collection.
By Francis B. Degay