THE VIEW FROM RIZAL
By DR. JUN YNARES
This year, Antipolo City will experience a kind of summer that is unheard of.
For the first time perhaps in its history, the Pilgrimage Capital of the Philippines will see the hundreds of thousands of annual visitors from various parts of the country. The major roads leading to the city proper will not be crowded with motorists and commuters making their way up to the city.
The first of May usually marks the start of the influx of visitors to Antipolo.
There are three reasons that have inspired this yearly visit- faith, fun, and food.
Antipolo’s place in the tourism map has been due to all three.
Faith has a lot to do with it. For more than a century now, devotees have been coming to Antipolo to pray and to be blessed. The object of their faith is the famed patroness of the city – the Lady of Peace and Good Voyage. Her home, the Cathedral of Antipolo, is a National Shrine and has been so since it was vested with this stature by the Roman Catholic Church of the Philippines in 1954.
Devotees come to the shrine for many reasons. Most come to be blessed with peace in their lives and with a safe voyage. Many who come here attest that their faith has been blessed with miracles.
As we mentioned in past columns, even our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, as a child, was brought to the church where the Lady of Peace and Good Voyage is enshrined. The reason: to thank her for his mother’s safe delivery of him. It appears the national hero’s mother had a difficult pregnancy and faced serious risks while giving birth to him. His family had apparently sought the intercession of the Virgin of Antipolo to make sure that he and his mother survived the ordeal.
The second reason for the annual visit by many to Antipolo is fun.
The city is home to one of the country’s most famous destination- the Hinulugang Taktak.
The falls was made even more famous by the immortal song which served as the timeless invitation for people to come to the city: the Mabuhay Singers’ “Tayo na sa Antipolo”.
Hinulugang Taktak has been transformed into a modern resort while preserving the falls and the brook that drew tourists over the past decades. There are other places in Antipolo that are now attracting hordes of visitors. These include the other resorts, museums, and the hilly areas that draw bikers and other physical fitness enthusiasts.
They may not be crowding Antipolo this year. For the first time in over a century, the month of May will find Antipolo quiet and uncrowded.
So, this will be an opportunity for a different kind of pilgrimage.
It’s the kind of pilgrimage that would still require a brief journey – the “inward” type, the one that happens inside our hearts.
Antipolo’s pilgrims pray for two things- peace and good voyage.
Wherever we are today, we may still seek those two things. After all, this is one chapter in our shared lives where peace and a good voyage truly matter.
That peace and good voyage need to happen within us.
The present pandemic and the uncertainty it brought along have challenged our internal peace. They have caused our hearts and minds to be disturbed. Not finding enough answers to the nagging question we are asking about what lies ahead, we find ourselves today going through a lot of internal turmoil. The turmoil within, in turn, has robbed us of our ability to think clearly, to study our situation rationally, and to face the future armed with solutions and options.
So, the first step is to find our peace within.
In a way, we are now all going through a “rough voyage.” We feel like we have left the safety of the shore and have embarked on a journey in a fragile ship across stormy seas. We know where we want to land – except that we do not know when we will get to the other shore.
Meanwhile, we go through the experience of being tossed by big waves while sailing on a dark, starless night.
This year, we invite you to go on a pilgrimage in the “Antipolo within your heart.”
Take a few minutes each day to sit in a quiet place on an undisturbed moment.
While you are there, pray.
Imagine yourself sitting inside the tranquil Cathedral of Antipolo.
With the same intensity of faith that the devotees of the city’s patroness have, claim two things as a gift. Claim your peace. Claim your safe passage through the stormy sea. No matter how uncertain and how rough, this will still be one good voyage.
It will be one good voyage – not because it would be without storms.
It will be a good voyage because in these storms, we shall discover our inner strengths. We shall realize that no storm can take away our peace. With peace within us, we shall know how to make it to the other shore.
So, this year, we still offer the invitation: “Tayo na sa Antipolo.”
Take that pilgrimage to your own “Antipolo” – the one that’s within you.
There, find your peace. Hold on to the faith. This will still be one great voyage.
Have a blessed Sunday, everyone.
*For feedback, please email it to [email protected] or send it to #4 Horse Shoe Drive, Beverly Hills Subdivision, Bgy. Beverly Hills, Antipolo City, Rizal.