September 26, 2013

Hanginan, Maasin City!

Last June 14 of this year, we went to Maasin City. The capital of the province of Southern Leyte, PH. What we came for was the 1300 ft hike to Hanginan. A village on top of a mountain just a few kilometers from downtown Maasin City. We came there to visit a religious image of St. Francis Xavier inside a Chapel of the same name that is said to have performed miracles and have heard prayers.

It was actually because my partner was having a bad case of  staphylococcal infection and we were hoping that the pilgrimage may help stop that through trekking the steep trail and praying at the place.

We booked our tickets the day before at a local Van station in Tacloban City (Duptours) which costed P 220.00 each. And at 5:00 AM the next day, the almost 4-hour trip took off. We arrived at Maasin City's bus terminal at around 9:00 AM and had a quick breakfast at Metro Hyper, a local mart in Maasin City. And after catching a few breaths, we headed straight to the foot of the hill to Hanginan on a tricycle with a fare of P10.00 each. 

Left: Entrance to the trail, Middle: Concrete Steps near Hanginan proper, Right: Habal-habal (Motorcycle-for-hire) treading the rough trail

We were fortunate that it was a cloudy day. It wasn't hot and it didn't even rain at all. I have been climbing Hill 522 every Good Friday in Palo, Leyte for already six years now but I was surprised at how steeper and farther the Hanginan trail was. Just a few meters up, I was already sweaty, and so was my partner. We would stop and take a breath every now then because we weren't used to this kind of thing. After almost two hours of slow paced hiking, we finally reached Hanginan. The tiresome hike was rewarded by this scenic and fulfilling view.

Different views from above Hanginan
When we arrived, I was surprised at how many the houses were. I didn't think that many people lived there because of the remoteness of the place. I was wrong, they even have electricity, and televisions too. 

Left: Hanginan signage, Middle: Souvenir Shirts for Sale, Right: Bibingka
What I saw mostly were stores that sell Bibingka, a type of rice cake. It was like every store have their own bibingka to sell. So I thought, maybe it's a local specialty. At the far end of the upper village is where the San Francisco de Javier chapel is situated. We entered the chapel and prayed. 

Left: Paved Walkway to the Chapel, Middle: The Chapel's facade, Right: Interior 
After making a short prayer, we had to kneel in front of the altar. The minister /caretaker then got the small image of St. Francis Xavier and lightly stomped it over our shoulders and then on our heads. It was a ritual that is said to make a connection between us and St. Francis, for him to hear our prayers and let God answer them. The experience was both physically and spiritually exhilarating. It wasn't just a simple visit but a hard-earned pilgrimage for the Glory of God. 

We also bought souvenir shirts and then visited a small café that sold Bibingka to try it out. And a 45-minute tread down Hanginan and back to Maasin City.

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