Because of our country’s complex history reflected by our different cultural heritages, Filipinos became a group of people with different beliefs and traditions. From Catholicism to Islam among various religions, from political to social institutions we are divided by different ideologies and philosophies.
One of the places where one is sure to witness and experience Filipinos’ various beliefs is the so-called “Holy Mountain” – Mt. Banahaw. It is a three-peaked volcano complex located between the provinces of Laguna and Quezon. The mountain is a popular pilgrimage site and millenarian sanctuary.
|Bangkong Kahoy Valley|
With an elevation of about 2,400 ft. above sea level, Bangkong Kahoy has a cold weather allowing farmers to harvest produce like that of La Trinidad, Benguet. Farming is the primary source of income in the community.
|Green and Ripe Raspberries at Bangkong Kahoy Valley|
Pullan is an environmentalist. He introduced organic farming to Bangkong Kahoy vegetable farmers. From lettuce to raspberries to mushrooms and others, all of these produce are organic. His advocacy is to help out in the protection of the area – the forest and the ecosystem that they have.
|Different Crops at Bangkong Kahoy Valley|
Bangkong Kahoy can be considered as a secular community where people regardless of religion or belief are tied with one goal – to take to heart the care of their mystical mountain and uplift their way of living through education and a better social and economic system. Environmentalism as promoted by Pullan governed the community. Although there are some arguments which proposed environmentalism as a religion, stating that environmentalists look back to a fabled paradise state of Eden in which man lived in unity with nature, before deconstructing this idyllic view of nature or that they worship Gaia (Mother Earth), the Bangkong Kahoy, I can say is a secular community concerned on biodiversity and balance in the ecosystem based on scientific observations and theories with no spiritual, supernatural, or religious components.
Suprema de la Iglesia del Ciudad Mística de Dios (The Supreme Church of the Mystical City of God) is the largest of about 30 cults in Dolores, Mt. Banahaw which venerate the mountain as sacred where God, the Catholic saints and the heroes of the 19th century Philippine nationalist movement dwell in.
Whether supernatural like the Ciudad Mística de Dios and other religious sects or secular like the Bangkong Kahoy knit community and other ideological groups, we, all Filipinos, belong to only ONE national community. We are all living with a sense of national sentiment under ONE brightened sky brought to us by Rizal, Bonifacio among other heroes.