‘Faith tourism’ grows in Ilocos Norte town


FAITH TOURISM. The Minor Basilica of St. John the Baptist attracts pilgrims in Badoc, Ilocos Norte. (Photo by Leilanie G. Adriano)

LAOAG CITY—A lowly-church located at the heart of Badoc town continues to attract pilgrims all over the world a year after it was declared a minor basilica.

A 77-year-old tourism ambassador Ana Magbual of Alogoog village in Badoc, Ilocos Norte said Friday an average of around thousand pilgrims visit the Minor Basilica of St. John the Baptist in a day as compared before when barely a hundred local churchgoers hear mass at the Badoc church.

This is where the La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc, known as Ilocos Norte’s patroness, is enshrined.

“For three years now of serving as tourism ambassador in my hometown every summer, I observed a lot of pilgrims are coming here even from Visayas and Mindanao including from abroad,” she said.

Municipal tourism operations officer Jade Cezar Raquele said one of the youngest minor basilicas in the country has attracted visitors in this northern gateway of Luzon.

Aside from visiting some popular destinations in the province such as the Bangui bay windmills, St. Augustine Church in Paoay, Blue Lagoon in Pagudpud, Kapurpurawan Rock Formation in Burgos, and Suba Sand Dunes in Paoay, several travel agents are now offering devotional tour packages which include the Badoc church as one of the latest destinations of pilgrims.

Devotees from Badoc town believe the Blessed Mother landed in Badoc town for a purpose.

Story has it that the Marian image and the Crucified Christ were believed to have come from Japan in the 16th century, set afloat by the persecuted Christians and by circumstance, the crate that ferried the images drifted to the shores of Dadalaquiten, a small village within the municipal boundary of Sinait in Ilocos Sur and Badoc in Ilocos Norte.

Recently, the Ilocos Norte patroness was also enshrined in Christuskirche (Christ Church) of Obereiseshei in honor of the Marian image.

The event was organized by the Divine Mercy Prayer Group headed by Elsa Quintero-Agatep, a group of Catholic Filipino migrants in Germany.

In Rome, Italy, a replica of the La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc was also brought there through Laoag Bishop Renato Mayugba.

The image was presented to hundreds of Filipino migrants at the Basilica di Santa Pudenziana and the Church of St. Gabriel Arcangel at Cortina d’Ampezzo.

An annual May festival honoring the Ilocos Norte patroness is also drawing thousands of visitors in the province.

The event highlights the arrival of the galleon trade more than a hundred years ago which paved the way how the image of the blessed Virgin Mother landed in Badoc.