Bohol Holy Week – An Amazing Journey!

Bohol Holy Week – An Amazing Journey!

Holy Week

Loboc is located in Bohol, an island province in the Central Visayas region of the Philippines.  It’s 25 Km away from the provincial capital Tagbilaran City.  The municipality of Loboc is famous for the amazing Loboc River where you can take a lunch cruise along the scenic river.  

Loboc is also known for the centuries old San Pedro Apostol Parish Church, more commonly called Loboc Church.  It is listed as a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines and a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines.

Built by the Jesuits in the Baroque style and constructed of  coral stone Loboc Church was completed 1734.   Today it is also known  for the unusual symbols in the main altar that baffle history and conspiracy buffs.

The church was severely damaged during the earthquake on October 15, 2013 at 8:12 a.m.  Before the quake the church was a candidate with the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of the Philippines under 2 distinct categories; Baroque Churches of the Philippines and Jesuit Churches of the Philippines.   Due to the damage caused by the quake it was removed from UNESCO’s roster of nominated sites.  The National Museum is currently planning the restoration of the famous church.

March 21 to March 26, 2016 was Holy Week; the week before Easter Sunday.  It is a very important time in the Philippines.  Palm Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week.  On this day we commemorate our Lord’s triumphant entrance into Jerusalem where he was welcomed by worshiping crowds who laid down palm leaves in his path.

As a catholic we respect traditions of  Holy Week.  We abstain from meat until Easter Sunday;  old folks don’t comb their hair, take baths, and some don’t even eat  or drink anything but water.  This is done in respect for the sacrifices made by our savoir Jesus Christ who died in the cross to save our sins.

Filipino Catholics believe that  sacrifices in the name of Jesus is atonement for their sins and will absolve them from those sins .  In my province the best venue for sacrifices is  Cruz Daku or the Loboc Big Cross.  It’s hard to miss this cross that’s perched on top of a mountain in Loboc.  To reach the cross which is about 4 Km from the Loboc Church you must climb the mountain passing the other 13 Stations of the Cross along the way (the Cross is the 14th. and last station.   Awesome right?

Holy Week

Cruz Daku or the Loboc Big Cross is a pilgrimage site.  As its name suggests it’s a big white cross that sits on top of the mountain.  The word Daku means big, and that cross is huge, approximately 80 feet tall.  There are 13 stations of the cross marked by smaller crosses  along the pilgrimage route; in the Catholic religion the Stations of the Cross are  14 paintings or carvings, each one depicting the successive incidents during Christ’s progression from condemnation by Pilate, to crucifixion and burial; prayers and devotions are done for each station.  During Holy Week many Boholanos do a pilgrimage walk to the site to make a wish.  They believe that if you climb the mountain and reach the cross, you say a prayer and make a wish and it will come true.

During  Holy Week when thousands of people visit the site the Loboc Government deploys policemen to secure the safety of pilgrims.  The secured area is only from Loboc Church to Loboc Big Cross.  The roads leading from the Tagbilaran Cathedral Church to Loboc Church have no security.   That’s why a majority of the pilgrims start the sacrificial walk from Loboc Church, it’s safer.


                                                       

  This is where the journey begins!!!

Holy Week

On March 24, Maundy Thursday  (the day of Last Supper)  we went to the Tagbilaran Cathedral Church.  We attended Mass and asked God to guide and protect us in our journey.  We asked for the strength and courage to face trials while we are on the road.

 

 

Holy Week Holy Week

We started our journey around 4 p.m. (by the way you can start at any time or day during Holy Week or anytime of year.  You can drive a car or ride a bike from Tagbilaran Cathedral Church to Loboc Big Cross if you prefer. But for us we will walk as a sacrifice.) We go during Holy Week because of our religious beliefs and we choose to start on Maundy Thursday so we can arrive at the cross on Good Friday, the day it was said Jesus died to save our sins. We stayed at the station in vigil for the death of Jesus. You can stay or rest at any of the stations along the way or at the Cross.

So we started our long 29 km. walk from Tagbilaran Cathedral to Loboc Cruz Daku.  It’s super dusty, there’s lots of traffic, and it’s very hot.  You should wear  a cap or bring an umbrella.  You should  bring food for dinner and snacks and most importantly lots of water.  You’re gonna need it badly along the way!  If you didn’t pack food and water no worries; you can buy food and drinks along the way but it’s quite expensive.   To save money we brought our own.   Bring at least 14 candles too,  you will use them in every station of the cross.

Holy Week

Anyway we walked 7 Km and around 7:00pm we stopped for dinner.  Then we continued our walk and reached Loay Bridge around 10:00pm. You can see  anchored floating restaurants down river. We stopped to rest for 30 minutes, mu shoulders, legs, and feet were in pain. The kids were tired and wanted  a nap  but we needed to  continue our journey.

So  started walking again, this time we walked slowly because our energy is waning.  I felt like sleeping but I walked carrying bags, tent and water.  We kept moving.

I suggest if you choose to walk, bring taser, or a knife, or something to protect yourself from bad people who stalk the route waiting for the opportunity to rob (or worse) pilgrims.  Never go alone, bring your friends and family so you have lots of company, there’s safety in numbers.

Holy Week

A little after midnight, its Good Friday already, we arrived at Loboc Church.  We put up our tents at the plaza in front of the church and rested for about an hour.  You can set up a tent and rest in the plaza, there are many people there doing just that.

Restrooms, one for men and another for women, are located across the street behind the bus station.  Bring tissues or toilet paper, handwipes or soap, most public restrooms in the Philippines are not equipped with anything.

At 1:30am we started the walk from Loboc Church to our final destination the Loboc Big CrossBut  before you take your first steps on the route cops who will inspect your bags.   They are  searching for weapons, illegal substances, and liquor.  These items are forbidden on the pilgrimage route.  After the inspection you can begin the climb to the Cross.

Holy Week

We had to get moving, we had to walk approximately 4 km to  reach the Cross. There are lots of people walking the same route, some are praying as they walk.  Some are silent and very serious but the rest are very noisy.   It’s a 1 1/2 km to  the first station, remember, there are 13 stations left and you have to save energy for the rest.  Anyway after the first station the next station is just 20-30 meters away.  But the mountain is very steep, it’s almost vertical and  you have to climb carefully to reach the  other stations.

There is an altar at every station.  You can say prayer and  light a candle at each station. You leave the candle at each station, but its up to you how many candles you want to light at each station, but if you didn’t bring extra save it because you have 14 stations. (This picture was taken early in the morning because when we arrived at the cross it was still, we took it so you can see the view.)

 

Holy WeekAfter  climbing 150 -200 steps and stopping at 13 stations we arrived at the Big Cross.

Holy Week

We arrived at the Big Cross about 4:00 am!!!!

We were all exhausted but we felt good.   We prayed and made a wish. We rested for awhile then headed back down.  At the top there are what they called HABAL HABAL DRIVERS ,  drivers with motorcycles that will give you  a ride down if you pay P40.oo per person.

I felt like I was in heaven when I reached the top!   It’s pretty amazing. The view is amazing and the journey well worth it!


 

 

Travel With Kids

Travel With Kids

Travel with KidsI’ve been traveling with kids since I was 16. I flew with my exhausted aunt and her kids, at the time an infant and a toddler, on the red-eye from Honolulu to New York. A daunting experience.

My aunt had arrived Honolulu from Manila with a teething 10 month old and a homesick 2 year old in tow. The one day stop was to let her rest and re-charge, instead it exhausted us all. My father decreed I help her on the last leg of the journey. Seemed like a spring break bonus, an unexpected vacation to the Big Apple. Until I found myself walking up and down the aisle of a 10 hour flight soothing a crying baby or chasing a cranky toddler. When we reached New York I had sworn off ever having kids!

Years later I found myself on that same flight with my 9 month old daughter. I was wiser and more prepared, or so I thought. I ordered baby food from the airline (yes back then they provided food), packed my carry on with formula, diapers, clothes, favorite blanket, teddy bear, and toys. We would get on the plane, my baby would behave all the way to New York. In my dreams! Within minutes of boarding my daughter had unwrapped and inflated the child’s life vest we were given and torn up all the magazines in the seat pocket. She screamed during take-off, the pressure hurt her ears. She refused to eat the baby food and would not go to sleep. I vowed never to travel with kids again. I would make this vow many more times.

Living in Hawaii makes traveling mandatory if we want to go on vacation, visit relatives, and attend family functions. I have traveled with my 3 kids on planes, trains, automobiles, and cruise ships. I traveled with them as infants, toddlers, and teenagers. They have caused me much embarrassment. Like the time my 2 year old son flung peas and carrots at the man sitting next to us or when my youngest child (she was 11 months old at the time) hurled her bottle at the head of the man sitting in front of us. They have annoyed me, it seemed like my then teenagers spent every minute of our cross country road trips arguing and complaining. They have worried me, keeping track of teens on a huge cruise ship can be exhausting, particularly when they are not where they say they will be.

In spite the aggravation I’m glad we took those trips, travel is one of the best ways to broaden a child’s horizons. Whether it be a visit to Grandma’s house in Houston, a wedding in New York, a cross country road trip from Maine to California, or a cruise to Europe, travel exposes children to different cultures, foods, sights, people, and experiences.

My kids are grown with kids of their own. I still travel with kids, my grandkids! It’s gotten easier. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve become an expert traveler or because I’ve embraced new technologies, namely ipods and ipads; or a combination of both.

I’ve decided to write a blog focusing on travel with kids. I will offer tips on traveling with children of all ages on different modes of transportation, places to see, things to do, and other fun stuff that I’ve done with my kids and grandkids. I hope you will join me on this new adventure.


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