Photo courtesy of Pueblo Philippines

The nomination of the archaeologically important site, Tabon Cave Complex, and the whole of Lipuun Point in Quezon municipality as a UNESCO World Heritage Site has officially been endorsed by the special body, Palawan Council for Sustainable Development.

Tabon Cave is a significant archaeological site that is part of the Tabon Cave Complex, which includes several others in the vicinity. Located in a limestone cliff overlooking the western coast of Palawan, the cave itself is accessible through a narrow entrance that leads into a large chamber, which then extends into a complex network of interconnected chambers and passageways. Its interior is adorned with impressive stalactites and stalagmites, forming intricate formations that add to its natural beauty.

The site has earned global acknowledgment due to its historical and cultural value, and it is now being considered for recognition as a place of extraordinary international importance, warranting special preservation measures.

PCSD officer-in-charge Niño Rey Estoya said Monday that endorsement took place during the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) regular meeting on July 27 through Resolution No. 23-927.

The resolution highlights the historical significance of the site, particularly the discovery of archaeological artifacts and fossils of modern humans (Homo sapiens) dating back 47,000 years ago, made by Dr. Robert Fox and the National Museum of the Philippines in 1992.

It is also believed to have served as a burial site for early inhabitants, as well as a shelter for ancient people seeking refuge from the elements and wild animals. The site has yielded numerous artifacts, including pottery, tools, and ancient burial items, which have provided valuable insights into the lifestyles and cultural practices of the ancient inhabitants of the area.

These findings contributed to the declaration of the location as a “Site Museum Reservation” by former Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos through Presidential Proclamation No. 996, S. 1972, among other recognitions.

“The endorsement emphasizes the importance of its outstanding universal value as the home of the oldest modern human, Homo sapiens, found in this part of the country and Southeast Asia. Notably, it was included in the tentative list of World Heritage Sites submitted by the Philippines to UNESCO in 2006. It is also one of the core sites of Palawan, a UNESCO-designated Biosphere Reserve, where environmental protection, biodiversity conservation, and economic development are harmonized,” Estoya said.

Estoya added that the PCSD, as the management authority of the Palawan Biosphere Reserve, expresses its full and unwavering support to the nomination and eventual inscription of Tabon Caves Complex in Quezon, Palawan, as a World Heritage Site.

He said the special body’s commitment complements similar support extended to Tabon Caves by the national government through UNESCO in the Philippines, NMP, NCAA, and the local government units of Quezon and Palawan province.

The support for the nomination also extends to the provincial level, with the Sangguniang Panlalawigan ng Palawan expressing full commitment through Provincial Resolution No. 18133.

Furthermore, Governor Victorino Dennis Socrates issued Executive Order No. 58, Series of 2023, creating the Task Force for the inscription of the Tabon Cave Complex as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In March, a participative dialogue was held at the provincial capitol, where PCSD Staff, along with representatives from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), UP School of Archeology, National Museum of the Philippines, and provincial government officials, finalized the nomination dossier for the Tabon Cave Complex.

Subsequently, consultations were carried out with the municipal government of Quezon, involving the participation of PCSDS District Management Office-Southern Palawan.

Jovic Fabello, the spokesperson for PCSD Staff, said the Tabon Cave Complex could become the third UNESCO World Heritage Site in Palawan, joining the ranks of the Puerto Princesa Underground River and the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park in Cagayancillo, which already hold that prestigious status.

“International branding ito na itong lugar na ito well-conserved, maayos ang management, and kapag may status na, mayroong infrastructure support,” he said.

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has been with Palawan News since January 2019. She is its managing editor, overseeing and coordinating day-to-day editorial activities. Her writing interests are politics and governance, health, defense, investigative journalism, civic journalism, and the environment.