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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Emerald Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in Iriga, Camarines Sur, Bicol Offers Panoramic View

In Iriga, in Camarines Sur in the Bicol region in the Philippines, there's a hill called Calvario. It is where the Emerald Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in Iriga can be found. During the Tinagba festival held in February, the first harvests of the season are offered here. In Lent, a crucifixion play is held here.

There is a convention center at the foot of the grotto and a hotel. You can go to the top of the grotto after severl flights of stairs. At the top is an altar, which reminds you of the altar of a church. The statue of the Virgin Mary is to the right, set in the concrete wall. Below the altar is where tourists and locals usually congregate to socialize and to experience the grand view of Mt. Iriga and a few distant mountains, including the famous Mt. Mayon in Legaspi City.

The grotto is accessible through two big gates. If the one beside the hotel is closed, visitors will have to go around to enter from the other side. A guard goes around every once in a while, but the security usually cannot keep up with the activities of people going up to the altar, where debris accumulates. Near dusk,  the lights are switched on which allows the grotto to be a visible emerald gem from a distance.

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