Saturday, October 26, 2013


The dome-shaped or turtle-shaped mountain is Zamboanga's landmark, Mount Pulong Bato, where the 14 Stations of the Cross  and the Cruz Mayor are nestled in the lower half, while the mountain beside it is where Barangay Murok is located  (and where I stood while I took my pictures).  
I am now high up in Murok, Pasonanca just beside Mt. Pulongbato and of course, I am in awe when I look at Zamboanga City and down at the Cruz Mayor of the Abong Abong 14 Stations of the Cross.
Zamboanga City panorama

Pasonanca is a barangay in Zamboanga City known as the Little Baguio in the South and one of the highest elevated barangays from the sea level, which is about 500 feet above sea level. The top of Mount Pulong Bato and Murok are about 800 to 1000 feet above sea level. Strictly speaking, this is still a hill, but in the terrain of Zamboanga City itself where it is seen as steep, this has the appearance of a mountain, so we will continue to call it a mountain. From Wikipedia: The distinction between a hill and a mountain is unclear and largely subjective, but a hill is generally somewhat lower and less steep than a mountain. In the United Kingdom geographers historically regarded mountains as hills greater than 1,000 feet (300 m) above sea level, which formed the basis of the plot of the 1995 film The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain. In contrast, hillwalkers have tended to regard mountains as peaks 2,000 feet (610 m) above sea level: theOxford English Dictionary also suggests a limit of 2,000 feet (610 m). This has led to Cavanal Hill in Poteau, Oklahoma, receive billing as the "World's Tallest Hill" due to its height of 1,999 feet (609 m). Mountains in Scotland are frequently referred to as "hills" no matter what their height, as reflected in names such as the Cuillin Hills and the Torridon Hills. In Wales, the distinction is more a term of land use and appearance and has nothing to do with height.  Pasonanca is also the location of the watershed of Zamboanga. 


The Pasonanca watershed, the source of drinking water of Zamboanga City, covers a land area of 12, 107 hectares, and a 5,307 hectares buffer zone which are all subject to actual survey. The result determines whether to expand or decrease the technical descriptions of these lots designated as a Natural Park.

Through the years, Zamboanga City’s watershed was named Pasonanca Watershed Forest Reserve under Proclamation No. 199 of former President Aquino, and later changed to Pasonanca Natural Park under Proclamation No. 132 of former President Estrada
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – The Lower House has approved, during its second reading, House Bill (HB) 422, “An Act establishing the Pasonanca Watershed Forest Reserve located in this city as protected area under the category of Natural Park and its peripheral areas as buffer zones."
Can you see the Giant White Cross (Cruz Mayor) at the lower part of Mount Pulong Bato?
Abong-Abong Park has the Stations of the Cross and the 14 Stations lead to a giant white cross, the Cruz Mayor.
Each station is about 50 to 75 meters apart.
This is nestled in the hill just beside the mid level of Mount Pulong Bato and the Ascension is carved on the side of Mount Pulong Bato. From Wikipedia: Stations of the Cross (or Way of the Cross; in LatinVia Crucis; also called the Via Dolorosa or Way of Sorrows, or simply, The Way) refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion. The tradition as chapel devotion began with St. Francis of Assisi and extended throughout the Roman Catholic Church in the medieval period. It is commonly observed in Lutheran churches[1][2], but it is less often observed in the Anglicanchurches. It may be done at any time, but is most commonly done during the Season of Lent, especially on Good Friday and on Friday evenings during Lent.
The object of the Stations is to help the faithful to make a spiritual pilgrimage of prayer, through meditating upon the chief scenes of Christ's sufferings and death. It has become one of the most popular devotions for Roman Catholics, as well as featuring other Christian artifacts of the local area.
In the Roman Catholic tradition, the meditation is often performed in a spirit of reparation for the sufferings and insults that Jesus endured during His Passion.5 This is the Cruz Mayor, the culmination of the 14 Stations of the Cross just beside Mount Pulong Bato.
This is the summit of the Abong Abong Stations of the Cross during ordinary days.
It is usually quiet up there and with a few couples, friends and families who randomly visit the place for prayer or bonding and also to view the ZC panorama.  
This is in preparation for the Holy Week with repainting of the Cruz Mayor.
more stalls are being prepared
During Lent (Holy Week), thousands of devotees visit the 14 Stations of the Cross and the Cruz Mayor midway to the top of Mt. Pulong Bato.
The devotees start to come up... but note that baloons are sold at the summit! This shows that kids come with their parents during this time.
The devotees light the candles here. After the final prayer before the cross, the devotees also take time to catch their breath and sit by the Giant Cross. (taken using Nikon P500)
The flux of devotees usually starts on the afternoon of Holy Thursday to Good Friday. Many of the devotees also camp and hold vigil in the Pasonanca and Abong-Abong area before and after their devotion at the 14 Stations of the Cross. 
This is at the foot of the Stations of the Cross, where some people camp, where little stalls/stores are located and also where medics/clinics are put up. (taken using the Nikon P500 36x wide superzoom from top of Murok)
At the Cruz Mayor, a niche chiseled beside Mt. Pulong Bato
Devotees flock and there are sari-sari stores since definitely they would be thirsty!

Do you see the Ascencion carved on the side of Mount Pulong Bato?
The Ascencion is in color and carved in stone
From Holy Thursday, the devotees come and even in the wee hours of the night and dawn, they continue to arrive. These are the night shots of the Cruz Mayor.
The fire in front of the Cruz Mayor is where the devotees light the candle. (taken using the Nikon D90)
the place is full of people
lots of movement atop the Stations of the Cross (taken using the Nikon P500 36X wide superzoom)
the fire is the area where the candles are lighted(taken using the Nikon P500 36X wide superzoom)
the view of the top is very holy, with the light and halo around the Cruz Mayor
Morning of Good Friday came. The sun came up.
Then, it rained, but the devotees still continue to come...

the others were prepared and brought their umbrellas!

(taken using the Nikon P500 36x wide superzoom)

As Good Friday ends and the rains continue, the devotees thin out...
This is a yearly sight in Zamboanga City, and you will be surprised that the devotees can be as young as infants and as old a senior citizens!
In the past, when we helped out in the Medical Station through VMERU, people passed by the clinic for Hypertension, Difficulty of Breathing, Heat stroke and also for knee pains, among other complaints.  There are really some who are more than seventy years old who still go up the Abong-Abong Stations of the Cross.  And others, are younger couples but carry their young kids or babies with them. And to think, the walk starts from the Helmet, which is still more than a kilometer away... and to continue to the steep Way of the Cross.

How faith moves people...

The faith that brings people of all walks of life to go beyond their comfort zones to show their love and gratitude to the Lord!
Here is the City of Zamboanga from Murok and viewing the Great and Little Sta. Cruz Island, Basilan Strait as well as Basilan in the horizon! The Cruz Mayor atop the Stations of the Cross has a similar breath-taking view at a lower elevation.
the view of the Airport and the Little Sta. Cruz Island
Zamboanga City with the Great and Little Sta. Cruz Island and Basilan
Zamboanga City with the Astoria Regency, Garden Orchid Hotel with the Great Sta. Cruz Island and Basilan

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