So, a week after My First Solo Hike in Mt. Balagbag, it seemed like I inspired my siblings to go for a day out. My sister asked me how to get to one of Bulacan’s historical mountains. Then after a couple of days, my brother’s family wanted to come along. Since I’ve been planning to have a photo shoot with my niece as my model, I thought that would be a great venue, so I planned the whole trip right away.
Biak-Na-Bato National Park is one of the historical places in Bulacan. however, that’s not the place that I wanted to visit. There’s a place called Banal Na Bundok (Holy Mountain), and it’s just a couple of kilometers away from the national park. So, I did some research about how to get to these places by commuting. I’ve been in Biak-Na-Bato a few times when I was a teen, but I went there with my friends, and we rented a jeepney for the whole group.
We left our town early in the morning as it will take more than two hours for us to reach the area. It was Saturday, and I expected that there’s no traffic on this journey. And I was right! We arrived in the town proper of San Miguel around 9:30 a.m. From the bus stop; we needed to ride a tricycle to get to the Banal Na Bundok. It will take almost an hour of travel to get there so we made a deal with the tricycle driver whom we paid Php250. We were five adults and one kid, and we had to fit in one tiny tricycle. We were on a tight budget, so we had to squeeze ourselves inside just not to hire another tricycle worth Php250!
And so, after (more or less) an hour, we arrived at our first location. Banal Na Bundok is a very solemn place. Huge statues of angels and saints welcomed us as we get there. There were steps going up on a hill and on your way there, you’ll see massive statues of the station of the Cross of Jesus Christ. (I know not everyone is aware of the “Station of the Cross” of the Catholics, and I won’t discuss more religious aspects on this post, so please feel free to do a research about it if you’re interested). on top of the hill, there were tiny chapels. But what’s amazing being on top? It is the view of a special mountain from afar!
This mountain is extraordinary! Though it will need your imagination to appreciate it more. The mountain in the shape of Jesus Christ lying on his back. you would see the shape of his face; the forehead, nose, and lips. This mountain is a part of the longest mountain in the Philippines, which is the Sierra Madre. The place was so green during that time, and we felt the serenity in the place because we were the only visitors during that time. However, this place is expected to be crowded during the Lent season where devotees gather around and commemorate the death of Christ.
Aside from the magnificent view from the top, there’s also a grotto downhill. The place was enclosed with bricks and has opened chambers. Each room has a statue of Mary, the mother of Jesus; some were life-sized, and some were small. There was also an altar of the Black Nazarene in one part. We did not stay there for too long as we needed to go to the national park for lunch.
Then, we headed to the national park because we were starting to get a bit hungry. Here’s a reminder: bring your own packed lunch. we were expecting that there will be carinderias (local eatery) around the area. Unfortunately, there were none of them that sells viands. Gladly, we brought our own rice and canned tuna, so we made it for lunch. We brought bread and sandwich spread, some chips and candies, and our drinking water, too. Literally, we went there for a picnic and not a hike!
Biak-Na-Bato is more that three kilometers away from Banal Na Bundok, so it was only a short trip for us (good Lord, my legs were cramped from sitting inside the tricycle!). As we reached the national park, we had to register and paid the entrance fee of Php30 for each adult and Php20 for my niece. We also needed to pay for our tour guide as this national park requires a guide when roaming around the area. This place is protected and preserved that’s why it is a requirement. Honestly, during my time of actively hiking in the area, we were not required to have guides if we don’t plan to get inside the caves. Yes, caves! There are tons of caves around this mountain; some of them are accessible and some of them are not.
I asked one guide why was it called such a name (Biak or Biyak is a Filipino word which means cracked or cut, and Bato means rock or stone). So, I asked the tour guide if there’s really a cracked rock! Apparently, the name was from the massive rocks that could be seen along the river that was caused by landslides. The lady (I forgot her name) told us that the river was the result of the earthquakes thousand years ago. In addition, I found out, that some rocks and walls of the caves (aside from the stalactites and stalagmites) were fossilized corals. The place used to be under the sea millions of years ago! (This information was told by another tour guide when I went back there with my husband on our honeymoon week).
Why is it historical? the caves of Biak-Na-Bato was used by revolutionaries, led by Emilio Aguinaldo, as their hide out during the Spanish era. The said leader made one of these caves as his office while negotiating with the Spanish government. Later on, a peace treaty was signed by Fernando Primo de Rivera (the Spanish Governor-General) and General Aguinaldo. the Pact of Biak-Na-Bato was an agreement that the Philippine revolution was ended.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, there are loads of caves in the area and only a few of them are accessible to the public. They have different names like the Paniki (Bat) Cave, where you’ll see a lot of, of course, bats once you enter the cave with a very high ceiling. There is also a cave called Kuarto-Kuarto (rooms) Cave.
Aside from the caves, you will also have a chance to take a dip into the inviting river. The water is cool and clean. in fact, you will see women washing their clothes there! Also, the flora and fauna of the area are exactly spectacular! Butterflies and dragonflies were flying around the wilderness. I’ve seen two varieties of dragonflies there, one, which was marooned or dark-red color, and during my next visit with my husband, blue-tailed ones were playing with us! After our lunch, I headed to the waters with my niece and brother. After a few shots, it was my sister and brother-in-law’s turn. My niece enjoyed the water so much that she wouldn’t want to leave the place. But of course, we needed to return home earlier as it was a long journey.
How to get there:
If you will be coming from Manila, ride a bus going to Cabanatuan. Get off the bus once you reach Camias bus stop in San Miguel, Bulacan. There are tricycles terminal and tell them to bring you to Banal Na Bundok in Sibul. If you plan to go to Biak-Na-Bato as well, you might want to have a deal with the tricycle driver to bring you there, too. Vehicles and tricycles are rare.
If you plan to go straight to Biak-Na-Bato, you can just tell the tricycle driver to bring you straight there.
Fees in Biak-Na-Bato:
Adults: Php30-50 (I can’t remember exactly)
Students: Php20 (bring school I.D.)
Tour Guides: regularly fee is Php350 but it depends on whereabouts in the national park you’re going
Cottage Fee: Php 50-150, it depends on where the location is.
Toilets: Php5, you’ll pay to your tour guide.