Meditating in the City of Pines

The name Baguio conjures a highland retreat full of pine trees, blooming flowers, crisp cold breeze and foggy hills.    Located in the Grand Cordillera in Northern Luzon, it is one of the most highly urbanized cities in the country and continues to lure many investments and business opportunities.  It is also one of the premiere tourist destinations in the country as both local and foreign tourists flock there to bask in its cool climate and panoramic views, visit tourist spots and immerse themselves in the city’s rich and diverse culture.

Unknown to most though, Baguio is also a great place to visit for those seeking serenity and tranquility.  If you are one of those who need a break from the hustle and bustle of city life or searching for some spiritual guidance, here are a few places of prayer and meditation that you can visit when in Baguio.

Lourdes Grotto
The Lourdes Grotto in Mirador Hill, is a very popular place of prayer in the City if Pines.  It was built to commemorate the numerous visions of the Virgin Mary by Bernadette Soubirous, a poor French girl in Lourdes, France.  The visions happened in February to July 1858 and were later declared to be authentic by the Pope in 1862.

When my friends and I visited Baguio, the shrine was on the top of our itinerary as we wanted to pray for a safe tour of the beautiful city. Located in a high hill, we had to conquer the daunting 252 steps in order to get to the image of the Lady of Lourdes.  This challenging journey to the top only made our meditation more meaningful.  For those who are unable to climb, the grotto can be accessed by driving a vehicle through a steep, winding, narrow road.  Some vendors at the shrine also offer their services by lighting a candle and saying a prayer for you.

Bell Church
Located in the border between Baguio and La Trinidad, Benguet is the Bell Church, a place of prayer and worship for Buddhists and Taoists.  It bears some similarities with Cebu’s Taoist Temple, and provides a serene atmosphere, perfect for meditation.  Through the temple’s many features, one will learn a lot about the history and culture of the Chinese people.

At the entrance, one will be greeted by two dragon structures and a Taoist leader who can predict future events.  One may also throw coins in its wishing pond, and make a wish or two.  Once inside the temple’s compound, visitors are bound to be impressed by the attractive pagodas and bells and other structures that are inherent in the oriental culture.  Inside the temple are artifacts and Taoist gods, and a collection of books and other literature that mirrors the religious traditions and beliefs of Taoists and Buddhists.

The temple’s verdant and beautifully landscaped gardens offer serenity for those who want to spend some quiet time alone or with loved ones.  A wonderful place for reflection.

Pink Sisters’ Convent
Also called the Adoration Convent of the Divine Mercy, this simple place of worship is located in Brent Road, near Brent International School, a more upscale area of the city.  The convent has a church where you can meditate or hear mass. The place offers the solemnity needed for praying for one’s personal intentions.

Having a separate area in the church, the Pink Sisters do not mingle with the churchgoers.  However, visitors may write their petitions on a piece of paper so that the nuns will pray for them.

There are many more churches and retreat houses in Baguio where one can go pray and do some soul searching.  So when in the Summer Capital of the Philippines, besides doing the usual shopping and sightseeing, it would also be nice to spend some quiet time with God and strengthen one’s relationship with Him.

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