Mount Banahaw, an old volcano, is considered a holy mountain; a keeper of secrets, stories, and cults. Filipinos make the journey to Banahaw’s slopes in an effort to restore their vitality and spiritual health. Belief in its powers draws pilgrims from all over the country year-round, culminating in huge gatherings and en masse rituals during Holy Week (Easter).
Myths and stories of visions and miracles have sprung forth from Banahaw for many years, ever since a local man proclaimed to have heard “holy voices” that led him to numerous natural springs. It’s said that those who bathe in the water from the springs will have good fortune and, in some cases, the ability to see their future.
The many caves that run deep into the rock are said to also hold their own kind of spiritual power. According to the lore, the Cave of Judgement is a spot to head to if you’ve lost count of your sins and need a guilt-inducing reminder of just how badly you’ve behaved in the past. It’s said that entering the cave will strike a scar for every sin you’ve committed, but if you manage to leave its murky depths unscathed, then you’re doing well and your sins are few.
The Rizalista cult has long resided at the foot of Banahaw. They’re a peaceful group who hold folk Catholic beliefs regarding the national hero, Jose Rizal, who they revere as God. The Rizalista temples found in the villages around the mountain are colorful monuments to their beliefs and a physical reminder of the mountain’s spiritual power.
Because Mount Banahaw is the tallest mountain in the region, it’s also quite popular with climbers. Those who visit the mountain to hike and climb are encouraged to respect the natural environment and not litter.