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The Archdiocesan Shrine of the Divine Mercy at El Salvador, Misamis Oriental is a MUST place to visit as it being the tallest Divine Mercy in the world. Around 30 minutes drive from Cagayan De Oro City, Philippines, this shrine sits atop a hill with 9.8 hectares of landscape that allows one to meditate and solemnly pray. It has an additional parking space to safely park vehicles out of traffics way, a land area total of 11.8 hectares. To this date it is continually developed with buildings, chapels, and additional landscaping.
My first visit was with my friends, Jeddy and Ed Michael. We traveled by bus and stopped at the foot of the Divine Mercy trail. By there, we rode a habal-habal (motorcycle). We were dropped off at the main stairwell of the Shrine.
It was a pretty long way up the stairs. At the bottom were white crosses that weaves around the lawn as stations for the Via Crucis or Way of the Cross. As we made our way up the stairs, we stopped by the midsection where the Virgin Mary stands on her garden. Making your way up the stairs is a challenge, and not for the faint-hearted or the aged. You can enter through the back portion of the shrine where the vehicles are parked. The walk around it is long but has even walkway for those who find it hard going through the stairwell.
We were chatting our way up when we got the last 3-4steps and saw the Sacred Heart of Jesus standing massively on a hilltop with it’s beautifully orchestrated blooms and greens in it’s gardens. It was on Sept. 8, 2009 that more than 20,000 pilgrims journeyed to Divine Mercy Hills at northern Mindanao for the dedication and blessing of a 50-foot Divine Mercy statue and to celebrate the Blessed Mother’s birthday. I could only imagine how it was with thousands of pilgrims on it’s lawn looking up to it with the sky as it’s backdrop.
The statue of Divine Mercy in itself is breathing taking as it massively stands at the highest point of the hill set to be captured with the sky as its natural back draft. On a hill 500 feet above sea level, the shrine looks out to Macalajar Bay and a view of the embattled villages in the mountains of Lanao. The location is not deliberate, the priests, who take care of the shrine, say that God chose the place to be a center for dialogue and healing for the people of Mindanao.
+ Wear appropriate clothing. No shorts, sleeveless shirts/blouses, tight fitting bottoms or leggings allowed. I made a mistake on my second visit by wearing leggings, I was made to wear a gartered skirt in blue or red. thus, the minimum camera exposure I had then.
+ Bring bottled water for drinking and an umbrella. It gets hot around midday.
+ Light a candle at the back portion of the shrine for prayers of request or thanksgiving.
+ Bring a water canister. There are pipes and faucets of flowing water said to be blessed. If you must, bring some for home.
HOW TO GET HERE (MAP: Here)
1. Travel to Cagayan de Oro City
*** Daily flights
2. Travel by bus liners (Rural transit, Super Five, etc)
***Fare Rate: 30-60Php
3. Ask the driver to drop you off El Salvador Divine Mercy Shrine
4. Take a Habal-Habal or motorcycle ride
***Ask the driver to pick you up at a specific time, you can ask for their mobile numbers to be sure
*** Fare Rate 25Php
“People travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination,
the kind of people they ignore at home.” – Dagobert D. Runes