Newly discovered cave system in Nueva Vizcaya could be RP’s longest

- Charlie Lagasca -

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya – Another cave system here –-probably the country’s longest –-was discovered by a group of veteran mountaineers and spelunkers in a remote mountain area, which already hosts a series of spectacular cave formations, including the fifth longest cave system in the country.

Based on estimates, the newly discovered cave in barangay Pao, Kasibu town is at least 20 kilometers long, not including other passages and arteries, said Genaro Basilio, one of the founding members of the Nueva Vizcaya Mountaineering Club.

Basilio said they came across the cave system during one of their recent spelunking adventures in one of the province’s vast mountain areas, particularly in remote barangay Pao.

Basilio’s group also explored the 4.5-km Alayan cave located in the same town, which is the country’ fifth longest cave system.

“The possibility that the cave system in Pao is the longest in the country came about after an hour of exploring the cave and seeing that there seemed to be a long way ahead,” said Basilio, who also heads the provincial government’s public affairs, information and assistance division.

The new, largely unexplored cave system, which begins at Barangay Pao, swerves around underground through centuries-old crystal clear stalactites and stalagmites –-both giant-sized and medium sized -– until it reaches barangay New Gumiad in another town, Dupax del Norte. It is estimated to be a 15.7-km stretch.

Using the spelunkers’ practical method in measuring a cave system, rice bran or ipa was poured into the river at the cave entrance in barangay Pao and ended up in barangay New Gumiad.

“Our group decided to put a lot of rice bran (ipa) in the fast-flowing water inside the cave. Later, we found out that the rice bran reached as far as New Gumiad (formerly barangay Diayan), which was 15.7 km away, presuming the cave went straight there,” Basilio said.

Basilio said their group, with some recognized caving experts, both from the government and private sector, is now in the process of further exploring the cave with the use of appropriate gadgets to validate its total estimated length for it to be officially recognized as the longest cave system in the country.

“We, local outdoor enthusiasts, have plans to explore the whole cave system pending our request for funding of an expedition by sponsors so that this part of the province may become not only a geological find but also an ecotourism potential,” he said.

Present records of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources show that the 15-km Saint Paul Cave in Palawan is the country’s longest cave system; followed by the 8.87-km Odloman Cave in Mabinay, Negros Oriental; the 7.65 km Odessa-Tumbali Cave in Peñablanca, Cagayan; the 5-km Langun-Gomingob Cave in Calbiga, Samar; and the 4-km Sumaging-Latipan-Lomyang Crystal System in Sagada, Mountain Province.

However, in the records of the Philippine Caving Society, the Alayan Cave System in Barangay Capissaan in Kasibu was recorded to be the fifth longest at 4.5-km.

Early explorers, including Basilio’s group who had only been able to enter within one-hour’s distance from the cave entrance in barangay Pao, said that the cave system has centuries-old spectacular rock formations and a swiftly flowing underground river stretching from Pao to New Gumiad.

“There is a big possibility that it has a big cavern underground formed by the flowing river,” Basilio said.

This landlocked province has long been known for its spectacular caving system in Kasibu town. The Alayan cave is touted by the Department of Tourism to be world-class for its magnificent rock formations.

Seeing the province’s tourism potential, the local government led by Gov. Luisa Lloren Cuaresma is keen on transforming Kasibu, also one of the region’s major vegetable and citrus-producing towns, into one of the country’s major ecotourism destinations.







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