Calvary Hills and The Church of Transfiguration
This church is located in Dariuk/Dariok Hills, Balintokatok, Santiago City, Isabela. It is one ride from the city proper and around 30 to 45-minute ride. This is a good place to escape and enjoy some personal time and peace and quiet.
If you are not familiar with Santiago or Isabela, Santiago or Santiago City is located in the southwestern part of Isabela. It is 326 km north of Metro Manila. It is said to be the gateway to Cagayan Valley.
Isabela on the other hand is the second largest province of the Philippines and the largest in Luzon in terms of land area.
The Church of Transfiguration is situated on top of Dariuk Hills, the highest point in Santiago City. This church was built and dedicated to Our Lady of La Salette. Thus it is also called La Salette Shrine. This is a popular place for pilgrims for retreat especially during the Holy Week. The place was peaceful and quiet, rightly situated within nature. The church is also facing the east - to greet the rising sun.
What I like about this church is the quaintness and though small, the setting, the vibe, the atmosphere and the environment brings you closer to God. The design of the roof reminds me of Sydney Opera House. I like the openness of the place. I also like how the interior is not adorned that much. Less decorations give you less distraction. Small as it may seem but there's a more intimate feeling to it.
These candle holders have heard a thousand prayers. The rustic look and scarred and burnt candle holders have witnessed tears, sincerity, pain, emotions that can only be said and whispered in prayers. If only these candle holders can talk, they could have told you a volumes of prayers and who said them.
The bird of paradise is one of the flowers that you can see in Dariuk Hills. You can see more flowers that give color to the place but much of these flowers are adorning the Church and it's surroundings.
The road going up the church is lined with life-sized statues of Stations of the Cross. Dariuk Hills give you that religious feeling even if you are not Catholic. It's sad that these stations were not saved from vandals. As you can see in one of the pics below, there is a spray painted "3T."
Once you reach the top, you will see a great view surrounding Dariuk Hills - plains as far as the eye can see.
My first visit of this place was back February 2012 when we visited friends. I studied high school in Alicia, Isabela but I have friends from Santiago City and we always meet when I go visit the place. To get to the place, you either hire a tricycle or use a private car for there is no jeepney plying that route. Good thing my friend had a car so off we went and paid a visit to this site.
It was a rainy day when we went to this place. The rains gave the place the lush and verdant colors. On top of the hill, we can't see a lot but on a good day day, you can see the fields and hills surrounding Santiago City.
Given the chance again, I will visit this place on a better weather.