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Simala Shrine is a renowned religious site in Cebu that is believed to be a place where miracles happened. Thousands of devotees visited this holy place every week from all over the country.
Miraculous Trip for the Devoted at the Simala Shrine
Simala Shrine was built by the Marian Monks in 1998 on a place originally known as Marian Hills due to their presence. The monks live and cultivate the land,turning it into a small farm, as they were staying there. Over time, they built a chapel and houses. As the community was hit by an epidemic, the monks prayed to Virgin Mary for an intercession that might ease the victim's suffering and help the community to be on their feet again. Their prayers were answered and the shrine became gradually known as the place where miracles happened, attracting many pilgrims and devotees to visit the Simala Shrine.
As a Catholic holy site, Simala Shrine has plenty of famous figures turned into sculptures. The most prominent sculpture that you can find here is the statue of Virgin Mary that is known as the Mama Maria Sa Lindogon or Birhen sa Himala. The statue was beautifully decorated and a lot of people visited the place to make a prayer in front of the statue. Other than that, visitors can also find statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary from various culture, such as the Virgin of Guadaloupe, or the Japanese version of Virgin Mary wearing a kimono.
Many people have come to visit the Nazareth Well, or better known as Mary's Well, to make a prayer and toss in a coin to the well as a symbol of good luck. Mary's Well itself is a well that draws from an underground spring and is reputed as the spot where the event called Annunciation happened. In the Annunciation event, the angel Gabriel manifested himself in front of Mary, telling her that she would bear the Son of God and her son would be known as the Messiah. Simala Shrine has a replica of the renowned Mary's Well and is a popular spot where visitors often do the lucky coin toss as they silently made their prayer in their hearts.
Around sixty years ago in the past, an old man named Ireneo Villamor made a prediction that the Lindogon Hills, as the place was called before it was called Marian Hills, will become a blessed place in the future. He also said that a lady in white will become the center of all people who reside there and her followers will undergo persecution and suffering, a prophecy that came true as the place become a holy shrine to Mother Mary, a lady often depicted in white. Nowadays, you can see the story at Simala Shrine through a painting on a wall that shows a religious old man who predicted all of these.
Even if you are not a devout or religious person, Simala Shrine still offers a lot of interesting stuffs that were too amazing to pass up. The architecture of this place is reminiscent of a European castle, from the semicircular stairs that lead to the main area, the beautifully decorated gardens and halls, to the amazing breathtaking scenery seen from on top of one of the towers. The interior of this monastery is also decorated beautifully, as some people even compared it to the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City that is renowned for its beauty.
If you are a Catholic, Simala Shrine also performs a mass that was being held every day so you can try to attend one of them. The mass is held once a day every 12.00 PM from Monday to Friday, 10.30 PM during Saturday, twice on 12.00 PM and 3.30 PM Sunday, and at 10.30 PM and 3.30 PM at the 13th day of the month. It will certainly be a memorable occasion for you to try.
How to Get Tickets?
Simala Shrine is open for the public. Anyone could make a pilgrimage or visit without having to pay anything. However, the Shrine is also accepting any alms or donations which then will be used to maintain and develop the shrine further.
How To Get Around?
Most of the area is accessible by foot, so walking around the complex is probably the best thing to do as you can see the beautiful scenery along the way.
What Should I Wear?
You should keep in mind that this is a religious site, so please wear appropriate dress and clothing. Visitors should avoid wearing revealing clothing or other kind of attire that might be considered offensive. Other than that, you might want to wear something light as the weather in Philippines can get pretty hot and humid. Don't forget to wear comfortable shoes as you will be walking or climbing stairs a lot.
Best Time to Visit
Best time to visit Simala Shrine is during the off season or outside any Christian or Catholic holiday, as it tends to be more crowded during the said holidays. However, due to the shrine's popularity, the Simala Shrina is always packed with tourists all year long. If you want to avoid crowds, visit during the weekdays.
Will I Need a Guide?
No, you don't need a guide to get around the shrine. You can easily ask the monks or locals to get around.
How To Get There?
From Cebu City, go to South Bus Terminal near the Elizabeth Mall or also known as 'E-mall' and ride a bus there going to Sibonga. Just tell the drivers to stop you at the road that will lead you going to Simala Church. From there, you can either walk, rent a 'Habal-Habal', or a motorcycle ride to get to Simala Shrine.