Less than 50 kilometers away from Dapitan City in Dipolog, a quaint place called Sapang Dalaga radiates more than enough charm worthy of a visit.
Below the outstretched arms of a Jesus Christ statue perched atop a hill, I took in the magnificent view of the twin bays of Casul and Murcielagos against the sheen of the setting sun. From the gleaming waters, I trained my sights on the rolling mountain slopes circling back 180 degrees and leading my eyes again to the towering figure of Caluya Shrine — a 45-feet doppelganger of Rio de Janeiro’s Jesus Christ the Redeemer.
The first thing I noticed was the collective tranquility of the place. In spite of a few fishing boats revving their engines from afar, the silence was deafening. The blowing wind sounded like whispers from a shy lady, telling you sweet nothings while tickling your ear.
Feeling the cool air while staring at the repetitious polish of the bay and the picturesque scenery of the countryside, I understood why the place was named Sapang Dalaga or Maiden of the Creek. Like a beautiful girl who glides into a room and sweeps everyone’s attention, Sapang Dalaga pulls you into a contemplative spell.
Cruising on Casul Bay
Although Caluya Shrine can be reached by land, we opted to take the more scenic route: over the still waters of a narrow river leading to Casul Bay. It was mid-afternoon when we boarded a small fishing boat, blessing us a time of the day when the sun glosses more strikingly. As we slowly cruised the river, I watched at the world around me, upside down, through the reflections on the water of the dense tropical setting enveloping the bay.
We passed smaller fishing boats docked neatly in front of pockets of small houses lining the river. As soon as we exited its tributary and caught sight of the much bigger bay of Murcielagos, I saw the sun shining magnificent rays of gold over the nearby mountains, the distant island and the almost unmoving waters.
At the small port, we were greeted by staff members from the tourism office of Misamis Occidental. After a brief exchange of pleasantries, they invited us to go on a short hike to Caluya Shrine.
Little version of JC the Redeemer
Walking a hundred steps over the paved stairs took us to the top of a hill blessed with a magnificent view of the nearby Naburos and Naputhao islands and Mount Malindang.
Erected only a few years ago as a replica of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer statue in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, the Caluya Shrine isn’t without its own remarkable qualities.
The figure’s outstretched arms are a welcoming gesture to fisherfolk toiling hard at sea and to visitors enjoying a sumptuous meal at the many floating cottages docked near Naputhao Island. It has become a popular pilgrimage site and destination for tourists in this part of Misamis Occidental.
As the sun began to set against the clouds in the horizon, we made our way down and back to the port where a smaller boat took us to one of the floating cottages.
We capped a beautiful day by feasting on fresh shrimps, crabs and a local favorite known as Saang shells, caught just that afternoon. As night came, only the shining stars and flickering lights of a few houses were all that illuminated us.
I looked up toward the direction of the Caluya Shine and there it was — the silhouette of Misamis Occidental’s own Jesus Christ the Redeemer, appearing as a central figure even in the dark.