The Philippines takes pride in being the only Catholic nation in Asia. And nowhere else is that so obvious than here in Bohol. If you want a place for reflection and penitence during Holy Week, Bohol can be the destination of choice for the Catholic faithful as well.
During Lent, Bolanon Catholics do their Visita Iglesia in a huge way. On the eve of Good Friday Tagbilaran denizens walk a 24km walk from Tagbilaran City to the town of Loboc. Once in Loboc the trek culminates in a 45 minute hike up the hill of Krus Daku literally big cross. That day I was privileged to join the Daganista de Bohol in what could have easily been a half marathon run for them.
The whole trek provided wonderful views of Spanish era churches like the majestic Baclayon church which is a well known tourist spot. Its eye candy to the avid photographer and a highly spiritual experience for the Catholic pilgrim. Four churches, several bridges and six and a half hours later we make it to Loboc church and at the foot of Krus Daku’s hill. The cross is so big that in the dark of midnight it would be clearly seen from the town of Loay 5.4 Kms away.
Uphill you are met with rocky trail though concrete in some areas. In certain areas the incline could be a steep 45 degrees, in other places steeper. That night the moon was full and exceptionally bright. Towards the summit the path, the grass and other foliage conspired with the light of the moon and stars to give the trail a fantasy feel to it. I felt like I was on the way to Rivendell with Frodo and the other hobbits.
Then the purpose of the climb soon becomes evident and an aura of piety descended on my companions as we reached the Arko or arch which marked the beginning of the Krus Daku trail which is marked by 14 Stations of the Cross scattered across the hillside.
Traversing the stations proved physically challenging with areas of slippery grass and rocks and steep trails, amazingly this didn’t deter senior citizens and little children. All around were weary accomplished pilgrims in their tents and sleeping bags getting much needed rest.
The most challenging traverse had to be the one between stations 13 and 14 which had what was easily a hundred steps at the end of which was the cross and at its feet the 14th station.
There was nothing to do but rest after such a long trek. The enforced relaxation was worth it. Within another hour or so I was greeted with a beautiful sunrise and a magnificent view of fog covered tree lines and a view of the Bohol sea. The view was just amazing.
I think I’m gonna do that again next year. Care to join me?