Friday, February 15, 2008

Miracle at Sto. Nino

There are many interesting tourist destinations in the Dumaguete area. Negros Oriental has in fact begun to promote many of its outstanding natural attractions. You will no doubt quickly learn names like Lake Balanan, the Twin lakes, Apo Island and more. Reviews of these destinations will continue, but this article is about a small place, a place one might miss driving by. It is not a natural attraction, but an insight into Filipino culture and how they view faith.

Sto. Nino (Saint Nino) is a small chapel that is located on the road to Lake Balinsasayao, the Twin Lakes of Oriental Negros. As you drive up the small rural road to the Twin Lakes, after a few kilometers of steady climb, the road levels off, and in the distance on the right you will see a solitary salmon colored Chapel situated along the road.

The outdoor chapel, open on the front and back, is typical of similar chapels spotted through out the countryside. Some are tiny, open on all sides with bamboo seating for a few people. Sto. Nino is more substantial. A masonry construction, it is well appointed and maintained. Interestingly the entrance is normally closed with an iron gate. However if you walk around the back the chapel is open to the outside. Immediately behind the chapel is a shrine to mother Mary, not atypical in the Philippines.

What is interesting is the fact that a miracle was supposed to have taken place on this spot in 1989. The chapel was subsequently built to mark the spot and commemorate the occurrence. The complete story is recorded in hand painted lettering inside an adjacent pavilion. The walls of this pavilion are plastered with photos and memorabilia of visits to the site presumably by some of the same folks that witnessed the miracle originally.

The story goes that a group of volunteers were distributing food and medical supplies to a remote village on the mountainside nearby. Cambaloctot is the name given to the Barangay. On their way back down the mountain, accompanied by an armed escort of army officers, the nuns and medical team saw a rainbow. The story goes that the sun behaved in a mysterious way and “danced” around the rainbow, growing smaller and larger before resuming its normal station in the heavens. In addition, the sisters reported a golden glow on their rosaries which remained after the incident, hence the miracle. The entire tale is recorded on the wall, with a curious take on English grammar it might be added.

If you are traveling up the road to the Twin Lakes and want an interesting place to stop and take a break from arduous motor bike riding, or just want to stretch your legs, have a look. Sto. Nino is an interesting glimpse of local culture and religious belief in Negros Oriental.
Getting there:
North of Dumaguete off National Highway. Travel through Sibulan village, proceed past Sea Forrest Resort and Jo's Chicken by the Sea(on right). Traveling farther north a few kilometers, you will come to a place in the road where there is a sea wall on the right and the road is straight. About 2-3km along that stretch you will see a white sign with worn letters on the left for Lake Balinsasayao. There is a small shelter for a bus stop there and a road to the left. If you turn right you will be in the sea, so there is little chance of a wrong turn! Twin Lakes are 14 K from there, the chapel is about 5 K.

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