El Nido cave proposed as heritage site

The municipal government is coordinating with the private sector for the funding of the Ille cave management and operation

El Nido authorities want to declare the town’s archaeologically-important Ille Cave in Brgy. New Ibajay as a National Cultural Heritage Site.

Municipal Administrator RJ de la Calzada said they met with the National Museum last week to discuss the process of declaring the cave pursuant to Republic Act 10066 or the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009.

“We’re fast-tracking Ille Cave’s declaration at least by next year,” he told Palawan News on Tuesday, November 22.

Based on radiocarbon dating, the cave which is part of the Dewil Valley was a habitation and burial site during Neolithic to Protohistoric age.

In 1998, 20,000 artifacts, with several dating back to more or less 14,000 years ago, were excavated by the National Museum and the Archaeological Studies Program of the University of the Philippines Diliman and the Solheim Foundation.

Many fossil remains have also been dug up in the Ille Cave, including a specimen providing the first proof that the tiger (Panthera tigris) once roamed the island of Palawan.

In total, there are more than 50,000 artifacts recorded from Ille since the start of the excavations in 1998 – broken down to around 25,000 ceramics, 23,000 shell and bone artifacts, 1,000 stone tools and 1,000 metal artifacts and other materials.

“These are part of the history and culture of El Nido that can be showcased to the visitors,” De la Calzada said. “And it’s not only for tourism, it’s about protecting and promoting the rich cultural and historical heritage of the town.”

He said the municipal government is coordinating with the private sector for the funding of the cave management and operation, and as well as the continuous development of an existing museum in the area.

“To date, we have five casual employees assigned to maintain the area; at the same time, they assist tourists who visit the cave and the museum,” he added.

Once a cave management plan is completed and implemented, de la Calzada said they will start charging entrance fees to the site.

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