July 12, 2015

Looking For Bernardo Carpio (Mt Binacayan)

Upon arriving at Brgy. Wawa, I was fascinated by the wide horizon which was further distinguished by the mountains. This is it - the setting of the Filipino folklore, Bernardo Carpio!

Bernardo Carpio is the bravest, strongest man that lived in San Mateo, Rizal. He left his parents, and lived in the mountains so he wouldn't be a burden to anyone. One day, an enchanted man Bernardo defeated sometime ago came to him to make amends. The enchanted man invited Bernardo to his place, and then trapped him inside. Legend  has it that whenever there were earthquakes, it was Bernardo trying to break free (Incidentally, Montalban Rizal is part of the West Valley Fault.)

This is one version of the tale, others say that he is preventing the 2 mountains from colliding with each other, or it was the Spanish troops that trapped him with the help of a shaman, etc. No matter the back story, three things are similar. (1) The hero was trapped. (2) Someone trapped him there. (3) He struggled to free himself causing earthquakes in the making.

The Two Mountains

I like the version wherein Bernardo was a Katipunero, and he led the fight against the Spaniards. I imagined our ancestors telling this tale to their children, giving them hope that someday Bernardo will break free and save them from the oppressors. Such helpless people waiting to be saved by someone who needs saving himself.

I always wondered why (in the continuing stories) no one helped him out. I would have made a story like that, it would be Bonifacio. 

Summit of Mt. Binacayan - one of the mountains in the area | (c) Jirah

Bonifacio and his soldiers retreated to Montalban after failing to seize San Juan Del Monte. While searching for a good hideout, he chanced upon a dead Bernardo. Bonifacio's spirits were initially crushed, yet he still manage to lead the first significant victory of our Revolutionary army versus the colonial forces - no superpower required, just the same genetic make up each of us are already made of.

No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.

I finished the story in my head while passing by the slippery and muddy soil, and then climbing rock formations after rock formations. Since the mountain was newly opened to the public, the trail wasn't that established yet.

Jirah and friends

Summit - Mt Binacayan | (c) Jirah

This is definitely one of my favorite trails so far, because of the mix of rock climbing, trekking, and  folklore. And because it was only a quick hike too. Too bad we weren't able to explore the Pamitinan cave (where Bernardo was trapped) since the weather wasn't that good, and we were worried of getting trapped inside if the water suddenly rises. After all, I don't want to be reduced as the next character in some urban legend. My story is yet to be told.

Edit as of Jan 9, 2016

Went back here to do Pamitinan and Hapunang Banoi dayhike. There's a junction between each other which is also a resting area for the hikers. Served as my first climb for "Oplan Balik Loob sa Kabundukan 2016" since Binacayan has been my last climb -more than half a year already! My lifestyle has been sedentary and I've managed to neglect my general well being on the last months of 2015. Anywaaaayy.... back to Pami-Banoi

Lots of hikers now in this area. Rock formations still as mesmerizing (and sharp) as ever. Scenic views all around. Pami cave still closed. Wawa river now clear (yay no rain!)

Mt Pamitinan Summit

Mt Hapunang Banoi

Mt Pamitinan

See you around!

Expenses & Getting There 

Update as of Jan 9, 2016 - There will be fixed fees starting Feb 2016 and guide fee will be min of P500 for one mountain. If doing twin hikes, trilogy, penta - discuss the rate with the guide first to manage expectations :)

1. FX from Farmer's Cubao to Montalban (50php)
2. Tricycle to Brgy, Wawa (20php each)
3. Registration (5php)
4. Donation (50php/group)
5. Guide (400php/group)

Some Notes

1. There are no water source in the mountain so bring lots of fluids.
2. There are parts with lots of mosquitoes so put on anti mosquito lotion. 
3. Wear thick shorts/pants and gloves as the rocks are sharp and jagged.
4. There aren't suitable campsites near the summit


  1. I agree. No one saves us but ourselves. Kasi naman si Bernardo Carpio nagpauto pa dun sa enchanted man kaya ayun natrap tuloy siya. Hahaha!

    This place is so familiar to me kasi dito kami nagso-shoot ng mga music videos and projects namin nung college and that was a loong time ago. But never had a chance to climb Mt. Binacayan. Mukhang ok bumalik dyan.

    And naku ingat sa pageexplore ng river, when we were there biglang lumakas ang ulan muntik na kaming anurin lahat ng ilog. Delikado, buti naman nabuhay pa kami hehe Thanks sa post Arlet. Would really want to explore Wawa and Mt. Binacayan. 

    1. Hahaha nakakamiss yung mga musiiiicc videoooss nung college!! (whoa kala mo classmate tayo e no.) Shet, nakakatakot naman yung sa river. I want to know more about that next time we meet!


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