In Ligao City, a hill beckons to Lenten devotees

In Ligao City, a hill beckons to Lenten devotees
Life-size statues depicting the suffering of Christ attract devotees to Kawa-Kawa Nature Park in Ligao City.

LIGAO CITY, Philippines - Thousands of devotees are expected to climb the 250-meter-high Kawa-Kawa Hill in Barangay Tuburan in this city where life-size sculptures depicting the Way of the Cross offer a unique Lenten experience.

Albay third district Representative Fernando Gonzalez, who is at the helm of Kawa-Kawa Management Group along with his niece, Ligao City Mayor Patty Gonzalez-Alsua, said that for the past six years, the hill, called "kawa-kawa" because of its cauldron shape, had become a popular destination for Catholics during Lent.

Gonzalez said that like in previous years, more than 100,000 visitors were expected to join the Way of the Cross in Kawa-Kawa this Holy Week.

The city tourism office of Ligao has recorded a total of 506,000 foreign and local visitors at the hill in 2010 and 2011.

He said Conrado Balubayan, a sculptor from Santa Cruz town, Laguna province, made the life-size sculptures of the 14 Stations of the Cross.

As part of preparations for the arrival of visitors this Holy Week, the walkways of the park have been resurfaced, parking areas were designated and a lighting system was installed.

Facilities in the park were also refurbished while the water supply system was made functional.

The Ligao City government also provides medical assistance and standby ambulance as well as security, police and traffic personnel to maintain order.

The natural park hosts other amenities for tourists. Along the path are benches and a coffee shop for people taking a break from trekking.

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