The best part of a road trip is that you get to pass by some great stopovers along the way. Enroute to Baguio, we stopped at the Candle Gallery of the Manaoag Basilica in Pangasinan where the Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag sits. I didn’t know much about it but I’ve heard of its miraculous powers.
Manaoag, Pangasinan is known as the “pilgrim center of the north”, just about three hours away from Manila, people come here to attend mass, light candles and say a prayer. Especially because there’s been quite a number of reported miracles. Places like this are perfect displays of the Filipino culture at best. Dominantly Catholic, the Church has played a big influence on our society throughout the years. It’s debatable on whether their influence is fading but you’ll still see a large number of the population spending their Sundays at church and malls and TV stations stopping for the three o’clock prayer.
The photo above was taken on a Thursday morning, and as you can see, there’s still quite a bit of people praying and lighting candles. The Shrine of Our Lady of Manaoag in the Candle Gallery is an 8-ft high wooden replica placed atop a fountain. She holds baby Jesus in her hands, along with the Holy Rosary as four angels guard her. The shrine sits under a glass skylight, making it naturally lit to the holy image.
Apart from praying with the traditional candles, you can also light one of the floating votive candles. This seemed to be more popular among the kids which is great as it really shows how people from all walks of life can offer a prayer.
If we had more time, I’d wish we were able to visit the actual Shrine and listen to mass. But the Candle Gallery itself was a great part of the Basilica where it just offers people a nice place to pray. One downside is – and I guess a little expected in the Philippines and very contradicting since I took photos myself! – is that many were taking photos next to the fountain. I guess it’s a little of a debate as personally, I see the Church as a holy and sacred place and would just think photo-taking next to shrines and such can often turn it into a “tourist” spot of some sort. But let’s save that debate for another time…
The Shrine of Our Lady of Manaoag was definitely a great stopover on route to Baguio and whether or not you do pass by, it’s always important to say a prayer to give thanks.