Bathala Caves

Useful Information

Location: Barangay Ipil, Marinduque island. 10 km from Santa Cruz.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Guided tours:
Bibliography: Rico (): An Inquiry on the Historical and Cultural Heritage of the Bathala Cave,
H. Otley Beyer (): Outline Review of Philippine Archaeology by Islands and Provinces,
Address: Bathala Caves.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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The Caves of Bathala are eight different caves, named Church Cave, Secret Cave, Python Cave, Cemetrey Cave, Lihim Cave, Underground Cave, River Cave and Kay Mendez Cave. They are located in a 19 hectares big area, at about 700 m asl. The small karst contains even more caves, but they are not explored or named.

The biggest cave is called Kuweba ng Simbahan (Cave of the Church), as it was used for worship. It was believed to be the home of Amang Bathala, the Supreme God of the Tagalogs, the indegneous inhabitants of the Philippines. The cave is big enough for 100 people.

It seems the cave has always attracted extremists, terrorists and religious sects. The Pulajan Movement worshipped their Supreme God here to regain the potency of their amulets. They believed that their amulets could protect them from the bullets of the American colonizers and their Filipinos allies. The fanatical group was founded by Faustino Ablen, an illiterate peasant. He teclared himself Pope.

The next were the Samahang Tatlong Persona Solo Dios, who stayed at the cave for a long time during the early 1900s. This sect was formed in Mount Banahaw in Quezon by Agapito Illustrisimo. The beleive that Banahaw and Bathala Cave are spiritually connected. They still have a center at the cave.

The next cave is 100 m away and called Cemetrey Cave, as it was used as a burial site. Excavations revealed earthen jars, china jars, coffin fragments and human relics, including 13 skulls. The excavation was carried out by the French archaeologist Alfred Marche.

The Python Cave is guarded by numerous living pythons. The strange thing is, that the snakes are normally dangerous and aggressive, but here at the cave they are not harmful. They are said to have never harmed visitors. Visitors even take pictures as close as 35 cm. The locals explain this with the fact that the snakes are the pets of Bathala.