ORANI, Bataan – Thousands of people flocked to the Santuario Diocesano de la Sagrada Familia, a new religious shrine located at the foot of Mount Natib in Barangay Tala here on Sunday.
Christian Provido, one of the ushers, said more than 2,000 visitors went to the 1.7–hectare shrine on Sunday, the biggest crowd so far recorded in a day to come to one of the four Catholic shrines in this province.
The visitors pay respect, pray, and pose for picture-taking at the grotto of the Virgen Milagrosa del Rosario, the miraculous patron saint of Orani which is situated at a ravine some 30 meters deep from the barangay road.
From the base of the stairs, a big cross can be seen at a distance among the thick trees.
Provido said from the entrance, the grotto is accessible by hiking through the 180-step concrete stairs.
Former National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales, donor of the land and the shrine, earlier said that to help the elderlies, an elevator will be constructed at the site.
No entrance fee was collected but ushers and usherettes were strict in seeing to it that visitors followed social distancing and wore face masks.
Guests were required to register and disinfect their hands with alcohol.
“Hindi lang sa sobrang ganda kundi unique talaga. Maraming puno, maganda talaga na kahit sino puwedeng pumunta. Babalik kami rito kahit araw-araw (Not just super nice but it is really unique. There are lots of trees, it's really nice that anyone can go. We will come back here even every day,” Shandon Canary of Quezon City said in an interview on Sunday.
Gonzales, also former Secretary of the Department of National Defense, in a past interview with Bishop Ruperto Santos, talked about the expansion project of the shrine being prepared for the 500th year anniversary of Christianity in the Philippines.
“Ang shrine sa ngayon ay 1.7 ektarya pa lamang pero ang proyekto sa vision ni Bishop ay aabutin ng 500 ektarya kasi kailangang proteksiyunan ang kabundukan. Mag-iiba ang character ng shrine kapag nasira ang kabundukan (The shrine is currently only 1.7 hectares but the project in Bishop's vision will take 500 hectares because the mountains need to be protected. The character of the shrine will change when the mountains are damaged),” Gonzales said. (PNA)