“Bundok kung bundok; ilog kung ilog,” my friend put his Banahaw experience this way.
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Mt. Banahaw

A week ago, our class in Philippine Institutions 100 [a subject in school] had a trip to Mt. Banahaw as part of our Lakbay Aral. After a two-hour bus trip, we reached barangay Sta. Lucia in Dolores Quezon. In that barangay is Santoyo compound — where we stayed for the night. The sun was blazing, yet the wind was cool. I really missed this probinsya environment, so i was really glad to be in that place that moment i noticed it. Almost 11am, with our stomachs nearly empty, we walked around the whole Sta. Lucia looking for answers to the questions given to us by our professor. Entering lots of Rizalists’ churches, I started to get a clearer view of their belief system and culture. Oh well, we didn’t get  all the answers, good thing we brought our GPRS phones with us and searched the big online library — Internet. We were really hungry that time, so don’t think we’re escaping the hard work and “walk.”

To give you an idea [if you’re not acquainted with the belief system of the Rizalists], here are what I have had observed so far. Rizalists are the sects of Christianism which believes that Jose Rizal, our national hero, is the second Christ. They paralleled some events Rizal’s life to that of Christ’s. Their churches are lead by priestesses. Even the biggest sect in Mt. Banahaw, Mystica, was founded by a woman — with the initials MBB [you can actually find this initials all over their church]. Their churches are constructed to look like arks or ships, though it’s not evident. Aside from the Ten Commandments, they added another twelve commandments from Rizal. What’s even weirder is the in that single small barangay [Sta. Lucia], they are several sects, that it’s possible that your neighbors belong to different sects. The churches of the different sects have close proximity to each other. This is how diverse are the beliefs of the people in Banahaw.

After lunch we readied for our ascent up the mountain. but we first had a splash on the freezing cold water of Sta. Lucia falls. it’s really really cold. then we crawled inside the first cave of the 14 stations of the cross [pwesto, as what the locals call it]. Good thing i put my jogging pants on, or else I could have went out of that cave full of scratches. well, anyways, our next stop was a book-shaped stone. One child told us that the stone grants the wishes written on it using the candles lighted on top of it. Our group wrote our own wishes, but one wish was common — that is LOVELIFE. LOL. Haha! Then we entered yet another cave, then another until the most difficult cave in that mountain — Husgado. “you have to stretch further or else you’ll fall!” my friend shouted while assisting another friend who’s struggling to get out of that cave. Folks say that the Husgado cave, as the name serves us, is the test whether you’re a sinner or not. sinners cannot go out of that cave unbruised or without scratches.well, i don’t believe in stuffs like this, though, and I was able to get out unbruised even though I’m evil. lol And finally, we trekked our way up to the top of Kalbaryo. “shit! rock climbing ito!” my friend remarked. we really had to climb boulders. and not just ordinary boulders, boulders with pointed surfaces. the sun had already set when we summited. This wasn’t my first time in climbing mountains; Banahaw is actually the 4th mountain I climbed, so I never had a hard time. XD We prayed and wished — as usual, lovelife — at the summit, ate a little then took a rest. at 7:20pm we started our walk down the slopes of Banahaw with only our dear flashlights as aid. I thanked God that we reached the base camp unharmed, uninjured. after dinner, we all took a well deserved rest. oh, yah, we had a taste of the native lambanog. XD

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View from the peak of Kalbaryo

next day, we entered two more caves in barangay Kinabuhayan. one which has pitch black darkness, moreover it’s forbidden to bring any source of light in that cave so as not to disturb the spirits believed to be resting in that cave. struggle grabe! kapa kung kapa, gapang kung gapang! then the smallest of the small caves we encountered, the cave of Santos Colegios. Inside that cave, one will never escape the thoughts like: “God, magpapakabait na po ako, palabasin niyo lang ako dito” [well, you might think of more thoughts like this while inside Husgado]. And that’s the end of the 14 stations.