Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine
in Bontod Village, Bayawon Township, just south of Dumaguete
Visit in January 2011
Always crowded with thousands when we visit on Feb 11th the Fiesta Holy Day;  it's
nice to see it serenely quiet on an ordinary Sunday late-afternoon...  
Our Lady of Lourdes
is the most popular deity of this region -- there are three major shrines for Her in and around
Dumaguete, and innumerable smaller ones.  My wife was born on Her Holy Festival Day, after her
mother intensively prayed to Her for a daughter for a year, and is therefore named after Her.
The "miraculous" statue, now made of marble and life-sized.
Visiting the Great-Aunt, considered by locals to be kind of successor to Saint Bernadette, and who
was then 89 years old;  that's her niece Lou's mom on the left.  She passed-away just 4 months later.
The Holy Mother is here carved standing on a snake, ancient pagan-rooted
icon of good surpressing evil -- not sure it's really proper Roman Catholic!
Founded by my wife Lourdes's Great-Aunt over 60 years ago, sacred center for
Lou's mother's entire Johkson Clan and some hundred thousand Filipino devotees;
perhaps the 2nd-holiest site in all of Negros Oriental Province, next to the Cathedral.
Part of Great-Aunt's house is seen behind-right.
Statue of Saint Bernadette
of Lourdes, who had her
visions near the southern
border of France in 1858.
We brought her packages of dried milk, the only food she takes anymore.  On the right is her youngest daughter,
currently her sole caretaker.  Despite the fact that the shrine she created brings in tens of thousands of dollars
per year in donations, she has always lived in stark simple poverty as seen here, not taking even one peso of
the funds for herself or her family -- it all goes to charity relief for other poor families in this province, Because
this is how our Lady instructed her to do it 60 years ago...  This is a truly religious and good-hearted woman.
Checking out the state of my 'pregnancy', with a gleeful cackle;  said i was the first "Americano" to visit her in a long time.
She was just 22 years old when General Douglas MacArthur waded ashore on nearby Leyte Island to liberate
the Philippines...  What a life she has seen!  These long ancient hands still have a firm grip, i can testify.
the Shrine at my mother-in-law's house, Santo Nino Village
the huge garden-Shrine for Our Lady of Lourdes built on Dumaguete's northern border,
by a wealthy businessman who attributes his success to her