02 May 2007

Sta. Lucia Shrine in Dolores, Quezon

The main road at Dolores, Quezon. At the end of this road is the Church, and beyond that is the mystic Mt. Banahaw.

I thought of maximizing our time there and see more of Dolores, Quezon. My wife said she'd ask around who would be interested to join us. Our first intention was go to Mt. Banahaw but not exactly do some serious trekking. What we had in mind was visit some of the more accessible sites around the mountain, like the river and the caves.

Soon my wife's cousins and brothers were discussing which place we ought to go to and soon they proposed that we go to Sta. Lucia located at the foot of the mountain. There's a river there, they said. Sounds good to me!

So we rented a couple of tricycles and we soon found ourselves in an uphill, cemented road for the 15-minute trip. The road stops at a row of shops offering native delicacies and souvenir items.

It's no contest. Filipinos are big on sweets. See the wok below? In it is sweetened coconut strings. When you order, they mold it into a ball and hand it over in a plastic bag.
There's also an assortment of charms that protect the wearer from harm and evil spirits, while others enhance your luck in business, and still others help you be more attractive with your loved one. There are also medicines for common maladies.
There are also snacks and drinks being sold here. After the shops, is a quick walk going to the start of the descending stairway to the river below. We took a shortcut here.
The stairway goes waaay down the mountainside. There are areas where the steps are really quite steep so it's good practive to hold on to the ropes by the stairs.

Along the way are shrines where you can offer candles and pray.
Soon enough, we're by the river with the Sta. Lucia shrine greeting us. There are other, similar simages in the vicinity, giving the place a mysterious and subdued atmosphere.Time for a swim! It is said that the waters here have healing properties.

There's this area where the water falls freely from hanging vines, creating a shower effect. If you are a sinful person, it is said that you will feel pain when you take a shower here. Somebody taps your back (in this case, one of our companions) to dispel bad aura and spirits.

Of course, while each of us took turns at the shower, we wondered who among us will cry out in pain. Thankfully, nobody did.

The water is also potable. We took some to drink and bring home.
We were experiencing overcast skies when we took a dip. The water was cool and we didn't mind it a bit when it began to drizzle. After we finished with the shower, the sun suddenly came out in dazzling white! It peeked through the trees and gave out a warm, white illumination. I've never seen the sun shine that way. I tried to capture it with the camera but the photo below does not do much justice.
Mt. Banahaw is truly a mystical place. It must be quite an unique experience to scale its heights. Right now, Mt. Banahaw is still closed from exploration and I heard this non-human intrusion is doing wonders to its flora and fauna. There are only sections open to the public, like this river and the caves.

Andy said that there is a place beyond called the fountain of youth, where you cross a channel of water and when you make it to the other end, you feel invigorated. Were weren't able to go there, unfortunately, as it was already getting late. What other unexplored areas are there, I wonder? We will discover these some other day, perhaps.
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