I am not that religious and I hate climbing BUT I always do it just so I can say I did it, and at the end of it all, swear that I would never ever do it again. Just like what I did with Mt. Tapyas in Coron; but that wasn’t as hard as the 524-step climb to get to this shrine on top of Caglago Mountain in Barangay Tabgon, Caramoan, Camarines Sur.
When my friends and my brother were in Caramoan back in 2007, he already asked us if we wanted to go to the grotto – and we all said no. I have not regretted that decision at all; but this time, I said, “I’m here now and might as well get this over with.”
So I left my 10-month old daughter, who was then asleep, in the arms of our designated tour guide and we met up with another local in the area who would be the one to accompany us up the shrine. I was in no way going to take my daughter up those steps! I could barely get my own body up there, what more with a baby in my arms. Suicide, I thought! 😛 If there was no way I could have left my baby, I would have easily chosen not to go up.
Sure enough, I made a lot of rest stops, taking photos along the way.
The construction of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, Mother of Peace Grotto 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 grotto opened its door to the public in 20 May 1990 led by Archbishop of Caceres Most Reverend Leonardo Z. Legaspi OP. D.D. – Wikipilipinas
The Eucharist is celebrated in the 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).
I found it sad that the authorities had allowed the construction of these cell sites right at the back of the grotto. It is such a photo spoiler…
The Marian image (image of Our Lady) is the biggest in the Philippines. The image is lighted at night to guide the fishermen back to the shore of Tagbon. From afar, the image resembles the out-stretched arms of Jesus in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
In 21 October 1998, super typhoon Loleng ravaged the whole town of Caramoan and did not spare the Marian image. Deep cracks appeared around the image, part of the mantle was blown off, and few fingers were lost.
In 1999, the image of Our Lady was struck by a lightning that caused serious damages on it. The restoration of the image proved to be futile as weather conditions continuously ran bad in the town. Instead of restoring it, Archbishop Legaspi was presented by a proposal to replace the image of Our Lady during the priest’s assembly in 11 May 2000 at the parish of St. Joseph, San Jose, Camarines Sur.
Rev. Msgr. Juan N. Buentiempo commissioned Ben Nierva to make the second sculpture of the Marian. Nierva finished the sculpture in 1 May 2008. Since then, the grotto became a regular venue of Via Crusis during holy week.
I am happy to have been able to go up the shrine, even just this once. I am never going up again. I did pray though; and whatever it is that I prayed for, that I get to keep for myself.
The photos show banding in the sky because they are low-res copies of the original images.
Click here to view the entire Caramoan photo set on Flickr.
I found an interesting site for panoramas, check it out here.