Ago 27, 2011

Pamitinan Cave: Where Independence first Echoed Out By: Catherine Ramirez

   Montalban, Rizal , is actually  my hometown, I grew all these years in this small and unpopular place.
I' m not fond of exploring my town, I used to know that there is nothing to explore in this small town until my  high school professor in history had discussed the binding history of Montalban, the Wawa Dam and the most historic of all ; The Pamitinan Cave.

Natives who joined Katipunan
     Pamitinan Cave is where Andres Bonifacio and 8 other Katipuneros made their pilgrimage and covenant for freedom (The First Cry of Independence) during the April Holy Week in 1895, a year before the outbreak of the Philippine Revolution, the first Revolution in Asia.Bonifacio inscribed on the cave wall what could have been the first cry of Philippine Independence. According to the local tourism office, the cave wall still bears the inscription Viva la Independencia Filipinas! 

Gen.Licerio Geronimo and his statue in Plaza Montalban,Rizal
In November, 1896, during the revolution against Spain, General Llanera of the Filipino forces made San Mateo his headquarters. And on August 6, 1898, San Mateo joined the revolutionary government of Gen. Ernilio Aguinaldo. During the Philippine-American War, Gen. Licerio Geronimo's guerilla bands from the foothills of San Mateo and Montalban attacked the American troops in October, 1900. However, the Filipinos were defeated. A curious twist of history occurred when during the fighting, Gen. Lawton-the famous general who captured the elusive        Indian rebel named Geronimo, among his exploits- was also killed by the forces of a Filipino bearing the same name-Gen. Licerlo Geronimo. In the eyes of the Filipino people, Gen. Geronimo became a great man for killing an illustrious American General who distinguished himself during the American Civil War and the American military campaign in Cuba as well as In northern, southern and central Luzonsource.

     Realizing the urgent need to protect and preserve its historical significance as well as its recreational,educational and eco-tourism value, then Prof. F. Ramos, upon recommendation of the DENR, set aside, withdraw from sale,settlement and exploitation of whatever nature of forms,of disposition which include the caves. It's surroundings and other cave ecosysytem and valid private rights if there any.

    From then on, among my block section , would you believe that I am the only one who had not yet gone to these historical sites of the town? Yes! It's true. I ashamedly admit.
  And this time I will not pave the chance exploring and discovering my own town.

   It was Sunday ,August 21,2011 at around 2:30 in the afternoon, after exploring around the Wawa Dam, after reaching the watchtower, after walking all through rocky ways and narrow paths, after going through the hanging bridge,without taking our lunch; only bringing with us a 1.5 liter of Sprite; the group then proceed in exploring the Pamitinan Cave.  We are along with two tourism officers ;who'll guide us all through the cave.
The group along with Kuya Alex on the right wearing yellow and Kuya Allan wearing white on the left side.

 Walking along with Kuya Allan, he pointed me out  the cave with the Japanese sign; and when I asked him of what the sign means, he told that they were able to translate it from a Japanese who had gone through the cave which means: " Ang bawat tao ay may Pag-aari". "Siguro kaya ganun dahil may mga ibinaon na kayamanan yung mga Hapon nung panahon pa ng World War II; na ayaw nilang pakialaman ng iba, pero hangngang ngayon di pa natatagpuan" -Kuya Allan.

 A view of the cave with the Japanese sign from the community area .

     Furthermore, Kuya Allan pointed me out the peeks of the two mountains where they discovered two machine guns owned by the Japanese and was used in World War II. These were just one of the remains and proofs how historic the place was.Unfortunately, the community of the place make money out of it , was divided into pieces and was totally not preserved.

   Rodriguez' caves were also Japanese strongholds during World War II.Many Japanese died in the three-month long battle in 1945.source. The Japanese forces used the Pamitinan cave and Montalban mountains as a strongholds headquarters during World War II.

 Upon their arrival in the municipality of San Mateo(the next town after Montalban), the Japanese forces recommended the appropriation of school buildings and some big houses and used them as their headquarters. Productive rice lands irrigated by water from the main pipe of the Metropolitan Water District have also been forcibly appropriated and tilled under the direct supervision of the Japanese officials. Livestock and crops were likewise confiscated to supply the food needs of the Japanese military in San Mateo and Montalban (now Rodriguez)source.

    Views heading the Pamitinan Cave
 These views shows how dangerous it would be for us to reach the cave, the group is composed of 4 petite girls having our loaded backpacks and our guides would tell us that will be climbing through those boulders of rocks to get through that elevated Pamitinan Cave! whaaaat? with our flip flops slippers only?! haha. but still we proceed and bring our guts and go!. Extra care and relax aura is needed to reach the cave, "one slip is equivalent to one bukol!" I joked to other girls but I'm quite serious about it.

Ways to get to the cave.

      The group is also along with some  little boys from the Wawa community, from which climbing and hiking seems to be easy as they were just playing who'll be the first to reach the cave compared to us ; a first timer and having a rough times in hiking. The way is really dangerous yet adventurous.

  After hiking we thought were done and finally cave will surprise us ahead.. but still the cave lies on the other side of the mountain that we need to ride a "balsa" (made out of bamboos) that will float us along the other side of the mountain.

       It was our first time to ride a "balsa" and we'll make it sure it would not be our last.

     As we reached the other side of the mountain where Pamitinan cave lies. Boulders of white rocks and elevated opening of the cave quite far above for a first timer like us surprised us.

"Hala cathy! wag niyong sabihing aakyatin natin yan? ay nako.." vheng in a sudden surprisingly asked haha...

"huh??? asan ba yung cave?" I asked back.

"tumingin ka kaya sa taas!" -vheng.

when I looked up...

 wow! it's really creepy! ...

Montalban- "White Mountain"
The group then proceed , and hike all along to get through the cave opening. While in the middle of the hiking activity, everything is almost white,, from rocks in scattered in the Wawa lake and rock again scattered on our way through the mountain. Actually, you need not have to question why, because from the name itself Montalban came from the words Monte- meaning mountain, Alban- meaning white. That is why as a Montalbanian,  we used to be called "people of the white mountain". And sometimes also often to be teased "tagabundok" even though, it is a total pride to be a "tagabundok" !  and I am blessed to be one!

     Finally, I estimate , after almost less than 20 minutes, we reach the entrance of the cave... woooh! It's fulfilling! despite many flaws in stepping and hiking at last were in standing in front of the cave. It is also a challenge for us to watch our steps even before entering the cave inside, because the outside platform of the cave is being cemented, so we have to take too little steps.

We finally reached the entrance of the cave

We enter the cave.
     As we enter the cave in,, it is a total darkness. But the feeling seems so strange.. We are really excited! We scream all the time; until some times that we almost disturbed the bats inside! haha.!

Inside the cave.
     You'll really get amazed inside the cave, though we had only three flashlights the structures of the cave is clear enough for us to view and recognized the different rock formations. Amazing!!.. Traversing inside the cave is difficult; inside is very muddy and rocky ; at the start of our walk it's quite fine but as we get along and farther we cannot even walk straightly because we are submerged to the clay like paths . From then, to get it more exciting the group decided to just bring our slippers and bare to walk nakedly. Extra care and  sharp observation are necessary inside the cave, you might slip and get wounded to some sharp edges of the rocks inside and might unconsciously be head hit to  some low rock ceilings. 

    Moreover, you'll get fascinated to scattered Japanese gun powders covered with mud found inside the cave. According to Kuya Alex and Kuya Allan, the Japanese used these gun powders during the World War II. These gun powders also are a help to aid the darkness inside, what is just needed is to light it up with an available lighter.

We gathered three kinds of  Japanese Gunpowder used in World War II 
   We pick many of it while walking along the cave, according to Kuya Alex there are three classes of these gun powders inside the cave ; the spherical one,the rectangular one, and the square one. We are fortunate to complete all of those.Its actually a souvenir. Personally, I can't keep myself of being privileged enough to have these souvenirs in my palm, looking forward that maybe some years thereafter these would banish and be made available only in little quantities to some museums or galleries.

   The path is too long, too muddy and rocky... for us to reach the end of the cave where Bonifacio and his troops exactly hide. Add also our hard times in playing tug of war against our slippers plus the mud covering our naked feet (imagine how hard and slippery it was!).

 vheng- cathy! ayoko na! ayoko na talaga...( while proceeding still) 
              labas na tayo.. parang awa niyo na.. ayoko na. !

 me- "hahahahahhaha" (just laughing)
           mamaya na.. onti nlng kapag nakakalahati na tayo..

           kuya allan! malapit na ba tayo sa kalahati nitong kweba?

kuya Allan- wala pa nga tayo sa kalahati ng one fourth eh.( with a smile)

     Due to these complications of continuing, the group then decided to turn back.But for sure will   visit the cave again and reach its end while in geared with headgear and boots. (haha).

Going down while carrying our slippers and feet covered with mud.

      It is really a tiring day at all.. thirsty and hungry we leave the cave and hike all through way down the mountain.. . Going down is more complicated actually, one slip will be too dangerous!
Future Beholding Pamitinan Cave

Draft of Plan for Pamitinan and Wawa Gorge.

 According to Kuya Joni delos Santos; tourism officer of Montalban Wawa and Pamitinan. The municipality of Montalban, Rizal is actually planning out for renovations and development of Pamitinan; which will include: Pamitinan zipline, Pamitinan Rock Climbing,Floating Restaurants,Additional recreational sites for families and friends .
   At first we get excited learning these possible developments , but in the end the group realize how these renovations would fade the original and natural aura of the place. It might be historic still, but the complete picture of its longevity will no more marks.


   At the end of our day, we go home with a smile as we experience a piece of Montalban, Rizal. We are privileged to pass the underground path where Philippine Independence first echoed out. Viva la Independencia! .. I'm proud to be Montalbanian!

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