of Cantabon Cave
By Romy G. Amarado
DEEP beneath a tranquil environment, Cantabon Cave is a place for nature lovers of the adventurous kind.
Discovered in 1985 by foreign hunters, it is one of the tourist attractions of the island-province of Siquijor. It is found in Barangay Cantabon, about 9 km west of Siquijor town.
About 300 meters long and 10 meters wide, the cave is home to a wondrous array of stalactites and stalagmites of different shapes and sizes.
Stalactites are mineral deposits, usually of calcium carbonate, shaped like icicles hanging from the roof of the cave. They are formed by continuous dripping of percolating water containing the mineral compound.
Stalagmites resemble inverted stalactites, rising from the floor.
Stalactites and stalagmites are formed after a process takes 20 to 40 years.
Prof. Lionel Chiong, a geologist from the Silliman University based in Dumaguete City, reveals the deposits at the Cantabon Cave are important to geologists and other scientists in determining the kind and age of the soil.
These natural landmarks, he said, are undoubtedly potential tourist attractions.
Stalactites and stalagmites can rise to wall-like proportions. Stalagmites can expand to as big as a dining table for 10 people, Chiong revealed.
In Cantabon Cave, the smallest stalactites and stalagmites look like human fingers. The biggest is like the size of a human body.
Since 1985, more than a thousand people have visited the cave, according to barangay captain Fredo Balos. The cave has helped generate livelihood for the villagers and revenues for the barangay.
Under a barangay ordinance, foreign tourists are charged P10 as entrance fee. Filipino visitors pay half the amount. Guide fee ranges from P50 to P200.
To protect the cave, the ordinance prohibits the gathering of stalactites and stalagmites and bird's nests. Nonbiodegradable materials are not allowed inside.
Violators are fined P500 and may face charges in court.
Exploring the cave is an experience one should not miss. Lighting equipment is a must because it is very dark inside. A pair of rubber shoes is also recommended because the ground is rough due to stalagmites and small rocks.
To some extent, trekking the Cantabon Cave is like mountain climbing because there are big rocks to be negotiated.
There have been no reports of dangerous animals or insects living inside the cave, but the silence is deafening, broken only by waters flowing from small springs and the intermittent dripping of water.
At the center of the cave is a small natural pond with crystal-clear water.
With ample promotion and sustained protection, the Cantabon Cave may yet become one of the natural treasures of Siquijor.