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  • Camp 1 - Mt. Banahaw, Central Luzon , By Noam Winter , Today I made the ascent to Camp 1, on the mountain called Mount Banahaw, about one third of the mountain's total height, maybe 6,000 ft. Some call it a holy place, or a magic mountain, and the local superstition of the place is that it will rain whenever a foreigner is on the mountain. It surely was true, this time.
  • Guides - Mt. Banahaw, Central Luzon , THE GUSHING SPRINGS OF MT. BANAHAW , About 170-km southeast of Manila rises the majestic 2,188-meter MOUNT BANAHAW, a national park, located near Dolores, Quezon Province. This extinct volcano is also known as "vulcan de aqua" because of numerous springs that flow from the base.

Maayong Buntag, Mount Banahaw

Batan Islands
Balintang Ch.
Hibok Hibok

Big and mighty, Holy Mount BANAHAW

Banahaw, Holy Mountain of the Philippines

Banahaw, der heilige Berg der Philippinen


It is said that Mt. Banahaw keeps away those who are not yet ready to receive its secrets. Rising some 2450 meters from sea level, this active volcano, a part of the Banahaw-Cristobal National Park, has long been believed to be a storehouse of psychic energy. The local residents considers it a sacred mountain. It teems with legends and superstitions. It has been the home to countless members of religious cults, hermits, soul searchers, spiritist and faith healers who climbs its slopes to meditate in it’s cave and commune with the mountain spirits. It clearly shows the other side of Filipino fanaticism and superstitious ways. Being in Banahaw is something like stepping into incredible stories of apparitions, heavenly voices, strange sounds, dwarves, fairies and even UFO’s. Geographically, Banahaw stands on a power point where the key lines of the earth intersect.Wherever such latitudes and longitudes meet, they create energy fields that allow higher frequencies of perception, physiological or otherwise.

Banahaw is one of those rare fields just like Lourdes in France, Sedona in Arizona, Bali in Indonesia and Ayers Rock in Australia, to name a few. People living in the foot of the mountain speaks of apparitions of Jesus Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary and even Dr. Jose P. Rizal and other national heroes.

An old legend has it that a hermit living near Banahaw once had a vision that it was to become the New Jerusalem. Appropriately, the names of all topographical features had been given names with biblical allusions, Kinabuhayan, Dolores, Santo Kalbaryo, Kweba ng Dios Ama and the famous Jacob’s Well to name a few. During Holy Week, pilgrims ascend to the crater rim peaks called Durungawan to relieve the passion and death of Jesus Christ. There, three crosses have been strategically planted to recreate the actual crucifixion scene. On Good Friday, however, the summit should be deserted, as the mystics believe that only God the Father may bear witness to His Son’s death.

It is also said that on the same day, an enkanto (spirit) opens a hidden cave near the crosses, which acts as the pathway to the nether world. Anyone left on the summit will be compelled to enter it and never return. Mt. Banahaw is a silent eloquent towering refuge. It forces the visitor to see beyond, if only momentarily, his/her superfluous needs. For an instant, even the most jaded traveler becomes pure of heart and for that alone, a climb up the mountain is well worth it.

Banahaw is located 100 kilometers southeast of Manila. It is the highest peak among a series of mountains and is surrounded by the towns of San Pablo, Majayjay, Liliw, Nagcarlan, Tiaong, Candelaria, Sariaya, Lucena, Tayabas and Lucban. Being an active volcano, its last recorded eruption was on 1721. That eruption caused a lake to form on the volcano’s crater which may have caused the crater to burst open during a possible eruption of 1743, though geographer Fr. Huerta mentioned in his Estado Geographica that it happened sometime 1730. The crater today is called ilalim. It also resulted the transfer of the town of Sariaya to its fourth and present site. In the 19th century Banahaw was called Monte de Majayjay or Monte San Cristobal which was then considered the "gateway" in ascending the mountain. It was also called "Vulcan de Agua" because of the numerous springs that flows from the base. The present name Banahaw might have been derived from the word Ban-aw which means a vantage point to a lofty position.


A legend has it that because of the turmoil in the Middle East in a not too distant past, the four Archangels transferred the Holy Land to Mt. Banahaw. In the 16th century, a legend said that a Chinese cutter, Juan Ynbin, who’s body dismembered by the Spaniards and thrown to the sea as a result of a revolt against forced labor during the construction of the shrine of Caysasay came back to life. He claimed that a beautiful woman saved him from the sea and placed him on a leaf that carried him to Majayjay within the view of Banahaw. Another legend says that somewhere in between 1886 and 1939, a Holy Voice or Santong Boses, dictated the locations of the holy places in Banahaw which also gave the names to these places. It was given to one of the famous mystics of Banahaw, Agripino Lontoc from Taal Batangas who hid in the mountains from the Spaniards who branded him as a rebel. He also went into the mountains to seek for amulets. The story goes that every time he tried to leave the mountain, he would go blind and this forced him to stay in Banahaw to become one of it’s first hermits.

Banahaw was also the headquarter of a group of dissidents headed by the famous local hero, Apolinario de la Cruz or Hermano Pule sometime in 1840-43. He was the person who named places such as Jacob and Kalbaryo. In an offensive against Pule, he and his wife was killed wherein his head, stucked to a pole, was displayed at the road to Tayabas to warn all rebels. Pule promised to return as the Santong Boses.



Mt. Banahaw can be scaled through various jump-off points like Dolores, Tayabas (Banahaw de Tayabas), Sariyaya (Guis-guis Trail) and Lucban (Lucban de Banahaw) but most of these trails have different peak destinations though there are already recorded traverse from one peak to the other or climbs using a combination of these trails.

This itinerary is the Dolores Trail. The Dolores Trail, the most popular particularly among the pilgrims, have two other sub-routes, the Crystalino and the Tatlong Tanke routes. There is a third route in Dolores that is no longer being used. It connects to the Guisguis trail of Sariyaya going inside the crater. So officially, the two Dolores trails, Crystalino and Tatlong Tangke are considered the Banahaw de Dolores climb.

In climbing, it is advisable to take one of the trails going up and the other on your way down to see the two routes. The climb can be easily done even without a guide for trails are visible and marked. Looking for guides within the place may be difficult for most people living within the jump-off area are not inclined into climbing or guiding in particular. The climb itself is not a technical one, but a long strenuous hike. To go there, take a bus bound for Lucena City (Tritran, JAM, JAC, BLTB).

Get off at San Pablo Laguna. Ask for the jeepney stop for jeeps bound for Dolores Quezon (regular trips are from 4:00 AM to 4:00 PM, though special trips can be arranged 24 hours a day with much added cost). Kinabuhayan in Brgy. Sta. Lucia, Dolores, Quezon is the official jump-off point. From Kinabuhayan, you can ask the locals for the start of the trail or you can go directly at the back of the barangay hall. The trail initially splits into two, the Crystalino and the Tatlong Tangke trails. Either of the two, follow the established path straight to the peak (Durungawan I). From there you can choose what trail to take in descending the mountain, either the other Dolores trail, the Guis-guis trail or Tayabas/Lucban trails.

Banahaw can be scaled any time of the year though it is best advised especially for beginners and the curious to climb it during the Holy Week. Few weeks before the Holy Week is the best time because during that time, the place is already prepared for the Holy Week revelry with make-shift stalls along the trail but not as crowded and littered as the Holy Week itself.


Along Crystalino trail you will pass by the Crystalino Falls, Suplina Falls, Salamin Bubog (glass mirror) which is a small pond in which the waters are still as a mirror; the Kweba ng Dios Ama (cave), one of the most sacred place but you will be disgusted to see a concrete house erected by one of the local sects right in the mouth of the cave; the Pintong Lihim (sacred door)- two large boulders with divergent paths and Niluhuran (place where trees knelt) which was named due to the bent trees which abound the place and some minor pilgrim sites (holy places). At the summit try to visit the Durungawan (view points) I, II, and III (highest point), the cave near the cross and the crater view overlooking Guis-guis and two other rivers Tubig ng Gatas at Tubig ng Dugo (river of blood and milk because one is white as marble and the other red as iron oxide). Along the Tatlong Tangke route, pass by Kapatagan (plains) and the Tatlong Tangke (3 natural water tanks).

From the summit, you can also take the trail going down the crater towards Sariyaya or from Durungawan III, you can go to a longer un-established trail to Tayabas and/or Lucban trails.

Within Kinabuhayan area, the Bakas (Christ’s foot print), Santo Calbaryo (Calvary), Tres Personas, Ilog ng landas (river), Ina ng Awa, Husgado (cave), Kweba ni San Pedro (cave), Kweba ni San Pablo (cave), Prisintahan, Dolorosa, Piedra Mental, Ciudad Mystica, Buhok ng Birhen, Nunong Lalake and some other pilgrim places are worth to visit. You can also trek the nearby Mt. Cristobal, Banahaw’s alter ego. Still further within San Pablo City, visit San Pablo’s Seven lakes. R&R at Bato Resort in Dolores, Hidden Valley in Alaminos or Villa Escudero in San Pablo. A very useful guide to these places is a book published by Bookmark called Banahaw by Fr. Vitaliano Gorospe. This is not a guide book nor a mountaineering book but nevertheless, the information are very useful for your trip. Other books, "Let’s Hike" and "Action Asia" list Banahaw as one of it’s featured hiking destination.




Es wird gesagt das Mt. Banahaw diejenigen fern hält, die noch nicht bereit sind seine Geheimnisse zu empfangen. Ungefähr 2450 Meter vom Meeresspiegel aufsteigend, ist von diesem aktiven Vulkan, ein Teil des Banahaw-Cristobal Nationalen Parks, lange geglaubt worden, ein Platz psychischer Energie zu sein. Die lokalen Einwohner betrachten ihn als heiligen Berg. Es wimmelt von Legenden und Aberglauben. Es ist die Heimat unzähliger Mitglieder religiöser Kulte, Einsiedler, Seelenforscher, Spiritisten und gläubigen Heilern die seine Hänge besteigen, um dort zu in seinen Höhlen zu meditieren und mit Geist und Seele des Berges zu kommunizieren. Es zeigt deutlich die andere Seite des philippinischen Fanatismus und ihrer abergläubischen Welt. Im Banahaw zu sein, ist irgendwie wie der Eintritt in unglaubliche Geschichten von Erscheinungen, himmlischen Stimmen, fremden Tönen, Zwergen, Feen und sogar UFO´s. Geographisch steht Banahaw auf einem Kraftfeld, wo sich die Schlüssellinien der Erde schneiden. Wo auch immer sich solche Breiten und Längen treffen, schaffen sie Energiefelder, die höhere Frequenzen der Wahrnehmung erlauben, physiologisch oder anderarts.

Banahaw ist eines jener seltenen Felder ähnlich Lourdes in Frankreich, Sedona in Arizona, Bali in Indonesien und Ayers-Rock in Australien, um einige zu nennen. Leute, die am Fuß des Berges leben, sprechen von Erscheinungen von Jesus Christus, der Heiligen Jungfrau Maria und sogar von Dr Jose P. Rizal und anderen Nationalhelden.

Eine alte Legende erzählt, dass ein Einsiedler, der nahe Banahaw lebte einmal eine Vision hatte, dass dieser Ort das Neue Jerusalem werden sollte. Dementsprechend erhielten alle topographischen Merkmale Namen mit biblischen Anspielungen wie Kinabuhayan, Dolores, Santo Kalbaryo, Kweba ng Dios Ama (Höhle des Gott Vaters) und dem berühmten Jacob´s Brunnen um einige zu nennen.Während der Osterwoche steigen Pilger zu den Spitzen des Krater-Randes genannt Durungawan, um den Leidensweg und Tod von Jesus Christus zu gedenken. Dort sind drei Kreuze strategisch so aufgestellt worden, um die wirkliche Kreuzigungsszene wirklichkeitstreu darzustellen. Wie auch immer, am Karfreitag jedoch sollte der Gipfel verlassen werden, denn die Mystiker glauben, dass nur GottVater Zeugnis über den  Tod seines Sohns ablegen darf.

Es wird auch erzählt, dass am selben Tag ein enkanto (Geist) eine verborgene Höhle in der Nähe der Kreuze öffnet, die als Pfad zur Unterwelt dient. Jeder der auf dem Gipfel geblieben ist wird gezwungen die Höhle zu betreten um nie zurückzukehren. Mt. Banahaw ist ein stiller ausdrucksvoller überragender Zufluchtsort. Er zwingt den Besucher darüber hinaus, wenn auch nur für einen Augenblick, seine/ihre überflüssigen Bedürfnisse zu erkennen. Für einen Moment wird sogar der erschöpfteste Reisende reinen Herzens und dafür allein, ist der Aufstieg des Berges es wert..

Banahaw liegt 100 Kilometer südöstlich von Manila. Es ist der höchste Gipfel einer Reihe von Bergen und wird durch die Städte von San Pablo, Majayjay, Liliw, Nagcarlan, Tiaong, Candelaria, Sariaya, Lucena, Tayabas und Lucban umgeben. Als aktiver Vulkan war sein letzter registrierter Ausbruch 1721. Dieser Ausbruch formte einen See im Krater des Vulkans, der Ursache dafür war das der Krater sich während eines möglichen Ausbruchs von 1743 öffnete und platzte, obwohl der Geograph Fr. Huerta in seinem Estado Geographica, erwähnte dass es um 1730 geschah. Der Krater wird heute ilalim genannt. Daraus resultierte auch die Umsiedlung der Stadt  Sariaya zu ihrer vierten und gegenwärtigen Stelle.  Im 19. Jahrhundert wurde Banahaw “Monte de Majayjay” oder Monte San Cristobal genannt, welcher dann als das "Tor" zum besteigen des Berges betrachtet wurde. Er wurde auch "Vulcan de Agua" (Vulkan des Wassers) wegen der zahlreichen Quellen genannt, die dem Fuß des Berges entspringen. Der gegenwärtige Name Banahaw könnte aus dem Wort Ban-aw abgeleitet sein, was einen hochgelegenen erhabenen Standort bedeutet.




Eine Sage erzählt, dass wegen Aufruhrs im Nahen Osten in einer nicht allzufernen Vergangenheit die vier Erzengel das Heilige Land zum Mt Banahaw übertrugen.

Im 16.Jahrhundert sagte eine andere Legende, dass ein chinesischer Schneider, Juan Ynbin, dessen Körper infolge einer Revolte gegen die erzwungene Arbeit während des Baus des Schreins von Caysasay von den Spaniern zerstückelt und ins  Meer geworfen wurde, ins Leben zurückkehrte. Er behauptete, dass eine schöne Frau ihn aus dem Meer rettete, auf ein Blatt legte das ihn bis zu Majayjay zur Ansicht von Banahaw trug.

Eine andere Legende sagt, dass irgendwann zwischen 1886 und 1939, eine Heilige Stimme oder Santong Boses, die Positionen der heiligen Plätze in Banahaw diktierte und auch die Namen zu diesen Plätzen gab. Diese wurden einem der berühmten Mystiker von Banahaw, Agripino Lontoc von Taal Batangas gegeben, der sich in den Bergen vor den Spaniern verbarg, die ihn als ein Rebell brandmarkten. Er ging in die Berge um Amulette zu suchen.

Die Geschichte geht so weiter, dass jedes Mal wenn  er versuchte den Berg zu verlassen, er den Weg verlor und sich verirrte. Das zwang ihn in Banahaw zu bleiben, und so wurde er einer der  ersten Eremiten.

Banahaw war auch das Hauptquartier einer Gruppe von Dissidenten angeführt vom berühmten lokalen Helden, Apolinario de la Cruz oder Hermano Pule , irgendwann um 1840-43. Er war die Person, der die Plätze wie Jacob und Kalbaryo benannte. In einer Offensive gegen Pule wurden er und seine Frau getötet, worauf hin sein Kopf auf einen Mast gesteckt an der Straße zu Tayabas gezeigt wurde, um alle Rebellen zu warnen. Pule versprach, als der Santong Boses zurückzukehren.



Mt. Banahaw kann durch verschiedene Start-Punkte wie Dolores, Tayabas (Banahaw de Tayabas), Sariyaya (Guis-guis Spur) und Lucban (Lucban de Banahaw) erklettert werden, aber die meisten dieser Wege haben verschiedene Gipfelziele, obwohl dort die Überquerung von einer Spitze zur  anderen möglich ist oder die eine Kombination dieser Wege bieten.

Diese Reiseroute ist der Dolores Trail. Der Dolores Trail, der populärste besonders unter den Pilgern, hat zwei andere Nebenwege, die Crystalino und die Tatlong Tanke Route. Es gibt noch eine dritte Route in Dolores, die jedoch nicht mehr verwendet wird. Sie steht mit dem Guisguis-Weg von Sariyaya in Verbindung, der in den Krater führt. So werden offiziell die zwei Routen Dolores, Crystalino und Tatlong Tangke als der Banahaw de Dolores Aufstieg betrachtet.

Beim Klettern ist es ratsam, einen der Wege für den Aufstieg nach oben zu benutzen und einen anderen  Weg nach unten zu nehmen, um beide Wege zu sehen. Der Aufstieg kann ohne Führer leicht getan werden denn die Wege sind sichtbar und gekennzeichnet. Das Suchen nach Führern vor Ort kann schwierig sein, die meisten Menschen die im Bereich der jump-off Area leben, sind dem Klettern gegenüber abgeneigt und eignen sich auch nicht als Führer. Der Aufstieg selbst ist kein technischer, aber eine lange anstrengende Wanderung. Um dorthin zu kommen, nehmen Sie einen Bus Richtung  für die Lucena City (Tritran, STAU, JAC, BLTB).

Steigen Sie an San Pablo Laguna aus. Fragen Sie nach den Jeepney-Halt für Jeeps Richtung  Dolores Quezon, regelmäßige Fahrten sind von 4:00 bis 16:00 Uhr, obwohl spezielle Fahrten –Special Trips-  24 Stunden pro Tag mit viel zusätzlichen Kosten arrangiert werden können. Kinabuhayan in Brgy. Sta. Lucia, Dolores, Quezon ist der offizielle Start-Punkt. Von Kinabuhayan können Sie die Ortsansässigen nach dem Anfang des Weges fragen, oder Sie können direkt zur Rückseite der Barangay Hall gehen. Der Weg spaltet sich am Anfang in zwei Wege, dem Crystalino und dem Tatlong Tangke Weg. Folgen Sie einem der beiden direkt zur Spitze des Berges (Durungawan I). Von dort können Sie wählen, welchen Weg für den Abstieg Sie wählen, entweder den anderen Dolores Weg zu nehmen, den Guis-guis Weg oder die Tayabas/Lucban Route

Banahaw kann zu jeder Zeit des Jahres erklettert werden, obwohl es besonders für Anfänger und Neugierige empfehlenswert ist, es während der Osterwoche zu tun. Wenige Wochen, vor der Osterwoche ist die beste Zeit, weil während dieser Zeit das Gebiet bereits zum Osterwochen-Rummel mit behelfsmäßigen Marktbuden entlang der Wege bereitet ist aber eben nicht so überfüllt und verschmutzt wie während der Osterwoche selbst



Entlang der Crystalino-Route werden Sie an den Crystalino-Fällen, Suplina Fällen und Salamin Bubog vorbeigehen (Glasspiegel), der ein kleiner Teich ist, in dem das Wasser ruhig und glatt wie ein Spiegel ist;

der Kweba ng Dios Ama (Höhle GottVaters) einer des heiligsten Plätze des Berges, Sie werden jedoch angewidert feststellen, das durch eine der lokalen Sekten direkt im Zugang der Höhle ein Gebäude aus Beton errichtet wurde;

der Pintong Lihim (heilige Tür) - zwei große Felsblocks mit auseinander gehenden Pfaden und Niluhuran (Platz wo die Bäume knieen), der wegen der gebogenen Bäume so genannt wurde, die den Platz und einige Pilger-Stätten (heilige Plätze) umgeben. Am Gipfel angekommen versuchen Sie den Durungawan (Aussichts-Punkte) I, II, und III ( höchster Punkt)zu besuchen, die Höhle in der Nähe des Kreuzes und der Krater-Ansicht zu überblicken, die Guis-guis und zwei andere Flüsse Tubig ng Gatas an Tubig ng Dugo (Fluss des Bluts und der Milch, weil einer weiss wie Marmor- und der andere Rot wie Eisenoxid ist). Entlang der Tatlong Tangke Route, passieren Sie Kapatagan (Ebenen) und der Tatlong Tangke (3 natürliche Wasserzisternen).

Vom Gipfel können Sie auch die Route nehmen, die den Krater zu Sariyaya oder von Durungawan III hinuntergeht, Sie können auch einen längeren unbefestigten Weg zu Tayabas- und/oder Lucban-Route gehen

Innerhalb des Kinabuhayan Gebiets, der Bakas (der Fußdruck von Christus), Santo Calbaryo (Calvary), Tres Personas, Ilog ng landas (Fluss), Ina ng Awa, Husgado (Höhle), Kweba ni San Pedro (Höhle), Kweba ni San ist Pablo (Höhle), Prisintahan, Dolorosa, Piedra Mental, Ciudad Mystica, Buhok ng Birhen, Nunong Lalake und einige andere Pilger-Plätze sind wert, besucht zu werden. Sie können auch zum  nahe gelegenen Mt. Cristobal wandern, das Alter Ego(andere Ich) von Banahaw. Noch weiter innerhalb San Pablo City, besuchen Sie die Sieben Seen von San Pablo. R*R am Bato-Ferienort in Dolores, Verborgenes Tal(Hidden Valley) in Alaminos oder Villa Escudero in San Pablo. Ein sehr nützlicher Führer zu diesen Plätzen ist ein Buch veröffentlicht durch Bookmark genannt „Banahaw by Fr. Vitaliano Gorospe“. Das ist weder ein guide book  noch ein Bergsteiger-Buch aber dennoch sind die Information für Ihre Reise sehr nützlich.

Andere Bücher, " Let’s Hike " und "Action Asia", bezeichnen Banahaw als einen der grundsätzlichen Wanderziele..


Travel: Slouching toward Mount Banahaw


April 4 1999

MOUNT BANAHAW, QUEZON -- Water is flowing again within Mount Banahaw, noted someone who intends to visit the "Holy Mountain" on Holy Week. Last year water was scarce. Skeptics have a scientific explanation for this: El Niño ravaged the country last year and Banahaw was not spared this environmental phenomenon. However, for the pilgrims and believers, this means that Banahaw is no longer disappointed -she no longer "hides her water." Banahaw's "disappointment" is said to stem from issues related to commer- cialization. Whenever business -minded persons fetched water from the springs by the gallons and sold them at ridiculous prices to the tourists, the water would disappear. When the government planned to build a superhighway that would run through the mountain, the water disappeared for months. The campaign of pilgrims and environmental groups did not prove futile: the project had to be changed and the water came back. Call it a crazy explanation, but the belief that they have regained the mountain's "trust"-as evidenced by the water flowing from the springs and waterfalls-has lifted the spirits of the people in the area.

Banahaw is their sacred mountain: She continuously manifests her protective powers through events that appear miraculous and certainly providential, even though these may be dismissed by outsiders as pure coincidence.

Banahaw protects her chosen ones: no outside threat can disturb the people's serene faith, their ineffable peace. Gratefully they dedicate their own sacrifices. With hymns and rituals, wearing ceremonial garb, they periodically sweep the templo, dredge the sacred pool, repair the footpaths for the pilgrims, trim the grass and the branches of the trees, and burn the refuse left in the sacred groves by the thoughtless tourists.

There are basically four categories of people who frequently climb Mount Banahaw. First, there are the religious, the sects who consider the mountain the site of the New Jerusalem. There are those who scale the slopes of Banahaw as part of their sacrifice in exchange for blessings or "miracles" that they are seeking, including the cure for those suffering from sickness. Other visitors are in search of anting-anting, psychic or paranormal experiences. Then there are mountaineers or outdoor groups wanting to breathe fresh air from one of Southern Luzon's largest forests.

Through the years, the number of religious sects in Mount Banahaw has grown to 168. Seventy-three of these are members of the Mount Banahaw Holy Confederation. As they believe that the mountain is the "New Jerusalem" the holy parts of the mountain are called puestos in Dolores and Sariaya and erehiya in Tayabas. The puestos normally represent the elements: earth, water, air and fire.

Superstitions abound for trekkers and pilgrims. One must request permission before starting the climb so as to ensure the guidance of the spirits. These spirits make their presence felt through strange lights or luminous objects, the eerie feeling that one is being watched along the trail, cold air enveloping one's body, and other manifestations. Some even see supernatural beings like dwarfs. The boisterous laughter of a group will earn them the ire of the spirits-they may find themselves drenched in rain while other groups in the vicinity remain completely dry. There are those who say that the crater of Banahaw is the perfect landing site for UFOs.

If Banahaw is known as the Holy Mountain, myth has it that the nearby mountain, Mount San Cristobal, is the "bad mountain." There, a spirit called Tumao is believed to haunt hikers and subject them to weird phenomena.

Scientists like Raymundo Punongbayan of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) have long been intrigued by the folk belief that if Banahaw erupts, water will gush from its crater. Mount Banahaw is one of the largest active volcanoes in the Philippines, its unique feature being an elliptical crater 758 meters high. The recorded date of the latest volcanic activity of Banahaw was in 1730 and 1743.

Punongbayan explained that in the event that Banahaw erupts, there will be pyroclastic flows toward the town of Sariaya and lava flows cascading toward the town of Dolores. Pyroclastic flow is a turbulent flowing mass of ejected fragmental volcanic materials mixed with hot gases and moving downslope at high speed. Pyroclastic flows may result from the collapse of tall eruption columns or from spillover of ejected materials from the erupting vents.

Punongbayan compared lava flow and pyroclastic flows with the toothpaste. Squeeze it slowly and the toothpaste will flow down slowly, while pressing it immediately will cause the toothpaste to zoom up. The former resembles the lava flow, the latter the pyroclastic flows.

The Philippine archipelago has more than 200 volcanoes distributed in five volcanic belts. Banahaw is one of the 22 known active volcanoes in the country. A volcano signifies a vent, hill, or mountain from which molten rock or gaseous materials are ejected. For a volcano to be considered active, Punongbayan explained that it must have erupted in historical time. On the other hand, a volcano is considered dormant if there is no historical record of its last eruption.

Punongbayan stressed that the best way to educate people is to give specific labels like "Banahaw volcano" instead of Mount Banahaw.

Declared a national park in 1921, Mounts Banahaw and San Cristobal cover an area of 11,133 hectares of moderate to steep terrain. The Quezon side is noted for its unique rock formation, mystical cave and medical springs. It has three towering peaks-Banahaw de Lucban, 1,875 meters above sea level; Mount Banahaw, 2,158 meters above sea level, and Mount San Cristobal, 1,470 meters above sea level.

One of the biggest forests in Southern Tagalog, the national park contains game animals such as wild pigs, deer, monkeys, and game birds such as hornbills, pigeons, jungle fowls, tailor birds, wag tails, orioles, brown doves, parakeets and coucals. Giant rats, wild cats and reptiles such as snakes, pythons and ground lizards are also seen in the area. It is home to tree species such as red lauan, tanguile and mayapis, while plant species like rattan, vines, grasses, club mosses, ferns and other aerial plants are abundant within the park.

The park is traversed by eight rivers, namely, Olla, Manipis, Santa Cruz, Liliw, Dalitawan, Malinao, Bakong and Lazaan. It is locally known as vulcan de agua due to the abundance of water even during the dry season.

For pilgrims and mountaineers, the jump-off point is Santa Lucia toward Kinabuhayan town. The wide and well-trodden trail leads to Kristalino Falls, a 30-meter waterfall surrounded by vine-covered trees, ferns, palms and bamboos. Just one-and-a-half hours away is a second waterfall whose surrounding area is ideal for a campsite.

One of the most difficult portions of the trail is a vertical wall leading to a very narrow ridge over a minute waterfall known as Salamin Bubog. This climaxes in a treacherous slippery stretch over huge boulders leading to a cavernous formation with a 30-meter-high entrance known as the Kuweba ng Diyos Ama.

On the way to the summit are landmarks like Pinoy Lihim, huge moss-covered boulders marking two divergent paths, and rows of trees with twisted trunks almost hugging the ground on bended knees. These trees are commonly known as Niluhuran.

The first peak is Santong Durungawan, which overlooks a clear, blue open sky. The crater of the volcano is shaped like a winding canyon with walls soaring as high as 915 meters; its floor is between 27 and 46 meters wide. Thick forest carpets most of the interior but some portions exhibit marked scars of past avalanches.

From Durungawan, the descending group will pass through Tatlong Tangke, which used to refer to a series of waterfalls, and again to a gully and a kaingin trail. Crossing over rocky trail will lead to the backyard of the town of Kinabuhayan. (Dennis Gorecho)

This message was from CBR posted on the RP Fidonet Outdoors Echo from

A day on Mount Banahaw

1 Tag auf dem Mount Banahaw

this story was taken from


A day on Mount Banahaw
Posted:10:30 PM (Manila Time) | Jun. 17, 2003
By Highblood

HAVING read a lot about the sacred mountain from Jaime Licauco, I have always been looking forward for a chance to experience mystical Mount Banahaw. My longing was finally rewarded when family friends invited me for a spiritual pilgrimage to the New Jerusalem.

We left the Alabang area [in Metro Manila ]at around 5:30 in the morning of March 3, 2002 and reached Santa Lucia village a little past seven, parked our vehicles and through the efficient instructions of Gloria, our unofficial group leader, we were soon walking toward the foot of the mountain. Along the way we passed by makeshift stores selling souvenir items along with native food and delicacies. Most of us bought candles that would be needed for the different caves or “puestos”.

Suddenly we found ourselves face to face with a big rock with a caption in big, white letters: “Santong lugar, igalang po natin [Let us please respect this sacred place].” Beyond the rock were people praying amid lighted candles. There was a big, old mage of the crucified Christ and a fading replica of the Ten Commandments. We stopped, lighted candles and prayed for a while then continued walking. At the place called Jerusalem, there was a big table, simple comfort rooms and little huts all around where pilgrims could stay overnight. The place served as our station.

Gloria suggested that we eat our snacks and take only water, T-shirt, a towel, candies, water in small bottles and not to forget our hats. After a hurried snack, we started inching over steep and uneven steps of natural rock formations. We passed by the “Altar ng Jerusalem [Altar of Jerusalem],” a natural formation of huge rocks that looked like a giant altar with two candles burning though no one was seen praying.

Crisostomo Llamado guided us to the caves of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. We lighted candles and said prayers before we moved on to the next cave, “Ina ng Awa [Mother of Mercy],” with the image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. At the time we arrived, another group was praying of the Holy Rosary, so we joined in.

Close by was the “Cueva de Jusgado [Cave of Judgment].” It had a small opening just enough for one person to back into. There was an anecdote that pilgrims who are sinners cannot enter this cave no matter how much they try. Gloria advised us to "Leave everything behind so as not to be carrying much once you are inside."

As we entered, we brought lighted candles, not for any religious reason but simply because it was totally dark inside. Aside from my T-shirt and short pants, the only thing I did not leave was my pair of eyeglasses, fearing that my sight could be distorted if I didn't have them. When it was my turn to enter, I did it very cautiously while showing Terry, my wife, how to do it. It was difficult to find any foothold for my feet to help me move forward from my awkward position. A guide held my left foot, cautioning me to be very careful, or I might fall directly into a deep pit should I make the wrong move.

Entering the cave was like being born, as there was no way I could return to the entrance. I thought that was the only problem. I learned too late that I was inside a long, dark, narrow cave (tunnel) about 20 to 30 meters in length just big enough for my body to make slight movements. Some portions were slippery and surrounded by sharp, protruding stones. I had to slither and contort my body like a snake to come out unhurt.

The scientist in me feared that the lack of oxygen and the emission of carbon dioxide from the many burning candles could cause all of us inside to suffocate. At a spot enough for two persons to stand, I met the 11-year-old son of Dennis and Gloria who said he could not make it anymore. I assured him that he could easily make it, as it was doubly difficult to return. That boy's lamentation horrified my wife who thought she too couldn't move any further. I encouraged her to think positively and be inspired by Linda who had gone ahead. I then suggested to the two discouraged crawlers to allow me to go ahead and just follow me.

In a part of the cave where the opening was big enough, I couldn't find anything to hold my feet so I could move forward. I was in this predicament when the candle I was holding fell down. In moments like this, faith in oneself and, most of all, faith in God, plus a little resourcefulness can help keep one's head. I asked Terry to push my bottom so my arms would be free enough to thrust my whole body forward. It worked. I made it. Then I suggested to my wife to request the boy behind her to do the same and so on.

I caught myself regretting and almost blaming myself for being so stupid a to put myself in such a situation but finally after the terribly difficult obstacle course, the sense of achievement was simply exhilarating. I never felt so fulfilled in all my life.

The Cueva de Jusgado was very symbolic of life, for in life there are many obstacles and ignoring them won't solve the problem. One must think be confident, have faith in oneself and in God, be resourceful and continue moving forward to be triumphant. Our group, around 30 in all, was victorious as we all passed the obstacle course with flying colors.

I thought that was the end of the trail. I was about to send a cellular-phone text message my friends to brag of my achievement when Gloria announced that we would now proceed to the “Kalbaryo [Calvary].” We started a seemingly endless uphill climb over big stones and boulders following a most uneven arrangement of steps. A simple loss of balance or a wrong move could spell disaster. This time, Bert Noche was our guide. Thank God it, was a bit cloudy and not so hot at 10 a.m. Thank God, I did not get leg cramps.

Somewhere we passed by the “Kweba ni Santo Niño [Cave of the Holy Child]” with the image of the Child Jesus there surrounded by lighted candles. After a short prayer we continued our climb with candy in the mouth and taking sips of water every now and then.

At 11 a.m., panting and sweating, we reached the “Tuktuk ng Kalbaryo [Peak of Calvary].” I thought that was the summit of Mount Banahaw until Bert explained to me that we were only at the topmost part of the foot of the Mystical Mountain.

There was one big, wooden cross and two small ones on each side. From there we could see the real Mount Banahaw in front. We were all tired and our muscles ached. But to be on this site (especially because it was during Lent when we went to Mount Banahaw) was not only a personal achievement, it was a sacrifice that we offered to Jesus as a humble gesture of our faith.

Mount Banahaw, I learned, was composed of several mountains about 7,000 feet above sea level, occupying part of the province of Laguna and part of Quezon province. My experience was something to remember for a long, long time. I am optimistic that I will still have another chance to return to Mount Banahaw. I'll visit other important spots such as “Batang Kiling,” “Kweba ng Dolorosa [Cave of Suffering],” “Kweba ng Virgen de la Paz [Cave of the Virgin of Peace],” “Kweba ng Inang Santisima Kasama ang Tubig ng Santisima [Cave of the Holy Mother with Holy Water],” “Kweba ng Nazareno [Cave of the Nazarene],” “Palasyo ni Moses [Palace of Moses],” “Kweba ni Santa Agnes [Cave of Saint Agnes],” “Kweba ni San Isidro,” “Ang Ilog Jordan (Ang Pansol sa Ama at Pansol sa Ina) [The River Jordan (Spring of the Father and Spring of the Mother)],” “Ang Kinabuhayan [The Resurrection],” “Ang Kweba ng Koronang Bato {The Cave of the Stone Crown]” and many others.
Jett E. Aviñante is in his 60s and a retired medical practitioner.
©2003 all rights reserved

Beginning April 5 2004, and covering the next five years,
Mount BANAHAW will be off limits to visitors

Sunday, March 28, 2004
Mount Banahaw

MYSTICISM, religion and romance shroud Mount Banahaw. The scenic mountain and popular tourist spot in the province of Quezon is said to be the home of ancient spirits and a shrine for supernatural power.

For these reasons, numerous religious cults believe Mount Banahaw to be sacred, where devotees must go to make their yearly pilgrimages and celebrate their rituals. Some even have settled down at the foothills of the mountain to commune continually with their gods.

Over the years, however, tourists and devotees alike have inflicted much damage on Mount Banahaw’s pristine surroundings. Owing to neglect and carelessness, heaps of garbage littered the area, according to the Lucena Protected Area Management Board.

The municipal watchdog tasked to protect the mountain’s environmental health disclosed that nearly half a million tourists and devotees annually climb Mount Banahaw, during the Holy Week and two weeks before Lent.

We can only guess at the amount of damage these visits have wreaked on the mountain. Moreover, since some cultists have settled on its footsteps, we can surmise that part of their food and water comes from the mountain’s plants and wildlife. This, too, can upset its ecological balance.

Preserving Mount Banahaw has gained paramount importance, since it is the largest watershed in Southern Tagalog and a magnet for tourism. A member of the board, Manny Calbayog, also Lucena’s municipal and natural resources officer, has disclosed that the towns around the mountain have started to experience a decrease in their water supply—no doubt as a result of the harm done to Banahaw over a long period of time.

We commend the move to save Mount Banahaw from further deterioration by imposing a five-year ban on tourists and religious devotees who would trample all over the place.

Beginning April 5, and covering the next five years, the mountain will be off limits to visitors, except for certain assigned areas at its foot where worshipers can do their annual rituals. April 5 marks the start of Holy Week,

Expecting a howl of protest from faithful and wayward pilgrims, Calbayog noted that “only two out of ten climbers are real devotees.” If they were really God-fearing Christians, would they leave garbage in their church? Indeed, would a devout Catholic leave bubble-gum wrappers inside the Saint Peter’s Basilica?

He has observed that garbage left by “devotees” after Holy Week included sleazy magazines, playing cards and empty liquor bottles. These are hardly the things you’d expect from people who go to Mount Banahaw to nourish their soul and spirit.

The moratorium on the beautiful mountain, harsh as it may seem, is very necessary. Given the mountain’s historic and cultural niche, the government must act to protect it. The ban could have been prevented, of course, had those who frequently go there obeyed the old saying: “Cleanliness is next to godliness.”


Malapascua Island 

Mount Banahaw, Luzon, Philippines

Visayan Sea, Cebu, Philippines,

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