It has been more than a decade since I last visited the mountain which I called HOME. I was so excited and full of insights of what awaits me. It is still fresh in my memory that I so look forward to HOLY WEEK so I can see friends and at the same time, share and do my part in protecting the mountain and the believers. I was so looking forward to drink from the miraculous springs of Kinabuhayan, watch the people perform their rituals, help and assist devotees and all that. (not to mention running here in there in terms of emergency rescue)
As I approached the beautiful and scenic mountain, I was welcomed with the same scent I haven’t smelled for some time. The fragrance that seems to say, “Maligayang pagbabalik Anak ng Banahaw” (Welcome back son of the mountain). The roads has changed from the old “rocky ones” to a completely concrete pavement that makes it easier to all kinds of vehicles to reach the area. People are still walking here in there with their native crutches, made out of tree trunks. Devotees wearing their same old medallions and “anting-anting” (charms).
I parked and started walking through the way to Kinabuhayan, I was in deep shock! What welcomed me there is the serenity and sanctity NO MORE! Stores and stalls all over the place, t-shirt printing, and even HENNA TATTOO that makes me think that I am just along the beautiful powder-like coast of Boracay. It was a place that made me think twice if I came to the right one! Visitors treating the mountain as a tourist hub, wearing two-piece bikini with shawl just to go to the wash room and take a bath..what a great DISRESPECT!!!
How can I possibly defend the Thesis I made in my college days of how tranquil and mystical this mountain is with this kind of scenario today! I have nothing against the locals earning a living out of this once a year celebration, (if you call it one), but they themselves should be the first one to stop any harm or disrespect towards the religious sanctity of this mountain! I cannot believe what I saw and has crushed my heart so badly. The Mountain I fell in loved with, the mountain that became a HOME to my soul, the mountain that made me gain so many friends…is now nothing!Simply like Boracay, Puerto Galera, Anilao, Laiya…or worst- Festival area!
I call on the locals living in Kinabuhayan not to be tempted by greed, the Baranggay Officials to make sure that the values and beliefs which they have grew up with should always be observed, the Local Goverment of Dolores to look into this matter as I am sure, the elemental friends who lives in the heart of the mountain are crying..if we are able to close the mountain for reforestation, we are also able to conserve the religious sanctity of Mount Banahaw…this cultural and religious beliefs is the treasure that we will share to the generations ahead….