Climbing Again: The Mysticism of Mt Banahaw

For years, Mt. Banahaw has been the the center of mystic spirituality and beliefs in the already- superstitious country that is the Philippines. The country is blessed with an abundance of natural resources, so why is that one mountain remain more mysterious than the rest?

Mt. Banahaw is said to be the grandest of the Philippine mountains. In actuality, it is an active volcano, belonging to a volcanic group boundering the provinces of Laguna and Quezon. Right now it is part of the Banahaw-San Cristobal National Park. Its crater or caldera is called “Ilalim” and one of the chief views in this tourist destination. Some of the views along the way to the Ilalim are so beautiful, it once fueled the belief that Mt. Banahaw is the fabled paradise on earth or the legendary Garden of Eden.

Locals and many Filipinos regard this spot as a sacred mountain. For years it has been the pilgrimage of mystics, hermits, self-professed sages and even member sects of various religions in the country. During Holy Week, thousands of devotees flock to this mystic mountain to make a pilgrimage- a sort of religious vow that has to be fulfilled to gain power, luck or be washed of sins.

It has been said that Mt., Banahaw is a tourist attraction different from all other Philippine attractions; there is said of an energy field generated here that allows higher sensibilities and perception. Indeed, Mt. Banahaw has reported to be the sights of spirits and even aliens.

In visiting Banahaw, one will eventually hear of a “blessed water”. Reportedly, this water that comes from special springs in the mountain have remarkable properties, such as healing, divination and charm. Long ago, legend says that the spots to these springs have been pointed out by a blessed sage. He knew about these springs because a voice told him to seek them out. Because of these springs, the volcano was also called “vulcan de aqua”. In the eastern side of the crater, where a small lake used to be, runs two water sources- the Tubig ng Gatas (Milk Water) and Tubig ng Dugo (Blood Water). The tow are indeed both white and red and they flow down separately, meeting at the bottom.

For years Mt. Banahaw served as a rite of passage for the young men of San Cristobal and surrounding towns. They would climb the mountain to prove their manhood and return triumphantly, both sound in spirit and of mind. The mountain is complete with natural wonders, like caves, streams and waterfalls. Most of these landmarks have a story and legend behind them.

Pilgrims and Banahaw returnees would recommend climbing slowly, drinking in the sights, for in deeper contemplation one will find meaning to the scenery. There are different trails to choose from: Tatlong Tangke, Cristalino or Sariaya.

Due to all the interest that Mt. Banahaw has attracted, the government has suspended all climbing activities starting 2004. This suspension is set to be lifted this year, 2010, so perhaps once again the blessed mountain will be a haven for climbers, spiritualists and mystics. For now, enthusiasts would be still delighted to know that Banahaw’s two other peaks besides the main, the Mt. Banahaw de Lucban and the Mt. San Cristobal, are accessible and challenging climbs too.

Once Banahaw opens though, it will be ideal to hire a guide to tackle you to the more interesting and legend- riddles spots in the trail. The return after a long wait will be worth it.

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