Holy Week is now fast becoming a vacation topic and being duly marked on almost anyone’s calendar with money to spend because of the really long weekend. While there’s nothing wrong with this, we would like to return to the original roots of what Holy Week really is and give our readers some top RELIGIOUS destinations that they can go to for religious reflection and to relax as well and get away from all the humdrum of work and stress. So if you’re thinking of Boracay, beaches, and adventure parks for Holy Week, you won’t find them here.
Divine Mercy Shrine – El Salvador, Misamis Oriental
It’s only 45 to an hour’s drive from Cagayan de Oro City (though traffic does build up during Holy Week). This shrine in the newly crowned City of El Salvador features a tall statue of the figure of Jesus Christ with its Sacred Heart standing at a height of 50 feet. Almost similar in design and height to the Jesus the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this shrine attracts literally thousands of devotees each year since it opened in 2008. The base of the statue is the healing chapel while the top of the statue can be reached by walking up 200 steps. Devotees and visitors come from as far as Luzon each year.
Camiguin “Panaad Festival” Walkway and Stations of the Cross – Camiguin
Literally, this is the walkway around the island of Camiguin and the stations of cross are located along the walkway. As you walk the 64 kilometers around the island, you’ll also get the opportunity to pass by the Katibawasan Falls, Sunken Cemetery, Church Ruins, Hot and Cold Springs, and the old volcano. The long trek for devotees begins on Holy Wednesday at barangay Bonbon and ends on Good Friday at the old volcano where the last of the 14 crosses are placed. Panaad means “vow” or “promise” so devotees wish for something in life in exchange for the “vow” to take the Camiguin trek.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine – Igbalalay Hills, Tablon, Cagayan de Oro
A religious reflection trek not for the faint of heart, this still growing in popularity shrine for local and out-of-town devotees features a 5 kilometer rough forest trail with 9 rivers and creeks across barangays’ Balubal, Agusan, and Tablon just to reach the shrine. At the shrine itself people will be seen praying the rosary for hours.
The 3,003 Steps to Linabo Peak – Lower Dicayas, Dipolog
This Maundy Thursday and Good Friday trek for devotees is locally termed as “Katkat Sakripisyo” (Climb of Sacrifice) because of the climbing of the 3,003 steps. It is to commemorate the passion of Christ by reenacting the supposedly 3,003 steps Christ had to take in order to reach the top of Mount Golgotha (Calvary) while carrying the cross.
Monastery of Transfiguration – San Jose, Malaybalay, Bukidnon
This is a great trek to the province of Bukidnon for those seeking a retreat or just some quiet time for peace, prayers, and reflection. The available retreat during the Holy Week gives devotees a chance to be with the monks. The church in the monastery features statues of a saint and image of Our Lady of Montserrat that are replicas of the originals in Barcelona, Spain, as well as a floating crucified Jesus Christ.
Dominican House of Prayer – Shrine Hills, Davao City
If you’re a devotee looking for serenity, calm, and a place for mental and spiritual reflection and peaceful prayers, this must be the most peaceful place on earth you can go to. It’s on top of a hill overlooking Davao City, with a breathtaking view at night. The peaceful surroundings are perfect for prayer and reflection.
Langub Church – Guadalupe, Cebu City
The Langub Church is called thus, because it is situated inside a series of caves; Langub means “cave” in Cebuano. The Langub houses the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Cebu’s patron saint. The Langub was the hiding place of the image during the Philippine Revolution against Spain and later during the Philippine-American War. The image was later found by accident while a Kalunasan native, Berto Miñoza, was looking for his lost chicken.
Monastery Castle of the Holy Eucharist – Lindogon, Sibonga
Now considered as Cebu’s most popular religious site next to Magellan’s Cross and Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, this monastery is home to the Marian Monks and looks like a castle if viewed from the approaches. It even features long pathways and climbing steps before reaching the castle itself. It has picnic tables, prayers rooms, giant statues, and a gallery of different images of the Virgin Mary from different countries.
The Spanish-Era Churches of Bulacan
Since churches is the one of the places you can visit on Holy Week for prayer and reflection, people can opt to hold their “Bisita Iglesia” (literally, “church visit” in Tagalog) in the province of Bulacan where a number of old Spanish-era churches still stand and have been restored like the Sta. Monica church in Angat, San Agustin Church in Baliwag, Church of Santiago Apostol in Quinga, Plaridel, and the historical Barasoain Church in Malolos.
Province of Marinduque
An island province that, during Holy Week, celebrates the Moriones Festival, a very long street play reenactment of the legend of Longinus, a Roman centurion who, according to stories, pierced Christ’s crucified body with a spear, and afterwards went blind. Longinus subsequently had his sight restored by droplets of blood from Christ’s body. The centurion eventually converted to Christianity because of this “miracle.” The festival includes very colorful costumes as well as periods of prayers and reflection during the festival.
Municipality of Sagada, Mountain Province
A northern Luzon location that requires a bit of travelling, Sagada is a renowned destination because of its hanging coffins, numerous caverns, breathtaking waterfalls, and other quiet sceneries that will surely make you pray and reflect. The area’s cool climate, lavish and serene scenery, and minimal distractions make it one of the best places for a Holy Week trek for reflection. Other places in Sagada that trekkers must visit are the Echo Valley, the Samaguing and Lumiang Caves, and the ever popular rice terraces.