Masbate town tries to save prehistoric cave

MANDAON, Masbate --- The local government unit here has been trying to save the pre-historic Bat-ongan cave currently on the brink of demise here.

The Bat-ongan Cave is a limestone monolith some 1.5 kilometers away from Mandaon town proper. It used to be a burial ground in prehistoric era, and since last year has been reported to be vandalized with scattered rubbish left by visitors, mostly local tourists, inside the cathedral-like dome.

“The cave is located in a private land and it’s been open to public without proper supervision. Anybody could enter but unfortunately the historic site is being vandalized. We want to preserve this site as important part of our history,” Mayor Kristine Salve Hao-Kho has been quoted as saying while visiting the site as early as last year.

The historic cave is located in a private property now owned by Dr. Jose Ataat currently based in United States who left the property to a caretaker.

Kho, who personally visited the enchanted cave, said the local government of Mandaon has taken over management of the property to save the historic cave which contains historical facts of the country.

Carol Sia, planning officer of the provincial tourism office, said artifacts belonging to Vietnamese settlers were also found inside the cave few decades ago here.

Rey Vincent Andeza, also of Masbate provincial tourism office, said American archaeologist Dr. Wilhem Solhein also uncovered remarkable artifacts here in 1953, which he brought to the United States.

Bat-ongan cave is famous for its numerous chambers and unique rock formation.

On top of the cathedral dome are a cockpit arena and a cemetery where burial jars are found. Inside the cave, visitors can see a natural stone shaped like the statue of a saint.

Andeza said big number of visitors at Bat-ongan cave usually come on the Holy Week and at summertime. PNA