SIMALA CHURCH: THE HOLY GRAIL OF THE SOUTH!

Cebu’s architecture and culture also spew through its churches that brewed rich stories from the past. Simala Church is not an exception to that. Located at the hilltop of Lindogon Village in Sibonga, this castle-like monastery is visited by thousands of pilgrims daily for its miraculous works. This proves that Cebu is more than just a summer paradise.

Front view shot of Simala Church

SIMALA CHURCH

So how did Simala Church come about?

The prediction of an old man “Ingko Niyong” about a lady that will reign on their village

Four scores ago, “Ingko Niyong” an old native from the village predicted about a White Lady that will prevail on the hill of Lindogon Village and She will become the focus of people.

Twenty-six years later (1996), a group of monks from Marian Monks of the Eucharistic Adoration (MMEA) in Pampanga went on a mission to the south of Cebu that led them to the bare lands of Lindogon.

In 1997, Simala Church became a sacred place where people express their faith and ask the Blessed Virgin Mary to pray for them.

A killer mosquito epidemic (Dengue) attacked the village of Lindogon in 1998, which affected the lives of the children. To fight the contagious disease by prayer, Monks then conducted a Penitential Rosary Walk. Eventually, the smell of fresh flowers bloomed and cleared the mosquitoes from the area, leaving the lives of children spared.

From then on, people started coming to Simala Church to experience the Holy Miracles, themselves. In 2006, the church then managed to raise funds, through selling candles and donations, which brought them to expand the church. Hence, Simala Church is now known as the castle-like shrine that stands on a hilltop.

The Simala Church Experience

Wide high angle shot of Simala Church
Line of tourists and devotees to the Blessed Virgin Mary

Upon entering Simala Church, you will encounter a long line of devotees that lead to the altar of the Blessed Virgin Mary. If you wish to meet the Blessed Virgin Mary and avoid waiting longer, you must be at Simala Church the earliest time possible.

The church is open for accessibility from 6AM to 6PM daily.

Once you have reached the interior of the church, you will be asked to take your shoes off, for the sacred place must stay clean and respected. 

Testimonies from the devotees

While lining up, you will come across an array of proofs of answered prayers and healing. Letters from board passers, narrated stories of healing, and wheelchairs and crutches that healed people left to donate to whoever is in need are being displayed for visitors to see.

Praying to the Blessed Virgin Mary and Putting of prayer request into the prayer box

After having an encounter with the Blessed Virgin Mary, you are free to write your prayer and put it into the prayer box. 

If you just want to explore the church, you can relish the shrine inside and visit their museum, where different representations of the Virgin Mary from different ethnicities are displayed.

Marian Museum and The Main Shrine

If you want to attend a mass, the church holds it daily for devotees to attend. Here’s the mass schedule to catch:

Mondays to Fridays 12 PM
Saturdays & Sundays12 PM & 3 PM
13th of the Month12 PM & 3 PM
Lighting up of candles in varied colors, which represent specific intent for prayers

You can also light up colorful candles that correspond to your specific prayer. Each candle costs 35 PHP

If you are not sure of which candle to light, here’s the list of candle colors that matches a specific type of intent.

CandlesSymbols and Meanings
GoldHealing (Good Health, Recovery, Spiritual, Family Tree)
GreenProsperity/ Success (Exam, Study, Financial Business)
VioletAchievement (Plans in Life, Struggles, Endeavors, Journey, Voyage)
RedPeace (Courage, Strength, Hope)
WhitePurity (Enlightenment, Guidance, Right Path)
OrangeReconciliation (Sweetheart, Wife, Husband, Enemy, Family)
PinkThanksgiving/Happiness/Joy (Spiritual, Physical)
BlackSouls (Forgiveness, Pardon)
BrownVacation (Marriage Bond, God’s Servant, Single Life)
GrayDeliverance (Bad ways, Things, Spirits)
CreamConversion/Faith (Children, Household, Couples
Availability of the candles may change everyday

While you’re still at it, you might want to check their souvenir shops. Each shop sells handcrafted accessories, from rosary beads down to keychains.

Souvenir shops inside the church

We bought different accessories from the souvenir shops: birthstone bracelets which were around 150 PHP each, a rosary which was at 200 PHP, and a keychain that cost 100 PHP.

Birthstone Bracelets and Rosary bought from the souvenir shops
Prices of souvenir may vary from different shops

Simala Church Experience wouldn’t be complete without time for sightseeing! 

Explore Simala Church’s well-detailed design and be amazed by its Gothic-like architecture that will surely boost your Instagram aesthetics.

Front shot of Simala Church with a tourist

Walkthrough its verdant gardens below!

Shots from the garden of Simala Church

How to go to Simala Church

By Vhire

A shot of the VHire terminal heading to the South of Cebu
  1. Head to Vhire South Terminal at Junquera St, corner Sanciangco St. Kamagayan, Cebu City
  2. At the Terminal, there is a Vhire bound directly for Simala Church. The fare is 120 Php.
  3. With a distance of 57.5 km, the standard travel time to Simala Church from the terminal is roughly 2 hours, depending on the traffic condition.
Note
The terminal operates as early as 3AM but the first trip starts at 5AM, and the last trip schedule is at 12 Midnight

By Bus

A shot of buses bound to south
  1. Head to the South Bus Terminal beside E-mall.
  2. Ride a Ceres Liner bound to Oslob/ Liloan Santander. The fare will cost you around 80 PHP to 100 PHP depending on the type of bus that you want to ride.
  3. Tell the conductor that you are heading to Simala Church and ask them to drop you off to the nearest bus stop near Simala Church. The standard travel time is 2 hours with a distance of 57 km.
  4. You will disembark at 7eleven where Habal-habal (motorcycle) is available for hire.
  5. Ride a Habal-habal to Simala Church. The Fare will cost you 20Php-30Php. One single bike can accommodate 2 passengers.
Note
Buses that pass through Sibonga Operate from as early as 1AM until 12 Midnight

By Car

  1. Head south on V Rama Ave Toward Nogras St. It’s a 6-minute drive with a distance of 2 km
  2. Continue your trip on Cebu South Road to Sibonga. It’s an hour and thirty-seven-minute drive, covering a distance of 50.8 km.
  3. At Carcar City Circle, take the 2nd exit to Natalio B. Bacalso S. National Highway. The distance is 13.9 km.
  4. Take the Mama Mary Sanctuary Road to Simala Church which is 2.4 km

Travel Tips

  • If you happen to come across with unstable weather while you’re on your way to Simala, there’s a baggage counter at the Vhire drop-off where you can rent an umbrella for 20 Php. Luggages and large bags are not allowed so you can also leave your things at the baggage counter. Travel lightly to lessen the trouble of having your things lost.
  • There’s a strict dress code to follow before entering Simala Church. The church doesn’t allow the wearing of the following: Shorts and skirts above the knee, leggings, ripped jeans, and high-waisted jeans, sleeveless tops and dresses, tubes and cropped tops.
Note
If you happen to wear any of these, there are cloaks and shawls for rent which cost around 20 Php
  • Though no specific footwear is mentioned on the dress code, you might want to consider wearing slip-on and comfortable shoes, because there are areas inside the church that require being barefooted. Wear shoes that are easy to take-off and comfortable for walking.
  • Flying of drone cameras within the area of Simala Church is not allowed.
  • Flash Photography is not allowed inside the shrine.
  • Bathrooms are not available in the Shrine area but there is a clean bathroom near the entrance of the church. Occupying the bathroom requires a 20 Php fee.
  • Snacks and drinks are available near the souvenir shops. There are also available eateries outside the church, so getting hungry is not something to be worried about.

Side Trips 

If you want to maximize your journey to the south, then head along to the Lechon station in Carcar Public Market. You can hire a Habal-habal (motorcycle) to drive you from the Church and drop you off directly to the market. It’s a forty-minute journey, with a distance of 19.1 km. The driver will charge you 200 Php for a one-way trip to the public market.

A shot of Lechon sold inside the Market of Carcar

Let deep, savory flavors take you to the higher heavens as you get a free bite of Carcar’s finest Lechon! The delectable roasted meat will surely do without any sauce. Ask the seller to give you the tastiest part for a fun trip to flavor town.

The price per kilo of Lechon may vary from each seller. The Lechon we bought cost 200 Php for a quarter of a kilo. You can enjoy your Lechon at a nearby Carenderia (canteen). There’s no corkage fee but buying something from the canteen is required.

Souvenir shops and delicacies in Carcar

Souvenir shops are just a short distance from the market. Chicharon (fried pork skin), rice crackers, and sweet peanut rolls are the common delicacies sold around Carcar.

Heading home? The bus stop for Ceres buses, both ordinary and air-conditioned, bound to Cebu City is just beside the souvenir shops. The fare from Carcar to South Bus Terminal is 70 Php for air-conditioned bus and 50- 60 Php for an ordinary bus.

The bus bound back to Cebu City

Visit more places in the South!

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Visit CSP Travel and Tours Inc. for inquiries!

ABOUT US

Marela Castro
Marela Castro is a Graphic Artist at CSP Travel and Tours, Inc. Her colleagues call her Chaps. She thinks, she draws, ... and she writes! She's in the groove for all crafts. Tag along with her journey that could go as far as her real name.