Tabon Cave, dubbed as the “cradle of civilization” of the Philippines, is a site known for its anthropological and historical value. It is located at the western coastline of Quezon town in southern Palawan and bound by bodies of water on its north, east and west parts.
Some 200 caves are collectively known as the Tabon Caves after the main cave called “Tabon.” Thirty-eight caves have been established to be of archaeological and anthropological significance.
Presidential Proclamation 996, which was issued in 1972, declared the cave complex and all of Lipuun Point a site museum reservation to ensure the protection and preservation of the caves and the immediate vicinity from destruction. In 2006, the Tabon Cave Complex was added to the tentative list of the Philippines for future UNESCO World Heritage Site nomination.
Tabon Cave is one of the few sites in Southeast Asia to have yielded Homo Sapiens' fossil evidence. Between 1962 and 1966, an archaeological exploration by anthropologist Dr. Robert Fox and a team from the National Museum of the Philippines discovered the Tabon Man, one of the oldest known human skeletal remains in the Philippines dating back to 14,000 B.C. The oldest human fossil evidence recovered from the Tabon Cave, however, is a tibia fragment that dates back to 45,000 B.C. Also found in the cave were a right mandible dating to 31,000 B.C. and a frontal bone dating to 16,500 B.C.
The Tabon Caves also contained a wealth of significant archaeological materials from an extensive time range. A secondary burial jar excavated called Manunggul is considered to be a National Cultural Treasure. Dating back to the late Neolithic Period, the jar signifies the belief of early Filipinos in life after death. The upper part of Manunggul Jar as well as the cover is decorated with curvilinear scroll designs and painted with natural iron or hematite. On top of the lid is a boat with two human figures representing two souls on a journey to the afterlife.
Other excavations included animal bones, stone tools, earthenware, jewelry, and jade ornaments. The archaeological finds indicate habitation from 50,000 to 700 years ago. Approximately only 25% of the archaeological sites have been excavated.