For decades, residents of Barangay Calaboon, Dumanjug town thought it was just a dangerous area filled with huge snakes.
But when folks from the neighboring village broke out a hole from huge rocks covering an entrance to the cave and started extracting sacks of soil from the inside, a few residents braved a cave exploration.
Calaboon barangay chief Gerard Irag said the types of soil have “phosphate content which are illegally mined in the cave and exported to Japan as fertilizer ingredient.”
Discovering this activity last week urged him to stop the operation and report the new cave to the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO).
PDRRMO’s caving experts explored one of the cave’s chambers with Dumanjug Acting Mayor Gungun Gica, Irag and bomb experts from the Philippine Army.
The cave has seven chambers with wide boulders as high as eight meters. Its passageways are too narrow, limiting a person’s movements inside.
The cave is also said to be a secret camp of Japanese soldiers during the war.
In its initial assessment, PDRRMO Chief Baltz Tribunalo advised that residents avoid further explorations in the cave as ground movements, such as earthquake, may cause it to collapse.
“With the cave’s structure, there is a possibility that it will cave in when, say, a 7.4 magnitude earthquake hits Cebu South endangering the homes near the cave,” he explained.
Instead of a tourist destination, the PDRRMO team suggested that the cave be preserved as a bat conservatory.
The team found insect bats inside which are natural insect and pest predators.
If local officials pursue developing it as a tourist spot, the town must invest in training tourist guides as exploring the cave by inexperienced and unskilled beginners poses too much risk.
“Nindot gyud unta to for tourism pero tinuod, (exploring was) too risky. Di lalim (It would have been good as a tourist destination but exploring it was really too risky and not easy),” concurred Gica.
In its next visit, PDRRMO will ask the Mines and Geosciences Bureau to conduct further inspection in the cave.
No bombs or other explosive devices were found in the cave.