FAITH and MIRACLES brings the faithful to the south of Cebu. This is where you can find the Monastery of The Holy Eucharist, more popularly known as Simala Church na dinadayo not only by Cebuanos but devout Catholics and Marian devotees from the other regions and provinces in the Philippines.
Those who make the pilgrimage are firm believers that through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Jesus, their prayers will be heard and their petitions granted.
Many of the Catholics sa Sugbo have at one time or another visited this monastery. They go praying for a miracle from the Mapaghimalang Birhen ng Simala or Milagrosong Birhen sa Simala. Many of them are graduating students and students who are reviewing for board exams, those who are physically ill, those with serious medical conditions like cancer and those who are offering prayer of thanks.
Monastery in Marian Hills, Lindongon, Sibonga, Cebu
A look at the Church Altar
There is a hall where you can read testimonials and messages of pasasalamat from the thousands whose prayers and petitions have been granted. There is also a glass display case of hanging crutches donated by those who are able to walk again unaided, thanks to the healing miracles they experienced. Smiling photos of graduates and school IDs are also some of the more common things you can see and read in this Testimonial hall.
Our Lady in the Testimonial Hall
Observe silence and be respectful of others who are praying when you get inside the main building.
Also, be ready to queue going to the main altar, bring a fan too as it can be stuffy and hot inside the Simala Church especially during important religious holidays like Semana Santa when the pilgrims come in droves.
The Miraculous Our Lady
It may just be fleeting seconds when you can stand before the main statue of the Virgin Mary due to the hundreds of visitors waiting in line, but for many it is more than enough to strengthen their faith.
We were there in the peak of summer last year – I with Titus, my mom, lolo and lola. My grandparents have been there before, the rest of us visited Simala for the first time. I was so surprised with the hugeness of the complex and the structures’ architecture. Constructions are on-going on new building annexes and Station of the Cross. Might be by this time the annex building is completed.
You can bring food and drinks as there are cottages to sit by and take refuge in. But these are only few, be early if you want to use these cottages. Alternative to the cottages are the carenderias or local eateries near the complex gate. If you brought your own food you can request the carenderia owner to use their utensils but you will pay a corkage fee for the food you brought from outside. If rate has not changed, then it is P50 corkage fee.
Regular Mass Schedule
Weekdays at 12 noon
Saturdays at 10:30 AM
Sundays at 3 PM
Additional mass is held every 13th of the month at 10:30 AM and 3:30 PM.
This is one of the religious centers that strictly observe dress code. For men you must wear pants or jeans and a decent shirt.
For ladies the hem of your dress or skirt must be lower than your knee. Women in shorts and sleeveless dress and blouses are not allowed inside the complex. If you insist on wearing sleeveless shirts, bring a scarf to cover your shoulder. You can still wear jeans but not the very tight ones.
Wear decent clothing when visiting.
Dagkutanan Candle Lighting Area
One of the hallmarks of Cebu churches is the big dagkutanan area and this religious site is no exception. Simala Monastery of Mother Mary has lots of designated places for candle lighting. They are almost everywhere. The candles too are varied in colors where each one represents a certain area in life that you want to pray for. Choose blue colored ones for perseverance, brown for vocation, gray for deliverance. If your petition is centered on love, choose red. If it’s for peace, get a yellow candle. For thanksgiving, the pink ones are for you. For healing there is gold and for prosperity and success, choose green candles. If you are praying for the soul of a departed loved one, choose black. If you are praying for purity, get a white colored candle.
Choose the color for your candles
Different Representations of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God
This was my favorite place in Simala. I had not felt any intense feeling of the place until I got to this room and gazed at the different titles of the Our Lady. Marian devotees and visitors will be introduce to the different titles and representation of the Virgin Mary from the Immaculate Conception to Our Lady of Guadalupe to Our Lady of Lourdes to Our Lady of Good Success to Our Lady of Fatima to Our Lady of China, Our Lady of Akita and a lot more.
A couple of months before our visit to Simala, I and Titus visited Manaoag Church in Pangasinan and I was so glad when I also found Our Lady of Manaoag there and doubly happy that there is Nuestra Senyora Virgin de la Regla, my own city’s patroness.
Mysteries and Controversies
Over the years, controversies have cropped up involving the miracles attributed to the Virgin Mary of Simala Monastery; some also questions the practices of the nuns, priest and religious persons in charge of this place. But despite the questions, doubts and challenges that this pilgrimage site faced in the past and will face in the future, one thing is sure, the devout, the faithful will continue to go on visiting, believing and praying in the Monastery of the Holy Eucharist in Marian Hills, Cebu.
How to Go To Simala
We use public transportation to go to Simala from our place in Mactan. Anyone can commute there even senior citizens, my Lolo and Lola had no trouble transferring from taxi to bus to tricycle. Although climbing the long staircases might be challenging for the old ones with arthritis and muscle and joint pains. But those discomfort are just little sacrifices and my grandparents did not mind.
For those in wheelchairs, there is a ramp that they can use to climb up to the Church.
Direction tips to go to the Monastery of the Holy Eucharist in Sibonga
First – We took a taxi from to go to the South Bus Terminal.
Second – In SBT we took a bus bound for Oslob. Do not take a bus bound for the west side of Cebu South like Badian and Moalboal. Carcar is before Sibonga so don’t take Carcar bound bus too. To be sure, take bus with “Oslob” signage. There are also mini buses with end stop at Sibonga, you can also take this. From SBT the bus trip will take about 2 hours.
Just tell the konduktor that you are going to Simala, they know where to drop you.
Third – There is a tricycle terminal a few walks from the bus stop. Take one of the tricycles. Please note though that the drivers will not leave the terminal until their vehicle is full. You can hire the tricycle for the whole trip and pay the ‘pakyaw’ fare. If you are on a budget, wait for other passengers. Ride time approximately 10 t0 15 minutes.
On the return trip you don’t have to worry as there are also lots of tricycle waiting at the gate of the Simala Shrine to bring you back to their terminal in the town center.
May your visit to Simala be blessed.