Guimaras: Balaan Bukid Shrine

PitStop 2: Balaan Bukid Shrine

After feasting on the delicacies made by the Trappist monks and getting a short me-time with Daddy Jess, we proceeded with our next destination - Balaan Bukid Shrine.

Balaan Bukid,which means Holy Mountain in Visayan dialect, is a popular destination for local and foreign pilgrims every Lenten Season. 
Silently sitting on top is the Ave Marie Shrine built on 1954, through the efforts of the Lopez Family as a form of gratitude to Mother Mary's protection during the war.
The image of Mother & Child enshrined at the chapel was designed by a certain Crisogono Domingo, a leper patient of Sta. Barbara Leprosarium. The Shrine was managed by the Knights of Columbus of Jaro and lately it was turned over to the Parish of St. John the Baptist by Msgr. Angel Lagdameo, Bishop, Archdioses of Jaro. During the Lenten Season and every 1st of May, both local and foreign visitors particularly devotees flock to this place for a pilgrimage on the 14 stations of Jesus Crucifixion.

We had to endure some 30-minute trek up the rocky trail to get to the shrine As we started ascending towards the peak to take a glimpse of the shrine, etched on the side of the trail were pictures of the station of the cross depicting the sacrifices in the life of Daddy Jess. It turned out that this spot has been a must-go destination for Catholic devotees every Holy Week. It was a bit of challenge as it was high noon when we did the trek but the reward waiting for us on top was beyond words.

As we reached the summit, a panoramic view of Iloilo City with the Iloilo Straight separating Guimaras blew our breaths away. It was spectacular. Lush greens were all over the place. The trek under the heat of Mr Sun was nothing when we got to our reward. Expectations met. :]

View on top.
A small chapel sitting on top of the mountain greeted us with blissful silence as we entered the vicinity.  According to Ate Amy [our guide, the driver's wife], Balaan Bukid served as a venue for penance for people who seek a place to think, repent and reflect. It could get pretty crowded during Holy Week since it has been part of an Ilonggo's tradition to climb the mountain and pray.

We were fortunate to have the place to ourselves. The breath-taking view, fresh cool air and serene ambiance were enough to set us into reflection mode. I could only imagine how magical it would feel like experiencing sunset or sunrise at the peak. 

A few photos and tons of laugh after, off we went to the next destination - Guimaras Mango Tasting.

Sidetrip: Smallest Plaza
On our way to the next pitstop, we passed by what looked like a plaza where a statue of Jose Rizal has been basking under the heat of Mr Sun. We didn't bother stopping by because we thought it was just one of those 'welcome-to-[insert name of place]' street signage. But, boy were we wrong.

The Smallest Plaza, as the name suggest, is a small area where the community gather for entertainment, news or updates. It's just like any other plazas but the catch is it's size. It still has the basic what-to-see on every plaza in the Philippines - a mini monument of Jose Rizal, a few steps and a mini stage.
The Smallest Plaza was not made for small people. It was just called so because of the size. :] be continued.

Getting around Guimaras from Jordan Port.
After signing off the registration form on the Tourism Booth, there are a lot of pedicab drivers at the port area  you can negotiate with on how much their rates are when going around Guimaras or to a specific destination. Travel time depends on which destinations you have in mind or which spot the driver [slash] tour guide offers.

Guimaras Series:  of sweet mangoes and memories
A Sandbar Island Beach Resort, Concepcion, Iloilo Sidetrip

Check out the video we made just to stop that damn Nicki Minaj from ringing in our heads. Talk about LSS. 

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