SOUTHERN LEYTE (PART 2): It's a new day, it's a new dawn!

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Hola! I'm back and today, let's continue revisiting my Southern Leyte Trip last 2016 with my college buddies. In Part 1, I brought you to Philippines's tallest bridge, Agas-agas Bridge.

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And today, we will continue with Day 2 of the said trip.


Early up for an unexpected adventure

It was a Good Friday and we're up as early as 4 am. The day's destination was St. Francis Javier Chapel located in Hanginan, Maasin City, Southern Leyte. We spent the night at Maerose's house in Hilongos. From Hilongos we need to travel around 43km or about a 1-hour drive to reach the foot of Mt. Hanginan.

To be honest, I'm not a morning person. I'd be up as late as 10 or 11 in the morning on weekends when there's no work.😜 But when there's an adventure like this one, I can be up as early as required.

We arrived in Hanginan before the sun could rise. And it was just majestic to watch the world transform from total darkness into the lightness of the sun's rays.


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When I wrote "unexpected", I meant this quick trip was a surprise beyond anyone's imagination. When we reached the foot of Mt. Hanginan by around 5 in the morning, there were a number of people arriving with us, most of them arriving with their families and friends.

We were told that we're going for an early hike and the destination is Maasin City's pilgrim chapel located on top of a hill. This pilgrimage site is considered miraculous and a spot where people mostly go during Good Fridays or Holy Week in general. But I'm from Cebu and I don't have an idea that this was where people gathered on Holy Week. I mean I heard of it but I wasn't expecting what I've personally seen that day.

Later on the trek up the hill, we found ourselves caught between a massive number of people wanting to advance to the chapel. It seemed almost impossible to move. We spent hours moving inch after inch just to reach our destination.

The views captured by my camera are proof of how people respected this place that despite how difficult the journey going here, they'll push through and patiently and peacefully walk even if it means walking in a crowd where you couldn't even drop a needle. I can remember people collapsing every now and then and strangers would come to the rescue to help.


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We're out in the open now, still crowded but at least there's a little space to breathe in and stretch out our hands up and down. And there the destination everyone's been wanting to see that day, the Chapel of St. Francis Javier.


The Destination: St. Francis Javier Chapel

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The destination is this humble Chapel of St. Francis Javier, which during a regular mass could perhaps comfortably accommodate 50 people more or less. Pilgrims lined us inside to get a chance to touch, kiss, or wipe a handkerchief to the statue of St. Francis.

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After paying tribute to the pilgrimage site, we went out to take photos. We even tried to imitate again The Beatles' iconic pose. It was hard this time tho for we don't have much space to execute things and we're in the middle of the little road. Just a quick snap and we're good!


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Before noon, we were already heading down back to where we left the car. By the way, to prevent accidents such as stampedes, one entrance, one exit policy was implemented by the local government.

As much as we want to go down as fast as we could, we just can't because of the volume of people going down at the same time as us.


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If we were amazed by how we were greeted by the sun at the crack of the dawn, this time, we were amazed by how the sky just couldn't stop exploding hues of white and blue everywhere we look. Partnered with the cool breeze reminding us that we are far, far away from civilization, something we are oddly grateful for at this point.

Here are the photos of Mt. Hanginan that I've managed to save. I hope this gives justice although I suggest it's still best to explore the place when given the chance. ❤️

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The hotness of the sun dawned on us even before we could reach the jump-off point where the car's parked. So we had to make a few stops every now and then, to rest and recover. The good thing is that we're resting with the best view one could ask during a hot summer day.

Here are more photos on our way back to the main road.


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We thought that hiking up was difficult due to the massive crowd, going down was also difficult not because of the crowded space but because of the heat of the sun. It's extremely draining whatever energy was left from the food we ate the night before. Not to mention that the trail going down was not covered by any trees at all. 😟


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Then we reached the part where trees finally gave shade to the path we're taking and although not covered as much as we wished, it's better than no shade at all.


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Earlier I mentioned that we went here on a Good Friday. The Holy Week usually falls in the summer and that being said, expect the lands to be arid and dusty. In our case, going down was a pain in the ass because the soil was very loose. We had to be very careful or else we'll find our butts kissing the ground. I won't say anything if someone's butt indeed kissed the ground. 😂


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We were obviously tired and hungry given the kind of energy this early morning hike required.


A quick lunch by the sea

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We wasted no time when we reached the jump-off point. As fast as we could, we traveled to this area near the ocean to eat our brunch. I couldn't think of anything better to eat but fish, mung beans soup with a whole freshly sliced watermelon as dessert. It's making me salivate just recalling our lunch on this day. 😋

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We relaxed after eating but not for long we departed for Hilongos to catch the last and perhaps one of the most important events in the Filipino culture during Holy Week.


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Good Friday Procession

It has been a tiresome day for everyone but we couldn't miss the highlight of the day, the Good Friday Procession commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ.

It's one of the most solemn and beautiful processions I've attended. What you'll see next are some photos I took during the said event.

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That's it for Day 2 of my Holy Week adventure in Leyte/Southern Leyte. Up next is the most visited island in Leyte. Do you have any guess?

No? That's okay, you can just stay tuned to know more. See yah!😊


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