As part of our course in the Life and Story of Jose Rizal, our class was given the chance to have an educational trip on Mt. Banahaw in the Quezon province. Of course, I chose to come in replacement of submitting a paper. Also, I was eager to capture new photos to keep my Flickr account alive.
All of Dr. Siao Campoamor’s classes, togther with Dr. Nilo Ocampo’s, set out from Cubao in the morning of September 5. After three hours, we reached the Filipino Spiritual Catholic Church, Santoyo Compound. There we received warm welcome from the residents of the area, especially from the owner of the inn we stayed in.
I thought first that the residents idolize Rizal just because he died for his country’s sake, but I was totally wrong. Rizal was part of their religions. I observed many groups that have their way of venerating our national hero. Some even told me that Rizal is Asia’s Jesus Christ.
We were immersed into their religious and cultural practices such as writing our names on a stone that shows a semblance of a book and on a piece of paper and burning the it afterwards. Prayers were said and candles were lit in these places: Ciudad Mistica de Dios, Talon ni Sta. Lucia, Prisintahan-Kuweba ni Sto. Jacob-San Isidro, Sinco Vucales Siete Virtudes Tierra Santa de Jerusalem, Husgado, Kalbaryo, Tres Persona Solo Dios, and Santos Kolehiyo.
Personally, I didn’t consider it a pilgrimage. As much a possible, I made myself an independent visitor, who pulls out commitment when he is immersed into the groups’ practices, in order to carry out the purpose of the trip: to know more about Rizal.
So, what I did was to observe how these groups run their church tied with their belief that Rizal was a savior. The Mistica group believes that God transferred a mountain from Jerusalem to Quezon, and this is what we know as Mt. Banahaw. Many sign boards even tell that the place is the new Jerusalem.
My favorite part of the trip was going through Husgado. It is a narrow spaced cave that is believed to judge someone who enters if he is a grave sinner by receiving wounds before he comes out.
The most tiring part was the Kalbaryo where we had to reach the summit with three standing crosses. People say it is end of the spiritual journey where man can communicate with God to acheive spiritualism.
In the evening of September 6, we bid farewell to the residents of Banahaw. Really, it was one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had.