About two hours away from Manila is the province of Bulacan and somewhere at its edge bordering the next province at San Miguel is the historic spot of Biak Na Bato. It is a 330-hectare National Park of natural springs and caves where about a century ago the first Philippine Republic was hastily proclaimed to keep the Americans from taking over the country which was virtually in the hands of Aguinaldo’s revolutionary army.
Biak Na Bato is a hilly cave fortress that looks like a big, spreading rock covered with cracks and splits inside and out, with some pieces sprawled out the vicinity and along the river. This historic spot, the Aguinaldo cave, the main cave of a network of caves, used to be the headquarters of Aguinaldo and the first Philippine Republic cabinet officials and its arm.
It actually has more than a hundred caves, many of which remain unexplored. Underneath the Aguinaldo cave runs an underground natural spring with cool and refreshing water. Outside, the crystal clear river runs smoothly, blocked now and then by boulders scattered indiscriminately on the river. The pristine river looks spectacular amidst the lush green forest where wild birds occasionally shout their weird cries, either in celebration or lament.
Along the riverbeds lie sections of cracks and openings of the giant rock, and one opening, called the “Cuarto Cuarto” or “room partitions” has plenty of stalactites as its “chandeliers” on the cave’s ceiling. This opening is one of the cave networks issuing from Aguinaldo’s cave. A further stroll following the riverbed uphill and downhill leads to the majestic “Bahay Paniki Cave” which ceiling soars 50 meters high. A swarm of “Paniki,” or bat, regularly hovers on the ceiling of this awesome mouth which looks like the main crack of this hilly rock.
Going farther on this trek along the riverbed, one will discover that this river is where several natural springs in the area congregate. Also, a large contributory is the spring waters from the mountain systems of Sierra Madre mountain range. This natural spring serves the local communities around Biak Na Bato, and partly, Metro Manila residents.
This historical spot, Biak Na Bato, was the headquarters of the first Philippine Republic. It was a cave fortress affording seclusion and protection. Up to the present time this historical spot continues to offer a hideaway haven amid cool natural springs and a thought-provoking labyrinth of cave networks.