Public asked to do part to protect Antique’s caves

SAN JOSE DE BUENAVISTA: The Antique provincial government on Friday told the public visiting the 50 caves in the province to help stop the destruction of rock formations, avoid littering, and gathering of birds’ nests to protect and conserve these underground chambers.

The call was made as the province observes Cave Month this April.

Environment and Natural Resources Officer Ma. Vivian Marfil said Provincial Ordinance 2021-156, institutionalizing the Cave Month celebration in Antique, aimed to raise public awareness on the importance of caves, serving as habitat for the flora and fauna and water reservoir.

‘The caves in Antique served as a refuge of the people during the war,’ she said in an interview, one of which is the Igbaclag Cave in Barangay Aningalan in San Remigio, now a tourist attraction.

‘We are enjoining tourists and explorers to help protect the caves by not destroying the rock formations and leaving them as they are because of their cultural and archaeological importance,’ she said.

They ar
e only allowed to take pictures and ensure they bring with them their garbage and not leave them.

Meanwhile, Board Member Pio Jessielito Sumande, author of the Cave Month ordinance, said the technical working group would convene next month to discuss measures for the protection and conservation of the caves.

He said he would propose that tourists and explorers coordinate with municipal tourism offices, especially on their purpose for visiting caves because some gathered bird nests.

‘The cave explorers gather bird’s nests using a torch to drive away the mother birds, destroying also the cave environment,’ he said.

He said some explorers are out to do treasure hunting and destroy rock formations.

The province has around 50 caves, Sumande said.

The Cave Month celebration was launched in the province on April 15 with the mounting of an exhibit showcasing the Igbaclag, Giyub, and Kagang caves and flora and fauna at the Antique capitol lobby for two days and at the University of Antique (UA) in Sibalom campus
for a week starting Wednesday.

The National Museum of the Philippines (NMP)-Iloilo will bring its traveling exhibition Pambansang Museo sa Barangay to Antique on April 22-26.

NMP will display five boxes containing replicas of collections displayed at the galleries of the former Prison of Iloilo, including the Oton Gold Death Mask, the fossil molars of elephant and stegodont, dioramas of a dipterocarp forest and its flora and fauna, the heritage textile of Western Visayas, and infographics about caves as anthropological and biodiversity sites.

The museum boxes will be in UA on April 22 to 24, 2024, and at Saint Anthony’s College in San Jose de Buenavista on April 25-26.

‘We are also encouraging students of UA and SAC to join the culmination activity in Libertad on April 30,’ Marfil said.

She said the culmination activity will be an eco-tour in Kagang Cave in Libertad, a part of the Northwest Panay Peninsula Natural Park.

Source: Philippines News Agency