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Monday, April 15, 2024

Callao Cave reopens to tourists, nature lovers

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CallPEÑABLANCA, Cagayan – The well-known Callao Cave in the bustling town of Peñablanca in this province has formally reopened its doors to tourists and nature lovers on October 16, following three years of closure for preservation work and the COVID-19 outbreak.

A resolution was passed by the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) of the Penablanca Protected Landscape and Seascape (PPLS) chaired by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Regional Executive Director Gwendolyn Bambalan authorizing the reopening of the cave.

Tourists can visit the cave for free from October 16 to 27 as a result of its reopening today.

However, starting on October 28, typical tourists would have to pay P100 for access, while P50 will be required for entry for students, locals, seniors, and people with disabilities.

There will be a P200.00 fee for foreign tourists while children under the age of seven will not be charged.

Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba lauded the work of the DENR and PAMB for approving the Callao Cave’s reopening.

“This is more than simply a local treasure. This is a treasure on a global scale as well as a national one. Due to its international fame, this is not only ours. Since everyone in this world is a steward to maintain the Callao Cave, should there be one to keep it safe, it is not just our generation but most likely the generations to follow,” Mamba stressed.

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“We make an effort to do our best. I have to demonstrate to you my best efforts on behalf of the province. To ensure that Cagayan is the most magnificent province across the country, there must be more creativity, greater dispersion and greater vigor.”

The Governor also urged the rest of the Callao Caves to continue to be protected.

“Let us all be together in trying to make the best of what Callao can offer. So we are doing great to show the next generation that we have set a standard.”

He said that since taking office as governor in 2016, he has concentrated on improving the province’s infrastructure, including Callao Caves, which was Cagayan’s top tourist attraction.

Since it closed in 2020, the eco-tourism site’s amenities had been upgraded, including new comfort rooms, a registration area, a life-size marker for Callao Cave, and a resting place, among other things, had been added.

Meanwhile, RED Bambalan expressed gratitude to Governor Mamba for his support and thanked all those involved in the important reopening of the Callao Caves.

“Reviving the ecotourism sector in Penablanca town through its cave and river systems will improve the economic circumstances of vendors or stall owners, tour guides, boat operators, and even the local government unit (LGU),” Bambalan said.

“The reopening of the cave is a demonstration of unity, understanding, and peace for all, Bambalan stressed.

The Peñablanca Protected Landscape and Seascape is a national park under the Republic Act 11038. It is one of the first national parks in the country and was built on July 16, 1935 with a total area of 192 hectares.

“I appreciate you all our partners that the PAMB will issue resolutions for the protection, development, and use of the part, provided that this should be consistent with the law,” she said.

Vice Mayor Marilyn Taguinod represented Mayor Washington Taguinod and said the opening of the Callao Cave will mark a stable tourism for Penablanca and the province of Cagayan will soon introduce the locale as the Municipality of Seed of Human Cultural Heritage.

“As an important cultural property of the Philippines, it is only worth taking care of this historic monument. It is only the beginning of our breathing in the treasures of our people.”

“With the lengthy closure of the Callao Cave, the livelihoods of those in the area, especially in Barangay Quibal and Aggugaddan, have stopped.”

“Peñablanca has not stopped helping those affected by their lives such as tour guides, boat operators and vendors by endorsing them in government financial assistance programs of DOLE, DOT and DSWD while some are employed as job orders at the LGU,” she said.

Callao Cave is one of the 75 grottos that the National Museum has already cataloged since 1977. The first showroom cavern is the largest, measuring 50 meters in width and 36 meters in height. It has a chapel with a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes in its second chamber.

There are 184 concrete steps that go up to the caves’ entrance. Each fissure in its chamber allows natural light to enter.

It is a part of one of the earliest national parks in the nation, Callao Cave National Park, which was established on July 16, 1935, by Proclamation No. 827.

On October 6, 2003, then-President Gloria M. Arroyo signed Proclamation No. 484, expanding the park’s original 192 hectares to 118,781.58 hectares, which is now known as the Penablanca Protected Landscape and Seascape.

With rates presently being determined by the PAMB, additional costs for parking, birthday or wedding photo shoots, and other purposes shall also be collected.

Cagayan Province is known for having the most caverns across the country. Around 200 caverns may be found in the town of Peñablanca alone, including the well-known seven-chambered limestone Callao caverns.

Cagayan Governor N. Mamba, DENR Regional Executive Director Gwendolyn Bambalan and staff, Vice Mayor Marilyn Taguinod and LGU staff, Board Member Rodrigo de Asis, Quibal Barangay Chairman Tintin Taguinod, PAMB staff, barangay official, Cagayan Provincial Department Heads, and villagers were present for the important occasion.

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