Known for its healing powers due to the wealth of medicinal plants that can be found at the Mt. Banahaw-San Cristobal Protected Landscape (MBSCPL), the site is an open secret for outdoor enthusiasts, scientists and tourists with an appreciation for the beauty of nature.
The almost 11,000-hectare MBSCPL rings through the Municipalities of Lucban, Tayabas, Sariaya, Candelaria and Dolores, all in the province of Quezon, and in the Municipalities of Rizal, Nagcarlan, Liliw, Majayjay and San Pablo City, all in the province of Laguna and is home to 358 species of trees, 19 species of vines, 15 species of palms, 39 species of ferns, 15 species of grasses and 42 species of fungi as well as 93 species of birds, eight of them endangered and over 20 classified as rare.
There are also 68 species of mammals -- Southern Luzon giant cloud rat, Philippine warty pig, Malay civet, Common Palm civet, Lowland forest mouse, Common short-nosed fruit bat, Philippine forest roundleaf bat and Banahaw gulantang -- 38 species of reptiles in the area, 43 species of amphibians, 188 species of insects and 76 species of butterflies – the number so staggering that a study was concentrated in Mt. Banahaw de Lucban yielding scientific breakthroughs in the search for endemic and endangered species.
The Park is classified as “Very High” priority for biodiversity conservation based on the results of the National Biodiversity Conservation Priority Setting Project jointly undertaken by the DENR-PAWB, UP Center for Integrative and Development Studies, and Conservation International-Philippines. It is also identified as one of the Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA) of the Philippines.
MBSCPL is blessed with abundant water, thus, it is called “Vulcan de Agua” Seven rivers traverse the park, namely: Talong Ambon, Balayong, Maimpis, Dalitiwan, Malinao, Nagcarlan and San Diego. This river system directly provides water for domestic, irrigation and recreational purposes. Aside from these, some river systems are believed to have medicinal value. An example is the Kinabuhayan River in Dolores, Quezon which is believed to have “healing power”. People from all walks of life take a dip into the water of Kinabuhayan with the belief that their illnesses will be cured. Even the katipuneros in Banahaw cleansed themselves in the waters of Kinabuhayan before going into major battles.
Aside from rivers, Mt. Banahaw is also rich with waterfalls. Sta. Lucia, Suplina and Kristallino falls are all found in Dolores, Quezon. These are believed to have medicinal values. Pilgrims and devotees take a shower on these falls especially during Holy Week. In the crater of Mt. Banahaw, several falls could also be found. The most famous of which is “Talong Ambon” visited by pilgrims even during ordinary days.
There are many natural attractions and religious sites in MBSCPL including:
Balon ni Santong Jacob
Balon Ni Santong Jacob is a secret well that is famous for its healing waters. This is named after the well of Jacob mentioned in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.
The Prisentahan is a place where the devotees introduce themselves to Saints Peter and Paul inside the twin caves at the bottom of a pit about seven feet deep. Entrance and exit are provided via an iron ladder that has been permanently installed to facilitate the pilgrims going in and out of the twin grottos. Accordingly, the twin caves are named after the two pillars of the Catholic Church, Saints Peter and Paul.
Kuweba ng Inang Awa
The Kuweba ng Inang Awa is a cave which is considered as the mystical or spiritual center of Banahaw. Visitors offer lighted candles and prayers to the Ina inside the cave. The massive overhanging rock at its opening has withstood the test of time, including the 1990 earthquake.
The rocks at the pool of “Yapak” or footprint of Jesus are bedecked with fresh and wilted flowers and candles that have been lit and relit by visitors who also throw coins into the pool and make their wishes.
The Pinaggapusan is believed to be the place where Christ was bound and scourged. It is a giant rectangular - shaped rock, lodged in the dry riverbed, bearing the imprint of four perfectly parallel lines of rope, which supposedly tied Jesus to the rock, together with the imprint of a horse’s hoof which is said to have missed hitting the body of Jesus.
The Pinagburulan is a cave, which is believed to have been the burial place of Jesus after the Crucifixion.
Suplinang Tubig is a waterfall which is more than a hundred feet high, dropping as long strands of water. Below the falls is a natural rock platform like a sacrificial altar where one’s whole body can lie flat under the falling waters.
Kuweba ng Dios Ama
The Kuweba ng Kapangyarihan o Dios Ama is a natural cathedral which is half-way to the summit of Banahaw. It has one hundred feet tall cave entrance decorated and festooned with giant hairy ferns, overgrown moss of all shapes and colors and overhanging orchids. It is a very shallow cave whose opening is both wide and very high. The natural floor or platform is narrow, about eight feet from the cave walls. At the center is a sculptured rock, and before it is a wooden cross.
The falls is approximately 50 feet high. The strong gush of the falls is an inviting scene for swimmers.
It is famous for its clear and cool flowing water ideal for swimming. Its undisturbed scenery makes it also a very ideal place for relaxing while exploring the hidden bounty of nature.
The falls is approximately 50 feet high. The splendid view of the falls and the rock wall on its side and its cool mist make the visit a worthwhile experience. However, the trail and steps can be very slippery during rainy season.
Hermano Puli Shrine
The Hermano Puli Shrine is the shrine of the first Filipino crusader, Apolinario dela Cruz, of religious freedom, perished in the finest tradition of martyrdom for a noble cause. For all his magnificent services and sacrifices for the God-given right every man to worship Him according to one’s conscience.
The Kilangin Falls lies within the foot of MBSCPL. The waterfalls flows through the Manipis River, traversing thru the town of Liliw, Laguna. Compared to nearby municipalities, the town of Liliw had established local entrepreneurship by developing locally made slippers and handicrafts aside from the growing agricultural potentials within the surroundings of Kilangin
Enhancement measures are being undertaken in terms of visitors’ management including interpretive and education services, safety measures and guiding schemes. Barangay Taytay, Majayjay, Laguna has been developed into an ecotourism destination.GETTING THERE
The protected area is about 120 kilometers southeast of Manila. It is accessible by any type of vehicle.
For the Laguna side, the route leading to the peak is through Barangay Novaliches in Liliw, Laguna which is about five (5) kilometers from So. Malasinia in Rizal, Laguna.
From the Quezon side, the Park is accessible via Kinabuhayan in Dolores, Quezon. The Park could also be reached via San Pablo City, Lucena City and Sta. Cruz, Laguna.
Reynulfo A. Juan – Regional Executive Director
DENR-Region 4-A (CALABARZON)
DENCRIS Business Center, National Highway, Brgy. Halang, Calamba City, Laguna
Contact No.: (049) 502-7500
Salud Pangan - Protected Area Superintendent (PASu), MBSCPL
CENRO Pagbilao, Quezon
Contact No. (042) 710-2815
Marlyn Tamolang – Assistant PASu, MBSCPL
CENRO Los Baños, Laguna
Contact No.: (049) 827-0772
Protected Area Management Board (PAMB)
Members - 50
Executive Committee – 20
Socio Economic Management Committee
Resource Management Committee
Ecotourism, Recreational and Cultural Management Committee
Resource Mobilization and Finance Generation Committee.