MANILA -- Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo urged on Thursday the public to visit faith-based destinations the Department of Tourism (DOT) has collated, and to participate in Lenten activities it lined up for this year's Holy Week.

Among destinations mentioned by Teo are the shrines of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union and Pangasinan, all of which are on the list of top recommended faith destinations in Region 1, where the Nuestra Señora De La Asuncion, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located.

For pilgrims who will join in the Visita Iglesia in Cagayan Valley, the Tourism chief said the region has created packages highlighting religious excursions in the provinces.

On the other hand, she said Region 4-B (Mimaropa) is also a must visit with its famous Moriones Tableau, a century old tradition in Marinduque staged during the week-long celebration of the Holy Week, where locals would re-enact Christ's passion and death, with Longinus as the other central character, showing a glimpse of the province's religious history.

She also noted that Western Visayas also offers unique Holy Week celebrations in Bacolod City, Talisay City and Valladolid. Bacolod City is known for "Kalbaryo sang Krus," a street drama portraying the suffering and death of Jesus.

"It is interesting to note that Dipolog City in Western Visayas will be staging its annual Katkat Sakripisyo on Good Friday, a depiction of the passion, suffering and death of Christ in Linabo Peak, where pilgrims will complete the 3,003-step katkat (climb) until the last of the 14 Stations of the Cross," she added.

Jumping to another region, Teo said pilgrims should also visit the historic churches of Silay and Cadiz City, and participate in the Worship Festival, Pamalandong sa Tamborong, and Taltal in Iloilo and Guimaras.

She then invited tourists to tour the shrines and churches of Misamis Occidental, Lanao, Bukidnon, Camiguin in Northern Mindanao.

"The Sunken Cemetery of Camiguin is a must-see for tourists and pilgrims alike, as well as the St. John the Baptist Church, a known heritage site in Misamis Occidental. The region also celebrates a number of religious festivals for the Holy Week celebration, namely the Feast of the Divine Mercy, Hinuklog, Panaad and Patunob Festival," Teo said.

Teo said with the creation of the Faith and Farm Tourism sector, the agency is poised "to go full swing on piloting emerging faith tourism destinations this year."

The DOT chief has given the sector the marching order to focus on the promotion of Faith-based tourism products in the different regions of the Philippines, the only Catholic country in Asia.

Faith and Farm Tourism Undersecretary Marco Bautista said that with him at the helm of the new sector, there would be “enhanced promotions of the country’s rich cultural heritage embodied in the historical, architectural and religious significance of numerous churches and age-old traditions.” (PNA)