Sohoton Cave in Basey, Samar

TACLOBAN CITY — The Sohoton Cave in Basey, Samar will undergo an PHP8-million improvement in time for summer, a local government official announced Friday.

Samar investment and trade promotion office chief, Brett de los Santos, confirmed on Thursday that the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) recently approved funding for the cave.

The project will cover the installation of lights inside the cave, and rehabilitation and improvement of the damaged jetty.

The TIEZA-funded project will begin within the month and will be completed in time for the summer season.

“People who explore the cave just bring flashlights. If there are lightings, they will fully appreciate the beauty of Sohoton Cave,” de los Santos said.

Lightings, he said, would ensure that people walk within the trail and not step on growing stalagmites formed from water drops of root trees thriving above.

The water that drips from the cave ceiling forms one square inch of stalagmite for a span of 100 years. Some visitors accidentally step on those formations.

Sohoton’s stalagmites come in varied sizes, some of which look like an elephant, the Statue of Liberty, rice terraces, the Great Wall of China, the Chocolate Hills of Bohol, natural musical organ, a beehive, human body parts, an eagle, guards, and jellyfish.

The local government invites both young and old to explore the cave since it requires no risky climb or descent, just a continuous walk on the mostly level ground.

Sohoton Cave is within a national park and was established on July 19, 1935 by virtue of Proclamation No. 831, primarily to preserve its geological features and natural wonders. It was named Sohoton Cave Natural Park but this was changed in 2005 to Sohoton Cave and Natural Bridge.

A magnificent stone bridge, from which the park got its name, connects two mountain ridges over the Sohoton River. The Panhulugan Cave I is the largest and most spectacular endogenic cave, while Panhulugan Cave II is a long scar that cuts into the face of Panhulugan Cliff.

Sohoton Cave is a very large endogenic cave situated in the eastern portion of the natural bridge. It has a high cathedral-like dome with an entrance of parabolic arch.

Bugasan and Capigtan Caves are smaller caves similar to the Sohoton Cave.

The whole area has the typical appearance of karst formations with an intriguing variety of deep shafts and sinkhole caves, rock-shelters, underground rivers, and bizarre weather-sculpted rock formations.

All the caves are situated in the rugged limestone cliffs that line the river, creating a magnificent scenery.

Traces of early habitation, dating as far back as the Iron and Stone Ages, have been found in the different caves.

These caves are also believed to have been used as burial sites for the natives and a mecca for medicine men who hunt and prepare their potions. The caves were also used as hideouts of Filipino “Insurrectos” during the Spanish-American War.

Aside from its enchanting beauty and geological wonders, the park is endowed with a rich stock of forest vegetation that serves as home to varied forms of endemic, rare and endangered Philippine fauna. Mammals and reptiles abound in the park, along with freshwater fish, crabs, and shrimps.

The cave is accessible through a boat ride along Basey’s Golden River, considered as Samar’s prized jewel. The town is about 40 kms. from Tacloban City, the regional capital. (PNA/Roel Amazona)