TACLOBAN CITY– More than 20 pilgrims joined a one-day pilgrimage tour to seven old churches in Leyte and Southern Leyte on Jan.7.
Sponsored by the IM Travel Corporation in partnership with the tourism office of Baybay City and the Diocese of Maasin, the pilgrims were able to explore century-old churches that define the Philippine’s Catholic rich history and culture.
The seven centuries-old churches that were part of the tour are the Maasin Cathedral in Southern Leyte; St. Joseph Church of Matalom Leyte; Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church in Hilongos, Leyte; Sto. Niño de Malitbog Church, in Malitbog, Leyte; the 18th century Immaculate Conception Church, the Diocesan Shrine of St. Anthony de Padua, and the 16th Century old St. Isidore of Laborer Chapel, in Baybay City, Leyte.
The pilgrims also visited the Visitation Shrine of Mother Mary at Lintaon Peak in Baybay City.
Rochelle Alfonso, owner and CEO of IM Travel Corp., said that the pilgrimage package started in 2019 in cooperation with the Department of Tourism(DOT)-8‘s ‘Sinugdan’ tour for the 500th year anniversary of the First Mass in Limasawa in Southern Leyte.
“During the training, I did not fully embrace the notion of having a pilgrimage tour maybe because I was young, and even the cost for the tour for 3 days and 2 nights was expensive, I never thought that it was possible,” she added.
However in 2022 in a travel mart organized by the DOT, she was able to present the package to a potential pilgrim and it was taken positively, thus the first international pilgrim tour last 2023 in Leyte.
The pilgrims were about 37 people from North California including a bishop and two priests and mostly senior citizens.
Alfonso added that since then blessings for IM travel and tours kept pouring, thus, she decided to continue offering the said tour package locally in fulfillment of a promise she made to the churches she visited that she would bring more pilgrims to the said churches.
For this year her travel and tours corporation’s first offering was a pilgrimage tour package.
Meanwhile, the city government of Baybay through its tourism officer Josie Gutierrez said that what IM Travel and Tours doing now is a dream come true from the city government of Baybay.
“This is already an initiation coming from the private sector campaigning, promoting doing the pilgrimage. This is partly part of the establishment of tourism in the city,” Gutierrez said.
The Baybay city government is in full support of the pilgrimage tour having the three churches located in the city by providing better roads and more comfortable space for the pilgrims.
(LIZBETH ANN A. ABELLA)