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Trekking and caving adventure in Mt. Banahaw
Source: Manila Bulletin
Author: None
Date: 2004-03-01
In the world of sports, there are competitive sports, with which people are more familiar, but there are also those events with no formal competition but are considered sports in every sense, we refer to mountain climbing and spelunking or caving.

And ever since we got the opportunity to go up to mystical Mt. Banahaw in Quezon in the early 90s on a nature awareness workshop conducted by psychic and Banahaw convert Frank Regis, it has been this writer’s dream to bring the family to a nature adventure trip there, and the fact is the family has been there twice in the past.

But it was just recently that the kids, Jemi, 11, Janis, 19, and Jay-Em 20, together with the missus that they experienced something beyond mere trekking in the Kinabuhayan complex of the sacred mountain where the belief of local folks is that the Holy Land was spiritually transferred to Mt. Banahaw.

If in the past we made the trip together with Regis and we stayed at the resthouse of Maria Montelibano, another Banahaw convert, this time, our family did it on our own as Regis was out of town, but he arranged the stay at the resthouse of Boy Fajardo, another psychic who recharges in the mountain regularly.

Better to take a van or a 4-wheel-drive vehicle because of some rough roads in the interior but in our case, the Toyota family car sufficed and we left early Saturday morning, passing SLEX, Sto. Tomas and San Pablo where we made a turn going to Dolores, passing the Bato Resort, from Dolores. Sta. Lucia is just a stone’s throw.

After settling down, the first in the itinerary was the Sta. Lucia Falls. Here, one has to go down a very steep man-made 247-step stairs before reaching the natural pool and the small twin falls of Buhok ng Mahal na Ina at Buhok ng Mahal na Ama where one has to stay under the water at least for a few seconds. For first timers, one has to take a dip three times in the pool where the water is always cold.

From there, it was a short trek to the Kweba ni San Jacob, featuring an underground cave with a river. The kids, together with local guide Arnel, went down and experienced what cold water is, dipping themselves three times into the river while hanging on to a steel ladder. For me, that was the coldest water we have ever felt and the kids were all breathing steam afterwards.

A bit further was the Husgado, a more challenging caving experience where one’s faith is supposedly tested to the limit. But when one completes it, his sins for the last five years are supposedly forgiven.

Again, it is an underground cave with a small opening. Inside, one has to crawl, squirm and squeeze himself to follow the winding one-man path inside, all the time the light just coming from small candles courtesy of the guide. Stories we have heard about this cave include people who panicked, got stuck and had to be rescued, but personally, we have seen a 180-pound guy made the trip.

Then we made our way to the big Balete tree, supposedly the kingdom of dwarves and fairies. And believe it or not, in our earlier trip to the place, we had a photo of an elf on top of the tree looking down on us and several strange looking faces all over the tree. Regis said these are elementals.

Before nightfall though, the family was back in the house waiting for the night skies to clear for star watching and hoping to see UFOs the same way we did last year. Banahaw is a place said to be regularly visited by UFOs. Unfortunately, the skies were cloudy this time and the stars could hardly be seen. Much more the elusive UFOs.

The following day started with a three-kilometer trek uphill most of the way, going to the Kinabuhayan complex.

This is where a natural rock formation is found, at the bottom of a clear stream. This, they claim is the footprint of Jesus Christ. Well, it does look like a footprint at a certain angle.

From there, the family followed the stream’s trail, passing over the rocks, on the way to the Santos Collegios, a natural pool with waterfalls. We passed several pwestos or scared spots, including the Templo ng Eden, a relatively big man-enhanced cave with a lot of icons inside. There was a small cave inside and we passed through it, squatting and crawling most of the time, and felt like a lifetime while doing it. When we got out, we were suprised to learn that it was only a short distance from where we entered.

Finally, we reached our destination where we took a dip in the cold waters. By the way, there is a mini waterfalls nearby where one person can fit snugly behind the falls but passing through the cold waters first.

Unfortunately, Janis had an exam in school the following day and the trekkling and caving adventure had to be cut short since there are still so many sights to see and experiences to go through in Mt. Banahaw.

Maybe next time, the family should go all the way up to the crater of the dormant volcano where instead of a lake like in Mt. Pinatubo, there is a forest inside the mountain with a lot of strange sights to see, according to our guide.

Now, wouldn’t that be something?

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