BAAO, Camarines Sur — An “offering walk” uphill on the mountainous place in Baao, Camarines Sur has been a yearly devotion for some Camarinense during Holy Week.
From the town proper, there is a station of the cross going to Our Lady of Lourdes Church which is located in Barangay Caranday.
According to its parish priest Rev. Fr. Ralph Golina, they will not stop the devotees to go to the church for as long as they will follow the minimum health standards.
“Within the Holy Week welcome po sila dito, huwag lang ‘yung masyadong marami. Kung pupuwede we still have to wear mask and mag-observe ng health protocols,” the priest reminds them.
Some of the pilgrims visit the century-old balete tree in Sitio Manrongow near Antipolo which, like Caranday, is a COVID-free barangay until today.
This summer, even if the most-visited “sea of clouds” is thin, the 360-degree view of the 4th and 5th district of the province and the volcanoes of Asog, Isarog and Mayon is still awesome.
“Yung kakilala po namin nag-post, refreshing po tapos nakaka-relax,” relates the visitor Zigfred Belza from Iriga City.
The place is also popular for those who want to meditate.
There was a group who had their camping beneath the balete tree to witness the sunset, the full moon until dawn like last Palm Sunday.
A 17-year old Francine Villaflor was able to overcome her being an acrophobic or her fear of heights when she tried “hammocking” on an upper part of a tree.
“Malayo ka sa city tapos malayo ka sa stress ganun tapos relaxing ‘yung paligid,” Francine said.
According to the indigenous people or IP community in the area, some joggers and bikers were able to discover the view deck and camp site even from the start of the pandemic last year. Now, it has gone viral.
“Yung mga tao sinasabihan namin na huwag niyong galawin ‘yung mga tanim na mais, saka huwag kayong maggagalaw ng mga puno dyan, mga sanga,” the caretaker of the land Luis Salcedo reminded visitors.
Gigi Bacoy is happy because while she is waiting for her corn plants to grow, she earns from selling foods and drinks to tourists. “Kahit paano ay meron income araw araw, hindi naman pare-parehas ang income e, ‘pag Linggo medyo malaki rin,” relates Aling Gigi.
The barangay captain Dante Arevalo said the 16-hectare land is a private property. There is no entrance fee for the visitors who go there but he reminds tourists to always follow the implemented health and safety protocols.
“Yung health protocol po, naka-mask, meron po kaming naka-designate na mga barangay officials d’yan po sa entrance. Minsan nga ho nagbabawal po kami dito na ‘yung mga bike o motor na iakyat po dito,” the barangay captain reiterates.
They only allow professional outdoor tour adventure organizers to conduct camping in the site.(Report/Photos Jonathan Magistrado)