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Mt. Cristobal » Facing Your Own Evil at the Devil’s Mountain

Devil at Mt. Cristobal, the Devil's Mountain
Yes, they really exist. They are really there, the demons and spirits of Mt. Cristobal, the Devil’s Mountain.

So I climbed this mountain, to face my fears and to recognize they are there. To decide between the real and the unreal, the truth and the lie and go on and attack to prove or dispel the famous Tumao fiction and its mysteries and fairy tale.

Then up there, along Mt. Cristobal’s devious trail under its dark and misty forest, I came across the devil and immediately realized the genuine reality of real threat - to fear the Devil is giving him just the kind of worship that he wants.

It is there,  I feel it, but I can't fight an unseen unknown enemy! Only if I know who my enemy is and where he is at and what he is up to, then I can face him and fight it out.

So I whispered at the eerie fog, “Show yourself!”

Then out of the fog, I came face to face with......myself.

Revisiting the past of Mt. Cristobal

Dear comrades, before I go on with how I face the Devil, let us visit the past events concerning this haunted mountain.
Mt. Cristobal Photo
Mt. Cristobal with its peak always blanketed by clouds
During the Philippine Revolution under the Spanish colonial rule, Apolinario dela Cruz  led a revolt in 1839 called the Confradia de San Jose Revolt, with followers numbering several thousands armed with rifles and bolos. This fraternity embodies the local religious aspirations and disappointments of the Filipinos.

However, Apolinario was captured and executed on November 5, 1841. Survivors of the bloodbath became remontados, or those who go back into the mountains, leaving their villages to live on the slopes of the volcanic Mount San Cristobal and Mount Banahao.

Mt. Banahaw (also spelled Banahao) is the highest volcano in Southwestern Luzon, reaching an elevation of 7,177 feet. Its subsidiary cones of Mt. San Cristobal and Banahao de Lucban are 4,900 feet and 5,983 feet respectively. Geologically, both of them are extinct volcanoes. Their peaks are essentially craters.

Mt. Cristobal scary trees and Fog
Thick rain forest of Mt. Cristobal with its mossy trees
These mountains where no friar or prayle ventured became folk religious centers, places of pilgrimage for lowland peasants and became the birthplace of religious communities known as colorums.

Colorums are Filipino religious movement that expressed a rudimentary desire to be rid of the Spanish and discover a promised land that would reflect memories of a world that existed before the coming of the colonists. This movement gave birth to the “Watawat ng Lahi” (Flag of the State) sect who believes that Dr. Jose Rizal was a reincarnation of Christ and that Rizal will come again. This group and other sects makes Mt. Banahaw as “The New Jerusalem.”

How Mt. Cristobal became the Devil’s Mountain

Mt. Cristobal Trail
The trail is mostly covered with thick vines and forest vegetation
It is ironic that this mountain in Dolores, Quezon along San Pablo and Nagcarlan, Laguna named after San Cristobal, the patron of travelers in the Greek and Latin traditions would be notorious as haunted and always referred by the mountaineering community as spooky.

During the Spanish colonial rule, Mt. Cristobal was considered as a holy mountain. Then came the Chinese who subscribe to a concept called Yin Yang, which is a belief that there exist two complementary forces in the universe. However, Western perception of yin and yang corresponds to evil and good.

Evil Tree
There are always eerie tree branches above
Therefore, if Mt. Banahaw is the holy mountain, Mt. Cristobal became the "Devil's mountain." Spreading ghosts stories, creating the Tumao legend (something like the bigfoot myth) and other spooky tales also became the Filipino Revolutionaries’ way of warding off the Spanish militia.

Mt. Cristobal Camping Site Bulwagan Saddle
Camping at the Bulwagan Saddle, the nearest camping area to the summit
My encounter with the Devil

Solitary man at Mt. Cristobal under the Forest Fog
The always-present fog at the campsite
Mt. Cristobal’s reputation as the Devil’s Mountain and the chilling and supernatural tales surrounding it makes the climb more exciting. It’s like a supernatural, spirit-hunting climb. Incidentally, Mt. Cristobal’s rainforest with its moss-covered old trees blanketed by the eerie fog will give you the right hair-raising effect.

However, my quest to experience the supernatural led me to an enlightening realization about the devil.

The devil is something that was created by me, by all of us. Inside of us. But it isn’t us! It’s something that we have created.

We nurtured it in our hearts – fear, hesitation, doubt, selfishness, malice, illusion and ignorance. The signs of my hidden evil are always there in my anxious, angry, confused reactions. It is there in my deeply ingrained habits – habit of seeing myself as small, of saying I cannot do it, habits of seeing myself at the mercy of my boss and my pathetic corporate life, or even at the mercy of my own self, or of my own ego.

That evil was created in trying to create my life by meddling in the lives of other people, by resisting to utilize the things that are already in my life, by trying not to be myself and change it, by trying to fix my life and change everything.

Campsite at Mt. Cristobal
Our camp under the ominous mossy trees
Like the forest's ghostly scenes, the murkiness and darkness seep through our hearts as the negativity builds up. It penetrates the purity of the white fog and attached its poisons to the thick vines and thorny shrubs of ignorance, illusion and malice, always fueling the irrational destructiveness in us.

Mt. Cristobal itself, with its pure white fog clearly reveals all these to me – it let me have a glimpse of myself.

Perhaps to show me that I am at the mercy of no one and no thing, only by the evil I myself created. My own darkness.

Mt. Cristobal old Crater
Ancient crater of Mt. Cristobal
I bury my devil at the Devil’s Mountain

We always do it. Out of the evil imaginations of our own heart and mind we create spiritual monsters, ghosts and supernatural that can destroy us. Thus, it always takes a lot of courage and a lot of patience with ourselves.

Therefore, the realistic and adequate defense against this evil we ourselves created is the daily, direct, determined and thorough confrontation of it. In short, by accepting it – by facing our fears, acknowledging them, confessing them and taking a positive stand against them!

Mountaineers praying before descending Mt. Cristobal
BAKAS Mountaineers praying before the descent. 
Face your evil – your irrationality and primitive thinking. This is what  climbing the Devil’s Mountain is all about.

So I killed my own evil and buried it at Mt. Cristobal.

I know a time will come when it will haunt me again. It will be revived by the games that people are playing all around me, and even at the games that are still playing out inside of me,

But I will say, “It’s all good! It is always an amazing adventure to climb Mt. Cristobal – to bury again all those devils I created!”

BAKAS Mountaineers at the summit of Mt. Cristobal
Photo-op at the foggy summit with the EMERSON Mountaineers
References and Citations:
» Wernstedt, Frederick L and Spencer, Joseph Earle. 1978. "The Philippine Island world: a physical, cultural, and regional geography." University of California Press. Calif. p.21
» IBP USA, USA International Business Publications. 2008. "Philippines Country Study Guide." p.58
» "Mt. Cristobal (1,470+)" Trail details and other useful climb information. [Retrieved: 19 January 2012] 

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