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92 steps to penance: 702nd Brigade builds pilgrimage site

Faith is the foundation of people’s prayers. It connects people to God and builds relationships with Him.

Being a soldier is a 'dangerous' job.

And in such dangerous circumstances, it takes faith to survive.

This prompted Brigadier General Krishnamurti A. Mortela, the commanding officer of the 702nd Infantry (DEFNDER) Brigade, to initiate the construction of the pilgrimage site of Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto in a hill near the headquarters of the 702nd brigade in barangay Sulvec, Narvacan, Ilocos Sur.

Building it was an act of gratitude and as a form of veneration to the Virgin Mary for the faithful to give thanks for prayers answered and favors received and for Her to intercede sins they have committed, said BGen Mortela.

"Each time we set our eyes toward that hill, we feel safe and protected not only with Mama Mary but more importantly with God," Mortela emphasized.

It is a place of peace and devotion while being surrounded by the colorful beauty of nature.


First few steps going to the pilgrimage site. (jmcq)

The pilgrimage site of Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto can be reached by climbing 92 steps to the hill where the grotto sits.

“It also symbolizes the year we, the PMA Class of 1992, embraced the call of service to become the country’s vanguards of peace and faithful servants of God. This grotto honors their sacrifices and deep connection with Mama Mary as we take our own sacrifices to be deserving children of our Creator through prayers and penance,” he added.

Magical view from the pilgrimage site. (jmcq)

Moreover, a spectacular view awaits the devotees once they reach the top, making their journey even more meaningful.

Overlooking from the pilgrimage site is the calm and beauteous West Philippine Sea and behind it is the Bantay Abot, which visitors can also climb to see more from the hilltop.

It used to be an Adventure site called Narvacan Outdoor Adventure Hub or "NOAH" but due to the threat of Covid-19 pandemic which temporarily stopped leisure activities, it is not accessible to travelers for the meantime.

The pilgrimage site also faces the rocky beach at Sulvec Point where the grotto by the sea called 'Paraiso ni Juan' is located.

It is a great place where people who love serenity can enjoy while watching the sun setting from above.

The Grotto was a replica of the original one in Lourdes, France which receives millions of pilgrims and tourists because of a set of visions reported by a young girl named Bernadette in 1858. (JCR/VHS/JMCQ/PIA Ilocos Sur)

About the Author

Joyah Mae Quimoyog


Region 1

A writer based in the heritage province of Ilocos Sur.

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