MANILA – Aside from doing sacrifices and penitence, many faithful seek to have some quiet time to reflect and commune with God through prayers during the Holy Week.
However, most of the time, the hustle and bustle in Metro Manila is a distraction in achieving this simple goal at this holy time of the year.
The Padre Pio Mountain of Healing at Barangay Paradise 3, San Jose Del Monte City in neighboring Bulacan province gives this opportunity by offering a solemn and quiet place for those who wanted to spend some time in prayer while communing with God.
Couple Alfredo and Terry Altar traveled all the way from Mandaluyong City to visit this place and climb the 150 steps to reach its peak.
It is their second time at the Padre Pio Mountain of Healing, and plan to return whenever they can to pray.
“Pangalawang punta na namin, eh naano namin parang solemn siya. Kasi aakyat ka ng bundok parang nagsasakrispisyo na rin kaya bumabalik kami (It is our second time, because we saw that it is solemn. Climbing the mountain is already like doing a sacrifice, that is why we come back),” Alfredo said.
“Kala mo mahirap, pag umaakyat ka na, parang hindi mo kaya. Pero pag nakarating ka na okay na yung sakrispisyo mo, parang yung simula na pinagdaanan mong hirap nakakaraos din (It seems difficult, when you start climbing up, you feel like you can’t make it to the top. But as soon as you reach the peak, you feel that your sacrifices paid off. It’s like your previous difficulties, but all have passed),” Terry said.
Another couple, Dennis and Mylene Ortiz, said they are praying for the Covid-19 pandemic to totally end, as well as for peace in the country.
“Masarap, stress free, Holy Week po kasi masarap talagang pumunta dito. Katulad nito yung aakyat ka ng mataas, parang kasama na rin dun sa sacrifice dun sa Holy Week (It’s nice to come here for the Holy Week, it is stress free. Climbing the mountain feels like it’s part of the sacrifices during the Holy Week),” Mylene said.
The view from the top of the Padre Pio Mountain of Healing (PNA photo by Raquel Bonustro)
For 78-year-old Dette Anastacio of Montalban town, Rizal province, visiting the place is already part of her Holy Week vows.
She said that upon reaching the top, she feels lighter as if she has gotten rid of all her worries.
“Panata ko lang pag ganitong mahal na araw, pangatlo pa lang ngayon. Maraming kahilingan. Sa kalakasan, bigyan pa ako ng mahabang buhay para makita ko pa yung mga apo kong nagsisipag-aral, makatapos sila (I have made this my vow during holy week, it’s my third time here. I pray for so many things, strength, long life so that I can still see my grandchildren finish their studies),” Anastacio said.
Meanwhile, Lolita Yero said that she has so many things to be thankful for, especially when her son recovered from his kidney problem.
“Kasi nung bata pa po siya nagkaroon siya ng sakit sa kidney. Ginamit ko yung leaflet, dasal lang ako tapos pinapahid ko sa kanya. Sa awa ng Diyos high school na siya (He had kidney problems when he was still a kid, I used a prayer leaflet, I just prayed and wipe it on him. By the grace of God, he is now in high school),” she said.
The Padre Pio Mountain of Healing is now considered a pilgrimage site, according to its administrator Elaine Rodriguez.
On Sundays alone, around 5,000 pilgrims visit to attend the holy mass and pray.
Rodriguez said many have told them that their petitions have been granted after deeply praying to God.
“Naniniwala kami na lahat ng pumupunta dito na may kahilingan, lalo na yung may mga sakit na humihiling ng kagalingan ay maipagkakaloob sa kanila. Actually, madami na po, madami na ang nagpatunay sa amin nuon (We believe that everyone who comes here have their own petitions, especially the sick who pray for healing. Actually, many have confirmed to us that their prayers were answered),” she said.
According to Rodriguez, the Padre Pio Mountain of Healing was built in 2018 by the Aquino couple who have been praying for a child.
After their wish has been granted, they decided to build the place on their private land as a sign of gratitude and to introduce Padre Pio to the residents of the area.
Rodriguez is inviting the faithful to visit the place for the rest of the Holy Week and pray. (PNA)