Ginger Paws Outdoors

A Siblings’ Day Out: San Miguel, Bulacan, Philippines

San Miguel, Bulacan

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.

Surio family

On our way to San Miguel.

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 Biak-na-Batovery 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!

 

Banal na Bundok

An angel welcomed us in Banal na Bundok

Banal na Bundok

Steps going up the hill

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.

Banal na Bundok

One of the chapels on the hill

Banal na Bundok

Just use your imagination… can you see a Jesus Christ lying on his back?

Banal na Bundok

Another chapel on the hill

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.

Banal na Bundok

The first chamber in the Grotto

Banal na Bundok

Another chamber in the Grotto

Banal na Bundok

A nice little pond at the end of Grotto

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 National Park

Entrance to Biak-na-Bato National Park

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.

Biak-na-Bato

Biak-na-Bato

The hanging bridge

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).

Biak-na-Bato

The river of Biak-na-Bato

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.

Biak-na-Bato

Inside the Paniki (Bat) 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-tailedΒ 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.

Biak-na-Bato

One of the dragonfly species you’ll find in Biak-na-Bato

Biak-na-Bato

The maroon dragonfly

Biak-na-Bato

A lovely butterfly of Biak-na-Bato

Biak-na-Bato

One of Biak-na-Bato’s flora

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.

Biak-na-Bato

Don’t forget to buy souvenirs before you leave

Fees in Biak-Na-Bato:
Entrance Fee:
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.

Biak-na-Bato

About Gracie Gill

A hobbyist photographer enjoying her life through arts, music, traveling and getting fit. A proud crazy cat lady.

45 thoughts on “A Siblings’ Day Out: San Miguel, Bulacan, Philippines

  1. Only By Land

    Your photos are pretty unique, did you take these with a GoPro? I’m impressed with your solo travels, you’ve even found fans to travel with you! The hour trike ride to Banal Na Bundok for 250 pesos was a great deal!

    1. Gracie Gill Post author

      Thank you! Some of the photos were shot from my action camera SJCAM5000 wifi which is cheaper than GoPro, I was too lazy to take my bulky camera out of my bag, lol. But some of them I took with my DSLR. πŸ™‚

  2. Zinara

    Day trips are so much fun and that’s so great you did it in a small budget! It’s so awesome that we can take a dip in the river there.Your photos look like they’ve taken from a go pro – they are beautiful.

  3. Judy

    wow, a mountain shaped like Jesus on his back? Almost makes you wish you had a drone that could capture what that looks like from way up high! Very detailed and helpful guide, bookmarking this for when I visit, this looks pretty fascinating.

  4. carlinn meyer

    I love going hiking, its always a fun day out especially if you do it picnic style. The spots you saw look gorgeous! My boyfriend would go absolutely crazy over the caves, he always goes cave hunting on the mountains near us! πŸ˜›

    1. Gracie Gill Post author

      You should visit Philippines in the future, we’ve got loads of caves here. This National Park has hundreds and some of them are opened to the public, and they have history as well 😊

  5. Kristine AARSHEIM

    Your photos are amazing! Sounds like you had a fun day visiting the Holy Mountain and the National Park πŸ™‚ I’d love to visit the Philippines one day. It’s such a diverse and beautiful country.

  6. The Travel Ninjas

    What a beautiful and little-known area. It has some peaceful natural beauty and some interesting local culture. It seems like a real local secret that most of us foreign visitors would never know about, if you didn’t share it. Thanks for introducing it.

  7. SindhuMurthy

    San Miguel seems like an amazing place for nature lovers. Your pictures make the place look all the more beautiful. A day outing with cousins is always a wonderful experience and the destination would have upped the ante of your trip. were you able to do the photo session with your niece? I would have loved to see some of those pics πŸ™‚

  8. Ticking the Bucketlist

    It is so much fun to go on a short hike as a day trip…a getaway from the usual hustle bustle of the city. I loved the insect and butterfly shots..what colours! I never knew about San Miguel until I read your post…thanks for sharing!

  9. ChloΓ©

    This looks like such a fun way to spend a day with family! I love going on a good adventure. I will always choose creating a memory over simply hanging out and relaxing!

  10. Bridget

    Wow, such a beautiful place! I love hiking and am always looking for new places to explore that is outside of the U.S. I will definitely be adding this one to my list!

  11. Deanna

    What an incredible adventure. I bet it was great to share it with siblings. I would love to go see the stations of the cross.

  12. Suzanne

    Thank you for sharing this unique hiking post about the Phillippines. I would definitely do this pilgrimage. I am also pinning this for future reference.

  13. Rhiannon

    Looking at your photos this is the absolutely perfect setting for your photoshoot! Hope it went well πŸ™‚ It’s lovely that all your siblings went on this trip together – I’d like to persuade my brother and sister to come on an outing with me one day, even just to a local mountain or nature reserve, but I’m sure they’ll need a lot of persuasion!

  14. Vibeke Johannessen

    This looks so beautiful πŸ™‚ Must have been a wonderful experience. Love the photos. It looks so peaceful πŸ˜€ I have always wanted to go to The Philippines, do you know when it is best to go there?

    1. Gracie Gill Post author

      Hi Vibeke, I’d say last week of February until second week of May are the best times. February because it is almost summer but there’s not much people in the beaches and tourist places, March to April is the peak time of summer and definitely no typhoons! Hope you can visit someday!

  15. Leticia

    Really looks amazing and looks like your having so much fun, the hike looks good too. I’m loving your photos especially of the flowers and nature ☺️ Great post!

  16. Ivy

    Sounds like you had an amazing time with your brother’s family! Exploring the caves must be awesome. I think the best part is taking a dip in the river after the hike!

  17. Krysten

    I’ve never been the Philippines before, but I have always wanted to go. I love doing day trips, especially on a budget. I feel like you think more about what you’re doing when you’re trying to travel on a budget and it means you do what you really really want to do.

  18. David Elliott

    I love all of the statues you have in the pictures. Looks like it was an amazing time. You have such an eye for photography. I can only dream of feeling like I have that kind of an eye.

  19. Sara Essop

    This looks like a great place for a hike and it’s a fun family outing too. (I can’t believe you all fitted on the tricycle). I’d be a bit scared of the bats in the caves though, haha.

  20. Vicki Louise

    This looks like a great day trip – and good for you for inspiring your siblings to get outside and join you on your travels too. And I can’t believe all of you fit onto the tricycle!

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