Natural wonders of the Philippines
The “corn” natural rock sculpture of Palawan Underground River is one of natural Philippine wonders.Photo by Ewen Roberts., CC BY-SA 2.0.
Natural Philippine wonders, such as natural rock sculptures and natural rock-arts, both bizarre and amazing, add suspense and excitement to the overall experience of visiting the Palawan Underground River.
Without them, the boat trip in the Palawan Underground River, one of the leading natural Philippine wonders, will be nothing more than a plain boat trip. No one will fly hundreds or thousands of kilometres to the Philippines and Palawan, and wait for hours on end for a simple boat trip.
All of natural Philippine wonders, including Palawan’s river, are genuine nature’s creations, otherwise the Philippine entry to the New Seven Wonder of Nature, would have been thrown out instantly.
The underground river’s astonishing beauty is amazing. The overall structure of the cave, where the river flows, is formed over millions of years through the action of the acidic groundwater dissolving away the limestone.
As the water flows it leaves behind calcite which grows and drips down over time chiselling out awesome natural rock sculptures and natural rock-arts that we see today. Seawater, rain, dead plants and animals all play their roles in carving caves and rock formations.
The various rock formations inside the cave can be generically called speleothems. More specific names include stalagmites (stones rising from the ground) stalactites (stones dripping from the ceiling) and columns (stalagmite and stalactite meeting and joining together).
The more interesting rock formations are the helictites. They are usually created when stalactites decide to drip not straight down but horizontally in defiance of gravity. Most natural rock sculptures and rock-arts shown on this site’s photo gallery are mainly helictites.
The Ecosystem of Natural Philippine Wonders
Natural Philippine wonders, have their distinct tourist attractions that separate them from man-made structures, however, being natural also means having distinctively challenging management issues.
Obviously, man-made things are designed to be visited by humans, but that is not so with nature’s creations; that is where the problem lies.
For instance, cave creatures defend on the river’s natural flow and the bat’s and swallow’s droppings for their food. Human encroachment beyond acceptable limits will drive many creatures out of the cave thus destroying a system that has been existing for millions of years.
One may justify to say that the helictites would not disappear any way. Maybe, but their category and status as natural Philippine wonders and a world’s natural wonder will cease to exist. The title is based on the cave and everything in it.
Surely, all the stakeholders in Palawan’s Underground River and other natural Philippine wonders and tourist attractions will not want to go in that directions.
Lessons from other natural Philippine wonders
Recently, Mount Pulag, one of the natural Philippine wonders in Benquet province, is getting more visitation restrictions to let it heal itself. We are talking here of a mountain that is a 2,922 metres (9,587 ft) above sea level. It takes two days of climbing to scale it from the easiest trail and four days of gruelling climb if one chooses the most challenging route. Upon reaching its summit climbers are rewarded with a breathtaking view of the clouds which you can literally walk into or onto.
If that can happen on one of the natural Philippine wonders, which is above ground, how much more on something like a cave.
Natural Philippine wonders — the money side
Humans, including Filipinos, are natural Philippine wonders, too. But of all nature’s creations humans’ are that the most complex, so it is best to leave the matters to the experts.
In the coming days, weeks or months we will explore more natural Philippine wonders.