The idea of climbing some random mountain peak and exploring a cave weren’t the things I wanted to happen on my birthday (July 15). I was thinking of maybe going out, have a picnic somewhere and maybe do some shopping with my family. I was a bit hesitant to go to Antipolo last Sunday and celebrate my 22nd birthday in the bare mountains, with some people I barely know and with the animals they have. I didn’t want to show it on my face that I hated the idea, that I despised getting dirty and tired on a day I considered special, too special to waste on some trivial and common place.
When I got down to eat breakfast, my mood changed. I saw how my Dad had lovingly prepared the pancit molo and his super crispy chicken to take with us to Antipolo and I couldn’t help but be touched, be truly happy and excited as he did. I think my Dad especially thought and considered me when he planned this trip because he knew I love to travel and do some stuff like mountain climbing (Gulugod-Baboy, Batangas) and scuba diving (Puerto Galera). Then when my kuya and ate sat down with me and my Dad for breakfast, every bit of angst I had with the trip just vanished. I got giddy with the idea of celebrating my birthday in a really, really diffrent and unique way.
I initially thought the church would be old and grimmy, but to my surprise it looked new! This is the first time I’ve ever been in Antipolo.
The altar is really cool and big. I got too distracted to listen to the sermon (I’m sorry).
This is a small prayer room (I think) at the side entrance.
The main entrance looks grand in reality. Somehow this picture didn’t catch that.
This is at the 2nd floor of the church.
Filipinos are such devotees of the Nazarene. I couldn’t help but stare at this scene for quite a long time up on the 2nd floor.
The inside of the church is really big and it’s dome shape helps a lot to make it look bigger than it is.
Me and Dad at the side entrance of the church. I couldn’t help but take pictures! Some of the people were already staring at me.
My ate and me at the foot of Christ’s statue outside the church.
A moment of peace.
My kuya took this picture on the 2nd floor. Somehow it feels awkward.
Up the trail with my kuya, ate and Mang Jun, our family friend, guide and driving instructor! My Dad had to sit climbing out because he might get too tired.
This is my kuya at some cool rock formation just outside the cave’s entrance.
I got envious with my kuya’s picture so I got one too!
My sister didn’t want to do the same picture that me and kuya did so she did her pose on a chair, under a big old tree.
The entrance to the cave!
The mystical cave got it’s name because, yes, it is considered mystical by the locals because of the holy images seen inside the cave. The water and the stones found inside the cave are said to heal the sick and keep anyone from danger. The stones can also serve as an anting-anting. The faith healer who resides here is a dear friend of Mang Jun. She is said to have been the healer of the former dictator, Ferdinand Marcos. The whole mountain was given to her as a gift from Marcos during the early 80′s. Every Mahal na Araw, the mystical cave and the three crosses on top of the mountain is a popular pilgrimage site.
An angel looking.
St. Bernadette praying.
Christ leaning on the rock.
This bathtub was used in Majika. See the sort of blood stains? The GMA 7 staff left it there. Honestly, they should have cleaned their mess before going.
This is the dressing room. They said three people could fit inside.
See? I think four people could fit here perfectly.
Face of Christ with thorns.
The Holy Family.
The lying Nazarene.
The wedding bell. This is where lovers could wish for marital bliss.
The Wishing Well. Just throw your coins and wish!
St. Peter and his hen (Manok ni San Pedro). The hen is on top of St. Peter.
Adam and Eve embracing.
The cave’s 3rd floor entrance. The cave is said to have twelve floors below ground, with plenty of healing water and blood stones to help the sick.
The props and things Asian Treasures have left behind. Tsktsktsk…clean before going please.
My kuya and ate pose with other stuffs left by GMA7 for Asian Treasure.
The cave is huge, really, really huge. I couldn’t believe it myself but there were so many dark and creepy parts of the cave we couldn’t go to. The ceilings were high and the crystals were pretty too.
Before leaving the cave, I couldn’t resist a Japanese Peace! pose.
After going out of the cave, we climbed up to the three crosses. The healer’s husband took the big crosses up himself during Milenyo’s wrath last year. That’s an amazing feat considering the crosses are so heavy!
The 300 pose!
My sister resting…pa-cute pa eh.
Hug the cross! Before you could wish for anything, you’ve got to hug the cross or lean on it and pray really hard.
The view up the mountain is really cool. You could actually see La Salle Antipolo, the quarry site nearby, the mountains, the city and distant Manila.
When we got down, Dad was eagerly waiting for us. He wanted to go up but knew it was better for him not to. The next time we go up the mystical cave, he promised he’ll climb up even if it’ll take him hours. Of course, we showed him our pictures of the cave and the three crosses. Too bad Mom was in Ireland. But she called me the night before to greet me, so it was okay (I miss Mommy).
My birthday was truly memorable, not to mention tiring. I’m so glad my Dad and Mang Jun put the plan together. I enjoyed it so much, I really did. But as it was tiring, I ended up falling asleep as soon as we ate merienda. =)