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III. Pamitinan and Tapusi

[This is part of a collection of posts serializing the second chapter of Pasyon, Awit, Legend.]

To make clear how the Carpio legend and San Mateo referred to social banditry, we must make the relationship between Pamitinan and Tapusi evident. No scholar has yet studied the relationship of these locations and so it will be necessary to go into some detail. Pamitinan is a mountain and is the location of the caves of San Mateo. Ileto often referred to this mountain as Tapusi. Why? What were these two places?

Sixto de los Angeles, the president of the Provincial Board of Health in the province of Rizal, writing on October 27, 1902, analyzed the sources of the Manila’s water supply. The water came for the mountains of Montalban. A parenthetical aside in his report is instructive.

The stream flowing toward Montalban is very small near its source but it receives the water from several branches in the various points where the river passes, some of which are larger than the principal stream, the more important being, from its origin, the following: Lumutan (the name comes from the fact that rain falls throughout the year and the trees are always green), Sare or Tapusi (popular name since immemorial times as an inaccessible den of ladrones) Uyungan, Dumiri, Taladoy, Tayabasan, Bunbunan, Astampa, Kal, Kayrupa (where a larger stream enters), Kaykaro, and then the caves, distant about 3 1/2 miles from Montalban, at which point the river passes between two mountains, forming the caves. Many people think these caves are the origin of the river, but in fact only one small stream issues from one of the caves. The mountains here form a narrow defile with many large marble stones.1

The mountains forming a ‘narrow defile’ are the ‘nag-uumpugang bato’ of the Carpio legend. Montalban and San Mateo were adjacent towns and the caves were occasionally referred to as the caves of Montalban. In this paragraph we see that an important source of Manila’s water, the San Mateo river, which rushes through the gorge at the foot of Pamitinan and Sasocsungan mountains, has its origins in a region named Lumutan and runs through Tapusi, which was “since immemorial times an inaccessible den of ladrones.” Ladrones were bandits, widely known as tulisanes. The cave of Bernardo Carpio is in Mount Pamitinan, which is on a spur of the Sierra Madre massif; this spur was referred to as the Mountains of San Mateo. It is the closest encroachment of the Sierra Madre mountains to Manila.2


Pamitinan. Mislabeled as Tapusi in Kasaysayan: The Story of the Filipino People

“Lumutan” was another name for the Limutan river valley; it is over forty kilometers from San Mateo, and was separated by uncharted mountainous terrain. How then did Tapusi come to be identified with Pamitinan, so that Ileto and other scholars would speak of Bonifacio’s ascent of Mt. Tapusi?


  1. Sixto de los Angeles, “Exhibit C: Sources of Manila’s Water Supply,” in Fourth Annual Report of the Philippine Commission, 1903, vol. 3 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1904), 221, emphasis added.
  2. On Pamitinan, Sasocsungan and the cave, see Manuel Buzeta, Diccionario Geografico-Estadistico-Historico de las Islas Filipinas (Madrid: Imprenta de D. Jose C de la Pena, 1850), s.v Pamitinan; s.v. Mateo
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