August 16, 2011
Biak na Bato National Park is one of the premier national park being developed as tourist destination especially for local tourist. The place is an ideal environment exploration exposure with cave system, forest, river system, and mountains especially for first timers. It also has a lot of activities to offer like caving (lots of caves are located within the park area), hiking (trails for minor and major hikes can be made), climbing (Susong Dalaga of San Miguel from Mt. Mabio or the highest point, Mt. Silid at 1009 meters above sea level), rock climbing (I don’t know if somebody has already done this but the place has lot of limestone walls to offer), river trekking (from Yungib I to park entrance, it’s a fantastic experience), kayaking (again, nobody have done this but I tell, you, the rivers has a lot to offer), mountain biking (they have created mountain bike trails but haven’t seen one doing it), swimming (like the local tourists), camping (ideal for the whole family), rappelling (from cliffs to caves) and a lot more. A lot of local tourists come to this place during the weekend because there are picnics grounds available as well as swimming areas.
Biak na Bato national park covers a total land area of 658 hectares and is a part of the mighty Sierra Madre mountain range. It lies in the north east corner of Bulacan, at the edge of the Sierra Madre. The park has a total of around 16 named caves and a couple of unnamed and unexplored ones. This is due to the fact that large portions of the Sierra Madre are made of limestone a composition which is an ideal candidate for cave formation. These caves had been carved by nature via the rivers that flows from Calumpit Bulacan, which passes by the park and empties at Candaba Swamp in Pampanga. This had happened for millions of years before the present cave system came to be. But bringing people to these caves poses danger since lack of information can stop the evolution of these caves or worst, even vandalization of these beautiful natural phenomenon.
The place got its name from the distinctive natural environment that can be found in this area, which are mountain gorges with mountains resembling solid rock limestone cut by deep river gorges. “Biak na bato” literally means “split boulders”. The area earned a place in history when the Filipino revolutionaries against Spain particularly the first president of the Philippine Republic, Emilio Aguinaldo, used this place as their camp due to the natural cave systems and dense forest that helped them in securing the place. Here is where the famous historical event, the signing of a peace treaty between the Filipino revolutionaries or Katipuneros and the Spanish government happened. Eventually they called that event “The Pact of Biak na Bato”. From thereon, the place became a historical pilgrim place during celebrations such as Independence Day. It also played a large role during the recent centennial celebrations of the Philippine independence. Most places here can be connected to Philippine history. Some locations are named in accordance with their functions during the these historical days like the Aguinaldo Cave, the “La Mesa de Aguinaldo”, and the Tanggapan Cave where according to legends, the Katipunero’s receive their guest hence the name.
WHEN AND HOW TO GO
To go to the place, take a bus going to San Miguel Bulacan along North EDSA. It’s safe and convenient and is much advisable to take your private vehicle since there are lots of transfers if you will just commute. Parking spaces are available as well as people who can guard your car so you don’t need to worry. From the San Miguel Hi-way, Department of Tourism markers are situation along the road that will guide you to the place. If commuting, you have to get off from the hi-way where the marker and the access road to Biak na Bato are located and then take a tricycle ride to the park entrance. Park Entrance cost 15 pesos per head. Camping fee is around 150 if staying overnight.
POINTS OF INTEREST
As mentioned earlier, there are a lot of things to do and places to go to in this park but I advice for new comers not to consume the entire trip on all the caves alone. The Santol, Cuarto-cuarto, Bahay Paniki, Suklib Kabayo and Aguinaldo caves are the interesting ones to go to. Then consider other activities like river trekking after hiking from Yungib I, passing by deep portions of the river and some natural formations such as the “tulay na bato” towards the park entrance. You can also hike the backcountry and climb “Mt. Silid or Mt. Mabio’s Susong Dalaga”. San Miguel is a part of the historical province of Bulacan so there are lots of historical places to pass by like the Barasoan Church. There are also other “nature-adventure” destinations like the Pinagrealan Caves in Norzagaray, Madlum Caves in San Miguel, Angat Dam to Irid and Matulid River Systems in Angat as well as Doña Remedios Trinidad also in Angat.
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