It was the beginning of the year, and it was auspicious day for the family to pay a visit to the Our Lady of Manaoag. First, it was time for thanksgiving for the past good year. Second, I have not been able to visit the place for the longest time, and, third, it was just the most opportune time to again ask for protection and blessings for the trips of The Pinoy Explorer for 2013!
The church complex has transformed a lot. It is now more organized--parking, vehicular and human traffic, and the vendors around the church.
I remember when I was a kid that the complex was in total chaos. Touts would just pin a cross or a religious medallion on your chest without you asking them--and you are "forced" to buy them. Now they are confined to the fringes of the church yard and are not allowed inside its compound--giving more space and quiet time for pilgrims like us.
Security personnel are adequate enough to make everyone feel safe. Parking is well managed, hough it was not a peak season. I guess, it could get worse during the Holy Week or fiesta, but nonetheless, I found it okay.
Cleanliness is maintained in and around the complex. The comfort rooms are maintained--not so clean because of the human traffic, but not the kind of stinking public comfort rooms. There are designated garbage bins all around and I have even seen security personnel picking up trash that were left by some unmindful souls. Kudos to the church administration for making the pilgrimage not like a marketplace. I wish all pilgrimage sites would be managed like this.
Overall, the family pilgrimage was okay. Starting the year with thanksgiving and prayer was just great, especially when you are bonding with your family. With a bunch of grown-up kids feasting on puto and a sumptuous lunch after the pilgrimage, was just perfect!
More photos of Manaoag HERE.
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