Earth shattering and deafening noise of colliding rocks were seldom heard in the mountains of San Mateo. It’s said to be caused by someone with enormous footprints along the riverbanks, a giant named Bernardo Carpio. A story any kid would remember while living in the province of Rizal. I recently visited Rodriguez and the story came back to me. And since Filipino folklores were mostly oral in origin, I unearthed different versions.
The town of Rodriguez was formerly called Montalban, which is said to be a Spanish contraction of the words, “Monte Alba” or “white mountain.” Also formerly part of San Mateo, before becoming an independent town in 1908. Tales then revolved around the limestone mountains, Mt. Pamitinan, Mt. Binacayan and Mt. Hapunang Banoi.
One of the well-known versions of the legend, Bernardo’s a giant trapped between two mountains, Mt. Pamitinan and Mt. Binacayan, which he’d push apart to escape. In effect, a gorge was formed where the river now flows through. This site today is called Wawa Dam, a famous tourist spot, and jump off point for the trilogy mountains of Rodriguez.
Another version of the story, Bernardo Carpio was born in San Mateo, Rizal with peasant parents. But with his incredible strength, he joined a rebellion against the Spanish who feared his vigor.
Through the powers of a local Encanto (shaman), Bernardo was then trapped between these two boulders. He’s unable to escape because the Encanto’s power was as great as his own strength. When Carpio’s co-conspirators arrived at the cave to rescue him, they were trapped by a series of cave-ins. Whenever an earthquake happens, people surmised that it‘s caused by Bernardo Carpio attempting to free himself from the mountains.
Which story have you heard of? Do you know a different version? Share it in the comments.