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Task Force Tabon Cave to bid for UNESCO’s World Heritage List inclusion in October

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan (PIA) -- The Task Force Tabon Cave Inscription and Nomination is now completing the requirements for its renewed bid for the cave’s inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The task force has laid out a new timeline to enable them to meet the October deadline after failing to meet the deadline in February.

The Palawan government team, led by the Office of the Provincial Governor chief of staff, Ceasar Sammy Magbanua, said that the task force did not push to meet the deadline in February due to a lack of required documents.

It would be better to try submitting in October than to be denied or rejected due to the insufficiency of the needed requirements, he added.

“Unfortunately, hindi tayo umabot sa deadline ngayong February at ayaw ng task force, especially ng National Museum at NCCA, na madaliin ito, na magsumite tayo ng isang dokumento na hindi pa kumpleto. We will go for the submission this October," he said.

[Unfortunately, we weren't able to meet the deadline in February, and the task force does not want to rush it, especially the National Museum and NCCA; that we will submit a document that is not yet complete—we will go for the submission this October]

One of the issues mentioned by Magbanua that delays the progress of submission is the concern over the ancestral land where the cave is located.

Magbanua assures that discussions are now ongoing between the task force and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to settle the issue.

The task force was established after UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines (UNACOM) Dr. Ivan Anthony Henares’ visit to Palawan.

Henares informed the provincial government that Tabon Cave Complex and all of Lipuun Point remained on a tentative list for 16 years due to the absence of a committee preparing documents to prove the cave’s outstanding universal value. The Lipuun Point, where Tabon Cave is located, contains over 200 caves that yielded cultural materials important to the understanding of prehistoric Philippines and Southeast Asia, according to UNESCO World Heritage Convention.

“Napakatagal na pala, walang movement kasi walang gumagawa ng document para ito ay masumite at mapag-aralan ng komite kung meron siyang outstanding universal value,” he said.

[It has been a long time; there has been no movement because no one is doing the document to be submitted and studied by the committee if it has an outstanding universal value]

The committee consists of agencies such as the National Museum, the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the Provincial Government of Palawan, the local government of Quezon, NCIP, the Department of Education (DepEd), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), and the private sector.

UNACOM believes that various published studies about Tabon Cave will help to easily pursue its inclusion in the list as a World Heritage Site. The cave is a component museum under the management of National Museum. Since the nomination has been pushed through, an agreement has been made between the National Museum and the local government unit of Quezon to co-manage it. 

“It’s just a matter of pag-collate at sama-samahin ito to come up with a good document that highlights its outstanding universal value," he said.

[It's just a matter of collating to come up with a good document that highlights its outstanding universal value]

The upper view of Tabon Cave in Quezon town. (Photo by PIA Palawan)

Tabon Cave is located in Quezon town, on the west coast of Palawan, where possibly the oldest Homo sapiens sapiens fossil evidence in Southeast Asia has been found. UNESCO cited that the evidence was in the form of a tibia fragment dating to 47,000+/- 11-10,000 years ago.

Aside from Tabon Cave, other Palawan sites on the tentative list include Mt. Mantalingahan Protected Landscape and Coron Island Natural Biotic Area.

Palawan’s two sites currently included in UNESCO’s World Heritage Site are Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park and Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park. UNESCO assists the sites through technical support extended.

The two are classified as natural sites, which both have a memorandum of devolution with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and are managed by park superintendents. 

Tabon Cave, classified as a cultural heritage site, is under the management of the National Museum. (RG/PIA MIMAROPA - Palawan)

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Rachel Ganancial

Information Officer

Region 4B

Information Officer of PIA-MIMAROPA/ Palawan

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