Over 50-year old Palo Cross faces destruction

Over 50-year old Palo Cross faces destruction

The Cross at Guinhangdan Hill in the town of Palo in Leyte province is a favorite pilgrimage site during Holy Week. Thousands of Catholic devotees would climb the 522 steps leading to the cross and offer candles and flowers. It offers a panoramic view of Palo town, which was one of the areas severely affected areas by super typhoon Yolanda and one of the places Pope Francis visited in 2015. (Photo: Rolando O. Borrinaga)

PALO, Leyte – The cross, found on top of Guinhangdan Hill, more popularly known as “Hill 522”, in this town is facing destruction with the present plans of the Palo municipal government to demolish the large, white cross and replace it with a similar structure worth millions of government funds.

Dr. Rolando O. Borrinaga, historian from Eastern Visayas region, which comprises the islands of Samar, Leyte, and Biliran, considered the Palo Cross a “built heritage” structure. In an interview with CBCPNews, he said, “For more than 50 years, this Cross has been a place of pilgrimage for many devotees, who would climb the hill (in ‘Calvary fashion’) during Holy Week.”

“Destroying this structure, which was apparently built with contributions and volunteer labor from Palo community, would not only be sacrilegious, it is also against an existing law,” continued by Borrinaga, who is a professor in UP Manila’s Leyte-based School of Health Sciences.

Protected by law

Under Republic Act No. 10066 or the “National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009,” structures dating at least fifty (50) years old are considered of “heritage value.” For Borrinaga, the Cross on Guinhangdan Hill can be automatically be classified as such, making it worthy of preservation by law because of its “notable historical and cultural significance.”

Borrinaga noted: “Elderly residents of Palo can attest that this structure has been there for more than 50 years now.”

Helping Borrinaga is Fr. Ivo Velasquez, who is actively campaigning too on social media, for the preservation of the Cross. On his Facebook post, the priest said, “The structure in itself is in no need of alteration as it is still strong and appears architecturally sound, from the base of the altar where a Mass can be said. Improvements could be made on the surrounding area without touching the monument itself.”

Pilgrimage site

Guinhangdan Hill is a favorite pilgrimage site during Holy Week where thousands of Catholic devotees would climb the 522 steps leading to the cross where they offer candles and flowers. It offers a panoramic view of Palo town, which was one of the areas severely affected areas by super typhoon Yolanda and one of the places Pope Francis visited in 2015.