PUERTO PRINCESA CITY — The Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) management is now promoting “special visits and tours” to the site discovered in 2011 by a group of Italian scientists and researchers from the La Venta Geographical Association (LVGA) that features among others the 20 million-year-old fossilized-remain of a “sirenia” (sea cow) that lived during the Miocene age.
PPUR Park Superintendent Elizabeth Maclang in an exclusive interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA) said that “perhaps unbeknownst to many,” the fossilized remains of the sea cow discovered stuck on the wall of the underground river by cave researchers of the La Venta “is open to the public on special permits.”
“Yes, it is open; we are promoting it, but visits have to be informed to us in advance as they are only available on special permits due to the difficulty of going there,” Maclang said, adding guides have to be assigned for the exceptional tour.
The discovery of the sirenia remains by La Venta, which is located in a five-kilometer summit cave, was announced by then mayor Edward Hagedorn as an additional feature of the PPUR following its nomination as a candidate to the New 7 Wonders of Nature search in the world.
Aside from the fossilized remains, a virtual crystal forest of overwhelming formations of stalactites and stalagmites” were also discovered in the PPUR.
Maclang said tours on special permits are available for a minimum fee of P4,000 for each traveler.
“It’s a bit pricey, but seeing the fossilized remains is a wonder in itself. The traveler will really wonder how it came to be there, when in fact, they said sea cows of the same species can only be found during the Miocene age in Europe, Mediterranean and Africa,” said Maclang.
Recently too, the PPUR management opened the Jungle Trail again for those who wish to be more adventurous, and those who are not constraint by time.
“Yes, the jungle trail is now open for trekking at over three kilometers. If guests are not in a hurry to leave, this jungle trail is exciting to explore because of the great natural view it can provide,” Maclang told the PNA.
Opening the trail, she said, is also to provide an alternative route to visitors, whenever the sea is rough to allow boats to travel the distance between the wharf in Sabang, Cabayugan, and the central park where entrance to the underground river is located.
Visitors of the PPUR, she added, will also soon see a PNP Building at Sitio Sabang near the wharf, where tourist police will take office.
Maclang said the building was funded with P5 million from the income of the park. It was constructed for security purposes, knowing how valuable is guests’ safety.
”We value the security of our guests, and this is the reason why from the income of the park, we helped construct this building for our tourist police, who work hard,” she said.