Saturday, April 26, 2014

Pope John Paul II Tower - Paying Homage to a Beloved Pope and Saint (Bacolod City, Negros Occidental)

Earlier this year, I found myself doing a fast detour to Bacolod City en route to Cebu. While I do have a blogger friend there, this was a spur-of-the-moment trip and I felt it improper to come on short notice. After all, some surprises are unwelcome for working folks, and I don't like that. So I deferred contacting my friend. There will be another time. The good news: we got to visit the Pope John Paul II Tower.

The Pope John Paul II Tower is Bacolod City's homage to the beloved Pope who once officiated mass in the city's reclaimed area in February 20, 1981. The 8-story edifice (the top deck is the observatory) contains memorabilia of the papal visit, including a chair used when he said mass in the once-desolate area. These days, it's a bustling commercial property by virtue of the SM City Bacolod operating there.

You can walk from the mall to the tower, although when the sun's up, some people prefer to take the "trisikad" at just P10 (P5 per person, but you have to pay for the 2 available space). There is an entrance fee (P20 for adults, P10 for students) at the first level. And you can leave your stuff at a locker.

You climb your way up the floors, checking out the memorabilias of the Papal Visit, some photos of young Karol Wojtyla, and a good collection of paintings from talented local artists. Each floor is enclosed by glass panels so navigating around, even with children, is safe. The lift wasn't operational during my visit.

The best part of the tower is the 8th floor which has a gradual ascent, with bars (grills) enclosing the top floor (instead of glasses). This drastically improves ventilation from the lookout point. An elevated stage could further raise your vantage point, though it doesn't really make much difference. Students mill around the top floor. Since there are no benches, you may slouch down the floor to relax.

While the collection here seems sparse, reaching the 8th floor balcony is pure pleasure. In fact, I could stay there all day. The view is less than spectacular, but it isn't bad either. You get to see a 360 degree sprawl of the city: the ocean stretching all the way to the Guimaras strait, the grassland at the adjacent lot; the newly developed City Baywalk, SM Mall, etc. There isn't much view further afield because the urban skyline is kinda flat and the tower isn't high enough for us to appreciate even Lacson Street where our hotel was. But the rush of the wind up there is like a rejuvenating blow, a balm to the weary soul. While there's hardly wind below, it's another story up there. If it blew harder, I surmise it could repel every burden that human kind carries on his shoulder. Designed as a pilgrimage center, the landmark feels less of a religious site than a tourist attraction, though very few actually come for a visit (if we're to base this during my visit).

There's a bronze statue just outside the tower. Across the road, Bishop Antonio Fortich has his own monument, the city government's homage to the bishop who significantly contributed to the "social, economic, educational and moral development" of the city and its populace.

If you're in the city, this landmark is not to be missed. Finally, I join the rest of the country (and the world) in rejoicing for the canonization of our beloved Pope John Paul II. We've loved him dearly even before he was saint so his sainthood is just icing on the cake.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

Papal Chair

Cross from the top of the tower.

Bacolod City Baywalk (above and below). It opens from 3 PM onward.

SM City Bacolod

Pope John Paul II canonized as a saint.
 Some of the paintings we found during our visit:

Bishop Antonio Fortich Monument


merlmd said...

you should have given me a knock on my blog :) I would have dropped work ;) to meet up :)

Ola said...

Nice to see that our Polish Pope is loved in the world!

eye in the sky said...

@ Maritel,

I was absolutely thinking about that even when I was there. We could have met up over coffee, but I thought against it because of the reason I've mentioned.

I had a convention in Cebu so on a whim, I decided to take a detour to Bacolod first before Cebu. I loved Silay and the Lacson Ruins in Talisay although I had to come back twice to Talisay. First attempt failed. Haha. As I said, there will be a next time and I'll sure to honk in and let you know. :)

eye in the sky said...

@ Ola:

The Philippines is the only predominantly Catholic nation in Southeast Asia and we do have a special affinity to Pope John Paul II. You probably won't find a nation more fond of the Pope than the Philippines. And he represents Poland very well. :)