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Pilgrims start exodus to religious sites in Calabarzon

CALAMBA CITY, March 28 –- Pilgrims and holiday goers, following Catholic practices and religious rituals, visited the “Istasyon Heneral” for the 14 Stations of the Cross set up in Barangay Lawa and neighboring villages here.

There devotees performed their prayers culminating in a Holy Mass celebration on Holy Wednesday.

Parishes here also scheduled the traditional “Pabasa ng Pasyon” with the support of church ministries, the Marian legions, the Mother Butler Guild members. , lectors-commentators ministries, parents’ core groups, homeowners associations, Knights of the Altar, Couples for Christ and the apostolic and lay workers.

Pilgrims and devotees also came in droves to some of Laguna’s sacred shrines and pilgrimage sites.

Devotees and penitents claimed their homage and petitions to the miraculous icons brought instant cure and miracles although Church bodies have neither validated claims nor sanctioned the religious rites in the areas.

In Calamba, the “Mahal Na Señor” in Barangay San Jose is a semblance to Quiapo’s revered Black Nazarene.

Housed in the residence of Ate Toying Aquino, the miraculous icon is believed to have healing powers among folks and devotees who learned that the image was carved out of a driftwood.

Religious oral traditions spoke of the floating wood which served as bouy and lifesaver for the flood victims and was fished out later from the waters inundating the lakeshore barangay at the height of a storm.

Travelling from Alabang, Muntinlupa along the provincial road toward San Pedro, Laguna, pilgrims and devotees pull a stop in Barangay Landayan where the famed miraculous image of “Lolo Oweng” is niched.

The Catholic followers claimed this miraculous image possess healing powers. Onwards to Sta. Rosa City, the Holy Week pilgrimage stops to find an image of Jesus Christ resembling Quiapo’s Black Nazarene.

This is the famed “Lolo Uweng” although the icon is placed in the altar in an upright position in the adjacent chapel to the Sta. Rosa church.

Believers visit the icon every first Friday of the month and a huge turnout of devotees now flock to venerate the image during the Lenten Season.

The Diocesan Cathedral in San Pablo City also draws church goers and parishioners for its Lenten “Misa ng Krisma”, a mass officiated by the Bishop for the renewal of vows of priests belonging to the Diocese and blessing of the anointing oils early morning on Holy Thursday.

The San Pablo Diocese commemorates the Good Friday’s “Siete Palabras” at noon and by 3 p.m. a mammoth crowd of 100,000 flock to this city to witness the famous “Parada ng Pasyon.”

The Good Friday annual procession around the city of the mounted life-sized images of Christ from the Triumphal Entry in Jerusalem to the Resurrected Christ and life-sized images of Pontius Pilate, Mama Mary and other Biblical characters now lands as one of the tourism department’s endorsed religious festivals and crowd-drawing yet sacred event.

As churches open from 7 p.m. to midnight for the Holy Week “Visita Iglesia,” pilgrims and church goers may find their parish pilgrimage and religious devotions in Calabarzon’s age-old churches for a refreshing experience in faith, history and heritage.

Several churches in the region offer parishioners and visitors interesting studies tracing the Filipino’s roots of their Catholic faith and legacy as shown through the centuries-old churches built around the 15th century such as those in Laguna towns Majayjay, Cavinti, Alaminos, San Pablo, Pila and Nagcarlan.

But equally magnificent colonial architectures are reflected in Cavite province with Kawit’s St. Mary Magdalene Parish Church, the Imus Cathedral, Maragondon Catholic Church and the Nuestra Señora de Porta Vaga Shrine in Cavite City.

Those who missed their pilgrimage in Rome for the conclave and assumption of the new Pope Francis may still re-live the experience up in Batangas highland Taal town.

The scenic Taal is home of the Basilica of San Martin de Tours which is patterned after the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and sustains its charisma for the Holy Week church pilgrimage.

Marian devotees and religious believers of the Virgin of Caysasay trek to this Shrine next to the Taal Church and connect to the Santa Lucia Wells.

According to religious accounts, the well’s original site used to be a brook and its water is believed to be curative after the Virgin Mary’s apparition and miracles happened at the site.

The Batangas towns surrounding the Taal Lake and the nearby Tagaytay City also lure travelers and Lenten goers to venues for spiritual retreats, reflection and meditation.In the highlands of Balete, Batangas, some two hours south of Manila passing through the Southern Tagalog Arterial Road (STAR) tollway lies this religious and sacred hideaway called Marian Orchard.

Nestled in one of Balete’s ridge, the Marian Orchard offers a refreshing soul-searching and spirit-filled destination with its huge images of the 12 Apostles, the 14 Stations of the Cross, a church with the huge “Christ the Redeemer” image, an observation tower and well-manicured and landscaped gardens.

Rizal province also offers its renowned “Pilgrimage to Nuestra Señora de Paz y Buenviaje (Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage)” in Antipolo City where thousands pay homage to the miraculous image of the Virgin Mary.

The Lenten “Way of the Cross” rites also take place at the “Our Lady of Faith” grotto in Rodriguez while the pious and faithful can troop to Lucban, Quezon for the hillside religious trek to “Kamay ni Hesus” shrine at the Marian Park sprawled on a five-hectare sacred complex.

Dolores, Quezon also entices devotees to the Sta. Lucia Kinabuhayan Pilgrimage centers for their secular activities and spiritual retreats.

The religious sects of Mt. Banahaw have claimed the site is where Christ suffered pain and agony like the Calvary. (PNA)

HBC/SEP/ABB

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