Many people who visit Baguio and the Lady of Lourdes Grotto do not know that the Jesuit Retreat House called Mirador is on top of it. This is where the Jesuits go every summer for villa (vacation) and retreat. This was written many years ago when I saw hundreds of people go up the steps of the Grotto on a particularly busy Saturday. I prayed to Mary just when it was around 12 midnight, no one else was there, and I imagined this scene take place…

you bring back to memory
our desperate hope
and fragile faith
that made us climb
hundreds of steps
to heap our burdens upon you.

even now
your shoulders sag–
because you tried to be brave
when you saw our fears
and tried to smile
while you wiped away our tears

you could still smell
the burnt candles of our prayers
light at the end of dark tunnels
rain on parched lands
kisses on parched lips
a long desired embrace
that debts will finally be paid
and homes re-built
and hope found. again.

and we did go down
faster than when we went up
hope found
in your welcoming hands
that now hang strained
with the weight of our hearts.
resolve rekindled
by the fire of your eyes
that now fill with tears
for the sorrow we feel.

we go down
faster than when we went up
leaving you
our discomfort
anguished histories.

and– shivering–
you put them around your shoulders
as a cloak.

About Eric Santillan

AngPeregrino is Eric Santillan. He is a management consultant for two firms specializing in sustainable business, competitiveness and risk management, cost control and culture management. He is also a writer for The Mindanao Current. At one time or another, he has taught, moderated college organizations, done organizational development work for BPOs, been a Jesuit, mentored people and given retreats.

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