Mystical Dolores – Up Close

May 26, 2022 Travel

When I think of Dolores, tales of myths and miracles always come to mind. This is a landlocked municipality in the province of Quezon, located about 100 kilometers south of Metro Manila. 


Devotees flock to this place, especially during Holy Week, so they can experience the supernatural. Some even refer to Dolores as the “new Jerusalem.”


I had visited this town twice in the past to climb Mt. Cristobal, but I had never really experienced or understood Dolores until I joined the recent #discoverCALABARZON tour of the Department of Tourism-CALABARZON and Tourism Promotions Board. 


Although it was only a one-day trip, it was packed full of interesting activities.


Like many visitors to Dolores, we started our day paying homage to Dolores’ patron saint, Nuestra Señora de los Dolores de Quezon at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows.

National Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows


The image of Our Lady in Dolores is deeply revered since so many miracles have been attributed to her. In 2019, the Marian image was granted the honor of an Episcopal coronation and the following year, it was canonically crowned.


At the back of the church, pilgrims will find a garden where they can take a solemn walk while meditating on The Seven Sorrows of Mary.


This prayer walk starts with the first Sorrow, which is the Prophecy of Simeon. The second is when the Holy Family had to flee to Egypt to escape Herod the King who wanted to kill the child.  

First station: Prophecy of Simeon


The third is the loss of the child Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem. The next four stations tell of the Lord’s passion. These are of Mary meeting with Jesus on the Via Dolorosa, as well as the fourth Station of the Cross; the crucifixion of Jesus on Mount Calvary; Jesus being taken down from the cross; and the burial of Jesus by Joseph of Arimathea.


After our church visit, we proceeded to Bangkong Kahoy Valley located at Kinabuhayan.


This popular destination sits between two mountains - Mt. Cristobal, the infamous one that many believe is the devil’s mountain and Mt. Banahaw, which on the other hand is believed to be the holy mountain. 


I have always wanted to climb Mt. Banahaw, which many say is a source of psychic and healing energies. This mountain has been closed for quite a while now to give it time to recuperate.


The second time I visited Dolores, we also dropped by Bangkong Kahoy for a little gift- giving session with its students before climbing Mt. Cristobal. But I have always wanted to stay much longer and camp out.


Aside from the camp site, Bangkong Kahoy Valley has a restaurant that serves delicious meals. It also has an honesty store, where people can buy local produce and pay through an honesty system. There is also has a sampinit farm that grows indigenous wild raspberries.

View from Bangkong Kahoy's restaurant. From here you can see both Mt. Banahaw and Mt. Cristobal


Taken from the viewdeck

After lunch, we had a brief encounter with the members of the Samahan ng Tatlong Persona Solo Dios, one of the many religious organizations in Dolores. 


Upon finishing a short briefing with the group, they accompanied us to one of Mt. Banahaw’s many puestosor holy spots. These are where locals go in their search for divine intervention.


Yapak ni Kristo is believed to be the footprint of Jesus Christ, left before he ascended to heaven and mysteriously relocated here. The impression was made on a boulder submerged in a spring, which is where pilgrims now light candles and throw coins.


The street on the way to this place is lined with stalls selling farm produce, local culinary delights, and a collection of crystals, religious items, and anting-anting or amulets.


I am collector of crystals, and I grew up listening or watching stories about anting-antings or amulets, which are believed to ward off evil spirits, bring luck, promote one’s health, and attract someone.

Anting-antings are another thing that Dolores is known for. Those who believe in the powers of amulets come here annually to charge their amulets, buy a new one or have one made. 

We met one of Dolores’ most sought-after amulet makers, Rodel Basilio.

He welcomed us at his workshop located in his home and gladly demonstrated and explained amulets to us, along with his wife and daughter.

Rodel Basilio

His amulets are made of brass, copper, and a sacred wood called dignum, also believed to be the same species that was used to make the cross of Jesus Christ. This potent material is several hundred years old, and one must perform a ritual in order to unearth it.

These amulets contain images and mysterious letters, and phrases.

One design Basilio is working on has the symbol of the Holy Trinity contained in a sacred Triangle; wings, which signify the guardian or the Holy Spirit; the All-seeing Eye, symbolizing power and the beginning; and four sacred letters, which he believes are the same letters contained in the Arc of the Covenant. 

Mr. Basilio also adds that harnessing an amulet’s power does not end with buying one. One has to perform rituals to open its floodgate of powers. These include doing regular incantations as well. 

Indeed, the town of Dolores is a place where mysticism meets the Catholic faith. 


The municipality’s battle cry is UNLAD Dolores, which stands for Unahin Lagi and Diyos or God first. 

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