An exciting experience one could have is a visit at a place where he used to read in a book during his childhood years. While some may dream to go to places that they once saw in postcards and calendars, others may prefer places with historical significance. If the latter is your choice, Palawan offers some interesting places.
I had a chance last week to go to the famous Tabon caves found at the Lipuun Point Reservation at the northern part of Quezon, Palawan. Quezon by the way is at the southwestern part of Palawan. The cave is where the earliest human remains of human inhabitants in the Philippines were found – the Tabon man. It is believed to be approximately 22,000 to 24,000 years old. It was discovered by Dr. Robert Fox and his team from the National museum of the Philippines in the early sixties.
Going there though requires a bit of adventure. We traveled early in the morning in a van. From Puerto Princesa, it was a three hour ride which was a quality time spent catching up with visiting friends.
We arrived just before mid-noon.
Upon arriving at the town proper, we registered at the national museum and had a short tour inside. The museum is filled with replica of the artifacts found at the Tabon caves. One of the famous replicas of a relic is the Manunggul jar which apparently was used as a burial jar. The real ones are now placed at the National Museum in Manila. At the end of the tour, we were shown with a short video of the story about the discovery of the Tabon caves. It was documented by the national museum team led by Dr. Fox. After the short tour at the museum, we went to the town port where a motorized boat is waiting to bring us to the tip of the Lipuun point where the entrance to the Tabon caves is located.
It took us 20 minutes to reach the cave’s entrance which was just in time to have our buffet lunch. We took some pictures while the table is being set and food was all placed. The meal was lavish – shrimps, humba(pork), native chicken, grilled fish(suran) and some fruits. It was way more than enough to keep us strengthened in our exploration of the caves.
We rested for a while. Then off we went.
There are six caves to explore which mostly have to be climbed uphill. There are concrete stairs and pathways which made it easier for us to walk though. A cave tour guide guided and explained to us some interesting and historical facts about every part of the caves.
I forgot the names of the caves but each one was unique. There was one excavated cave where they found the Tabon man remains; one cave was too dark, slippery, and smelly and you’ve got to stoop to get in. Very few people dare to get in, we were told. But we were one of the few and it was awesome to discover how big it was inside. There were hundreds of bats and the structures were quite eerie we didn’t dare to reach the end; there also was a small cave where we found swallows (balinsasayaw) in their nests. The nests are what they use to make the famous expensive and delicious soup; another cave was too high and there is no other way to go up. It was where they found the Manunggul jars; the other caves has their own story which I failed to hear because I was so busy taking pictures. When we reached the top, I already am tired. My towel was all wet and I’m out of water. It was one great hike to the top. Fortunately, there is a shortcut downhill. But, it won’t be advisable if it’s raining and tide is high. However, it wasn’t raining and tide was low – so we took the shortcut back to the entrance. It was a bit risky because there was no concrete pathway but we held on to the branches and depended on our hiking shoes.
Finally, we’re down at the sandy beach shore. We walked to the cave entrance where we settled while we took pictures of and with starfishes, sea cucumber, crabs, squid and other sea animals that we found on our way.
Because the tide was low, we were able to go farther from the shore which we can’t do when we arrived. Taking pictures is what satisfied us at that point. There were other island beaches across with white sands but unfortunately, it will be too late to go then. There is also a sandbar which is a perfect place to go swimming by if time would have permitted. The locals said that at high tide, the sandbar would be at waistline deep.It was now time for us to pack up and go. We still have to stop by the Estrella Falls in Narra – the next town which will take us another hour of travel.
Caves have always been an attraction around the globe and the Tabon man’s ancient habitat won’t disappoint a visitor.