To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”
This quote could also be the reason why Dabawenyos never fail to visit Simala while in Cebu. Their faith tells them that they will be cured or miraculously survive from some serious illnesses or their prayers will be granted once they visit the place and pray wholeheartedly.
Some call it the miraculous shrine; others see it as the home of the Virgin Mary. For the Catholic devotees, Simala is the perfect place to pray for divine intervention. And for others, they see it as a reminiscent of European Cathedrals.
Those who had never been there only refer it as “Birhen ng Simala” or Simala – referring to the place where the Church stands. The place that people travel for two hours from the center of Cebu City is called The Monastery of the Holy Eucharist located in Simala, Sibonga, Cebu.
In the Monastery, you can see a number of crutches, wheelchairs, and thank you notes from people who have experienced the divine grace of the Holy Mary. Those healed left notes to tell the world that miracles do happen and they happen to those who believe.
You can also see a big statue of the Miraculous Mama Mary and a replica of the well of Nazareth where Mary hauled water for Jesus and Joseph. It is not a wishing well but since people are used to wishing wells introduced in European folklores, people throw coins to the bell and once it goes to the well they would believe that their prayers and wishes will be granted.
You can also light colored candles while praying and each color has meaning. At 35.00 each, you can light the gold candle for healing, green for prosperity, violet for achievement, orange for reconciliation, pink for thanksgiving, and so on.
The Holy Mass is held every day at 12 noon except for Saturday where it is held at 10:30 in the morning.
As it is a sacred place, only formal or modest attire is allowed inside the monastery and those who wear tubes or shorts can’t get inside.
A long two-hour drive to the Monastery is not easy but for those who believe no distance can kill their desire to get to Simala. The castle-like Church is a magnificent view but one has to walk under the heat
of the sun and walk through the high stairs to witness how the Marian monks built the Church with grandeur for the love of their faith.
They travel. They pray. They believe.
And this writer also traveled amid the limited time in Cebu just to see the place they called Simala.
Even after sweating under the scorching heat of the sun, I never regretted anything at all as I traveled, prayed, and believed.
Faith is the key in Simala. Though some people visit the Monastery out of curiosity, it is still the hope in their heart that makes them want to be there.
This is the mystery in Simala. It lies silently on the side of the hill but people speak loudly of their strong faith. And faith is something that lies peacefully in our hearts when everything seems to fall apart. It is what Khalil Gibran has said, “Faith is knowledge within the heart, beyond the reach of proof.”
Perhaps some could not imagine themselves going up the hill or having a long trip just to pray when they could do it in the comfort of their homes, but for those who believe no explanation is necessary in going to Simala.