Cebu is very religious. A proof of it is the large number of castle-like churches all around the province, built during the Spanish era, standing high and mighty. Up until this day, the Cebuanos practice going to church with family on a weekly basis and fear missing out on even just one mass.
One stunning church that has turned into a tourist attraction is the one in Sibonga– the Simala Church.
The Simala Church is a Marian Church. This means that if you are a follower of Mary, the go-to-church for you to do a pilgrim is where this beautiful church erects.
People come here to pray because it is believed that whatever you ask for in prayer to the “Birhen sa Simala”, it will be given. Barren couples, sick bodies, and financial problems are lifted up in this place.
If you want to experience the Cebuano or Filipino culture (in general) at a deeper level, you have to immerse yourself in the reality of the nation’s religious Catholicism.
Birhen sa Simala
Cebu is known to be a devotee of Sto. Nino– that is why we celebrate Sinulog with so much pride. But other than the “Child Jesus”, we also highlight the good works of the “Mother of the Child Jesus”, Mary.
The practice started as a way of intercession through Mary, for Jesus to hear our prayers. The veneration of Mary has become bigger and stronger over the years, thus, the formation of huge Marian devotee groups all over the country.
Marians and non-Marians alike visit the church for various reasons, but one of them is definitely to enjoy the view. It is not a secret that the entire Simala Church structure is rich in beautiful and articulate architectural designs inspired by the big fortresses during the old times.
The exterior and interior designs are much like how we visualize the churches in Rome: extravagant. The insides are filled with religious structures, colorful frames, and golden hues.
There are also stalls where you can purchase religious merchandise for your prayer activities and souvenirs.
Here is the list of mass schedules in case you want to visit the Simala Church:
Sundays through Fridays – 12:00 noon
Sundays- 3:30 PM
Saturday – 10:30 am
13th of the month – 10:30 am & 3:30 pm
(Please comment or send us a message if the schedule has changed.)
How to get there
Simala is in Southern Cebu, so from the city, go to the South Bus Terminal near Elizabeth Mall. Take a bus going to Simala (Oslob/Santander). Make sure to tell the driver or the conductor where you are headed so that they would know where to drop you off.
The fare is estimated to be between 80-100 pesos per person (by bus). The bus will not drop you off right at the church so you have to take a habal-habal from 711 to Simala church. Fare is around 30 pesos per head.