A product of a couple from two different provinces in the Philippines, I always enjoy visiting two familiar places for the past 23 years. My mom grew up in the province of Quezon, named after the 2nd president of the country, Manuel Quezon. It is part of Region IV-A CALABARZON and dubbed as the Palm State because of vast coconut plantations.
I lived in the province for 5 years and I had seen how mystical the place can be. There are many superstitions existing side by side with intense Catholicism. One of the most famous destination for pilgrimages or Visita Iglesia would be Mount Banahaw, an active volcano considered as a “holy mountain” by the locals. It is a national park and protected area since 1941.
Aside from Mount Banahaw is Kamay ni Hesus (Hand of Jesus), a healing center built under the initiative of Fr. Joseph Ayala Faller. But before I write something about it, here are some of the Churches which you might consider visiting during your pilgrimage.
Mother of Perpetual Help Parish, Candelaria, Quezon
Parokya ni San Francisco ng Assisi, Sariaya, Quezon
San Pedro Bautista Parish, Candelaria, Quezon
And now, Kamay ni Hesus Healing Center.
Teeming with devotees especially during the Holy Week, Via Dolorosa Grotto of Healing and Purification is actually a steep hill transformed into a religious spot. Biblical figures and scenes are depicted as one moves on a journey from the foot of the hill up.
The image above shows the Noah’s Ark House of Prayer, a venue for closed door retreats, recollections and seminars for people in need of spiritual renewal.
You will also find Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden at the start of the 292-steps composing the path up the hill.
Along the way are life-size statues of the 14 Stations of the Cross, and on top is a 50-foot statue of the Ascending Christ. This statue is the third biggest in the world and can be seen miles away. The whole place is so picturesque, not to mention the kind of spiritual ambiance it gives to thousands of pilgrims and devotees.
You will be awed to see how this place and the kind of spirituality it brings appeal to thousands of lives. Despite the heat, the people are determined to climb the hill and whisper their intentions to God.
The view on top is also astounding, a living evidence of God’s wonders.
Oh, so many thoughts, so little time. But I hope I was able to give an idea of what and how the place looks like. I also don’t know if there are public transportation means (there should be) going to the place. Anyhow, there are side street vendors selling colorful hats, food items and souvenirs in case you’re wondering.Tip: Just remember to bring a fan, water, umbrella, sweatshirt or towel and lots of faith and patience. God bless!