Simala Church in Cebu rose to fame over the past few years. This monastery is known for its castle-like church, proudly standing on a hill in Lindogon village in Sibonga. It is located in the village of Lindogon, but because its usual access is via Simala, people eventually called it Simala Church. I visit this church often, as my uncle who is a priest usually celebrates mass here. I learned some interesting information about Simala Church from him that I am going to share to you in this Simala Church DIY Travel Guide with itinerary and budget.
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SIMALA CHURCH HISTORY
The Monastery of the Holy Eucharist, also known as Simala Church, has an interesting history. It is owned by the Marian Monks of Eucharistic Adoration (MMEA), and they also have nuns of different communities like SSMM (Sister Servants of Mama Mary, (SSE) Sister Servants of Mater Evangelorum, SSA (Sister Servants of the Abandoned), etc. Around the year 1997, Simala Church became a popular pilgrim site, and people started flocking here to pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The Marian Monks of Eucharistic Adoration (MMEA) who founded Simala Church escaped the wrath of Mt. Pinatubo in Pampanga. Based on anecdotes, during Mt.Pinatubo’s eruption, a woman named Terry Brooks carrying an image of Blessed Mary ran towards the chapel. He handed the statue to Frater Martin saying the image will be safe in the church. Later on, after the eruption, they searched for the woman in every village and no one recognized her. Eventually, with the permission of then bishop of Cebu, the Marian Monks of Eucharistic Adoration (MMEA) moved to Cebu.
Amusingly, in Brgy. Lindogon in Sibonga, Cebu, an old man named Ingkong Villamor had a prophecy. He said that a white lady will reign a barren hill and it will become a holy site. He passed away and his son Monsignortomas Villamor became a priest. When Marian Monks of Eucharistic Adoration (MMEA) moved to Cebu, Monsignortomas planned to build a monastery for the monks. The search led them to an isolated hill in Brgy. Lindogon in Sibonga town. There, they built a nipa hut and started planting trees. Unfortunately, dengue started to spread around the village and many children died because their family couldn’t afford to send them to the hospital. Frater Martin encouraged the people to join a penitence walk. It is said that eventually, the smell of fresh flower spread throughout the village and got rid of the mosquitoes and the children with dengue were healed. Stories about the incident spread like wild fire, and devotees started flocking to Simala Church. The monks then continued building the monastery to what it is today and designed it uphill as some sort of a penitence before entering the church.
INSIDE SIMALA CHURCH
Once you enter the monastery, you will see a lot of letters from locals believed to have been healed by the Blessed Virgin Mary. There are also pictures, wheelchairs, books, graduation robes, etc.
The second part of the monastery is where you can write letters or prayers to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Then beside it is a prayer station, where a replica of the statue of Virgin Mary is enshrined. It is believed that the image is miraculous as it is said to have shed tears once.
Then, there is a museum where different statues and replicas of the Blessed Virgin Mary are displayed. The clothes of the miraculous Virgin Mary when she is believed to have shed tears is now preserved in a glass case.
There is also a souvenir store inside Simala Church where a plethora of rosaries, crucifix, images of the Blessed Mary, saints and angels, bibles and prayer guides are being sold.
And then there’s a place where you can say a prayer and light a candle. Different colors of candles are being sold here, symbolizing different needs. For example, the red candle is for love (friendship, family, engagement, unity), the yellow candle is for peace (hope, courage), the gold candle is for healing ( recovery, good health, spiritual), the black candle is for souls (forgiveness), the green candle is for prosperity (exams, success) and the pink candle is for thanksgiving and happiness.
HOW TO GO TO SIMALA CHURCH
CEBU TO SIMALA CHURCH
1. Head to South Cebu Bus Terminal beside E-Mall.
2. Ride a Ceres bus to Oslob or Liloan/Santander. Tell the conductor you will get off at Simala to go to Simala Church. Fare is PHP 80- PHP 100 and travel time is about 2 hours.
3. Alight at Simala near 7Eleven.
4. Hire a habal-habal (motorcycle) to take you to Simala Church. Fare is about PHP 20- PHP 30 per person. One habal-habal can accommodate 2 passengers.
Hiring a taxi to Simala Church from Cebu will cost you approximately PHP 1,000 – PHP 2,000(one way).
By Car./Private Vehicle
1. Head to Rizal Avenue/SRP-Mambaling Road. Continue to follow this road and after about 800 meters, turn right.
2. Turn right to Cebu South Coastal Road. 3. After 8.4km, turn left onto Cebu South Road/Natalio B. Bacalso S.National Highway. 4. At Carcar City Circle(Rotunda), take the 2nd exit onto Natalio B. Bacalso S. National Highway. 5. Turn right. 6. After roughly 1 km, turn right onto Mama Mary Sanctuary Road. 7. Continue driving until you reach Simala Church.
OSLOB TO SIMALA CHURCH
1. At the highway, hail a bus to Cebu City.
2. Ride the bus and tell the conductor you will get off at the jumping-off point to Simala Church.
3. Get off at Simala. 4. Hire a habal-habal (motorcycle) to Simala Church.
SIMALA CHURCH SCHEDULE OF MASS
Monday to Friday 12:00 PM Saturday to Sunday 12:00 PM and 3:00 PM
SIMALA CHURCH ITINERARY
Here’s a sample day tour itinerary to Simala Church from Cebu City.
|ETA South Bus Terminal in Cebu City. Ride Ceres Bus to Oslob or Liloan. PHP 80- PHP 100
|Tell the conductor you will alight at Simala, going to Simala Church. Landmark is 7eleven. Get off at Brgy. Simala.
|Hire habal-habal (motorcycle) to Simala Church, PHP 20-PHP 30 per person.
|ETA Simala Church. Go inside the church and the monastery. Say a prayer.
|Explore and photo ops outside.
|Ride habal-habal back to highway, PHP 20-PHP 30 per person
|Proceed to next destination or wait for a bus back to Cebu City, PHP 80-PHP 100.
|ETA Cebu City.
SIMALA CHURCH BUDGET BREAKDOWN
Here’s a list of Simala Church trip expenses from Cebu City. Food and drinks expenses and souvenirs not included.
|PHP 100/USD 2/EURO 2
|Bus fare from Simala from Cebu City
|PHP 30/USD 0.57/EURO 0.48
|Habal-habal to Simala Church
|PHP 30/USD 0.57/EURO 0.48
|Habal-habal to highway from Simala Church
|PHP 100/USD 2/EURO 2
|Bus fare to Cebu City from Simala
|PHP 260/USD 5/EURO 4
SIMALA CHURCH SIDE TRIPS
If you’re bound for Simala Church, you can also do the following side trips so long as you leave early in the morning. Click the places below to read the travel guides for each destination.
CARCAR : Heritage walking tour, Carcar lechon and Carcar chicharon. DALAGUETE: Osmena Peak, Casino Peak and Kandungaw Peak OSLOB: Whale Shark, Tumalog Falls BOLJOON:Heritage Walking Tour ALCOY:Tingko Beach SAMBOAN: Aguinid Falls
SIMALA CHURCH TRAVEL TIPS
Wear proper outfit, there’s a dress code in Simala Church. You will not be allowed to enter by the guards if you are wearing shorts, short skirt (must be below the knees), sleeveless dress or blouse, cropped topped or tube. Men must be wearing pants or jeans and a decent shirt, not shorts.
There are several eateries and stores outside the church where you can eat, buy snacks and drinks. Flying of drone is not allowed in Simala Church.
About the Blogger : Gael is a Filipina travel blogger. Her work has appeared in local and international publications.
For advertisements, sponsorship and partnerships, you may reach her at gaelhilotinblog (at) gmail (dot) com.
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