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The Myth about Bernardo Carpio in Montalban

The Myth about Bernardo Carpio in Montalban

Sacrifice and determination are noble qualities rare in people today. The myth about the legendary strong man of Montalban, Bernardo Carpio, exalts these exemplary character qualities. Yet, it also shows his disenchantment.

The myth starts by depicting the wrath of a Spanish king who was cruel enough to imprison his own sister, Infanta Jimena, and the rebellious general, Don Sancho Diaz of Cerdenia, for their forbidden love. Self-ambition was thicker than blood.

The myth says the King punished even the child, the fruit of the forbidden love, by having him cared for by Don Rubio, the antagonist against Infanta and Sancho. Rubio was a general.

The child, according to the myth, named Bernardo, was a boy of great strength. As he grew, so did his physical prowess and sword skills, says the myth. Whatever his fingers clutched died: a mischievous boar, an angry bull, a naughty horse.

Bernardo easily became a master swordsman. And, according to the myth, he challenged Rubio, his foster father, in a duel, which resulted to Rubio’s death. Bernardo became right-hand general of the King. The myth says, this was just the beginning of Bernardo’s adventures: with a sword, the knight Bernardo single handedly repulsed idolatrous enemy soldiers, and vowed to fight idolatry and win for the one true God of the Christians!

However, the myth says, he eventually learned of the fate of his real parents, and how his uncle King Alfonso had a direct hand in it. The king had been fighting pagans but was really no different from his enemies, treating his own flesh and blood wickedly, and hindering the true love of Infanta and Sancho, Bernardo’s parents. How can a king go against true love when the God he vowed to fight for was the God of love?

So, the myth says, Bernardo thought of forgetting about religious conquest and just working for the redemption of the whole human race because of its extreme wickedness, himself included. Even the Christians themselves were into sin. After seeing his father and mother released from captivity, Bernardo was led by an angel into a cave between two huge mountains to await redemption, after which he may be able to redeem the world. So there, between two mountains (thought to be Montalban in Rizal), according to the myth, he still remains to this day, waiting to be redeemed.

The myth about Bernardo Carpio is a classic example of how some people have become disenchanted with religion, even Christianity, in early times.

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