Apr 12, 2012

Nuestra Señora de la Virgen del Pilar

Nuestra Señora de la Virgen del Pilar

backpacking adventure to zamboanga philippines
Fort Pilar
It is the city's symbol of cultural heritage, a tourist place of interest when in Zamboanga City. Outside the eastern wall is a Marian shrine dedicated to Our Lady of the Pilar, the patroness of the city. 
backpacking adventure to zamboanga philippines
Overhead Pigeon house near Fort Pilar
backpacking adventure to zamboanga philippines
The Symbol of Christianity

If you noticed, Muslim also pay respect to the Shrine, they too offer lighted candles. This is one of the traits i love about Zamboanga, living harmoniously with different sets of religion.

I'm raised and born in Zamboanga City. Below are most reasons in visiting the shrine and it is already a tradition in our family, or maybe most of the family living in the city.
When I was a working student in my college years, Fort Pilar shrine was just few kilometers walk, my first work was an answered prayer from the Virgen Milagrosa del Fort Pilar (as my family called Her) and as gratitude, it became a promise that I will be visiting Her once a week after work. Sometimes I visited her with my Christian friends at work and most of the time alone. One day, a Muslim friend told me that she will go with me to visit the shrine; honestly it was a shock on my side simply because we have different religion. Inside the shrine I was too observant on how she will behave but to my surprise, she too lighted a candle and prayed. After that I just can’t help my self asking herif it would be okay to her family if they found out, she replied "pumupunta talaga kame dito para magsindi ng kandila" or in english "we really visit here to light candles" then I became more curious then she told me their family really pays respect of the Lady of Fort Pilar because aside from their answered prayers, their ancestors once witnessed the apparitions the Lady of Pilar made.

Note: Fort Pilar is nestled in a Muslim environs, such as Rio Hondo, on your way there, your came a crossed of the Barter Trade Center which is most man by Muslims, then few blocks away from the shrine is a big Mosque of our Muslim brothers and sisters.

Apparitions according to wiki:

It was in 1734, when a relief of the Our Lady of the Pillar was placed above the eastern wall of the fort making it an outdoor shrine with an altar for praying. Tradition reveals the Virgin Mary appeared to a soldier on December 6, 1734, at the gate of the city. Not recognizing her, the soldier asked her to stop. Upon recognizing her, he fell down to his knees.

On September 21, 1897 at 1:14 PM in the afternoon, a strong earthquake struck the western region of Mindanao. The Virgin Mary made an apparition, according to the people who witnessed it, they saw the virgin standing mid-air over the Basilan Strait, had her right hand raised to signal the onrushing waves to stop, saving the city from a tsunami.

How to get there:

It is located at Pilar Street, about a kilometer from the city hall, just across Paseo del Mar.
From the airport it's either you'll take a jeepney ride or tricycle (these are the main public transpo in the city)

Jeepney, take the Canelar Airport route; you can wait for it just outside the airport checkpoint. Then tell the driver to drop you off at OK Bazar, fare is 7.00 pesos. From OK Bazar ask anyone to direct you where the city hall is (city hall is beside the old PNB along Pablo Lorenzo Street)

3 ways to get to Fort Pilar shrine when you reach the City Hall 
  1. walking (hahahhahah, this may be a way of sacrifice, I've done this a lot of time way back. You can just walk straight ahead Valderosa street (land marks, Lantaka Hotel, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and Paseo del Mar
  2. take a pedicab/ traysikad, P10.00 per head
  3. take another jeepney ride,  the Rio Hondo route just along Jollibee Plaza Pershing branch and ask the driver to drop you at the Fort Pilar shrine, fare is 7.00 pesos
Tricycle, this is the easiest way to get around town, airport to Fort Pilar will be around P40.00 – P50.00 maximum, it will depend on your haggling skills. Note: once the tricycle driver will tell you “etu ya bahala kwanto” (chavacano) “ikaw na ang bahala kung magkano” in tagalong, or in English “it’s on you to decide, how much” Never get inside the trike not settling the fare with the driver,  just to be sure you’ll have a hassle free ride.


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