Antipolo was one of those destinations that I never really considered far. Having lived on the fringe of Quezon CIty and Marikina for most of my life, I have trekked the route to Antipolo via Marcos Highway many times in the past. But for me, Antipolo was simply destination with the great view of the city. I used to appreciate the view from Sumulong Highway in Antipolo long before there was a Padi’s Point, when all there was were empty lots and grassy hillsides.
In all this time, I have never really been to Antipolo City itself. I may have passed through Antipolo say, en route to some biker’s trail, or en route to Laguna Bay. Needless to say, I have never really explored this one city I have known “about” for all these years. Today I decided it was time for me to visit Antipolo.
Last night I did some research on a handful of destinations Antipolo is known for. Armed with a few printouts and maps of Antipolo, I picked up travel buddy Kent Macatangay and sent off for Antipolo. The first destination… was Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage.
View Our Lady of Antipolo Shrine in a larger map
Our Lady of Antipolo Shrine
If there is one thing Antipolo is most known for… it’s either Cashews or the pilgrimage to Our Lady of Antipolo Shrine.
The city is popular for being a pilgrimage site. It prides itself as the "Pilgrimage Capital of the Philippines." The Marian image of the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage or the Virgin of Antipolo, which was brought in from Mexico in 1626, and enshrined in the Antipolo Cathedral has a continuous following among Filipinos Catholics since the Spanish era.
As I was doing my research, I got so confused as to the actual name of the church. It was going by so many names. So here is how I pieced to together… I could not find a single source with all the info so bear with me. The Antipolo Cathedral is part of the Parish of the Immaculate Conception as center of the Diocese of Antipolo (established in 1983 from the Archdiocese of Manila). The cathedral is the shrine and home to be the home of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage or Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buenviaje. The church is also the National Shrine of Our Lady for the whole of the Philippines. The Antipolo Diocese website though mentions: “Although the church in Antipolo as a shrine is dedicated to Our Lady of Peace and Happy Voyage, the titular patroness of the church as a parish has always been the Immaculate Conception.”
Getting There… and an odd custom.
As I have never been to the cathedral, I was fascinated to experience some interesting “customs” of the local folk in relation to the church.
To get there, we drove through Marcos Highway. At Masinag, I made a right at Sumulong Highway then just drove straight. We kept on going until we reached an intersection.
At that intersection there were around 3 or 4 men seemingly directing traffic. And then something interesting. With each approaching car, the men would make a gesture… I regret not taking a picture of this. They would put together their hands, and gesture as if to pray. Then they would ask if we were going to the church. I ignored this first group and went straight on. We later encountered another man who made the same gesture, and asked us if were going to the church. I then realized that the men were making putting their hands together to symbolize prayer so as to ask if cars were headed toward the church. I was then thinking… is the church so central to the city that everyone assumes that everyone else is on their way to the church… apparently so.
The quest for parking
Later on, I discovered another gesture. As we moved along nearer the church, men would bring up their hands shake them in front of their stomach, approximately 1 foot apart. This was the symbol which represented “are you looking for parking?” It was standard.
Parking alone took around 30 min. It shouldn’t have been the case, but since I wasn’t aware of the number of people going to the church, we kept on going around in circles until we were led to a parking area. I paid some guy P30 for parking on the street.
Meanwhile I made another discovery. Around the church, kind gentlemen will assist you in finding parking. Anyway, I attempted to tip they who helped us. He refused payment, but he did advertise that he had a stall which sold Cashew and Suman. Hehe. I hence then realized how important the church is to the local economy.
It was around 9:30am and there was a service on going. I hadn’t realized that there was constantly a mass being said throughout the day. Which accounted for the crowds of people.
On our way out I noted the vast sea of stalls all selling pretty much the same thing. Cashew… and suman.
Not as common… candles and religious items.
We stopped for some taho…
The place was just crowded with people. If not those making the pilgrimage to the shrine, people buying or selling stuff from the multitude of stalls….
All in all, the whole experience was quite fascinating. Remember, this was my first visit to the church, so for me it was all new. And finally… I have made it to the famous Antipolo Cathedral.
Next stop: Hinulugang Taktak National Park