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Monday, 20 February 2017 13:00



Cebu City — This magnificent place passes as one of the wonders of the Philippines. Aren’t we tired of reading about beaches, hot springs, waterfalls and caves? You may have visited this holy, hilly land sojourned by thousands of pilgrims each year seeking comfort and help for their ailment. It’s called the Monastery of the Holy Eucharist or the Simala Shrine.

This wonderful castle-like shrine built on the sprawling hills of upper Lindogon, Simala, Sibongan, Cebu was designed and erected in 1998 by Marian Monks from Pampanga. It is believed that several miraculous occurrences happened here, including Mama Mary’s shedding of tears.

Because of the miracles, the Simala Shrine became known that devotees all over the world flock here each year to seek redress from sickness through written petitions that are dropped in a box – believing that their supplications would be answered. Topping the list are the crippled, the blind and the bar and board takers.

If you’ve seen any of the “Lords of the Ring” sequels, then this castle will stun you, for the builders of this shrine were architectural geniuses. In this sacred church, shoes, shorts, sleeveless t-shirts and blouses are not allowed. You can tour the premises and marvel at the relics, statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary and other venerated objects and religious vestiges.

It was a certain Ireneo Villamor, nicknamed “Inking Niyong”, a native of Lindogan, who predicted that “here comes a time a hill in Lindogan will become ‘balaan’ (blessed). A white Lady will stand soon and she will be the center of all people, but her pious servants will endure with great sufferings and persecutions. Testimonies of healing by the pilgrims are encased in glass.

This astounding, massive walled structure is a wonder to behold. By car, you’ll reach your destination in an hour-and-a-half. On your way back to Cebu city, you’ll pass by a row of stands in Car Car city selling the best chicharon in the world, regular and spicy. The Hanazono boys will have a taste of this cholesterol-filled, arthritis-triggering deep-fried pork skin tonight.

And speaking of Cebu, construction here is booming. Labor is being imported from the Bicol Region and other parts of the Visayas because of the lack of local manpower, especially welders. Cebu owns six percent of the country’s total Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Its cement and steel factories are running overtime to meet the construction demands. And, like Metro-Manila, traffic is monstrous. Consumer spending is high as gleaned from the number of super malls that went up in the last three years. Restaurants are never empty anytime of the day until midnight. Cebuanos love to eat and sing.

Cebu is the Visayas’s largest economic, financial and industrial city. It has a strong economy and loaded with businessmen with high managerial skills and knowledge. It is undoubtedly the second city of the country as it is fast catching up with Metro-Manila.

As Manila sinks in traffic, pollution, crime, political intramurals and poverty (which is 21 percent and rising), Cebu, like Jupiter, is ascending.