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Blog - Limestone Rocks in the Philippines! 7 Surprising Things You Didn't Know 

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I had the idea of writing some of my observations of the many some photos  I’ve made during my travels in the Philippines. The Philippines is made of 7,107 islands, so the sea is the first thing you would want to consider when you go travelling in the country (well that’s right, it’s spectacular!). Anyway, less people know about the richness of beauties you can find in the inland of the country. Talking again about my pictures, I was surprised realizing how the sea is still everywhere in the Philippines, even where you don’t expect it to be!

In fact, signs of the marine origin of Philippine inland can be found in the amazing limestone rocks that, as you probably already know, are formed in the sea, with a great contribution given by shells, mollusks, algae and corals. Let’s see 7 good examples with some pictures!

1. Coron Rocks and Sagada Rocks


Coron, in Palawan (Tropical Experience)


Around the sea (picture on the left), you can find charming rocks hiding Coron lagoons. Then, on the right,  you can observe the rocks of the mountains of Sagada (Mountain Province), where the famous and mysterious “hanging coffins” are. In the first photo, we are on the sea level. In the second case, Sagada is located 1500 meters above sea level…but, the similarities are impressive! This is because in both cases we have limestone rocks of marine origin.

Below: rocks in Sagada, the place of the famous hanging coffins (Tropical Experience)


2. Sagada Caves and their Marine Fossils


Photo by Tropical Experience


One feature of this kind of landscapes is the presence of caves and underground water. In these 2 pictures we are in a deep cave in Sagada, that we already explored several times and where we’ve also found some marine fossils. Here mountains and sea are really…melting together!

Photo below by Tropical Experience


3. Chocolate Hills


The famous Chocolate Hills (Tropical Experience )

Chocolate Hills in Bohol are one of the (i)conic landscapes of the Philippines. In this case also, we are dealing with limestone rocks. After emerging from the sea, they were eroded for hundred thousands of years until they are shaped into cones. Only short grass can grow on these rocks so, when the grass gets dry during summer, it turns into chocolate brown …from which the hills get their name!

Anyway, old folks say that these hills originated from  tears of a giant while some say these are the poo of a giant carabao (water buffalo).

4. Coral Reefs


Photo by Tropical Experience

Corals are formed by a lot of very tiny polyps. When they die, their skeleton contributes to the formation of the so-called “reef”, that will be then the base for new corals and new habitats. So, the big mountains of the Philippines come from corals also. Here a small reef with a tiny orange swimming friend in Bohol.

5. The Underground River


Entrance of the Puerto Princesa Underground River

Again from the Palawan Province, we cannot miss to mention the majestic Puerto Princesa Underground River, UNESCO Heritage Site and inserted in the list of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. You can navigate through it within its (limestone) cave for more than 4 kilometers length (the total length is more than 8 kilometers). The cave is formed by the flowing water and it is something to put in the bucket list of the things to do at least once in your life.

6. Rocks around Banaue


Photo by Tropical Experience

Maybe you already recognized the spectacular landscape of Banaue Rice Terraces (another UNESCO Heritage). It is a human-made ancient landscape that people started to build more than 2000 years ago. Do you see that white stripe in the right-up side of the picture? It was made by a small landslide: the white cut in the mountain suggests that, even here, limestone rocks are around!

7. Baclayon Church (Bohol)


Baclayon Church, Bohol

To end this rocky post, we would like to show you Baclayon Church in the paradisiac Bohol province. Founded in 1596, it was built using local materials and the stones used are made of corals too. It is said that to cement the corals together, the locals used the white of a million eggs! The church is a good example of the original religious architecture of the Philippines. In 2013 the tower bell and the façade were damaged by an earthquake and are currently under repair using some of the same materials collected from the ruins. Anyway you still can visit the posterior part of the church and its interesting museum. Damages by the earthquake were limited to some areas and the province is ready to be visited! We recommend you to include Bohol in your itineraries, you won’t regret it!

The list could go be even longer, but these are the main attractions that came to my mind checking my photos! Did you imagine limestone rocks were that interesting?

(written on July 2014)

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