MAASIN CITY, SOUTHERN LEYTE
BY EDWIN ALLAN DIAZ
Three hours away from Tacloban City, Maasin City is a religious haven with hidden natural wonders that are virtually untouched. Tucked deep within Southern Leyte is the City of Maasin, a place full of religious destinations worth a pilgrimage to and natural sites that are virtually untouched. Located three to four hours away via land travel from Tacloban City Airport, Maasin City’s captivating tourist spots are some of the lesser-known treasures of Eastern Visayas.
Also known as the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, Maasin Cathedral is a concrete representation of the city's rich religious heritage that celebrates Baroque architecture.
The cathedral is a captivating sight that pulls visitors in and encourages them to reflect and say a prayer. Not only is it a place of worship, but also a testament to the city's cultural identity and spiritual significance.
Constructed in the 17th century, Maasin Cathedral was damaged by Super Typhoon Odette in 2021. The roof, in particular, was heavily damaged. In order to raise funds for repairs, the church held a fundraising Christmas event. As of writing, rehabilitation efforts are still ongoing.
In partnership with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the church also underwent renovation from 2019 to 2020. From the church's retablo mayor to the stained glass windows, practically the entire church is restored. Even the bell is now electronic, but the original 1882 bell is still on display in their compound near the church's office.
To celebrate 500 years since the first Easter mass in Limasawa, the Department of Tourism (DOT) launched a tour package in 2021, which features the stone churches of Southern Leyte. Among the chosen churches was the Maasin Cathedral. Other churches included in the initiative were Baybay City's Immaculate Concepcion Church and Punta Chapel; Hilongos' Immaculate Concepcion Church; Malitbog's Sto. Niño Parish Church; Matalom's Saint Joseph the Worker Parish, and San Juan's St. John the Baptist Church.
During the observance of Holy Week, pilgrims from all over the world flock to visit Maasin's church. The city's tourism office estimates around 10,000 people visit each year in their city alone considering their numerous religious destinations.
If you seek tranquility and breathtaking vistas, a visit to Monte Cueva is a must.
Located in the tranquil village of Guadalupe, Monte Cueva is known for its stunning panoramic views and serene ambiance. It was donated by its previous owner to the Diocese of Maasin, which was made into the Precious Blood of Jesus Chapel. Three red "water droplets" hang from the center of the chapel, symbolizing Jesus' blood. Aside from the hilltop ascent of over 300 steps, what's notable about Monte Cueva is the miracle that happened over a decade ago. Its caretaker said Mama Mary's statue atop the chapel incarnated into a Franciscan sister during holy mass and helped distribute host during Holy Communion. This happened on September 8, 2010, which is also her birthday.
Fair warning, however, that reaching the top of the hill is no mean feat, and visitors should prepare themselves for the uphill climb. On your way up, you will encounter the 14 stations of the cross depicted via statues. With small platforms in between flights of stairs, you could pause to pray at each station while catching your breath.
Hundreds make the climb every Sunday, participating in the mass inside the cave. Benches are provided for the attendees and the temperature inside the cave is significantly cooler than outside. When the cave is full during mass, however, it could still get warm.
This waterfall is tucked deep within a lush rainforest, reachable by walking on sprawling and muddy trails. A hidden gem awaiting discovery, it is located in Barangay Cagnituan, hence the name, offering visitors a literally refreshing escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
After the trek, visitors are greeted by crystal-clear pools that overflow from, the picturesque waterfall. Take a dip in the icy-cold waters and let the beauty of nature envelop every moment.
If you visit early enough, you may also access the Guinsuhotan Cave. Given the pitch-dark interior of the cave, tourists are required to have a tour guide with them going inside. You will be given a set of safety gear- flashlight, life vest, and hard hat. Going through the cave to the other side, however, you will be rewarded with a stunning water basin you could swim in.
Maasin City is a destination that offers a diverse range of attractions, from natural wonders to cultural landmarks. Whether you seek serene landscapes, historical sites, or thrilling adventures, this city has something to offer every traveler.