|Location: Caglago Mountain, Barangay Tabgon, Caramoan, Camarines Sur, Philippines |
Date Opened to the Public – First Image: May 20, 1990
Date Opened to the Public – Second Image as Replacement: May 1, 2008
No. of Steps from base to the summit: 530
Descriptive Summary: This is a 26-foot image of the Blessed Virgin Mary currently named as the Shrine of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, the Mother of Peace. Records tell that its first image was badly damaged by super Typhoon Loleng in October 21, 1998 wherein partly its mantle was blown off and some fingers were lost. In 1999, it was also struck by a lightning which severely damaged it that its restoration may no longer practical. Thus, another image was constructed and was completed on May 1, 2008.
View Caramoan in a larger map
Caramoan is known for its beautiful islands dotting the Maqueda Channel. Caramoan municipality is a peninsula which is a part of Bicol Region mainland.
You will find the people of Caramoan to be religious as a proof that its town’s parish church are always filled with church goers attending even a Saturday morning mass.
The town itself has imposing building structures and aside from its parish church, its municipal hall can also be a pride of the people of Caramoan as its design and structure looks new and palacial.
Heading to the Shrine of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary boarding a chartered single motorcycle with a maximum of two passengers is quite rewarding as you see the charming countryside. The scent of a rice field is quite refreshing. The gentle blow of cool mountain breeze completes the package.
As I pass thru a bridge turned to a small dam, I can’t help but lift from the vehicle and feel the aura of being in a river where just like the place where I grew up, a river is the source of everything where mothers are in a long line washing their clothes while the kids are having a playful swim. Fathers are seen to fetch water and accompany their carabaos for fresh drink in the river.
The signage arc serves to be the jump-off point for pilgrims. If you plan to scale these concrete steps leading to the grotto, do bring water to hydrate in between your steps and a towel to wipe the sweat off. If you're going in the morning where I did, either wear a hat or a shawl because it will get very hot! The challenge is in the number of steps, not the steps themselves. The steps, while not equally-sized, are all cement, and there are railings to hold onto as well.
As you climb higher on stairs, superb views of the Maqueda Channel will unfold to your very own eyes not to mention that sunrise magnify the beauty of the surroundings.
Being physically fit since I am a mountaineer was not at exactly a challenge. I did the climbing with ease and gusto. Honestly, I was so intoxicated of the beautiful nature that besieged me. It was great to be in this part of the Earth. Try it and you will be able to relate to my experience.
Not yet on top of the Grotto, these waving flags would welcome you with all hospitality as if those big arms ready to embrace you with warmness.
Reaching the Grotto is such a rewarding experience. It is like a feeling of a mountaineer reaching the summit of a mountain. But this one is reaching the arms of the Mama Mary figuratively.
After praying the Holy Rosary, I stayed a bit longer to feel the presence of the Holy Mother and to give my full veneration to Her.
As an additional background, the construction of the first structural image of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary began in 1989 under the leadership of St. Dominic of Guzman parish priest Rev. Fr. Felix F. Barella. During its construction, the people of Caramoan had to climb Mt. Caglago to bring the materials. It was completed the following year through foreign and local funding.
The second sculpture was built through Ben Niera who was commissioned by Rev. Msgr. Juan N. Buentiempo which was completed on May 1, 2008.
In May 2000, during the occasion of the Great Jubilee Year, the Shrine was declared as one of the pilgrimage sites in the Archdiocese of Caceres.
The place would really be a total sacred ground had it not with the presence of these two telecommunication towers. I find it difficult to capture a total picture of the image removing these structures as a part of the Grotto.
Descending the Grotto is easier compared to climbing it. For a pilgrim whose age and health is in the brink of severe condition, climbing is like fighting with cardiac assaults while descending is equally exhausting as you control your weight in every step you make.
HOLY MASS CELEBRATION IN THE SHRINE
The Eucharist is celebrated in this Shrine every first Sunday of the month and other occasions such as the anniversary of the foundation of the image (20th of May), Triduum, and feast of the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, Mother of Peace (4th of October).
HOW TO GET THERE
You may find this link useful Manila to Caramoan Tour in providing you with options on how to go to Caramoan town. From the town, you either hire a van or a single tricycle with maximum of two backride passengers. The round trip fare is negotiable but I paid P150 since the shrine is quite far from the town. The driver will wait for you from the jump-off point when you completely descended the shrine.