BALBALAN, Kalinga – In celebration of the World Tourism Month, the municipal government led by Municipal Mayor Almar P. Malannag formally declared the opening of Magangab, and Maanus Caves to tourists last Tuesday, September 27.
The said caves located in Sitio Bagwang, Tawang are classified as CLASS II caves by the DENR Regional Cave Committee on May 9, 2019 through RCC Resolution No. 6, Series of 2018. Class II caves are caves with areas or portions which have sections that have hazardous conditions and contain sensitive geological, biological, archeological, cultural, historical, and biological values or high-quality ecosystem, however it is open to experienced cavers or guided educational tours.
In an executive order released by the municipal chief executive, it underscored that there was a tripartite memorandum agreement entered into by the Municipality of Balbalan, DENR and surface claimants last September 25, 2019 for the implementation of the Magangab Cave Management Plan which was crafted on the same date.
A series of Information, Education Campaigns were also conducted at Barangay Tawang to increase awareness and knowledge on sustainable tourism as well as training for local cave guides to ensure satisfaction and safety of tourists entering the said cave.
To protect the cave, and its community, Municipal Ordinance No. 08-2020 is imposed to regulate the entry of tourists, including fees and penalties for scientific, educational, recreational, and tourism activities. Municipal Ordinance No. 10-2020 is also imposed to collect environmental fees.
The formal opening of the cave is held through a short program arranged by the LGU at Tawang Elementary School. According to the LGU Municipal Administrator Atty. Shari Ande-Pangsiw, it has been a custom in Balbalan to start any celebration through offering a Thanks Giving Mass and it was celebrated by Father Odilon Aranca.
Tawang Punong Barangay Hon. Willy Galwat welcomed the visitors and guests, while the students of the Tawang Elementary School, personnel of Western Kalinga District Hospital, members of Tawang Kalipi, Magangab Tourguides, LGU Balbalan dance Troupe and Kalinga Tourism staff showcased their talents through dances and songs.
Provincial Governor James S. Edduba in his message acknowledged the efforts of those who worked hard for the endeavor. He specially mentioned the DENR, Balbalan LGU led by Hon. Almar Malannag, and Tourism Officer RegineFaye D. Munda Cruz, Kalinga Tourism Office led by STOO Lorraine Ngao-i, the Office of the Congressman and DOT-CAR for the DOT-DPWH convergence roads, and the BLGU including its surrounding communities for the cooperation and help. In support to the newly launched tourist destination, he committed the PLGU to aid funds in improving the foot path going to the site. As support to their local products, he bought all the displayed soft brooms made by the locals and distributed to the PLGU and DOT participants and encouraged future tourists to patronize the same.
SP Chairman on Tourism Hon. Lester Lee Ternate granted the request of the local tour guides and pledged to deliver rechargeable lamps as additional tool in caving.
Lone District Representative, Hon. Allen Jesse C. Mangaoang represented by Mr. Regie Wacas delivered the congressman’s message lauding the barangay, and LGU’s accomplishment. Cong. Mangaoang will also request the DOT-CAR to include the said tourism destination in their PPA’s for funding.
PENRO Noel Barrientos gave a brief history and shared the series of events they encountered to study the cave. He also reminded the community to take full responsibility in sustaining their environment as it serves as an additional livelihood to the people.
DOT Regional Director Jovita Ganongan represented by Ms. Mylene Tauli also expressed their deepest appreciation to those who worked hard in creating such opportunity. In support, DOT CAR pledged to assist in enhancing the capacity of tourism manpower through conducting a cave guiding training for tour guides, and other trainings for tourism stakeholders within the vicinity.
Vice Mayor Rowina Alison Damian closed the program and thanked all the guests and visitors for sharing their time.
The cave tour started with a “SONGA” wherein the community offered and butchered a live pig at the caves’ entrance, followed by a ribbon cutting and short briefing on the rules and guidelines on caving.