Sanctuary of Mama Mary

I find myself sitting at the back of a van full of passengers, staring at a parade outside as we pass by them. We are on our way home. Men, dressed in colorful outfits, riding unicycles of different shapes and sizes, catch our attention. The rest of the people of the parade wore regular shirts and jeans, holding banners of something. But now that they’re out of sight, I’m gonna blog about my day, starting from how I woke up.

This morning, my board mates were desperately trying to wake me up. They tried tickling my feet, lifting my bed, and screaming their lungs out. Their efforts didn’t go to waste, though. They successfully woke me up. Information about today’s itinerary was immediately disclosed to me. I guess it was perfect timing, considering the fact that yesterday was my last day in the Kitchen Department. I totally had the day off. Our destination: Sanctuary of Mama Mary at a place called Simala. It was a nice place to visit, especially for religious people like me. Back at our place, me and my family always go to church every Sunday. Here, I hardly have the chance to do so. That’s why I made up for my losses today.

Daphne, one of my board mates, planned on going to Simala with Jessa, our friend, who lives near Crown Regency where I’m having my practicum. They had originally planned to go there with just the two of them. Seeing as how I had the day off, they invited me. I liked the idea so I tagged along. We rendezvoused with Jessa at a place called EMALL (Elizabeth Mall). We weren’t exactly sure where we were supposed to find the van, so we did a little inquiring with the traffic enforcers. They didn’t really do a good job of giving directions. All they did was point in one direction and said, “Go that way”. Way to give directions. We had no choice but to follow where his finger pointed. Along the way, a random person suddenly approached us. He asked if we wanted to go to Simala. We nodded, and headed over to the van. We left after 15 minutes.

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Road trips in vans always make me feel sleepy, so I slept the entire way. When I woke up, I saw this magnificent holy structure – Sanctuary of Mama Mary. It was huge. And it was way up high, with two staircases on both sides. We hurried inside to catch the mass. The moment we stepped foot inside, we were at a loss for words. It was beyond magnificent. The altar was caste-like. Angels with trumpets lined up at both sides. A painting of The Last Supper was present above, birds gathering at its frames. A set of images was also exactly above us, arranged in a circle. I have pictures with my Sony Cam and my iPod, but I’ll only be able to post my iPod pics.

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Before the mass started, the priests informed us to purchase different colored candles so that he may bless it at the beginning. The candles cost 35 Pesos each (less than 1 US Dollar). There are a total of 13 colors, each bearing a symbol/meaning. I chose the color white – Purity (Enlightenment, Guidance, Right Path. I deemed it the right color as I always pray to God to be guided to the right path every single night before going to bed. We proceeded to the mass afterwards.

The whole mass was in Bisaya, the local language here in Cebu. I hardly understood anything. Even the songs were in Bisaya, but they were music to my ears. I liked it. We lighted our candles outside after the mass, prayin to our dear God. Then, we went upstairs. We had to remove our shoes/slippers before we could enter.

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The second story was full of Mama Mary statues of different sizes and colors. There was a Chinese Mama Mary, a Korean, a Japanese, even an African. It is a compilation of the various kinds of Mama Mary, with their names, descriptions, and feast days. There was also one Mama Mary: Lady of Fatima – the origin of the name of our place (Fatima). Our day of fiesta – 13th of May – commemorates Lady of Fatima’s feast day. The end of the tour came faster than I expected. We took pictures of the place before going home.

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