Yes, I may sound very sarcastic at times but I do reflect on Lent. This Good Friday, I’m planning to ask friends to go with me to Balaan Bukid in Jordan, Guimaras for the Way of the Cross. On the peak of Balaan Bukid or “Sacred Mountain” is a chapel (Ave Maria Purisima) and a huge white cross which is visible in most parts of the province and some parts of Iloilo City facing Guimaras. Jordan is the location of the Holy Week ritual called “Ang Pagtaltal sa Jordan”, the annual reenactment of Christ’s Passion performed by local actors. Every year, thousands of Catholic pilgrims flock to the island-province for the Way of the Cross and to witness the Pagtaltal. Even though it will be covered by local TV stations and I expect the place to be crowded as always, experiencing it will be totally different. The idyllic scenery of Guimaras is likewise a breath of fresh air from the hustle and bustle of city life.
How to get to Balaan Bukid
Guimaras is nestled between Panay and Negros Islands and accessible from both islands. The island-province can be reached via Iloilo City and via Pulupandan, Negros Occidental. Small pump boats ferry passengers from Ortiz Wharf in Iloilo City to Jordan throughout the day, taking only 15 minutes. Just ask the locals at Jordan Wharf for a tricycle to Balaan Bukid.
Those on pilgrimage may also want to visit the Trappist Monastery in Brgy. San Miguel, Jordan, Guimaras which is accessible from Balaan Bukid by tricycle and passenger jeep. The monks are making and selling home-made delicacies which tourists can bring home as pasalubong. The silence at the monastery is perfect for meditations and reflections.
This island-province is blessed with picturesque white sand beaches, diving spots and rich marine biodiversity. Resorts at this time of the year are often fully booked thus prior reservation is needed. Some of the popular resorts are:
- Raymen Beach Cottages
- Baras Beach Resort
- Costa Aguada Island Resort
- Nagarao Island Resort
- Isla Naburot Resort
The world’s sweetest mangoes can also be found in Guimaras. In fact, Guimaras mangoes are the only Philippine mangoes which are exported to mainland USA. Just a reminder, the whole island is being quarantined and bringing of mangoes from outside is prohibited. But no one will stop you from buying as much mangoes as you can.