IN PHOTOS: Beautiful caves in Cagayan Valley

CAGAYAN VALLEY, Philippines – Cagayan’s Sta. Teresita town may be the site of the new caving craze in the country, having found 50 caves since 2013; two of them were only discovered last Monday, February 23. 

The third celebration of its National Eco-tourism Festival (NECT) on February 24-28 highlighted its effort to draw more tourists and international cavers to explore the newly discovered caves.

About more than a hundred tourists, including the two kids of Karen Farro, caved in the Tabaco Caves, Nato Cave and Free Cave today, Mayor Lolita Garcia said. 

Last January, 12 international cavers, accompanied by 5 local professional cavers are in Cagayan to explore and discover more caves.

See some of these caves here:

The cave explorers discovered 35 new caves in Sta. Teresita town in the same month.

The said exploration was a part of the International Northern Luzon International Caving Expedition Philippines 2015.  

“These people will help us map caves in the Philippines for the world to see,” Garcia said, mentioning that the team leader will publish an internationally-distributed book about their expedition in Cagayan. 

Betty Farfan, an adviser of the cave explorer team Balincaguin Conservancy, said she's left California, USA for the third time since the start of the festival to guide local cavers in exploring the caves. 

Farfan and husband Daniel Veelik discovered two more caves, Monda in villages Alucao and Luga.

Tourism investment, livelihood 

Garcia said she expects their 3rd class municipality to grow its investments and employment following the discovery of caves.

In an interview, she said they have been allotted P75 million for the development of the tourist spots.

For a cave tour guide like Judy Rick Antonio's, the increase number of tourists in their town means a chance at gaining more income for his family. 

Antonio is a vocational graduate and is helping his farmer parents in raising money for their daily needs.

The village Aridowen in the same is a home of 27 caves, all newly discovered. 

The caves were mapped through the partnership of the Balincaguin Conservancy, Sierra Madre Outdoor Club and the local government of the town. –