Cagayan de Oro City

Seeking Holy Week destinations? Explore Cagayan de Oro’s top pilgrimage spots

Franck Dick Rosete

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Seeking Holy Week destinations? Explore Cagayan de Oro’s top pilgrimage spots

CROSSING A RIVER. Devotees cross one of the rivers going to the Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine located at the boundary of Barangays Balubal and Tablon during the observance of Holy Week in Cagayan de Oro City in 2023.

Cagayan de Oro City Information Office

Amid the city's bustling streets and serene landscapes, several revered pilgrimage sites and religious landmarks bear witness to the enduring faith of Kagay-anons

CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – As Catholics worldwide embark on the holiest of weeks, commemorating the pinnacle of Christ’s redemptive journey, Cagayan de Oro emerges as a major Northern Mindanao destination for both pilgrims and tourists seeking to partake in this sacred observance. The vibrant “City of Golden Friendship” and the gateway to Northern Mindanao, beckons visitors with its rich religious heritage.

In keeping with a cherished Filipino tradition, devout believers and curious travelers alike make their way to Cagayan de Oro during Holy Week, drawn by a desire to reflect on Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection. 

Amid the city’s bustling streets and serene landscapes, several revered pilgrimage sites and religious landmarks bear witness to the enduring faith of Kagay-anons. From solemn processions to moments of quiet contemplation, Holy Week in Cagayan de Oro offers a diverse array of experiences for pilgrims. 

Whether seeking atonement for sins or simply seeking solace in the sacred, visitors are welcome to explore the following top destinations:

Guadalupe Shrine

The Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine, considered by some as one of the most challenging pilgrimage sites to visit in Cagayan de Oro, is a perfect destination for travelers seeking religious devotion. 

Located at the boundary of the villages of Balubal and Tablon, it poses a considerable challenge due to the 4.5-kilometer walking route, which includes crossing strong water currents of nine rivers before reaching the shrine. However, pilgrims need not worry about traversing the rivers, as ropes are available for assistance, along with personnel from the barangay, rescue teams, and law enforcement agencies.

In addition to the entrances in Balubal and Tablon, there is also one in Barangay Agusan where devotees can begin their journey. For the current year, the shrine is open from 4 am to 5 pm.

According to the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office (COCPO), approximately 8,000 religious devotees visited the shrine in 2023, a significant increase from the roughly 4,800 visitors in 2022.

FIRST STATION. The photo shows the first image out of the 14 stations of the cross in Sitio Malasag, Barangay Cugman, Cagayan de Oro City. courtesy of Brigada News FM Cagayan de Oro
14 Stations of the Cross

For those who prefer not to get wet, the 14 Stations of the Cross in Sitio Malasag, Barangay Cugman is another popular pilgrimage site and a good destination. People need to trek more or less 3.8 kilometers to complete the stations.

More or less 12,000 people came to Malasag in 2023, according to COCPO, which is higher compared to the 5,000 visitors tallied by Barangay Cugman in 2022.

This year, it is open for pilgrimage from 4 am to 10 pm.

Camarahan Ridge

While the Guadalupe Shrine and the Malasag stations are situated on the west side of the city, approximately 30 minutes from the city center, those in the eastern part who prefer shorter travel distances can consider visiting the Camarahan Ridge in Barangay Pagatpat.

MONITORING. A staff from the Regulatory Compliance Board of Cagayan de Oro City monitors Camarahan Ridge in Barangay Pagatpat in 2020. Cagayan de Oro City Information Office

There are also images of religious saints that were placed in the area for the observance of Holy Week. This spot is known for its scenic view, where people flock to take selfies.

Outside Cagayan de Oro

One of the most popular pilgrimage sites in Northern Mindanao is the Divine Mercy Shrine in El Salvador City, Misamis Oriental. It is also one of the country’s most-visited pilgrimage destinations, according to the El Salvador City Tourism Office.

It features a 50-foot statue of Jesus Christ, the Divine Mercy, one of the prominent religious sculptures. It is considered to be one of the tallest religious structures in the region.

It also has a magnificent panorama that can be seen when devotees walk at the two rays – 80 steps each – connected from the statue’s heart.

According to the City Tourism Office, a total of 48,702 devotees visited the shrine during the last Holy Week, slightly lower compared to the more or less 50,000 guests in 2022.

Outdoors, Person, Architecture
GIANT STATUE. An aerial view of the Divine Mercy Shrine in El Salvador City, Misamis Oriental. Screengrab from the El Salvador City Tourism Office’s video

The island province of Camiguin is also one of the popular Holy Week destinations, where devotees do Panaad (vow) by walking the island’s 64-kilometer circumferential road as part of their penance. 

The state-run Philippine Information Agency (PIA) said about 20,000 devotees flocked to the island to take part in the activity during the Holy Week in 2023.

These are just some of the pilgrimage sites that can be visited. There are still a lot more, especially in other provinces in the region. At each of these sites, the devout find sanctuary for prayer and reflection, while tourists are afforded a glimpse into the profound spirituality that permeates the city. 

As the echoes of hymns fill the air and the fragrance of incense wafts through old churches, visitors are invited to immerse themselves in Cagayan de Oro’s and Northern Mindanao’s rich Holy Week traditions. 

Whether you come as a pilgrim seeking penance or a traveler in search of spiritual enlightenment, Cagayan de Oro and its neighboring provinces promise an unforgettable journey during this sacred time of year. –

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