This Trippy Recreation Of “Heaven” In This Iloilo Farm Will Blow You Away (You Might Even Hear Singing)
"We're going to heaven," says our guide. It's only been a few hours since we touched down at Iloilo City, and our van was already speeding south towards San Joaquin. She offered no explanation—just a grin.
An hour and a half later, our arrival at Garin Farm—a resort combining agriculture, leisure, and spirituality—clued us in. We were swept uphill, past endless greenery and the invigorating smell of farm animals, and led towards the resort's humongous man-made lagoon, surrounded by some private cabins for those on weekend getaways. I spotted people fishing, boating, and kayaking in the distance. Someone screamed past us on the zipline hanging above, but otherwise, it was pleasantly quiet. Garin Farm's claim to fame, however, is its pilgrimage site. That was made clear as we were greeted with the familiar sight of x-hundred steps up a hill to a giant cross.
"Is it the view?" I thought, sipping on the farm's specialty coconut nectar as we began the climb up to the Divine Mercy Shrine. We passed local artist Danilo "Momo" Dalisay's life-sized statues depicting biblical scenes such as the Last Supper and the Crucifixion before we got to the top. We were treated to views of mountains, of lush fields, and a deep blue ocean. We even saw the historical San Joaquin Church bell tower in the distance. It was magnificent, but you wouldn't call it heaven.
As it turned out, that wasn't it. Our guide led us into the Meditation Tunnel. It was pitch-black, but for the LED lights lining the path and a statue of Jesus Christ lighting up the darkness (do you sense the metaphor here?). Faintly, I heard singing. No one was ready as we turned the corner and were promptly blinded by the light at the literal end of the tunnel.
"Welcome to heaven!" says our guide. There were countless all-white statues of angels and saints everywhere, blowing trumpets and kneeling in prayer all under the high noon sky. The Holy Trinity looked down upon all from a cloud as, somewhere, a speaker continued to blast out a furious hallelujah chorus. We were in heaven—also Dalisay's work, we were told—for almost an hour, breaking into disbelieving laughter every few minutes like clockwork, before we followed a friendly sign pointing towards an exit "back to the world."
"I've had LSD trips weaker than this," says my companion. Even as our van pulled away to shepherd us to San Joaquin's stunning heritage sites, none of us were sure of what we had just seen. Forget communing with nature or reconnecting with the spiritual. That was an out-of-body experience.
Garin Farm Pilgrimage Resort is in San Joaquin, Iloilo. For details, you can visit their Facebook page here or inquire at 0916-6676581.