FOR DECADES, a cave near the foot of the old Mactan-Mandaue Bridge served as a place of worship for followers of a religious group.
The cave has been abandoned for years, but remnants of religious activities can still be found inside: broken religious icons, balusters, two well-like structures catching drops of water—believed to be sacred—from stalactites.
An idea has surfaced to develop the cave—located on a property owned by the General Milling Corp. in Sitio Seaside, Barangay Pajo, Lapu-Lapu City—into a new tourist attraction in the city, whose beaches and seas already attract hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.
Pajo Barangay Captain Junard Chan said the private firm that develops the lot raised the idea of turning the cave into an ecotourism site.
“They are going to make the design but they are still collecting ideas,” Chan said, referring to the developer of the Mactan Grain Terminal.
Because of the cave’s history as a place of worship, Chan said the place can be developed into a religious site.
“Maybe we can put up a huge statue of Birhen sa Regla (Virgin of the Rule) outside the cave. But we have to ask for permission from the parish priest,” he said.
Chan said they will seek advice from experts of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and other concerned agencies.
Abandoned for years, the cave has attracted lovers, martial arts trainees and even drug users, Chan said.
From the ground, two concrete stairways lead into the cave.
Larry Cutamura, 46, who lives near the cave, said there were tales that Datu Lapu-Lapu—the Mactan warrior who killed foreign explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1521—used to come to the cave to pray.
Cutamura said the cave was used as a place of worship by members of the God of Doctrine Church from 1977 to 2011. A follower of the church who serves as the president of its chapter in Lapu-Lapu City, Cutamura said their group adheres to Roman Catholic doctrines.
“Daghan kaayong mga santos gipamutang diha (There were several religious icons placed inside the cave),” he said.
The cave, he said, was also a mystical place frequented by traditional healers and even curious foreigners.
Sightings of snakes forced the group to block three passageways leading to as far as Barangay Punta Engaño in Lapu-Lapu City and Barangay Guadalupe in Cebu City, said Cutamura.
He said the place was sacred to them. “Amo gyud ibilin among sapatos ug tsinelas una mi musulod (We would remove our shoes and slippers before going in),” he said.
Cutamura said he welcomes the plan to develop the cave into a tourist attraction, but he hopes their group can take part in the process.