Known as Cebu’s Castle Church, the Simala Shrine is a favorite tourist spot for many. I have been there several times, and the church still takes my breath away. It’s a few hours away from the city, but the long travel is worth it once you get there. It’s not only the scenery why people go there. The church is also known for its miraculous events.
People go there for different reasons. When I was there, I found a woman in her mid-20s praying and thanking the Virgin Mary since she passed the nursing board exam.
A family was also there to offer their gratitude as they finally got their US Visas.
As I was leaving, I found a mother crying and pleading with the Lord to help save her daughter who was still in the hospital.
Points to Remember:
The church is very particular about the guests’ clothing. There’s a dress code that everyone should follow:
I was wearing a hanging top during my first visit to the Simala Shrine. I wasn’t allowed to go inside, and that got me worried. Thankfully, a friend lent me her “sarong” to cover my stomach.
Keep your voices down.
Once you are inside the Simala Shrine, you will see how fascinating it is right away.
Make the most of your time and try to visit every part of the church.
I can’t remember the last time I was there, but the place was still under renovation. It was already beautiful at that time. If you go there now, it will be more breathtaking.
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There’s a hall in the church where messages and testimonials of firm believers of the Virgin Mary are posted. Many of these are from people whose prayers were granted. You can also see a display case of walkers and crutches from those who were able to walk again. They believe that it was through the intercession of Mary that they were cured.
“Dagkutanan” means a place for candle lighting. A trademark of Cebu churches is the candle lighting area. In this church, there are many “dagkutanan” areas. What makes candle lighting unique in this
church is the different colors of the candles. Each color has its meaning:
You have to fall in line first before you can take a glimpse of the statue of the Miraculous Virgin Mary. The line is long, especially during weekends and holidays, so bring a fan with you.
Most of my visits to the Simala Shrine fell on weekdays. There were still so many people, but not as much as during weekends. It can get too crowded there, and it can affect your experience. So, I recommend that you also go there on weekdays.
If you want, you can bring food and drinks. I packed some snacks with me so I’ll have something to munch in, in case I get hungry during the trip. I also brought a lot of water.
You can’t eat inside the church. But, they have cottages outside for guests to sit and enjoy their food. There aren’t many cottages, but no need to worry. There are several ‘carinderias’ or cheap restaurants outside the gate. If you brought food, you could ask the owner of the eateries to use their utensils and pay the corkage fee.
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Here’s how you’ll get to the Simala Shrine if you’re riding the bus:
Go to the Cebu Provincial South Bus Terminal. If you’re traveling with peers, I suggest you take the taxi. Taxi fare is expensive, but it’s convenient, and you won’t be lost going to the terminal.
The flag down rate is P40.00, and an amount of P13.50 will be added for each succeeding kilometer and for the waiting time in traffic, P2.00 will be added every after two minutes.
Ride a bus that’s bound for Oslob. Inform the driver you’re Simala-bound. The entire journey will take two hours and a half.
Once you reach the bus stop in Sibonga, you’ll need to ride a tricycle or a motorcycle, commonly called as “habal-habal” by the locals. The ride will take about 5 to 10 minutes.
The South Bus Terminal has air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned buses. Take those that are air-conditioned, as the trip is quite long and you need to be as comfortable as possible
it near the driver so you can casually remind him that you’re bound for Simala from time to time to make sure he doesn’t forget.
A “v-hire” is a van for hire. I prefer to take the bus because it’s spacey compared to the van. But, the upside of riding the v-hire is that the drop off is at the gate of the Simala Church. In case you like to ride the van instead,
The V-hire terminal is located at Junquera St., locally known as Kamagayan. It’s near to the oldest university in the Philippines, the University of San Carlos (USC).
Last time I checked, the fare is P120.00.
When leaving the Simala Shrine, you’ll need to ride the “habal-habal” or tricycle to take you to the nearest V-hire terminal, which is about five minutes away.
So have we helped you with your needs? If so you can book a hotel room in Cebu city in our hotel at Southpole Central Hotel.
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