Friday, February 20, 2009

Captivating Capiz-Suhot Cave (Dumalag, Capiz)

DUMALAG is a typical small town in

Capiz. People know and greet one

another by name.

Lately, however, new faces have appeared. The locals can

immediately recognize them as visitors, seeking directions to

reach the places that brought them to the idyllic town, 35

kilometers from Roxas City.

Some of them come from as far as Iloilo, Antique and Aklan.

Their quest: world-class

springs set in the middle of a

cave that well-traveled

visitors say can rival those

found in the Northern

Luzon's Sagada and

Benguet, or the Kuwebang

Milagrosa of the Hundred


Their destination: the foot of the legendary Pangin-raon

Mountain, just 300 meters from the town proper.

The foot of the mountain is the doorway to the wonder of Suhot

Cave that inspires awe by its size and length.

Surrounded by lush vegetation and second-growth forest, the

cave stretches 18 kilometers. Its innermost recesses and

labyrinthine passages have remained unexplored.

It is considered one of the longest caves in the country and has

of late been drawing amateur and seasoned spelunkers.

The body of water in front of the cave is rich in minerals and

originates from the watersheds of Pangin-raon. It flows through

a subterranean passage and empties through the cave's

bowl-like opening guarded by a wall of solid rock.

The surrounding land is owned by the municipal government,

purchased from private owners in the early 1980s when the

mayor was Conrado Salcedo, to ensure that the natural

attraction would remain in public hands.

Ricardo Castro, the incumbent mayor, plans to develop the

Suhot Cave into an eco-tourism destination, using an initial

fund of P3 million given by the Department of Tourism.

Part of the plan is to build ecologically-friendly cottages around

the cave, a spring-fed swimming pool and snack bars for

excursionists who unwind at the Suhot Cave's waters, mostly on



Dumalagnons say that inside the far reaches of the cave, where

few men have set foot, stalactites and stalagmites molded

through the years are like human figures in varying stages of


The few who were lucky to see the formations swear by the

beauty of this rare display of nature's handiwork.

Townsfolk also love to tell the tale of adventure by a local

speleology enthusiast, the late Filomeno Blanco, who in the

early 1970s was said to have stumbled upon a stalagmite that

was a nearly perfect reproduction of the figure of a young


They say Blanco used to say that the figure appeared to be

someone holding out a collection plate to a worshipper for some


In another section deep inside the cave, Blanco had also

claimed to have gazed in disbelief at three human-like figures--a

child standing between parents.

To most of the people, the stories are so real that they openly

urge brave explorers to unravel the mystery and wonder that

only the Suhot Cave can offer.

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