Fifty-foot Divine Mercy statue at Divine Mercy Hills in El Salvador, Misamis Oriental

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The 50-foot statue of the Divine Mercy at El Salvador and its surrounds.

One of the things my sister said we must do in Cagayan de Oro is to visit the Divine Mercy Hills. The Divine Mercy Hills is located in El Salvador, Misamis Oriental. It has a 50-foot statue of the Divine Mercy, which is recognized to be miraculous. There are specific schedules when people can go up the stairs to visit the very heart of the statue. (*Note: The photos in here, aside from the watermarks, are not processed or edited.)

To make the most out of our limited time, I decided to schedule us to attend the mass at 8am in Divine Mercy and hopefully get to go up the heart right after the mass. We left CDO by 7am after having breakfast at Missy Bon Bon, and just made it a minute before mass started. We woke up later than we were supposed to, but if traffic was really bad we wouldn't have made it.

Documented miraculous events happened here.

How to go to El Salvador from CDO:

1) Ask your hotel how to get to Bulua (Bull-wah) Terminal. From our hotel, we took a cab because we were advised that we would need to take several jeepney rides to get to the terminal. We paid the cab about P100+. Cab drivers also give receipts if you ask them.

2) From Bulua Terminal, go straight to the nearest bus liner you will see and ask if they will pass by the Divine Mercy. There will be a lot of barkers asking you where you want to go, but to be on the safe side we just went straight for the bus. We also wanted to avoid unnecessary fees. We paid P78/person for the bus fare.

3) The bus driver/conductor will drop you off at the highway. Cross the road to where you'll see men in motorcycles. You can walk all the way to Divine Mercy (which can be quite tiring as it is uphill) or you can ride the motorcycle for P20/person per ride, if you're only one passenger. If there are two passengers, the fare is only P10/person per ride. If you think you can't fit in one motorcycle, then just tell them you want to take two motors. Do not take chances and don't insist on having three people (fourth, if you count the driver) riding one motor. Better to be on the safe side.

4) The motorcycle driver will drop you off at the entrance of Divine Mercy Hills. Ask him for his number so you can text him to get a ride back to the highway when you're done.

The altar at the Divine Mercy Hills.
The church at Divine Mercy is simple on the outside, but the altar is very beautiful and befitting Christ. It actually reminded me of the altar in Opus Dei schools/chapels. There are no electric fans or air con inside, and the air doesn't quite get inside the chapel (or maybe that's just part of our luck during this trip), so we kept fanning ourselves the entire time. It didn't help that we sat in the middle of the Church, right below the center of the roof, which had this huge hole and was just covered with a canvas, which probably added to the lack of air in the Church.

There is a place to the left of the entrance where you can light up candles. Kids will swarm you and sell you candles for P5/piece. Each candle has a different color and supposedly have different meanings. Choose a kid from whom you will buy and the other kids will usually desist. Or you can do what my friend did which was to buy a candle from each kid, which took a looong time. When you're lighting a candle, don't take photos or selfies anymore. Other people who light up candles get distracted or might even be offended.

Skirts galore.
Wear/bring a skirt to Divine Mercy if you're female. You can either wear it over your jeans or just really wear one on your visit. It's hard when riding a motorcycle so I just sat sidesaddle (which is not recommended if you're not used to riding that way or riding a motorcycle). If you don't want to wear a skirt or if it's too hassle for you to bring one, there are ladies at the entrance who will loan you skirt to wear and you cannot remove while inside the premises. But my sister and I wore skirts because the skirts were not very fashionable and we might not look good in the photo ops! I mean hey, you're on vacation, might as well look good in every photo, right?! Chichi just brought a skirt sarong and wore it over her jeans. I don't totally agree with the Divine Mercy Hills' dress code and think it's unfair to females (some men were able to get in just wearing shorts) and I don't know why we have to wear skirts, but I respect their rules and I wanted to get in so I complied.

One of the things that I found striking during the mass is that the priest who held the mass (and the other priests who assisted him) are foreigners. He said the mass in Bisaya but his homily was in English. While I was grateful for that, I don't know how well that works for the locals. After the mass, there's a short orientation for those who want to go up to the heart. Unfortunately, due to lack of time, we had to leave already and we didn't get to go up to the heart. But we still enjoyed the view and we felt at peace and calm just by being there.

The "rays" are actually the stairs to go to his heart.
Aside from the 50-foot miraculous statue, there is also free water available that is said to have healing properties. People actually bring bottles of water (one had like a 1 gallon jug with him) to have a drink and take it home with them. Since I'm little miss OC traveler who researches the place for several months prior to a trip, our trio each had a 1L bottle. There are several faucets so you don't have to wait too long if you want to have a sip. Just a warning: there's a taste to the water, which my sister said was the taste of mountain water. I have a sensitive stomach, but I decided to trust the Lord that I won't get sick and drank almost the whole bottle. I saved a little for my parents in Manila. I told the security at the airport that it contains water from the Divine Mercy and they didn't confiscate it (I think they're used to people like me because there was a huge box of confiscated bottles at her feet). For the record, my tummy stayed bug-free!

And when you're done staring in awe at Jesus or enjoying the serenity of the place, the view right before you go down is equally gorgeous. I definitely felt doubly blessed standing at that place, looking over the sea and cluster of trees, with Jesus at my back.

To get back to Cagayan de Oro:

1) Text your motorcycle driver to fetch you. The way back is another P10 or P20.

2) If you see a bus bound for CDO (or ask the conductor if they're going to drop you off at CDO. If not, there might be a jeep right at the motorcycle terminal that's bound for Bulua Terminal. I forgot how much it was but it's definitely way cheaper than the bus.

The gorgeous vista just adds to the charm.
3) When you get to Bulua Terminal, find your jeep/cab/bus to take you to your destination in the city. What we did was ride a jeepney that dropped us off along the main road, and from the main road, we just took a motorela to our hotel, which cost us P7/person.

I think that throughout our whole Camiguin-CDO trip, this was the only trip that went off almost without a hitch. This was our one true adventure because we were able to go there despite little knowledge on how to actually go there and gamay knowledge of Bisaya. We didn't have a local tour guide and just had to believe that we'll be safe throughout the trip. Despite having very little sleep and almost boneless bodies, we made it. And when we got there, we knew it was worth it.

Have a nice day :)

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