Part of Angat River and situated in Bgy. Matictic at Sitio Kanyakan, in Norzagaray, Bulacan, is the pristine body of water surrounded by marble hills known as “Bakas”. The place got its name from a giant-like footprint in one of the marble hills along the river. Beside the giant footmark, there is also a dented print of a dog’s paw. Tourists and locals alike frequent “Bakas” all year round especially during summer to swim in its water, making it a favorite picnic place of families and groups.
Its unique name and the enigma surrounding Bakas makes the river more exciting and challenging for some people.
There are three popular legends surrounding the footprint on this huge limestone formation. Some old folks believed that the footprint was that of “Bernardo Carpio,” others said that it was left by “Samuel Bilibit,” still some old folks averred that it was that of “San Cristobal (St. Christopher)”; but, there was a fourth and oldest version—that of “Bathala” the God of the Tagalogs. The story behind Bathala’s footprint, which my grandmother once mentioned to me, however, was lost in time.
The three oral stories about “Bakas” which I gathered from old folks in Norzagaray.
The Legend of Bakas (Bernardo Carpio Version)
In his attempt to catch the lightning, Bernardo Carpio travelled fast and far, leaving footprints in places where he set his foot on, “Bakas” being one of them. Before coming to Norzagaray, he was in San Miguel (Bulacan). According to legend, he nearly overtook the lightning and was about to catch it. But, when he reached Montalban, the lightning went straight between two limestone rocks inside a cave. Bernardo Carpio tried to pass between these twin rocks but he was imprisoned by it.
Earthquake, according to old town folks, is said to be caused by Bernardo Carpio’s attempt to get free from that cave.
The Legend of Bakas (Samuel Bilibit Version)
The footprint in “Bakas” was from Samuel Bilibit. This man has been in all four corners of the earth. As punishment from the grave sin that he committed, God told him to walk until he finds what he is looking for. He leaves footprints wherever he goes because of the heavy chain he carries around his calf.
The Legend of Bakas (San Cristobal Version)
In another old story, the footprint was made by a giant man named Cristobal when he crossed the river carrying a small boy with a ball in his hand. The large man was puzzled as to why the boy was so heavy. He had carried men and women across the river but none was as heavy as the boy. Later, he learned that the boy was actually Jesus who was holding the world in his hand.
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