Mount Banahaw, which rests on the boundary of Laguna and Quezon, is known not only for its majestic beauty but also for its sacredness to Filipinos. The grandest of the mountains in Southern Tagalog, this inactive volcano is considered as a holy mountain, and draws thousands of visitors and climbers every year. Some even made it their pledge to climb Banahaw every Holy Week.
The mountain is a favorite among mountaineers from Manila because it is the closest one where they can have a challenging climb. It takes around six to seven hours to reach the summit, which is a rim encircling the caldera, also known as ilalim. There are various caves, pools and waterfalls that can be explored as you go up the mountain. There are several hot or warm springs within Banahaw: Tiaong-San Pablo, Bakia, Sampaloc, Mainit and Cagsiay.
There are several trails leading to the summit. From Cristalino, it will take an average of nine hours to climb to the top. From Tatlong Tangke, it will take around five hours.
The mystic quality of Banahaw is such that the sites in the mountain were given religious names. There is a cave called Kweba ng Diyos Ama (Cave of God the Father). There is a spring at Barangay Kinabuhayan with waters that are said to have curing powers. The village is also known for selling all kinds of amulets, healing herbs and magical stones, which all came from the mountain.
The continuous climbing activities on the mountain over the years have taken its toll on the surroundings. Unbelievable amounts of garbage have accumulated in many parts of Mount Banahaw. Because of this, the mountain is recently undergoing massive cleanup and the government has suspended any hiking activity, except for mountaineers who are part of the cleanup efforts. The trails are scheduled to reopen in 2010.