Large percentage of the Philippines’ population are Christianity believers and are highly participative to events relating to the mentioned religion. One of it is the Lenten season being observed with millions of Filipinos nationwide. Ash Wednesday took place last February 18, 2015 in which serves as the start of the Lenten season. And this week is the final week of Lent, called the Holy Week. Started last March 29, 2015 tagged as Palm Sunday, including Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, and will end with Black Saturday preceding Easter. A week perfect to find inner peace, get reminded with the sacrifices Christ has made, repentance and rejoice for His love to us.
The question is, where can we spend our holy week together with our family?
1. DIVINE MERCY SHRINE El Salvador, Misamis Oriental
45 minutes away from Cagayan de Oro City, Divine Mercy Shrine is located in the town of El Salvador, Misamis Oriental. It has a huge statue of Jesus Christ with the height of 50 feet that attracted devotees all around the country ever since the shrine opened in 2008. At the base of the statue, there settles a healing chapel and when devotees want to get to the top of the statue, they must walk 200 steps. The shrine is being visited among Christians coming from the different parts of the country, during the Lenten season, and mostly during Good Friday. But still, consistent number of visitors visit the shrine at any time of the year because of its chamber of adoration.
2. OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE SHRINE Igbalalay Hills in Tablon, Cagayan de Oro City
Local devotees and even those that come from anywhere in the Philippines frequently visits the shrine over the years due to its popularity. With a distance of 4 kilometers trail to journey, crossing through 9 rivers that connect barangay Tablon, Agusan and Balubal, devotees must trek this to get to the shrine.
3. WALKWAY TO THE OLD VOLCANO and STATIONS OF THE CROSS Camiguin Island
Camiguin Island is famous for its tourist spots such as the Katibawasan Falls, Sunken Cemetery, Church Ruins and Hot/Cold Springs. But every Holy Week, it’s being visited by devotees. During Panaad Festival, devotees trek the walkway that’s located in Bonbon, few kilometers away from Catarman then passing the whole island starting at Holy Wednesday and ends on Good Friday. The walk continues to trekking the 14 Station of the Cross as recognized with its life size statues that leads the trail to the Old Volcano’s peak where the last Station of the Cross is placed.
4. MALASAG WALKWAY Barangay Malasag, Cugman, Cagayan de Oro City
Malasag is a popular place for kagay-anons to visit during Holy Week. Devotees participate in the procession of the Stations of the Cross, either on Maundy Thursday or Good Friday. Being just a few minutes away from the heart of the city, its entrance can just be easily located along the highway of Cugman. Accessible and is just nature! But one must be prepared for a literal long walk.
5. 3003 STEPS TO LINABO PEAK Lower Dicayas, Dipolog City
Done every Good Friday is the trekking activity locally named as Katkat Sakripisyo sa 3003 Steps. It is for commemorating the passion of Christ by religious re-enactment of His sufferingon His way to the Cross. The community of Zamboanga del Norte and the neighboring municipalities are the major participants of this event. Devotees of Christianity climb up 3003 steps to the peak of Linabo as an act of their devotion.
6. MONASTERY OF TRANSFIGURATION Barangay San Jose, Malaybalay City, Bukidnon
The Monastery of Transfiguration in Bukidnon offers a retreat for a solo or group who wants a silent place to pray and reflect. And if you are able to join a retreat, you may get the chance to be with the monks.
The monastery also has a church that is different from the other churches. It only has a saint in it with the image of Our Lady of Montserrat (a replica of the image from Barcelona, Spain), aside from the crucified Jesus Christ floating.
7. THE DOMINICAN HOUSE OF PRAYER Shrine Hills, Davao City
If you’re looking for a place that can calm both mentally and spiritually, this place must be it. It’s on top of a hill overlooking the city. It enables you to pray and reflect, giving you you’re needed peace and serenity.
8. ST. PADRE PIO’S APOSTOLIC FARM Upper Lapinig, Balingoan, Misamis Oriental
St. Padre Pio is perfect for this holy week. This retreat house is on an orchard overlooking the Camiguin Island and the Mindanao Sea which promotes a Nazareth modeled life of simplicity, deep faith in God’s will and providence. Their facilities are the Chapel of the Holy Family of Nazareth, Stations of the Cross and Mysteries of the Holy Rosary in Mary’s Garden and the Prayer Room in Casa San Pio Pilgrim’s Inn. Just 1:30 – 2:00 hour drive from Cagayan de Oro City, been officially inaugurated last May 23, 2013 and has been a venue for religious activities particularly retreats.
Holy Week serves as our time for self-healing and our chance to get closer to God and to our family. One must not forget the essence of this once in a year event. We may celebrate Holy Week in different places and time but what’s important is that we’re on the same faith. May everyone have a blessed Holy Week!