04 June 2007

Kinabuhayan: an afternoon of hushed wonder

Kinabuhayan is located in Dolores Quezon, at the foot of Mt. Banahaw. It is in this area that supernatural powers are at work. Stories of apparitions of saints, ghosts, mystical creatures, and even our local national heroes (like Dr. Jose Rizal) dwell and make themselves felt are widely spread. Many attest to feeling its aura. Indeed, the place is considered holy (and Banahaw is known as the New Jerusalem too; it is said that because of the unrest going on in the Middle East in the distant past, the four archangels uprooted the Holy Land and transferred it to the place we now know as Banahaw). Many religious groups take peaceful refuge in the area, the majority with mystic origins.

My officemates and friends planned this trip because they were enthralled to see my photos of Kubli and articles from other blogs enthusiastically narrating their wonderful experience there. All the plans were a bit sketchy up to the day before the trek. I so wanted to invite other friends too like the couple Donna and Bebert and a commenter in my Daraitan post but it was way too close to the scheduled trip to make announcements already (sorry po!)

At any rate, we were spent the Saturday afternoon at Kinabuhayan. This place offered a lot of sites to explore. For our part, we chose the nearby areas so we can visit nearby Sta. Lucia later in the day.

A hired jeepney took us to a bustling town in Kinabuhayan. I was quite surprised to find a community so far up the mountain. A leisurely walk led us to the place called Bakas ni Jesus (Jesus' footprint) residing in a quiet stream. We gazed at the crystal clear water before us. Coins thrown in by wishers scattered the bottom. But what was it we were trying to look at? The guide then pointed out what appeared to be a footprint on the solid rock. We gaped, amazed at what we saw.

Further off, we visited a shrine within a cave. We were to go in the cave and exit at an opening located nearby. The guide told us to respect the place and not make any unnecessary noise. If we were to bump our heads, it is best to silently endure the pain and take it as part of our act of contrition.

Before entering the mouth of the cave, we lit candles. Images of Jesus Christ and Mary adorn the entrance of the tunnel. To the right was another section of the cave, where a woman with a veil and her back to us sat on the ground, meditating in front of an image of the Virgin Mary.

I was wondering what he meant by us bumping our heads, when he pointed to the small opening to our right. You had to stoop real low to enter. With lighted candles in tow, we fell in line and groped about the cave.

If you were claustrophobic, this place would be the last place you would want to be in. We had to "walk" about with knees bent most of the time. The longer you stayed, the more you wondered how further off the exit was. I felt a couple of bats fly past us.

Soon, we reached the exit, stepped onto the crystal clear water, and waded back to the entrance where were alighted the stairs once more and left our candles by the altar.
It was my first time to go through a small cave. Really different experience. We compared how many bumps in the head we got while climbing through. The guide then later explained that if you received one too many bumps, you may be "makasalanan" (sinful). Hmmm... That abruptly ceased the counting of head bumps. :-)

We went back to the route we took earlier, taking us back to the footprint. The guide asked us to try tasting the water underneath the rock. It tasted like soda water. Each of us took turns cupping out the water with our hands and taking a drink. It was refreshing.
There were other places worth visiting in the area but with it needed more time and planning. It was best to camp at Kinabuhayan so there will be more time for trekking; I do hope we can visit again.
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