In search of the relocation site of MonteMaria, one rainy November 10 afternoon we decided to drive to Tagaytay to seek out the new healing sanctuary of the humble healer Father Fernando Suarez.
The newly relocated MonteMaria Tagaytay is situated in Barangay Amuyong in Alfonso Cavite, a few kilometers past the Tagaytay-Cavite boundary. It is part of a vast 125 hectares property owned by San Miguel Corporation which used to be a fully equipped cattle dairy farm for the procurement and processing of Magnolia Fresh Milk products.
Mr. Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. or Danding as he is fondly called by his friends willingly donated the entire property for the exclusive use of Father Fernando for his MonteMaria project. As explained by Fr. Suarez, he only accepted 33 hectares from it since it was more than sufficient for MonteMaria's purposes. True to his sincere act of donation, Mr. Danding Conjuangco handed over the Deed of Donation to Fr. Suarez in May, 2010 without any existing pre-conditions.
A document attesting to the ownership of the land is the most basic requirement for pursuing a gargantuan project such as MonteMaria. The relocated site required a new design revision which was better organized since there was more provision for expansion. The efficient utilization of space is evident in the distribution of functional structures to be erected in a vast expanse of green natural habitat. The naturally cool weather makes it a conducive place of comfortable worship for pilgrims seeking to commune and connect with God.
The convenient location of MonteMaria in Alfonso Cavite makes it very accessible to those seeking miraculous intervention and can easily be reached by vehicular transportation since the roads going to it are well constructed and maintained. Likewise, the regular presence of Fr. Suarez here in this new location is more assured due to the proximity of his hometown in Butong Taal which is just an half hour drive from Alfonso.
The temporary chapel is covered with a sturdy prefabricated metal roofing and is built on a sprawling spacious area with an enormous seating capacity for about four thousand attendants. Usual attendees on weekend Masses normally exceed five thousand visitors.
Its centerpiece is an altar with a magnificently lighted cross with a life-like Image of an agonizing Jesus hanging on the Cross as a reminder to us of the sufferings He endured for our sins. If you happen to visit MonteMaria on a less crowded day, consider coming close to the Cross and look up to see His very detailed face and you will understand what I mean.
The one thing that remains the same in MonteMaria wherever it is situated are the continuous stories of numerous miraculous healings; which attest to the Maternal Intercession of the Blessed Mother Mary as a testament of Her commitment of love to all who seek God's intervention.
One such story is that of Joel Gloriani, a 42-year old security watchman of Golden Beret Security who has been on security detail in this property for six years now. The security agency and his companions were turned over to the group of Fr. Suarez and are now tasked with securing the entire premises of the donated area of the proposed Oratory.
On May 13 Thursday, as he was on his way to work to MonteMaria, his motorcycle skidded on the slippery road which caused him to fall down. He landed on the concrete pavement with his left side part of the body as his face violently slammed to the ground. As he made an effort to get up from the accident, he felt his face numb and was experiencing excruciating pain. He also sustained chest pains and had extreme difficulty breathing. He knew that he had some cracked bones within his chest and had to take antibiotics and pain killers during the night just to get through his ordeal.
Realizing he was in bad shape, he was considering to go to a manghihilot (reflexologist) the next day to undergo a healing session. But his co-workers advised him to just seek his physical restoration in a Mass on May 15 Saturday celebrated by Fr. Suarez. It was a usual practice for Fr. Suarez to gather his coordinators, assistants and security personnel to line up for healing sessions after the healing Mass.
As he was being prayed over by Fr. Suarez, Joel closed his eyes and prayed fervently for healing from Jesus, and in an instant received his miraculous healing. The excruciating pain in his face and chest had immediately disappeared and his breathing was fully restored to normal condition. There are no visible marks of bruises on his face and the only souvenir he has of the accident are the damaged lights and slight dents sustained by his motorcyle on the left side part. He knew he was healed by God but he had kept it a secret from Fr. Suarez.
I met Joel as he sat on his motorcycle on my way out from the Adoration Chapel located at the left side portion of the Altar and in the course of our conversation, he recounted his miraculous healing experience to me. When I asked him, why he didn't inform Fr. Suarez of his miracle, I suddenly realized that he was destined at the appointed time to recount it to me so that I may write of it here as his testimony to tell everyone who is now reading this; that God the Divine Healer is truly present in MonteMaria and that the faithful servant Fr. Fernando Suarez is His appointed healer.
His personal miraculous healing is a testimony of God's equal love for His people. The kindness of God is equally granted to all who seek and ask of Him and is not limited to one's stature in life. He relates that Fr. Suarez himself remains a simple and humble priest despite his healing gift from God. He himself has witnessed how Fr. Suarez treats everyone with respect equally, rich and poor alike. He is very approachable, ready and willing to help, and most of all charitable to the poor.
To date Fr. Suarez has already adopted so many poor children and he sustains their daily necessities and provides for their education from the income of his foundation. As a matter of fact, the proceeds earned from the food station located at the rear portion of the temporary chapel are primarily used for the Mother Mary of the Poor Foundation's purposes; for the upliftment of the lives of underprivileged youth, a cause which is very close to his heart.
The life of an appointed healer such as that of Fr. Suarez is a difficult task to comply with. Aside from an unwavering dedication, persistence to one's goals and endurance to sacrifice are daily requirements and the denial of one's personal comforts over and above the welfare of others entails a personal commitment to serve both God and neighbor.
The unexpected relocation of MonteMaria from Batangas to Tagaytay is a major test of spiritual wills and personal commitment that the appointed healer servant of the Blessed Mother has successfully hurdled in one of the many challenging obstacles he continues to encounter. We all pray for the continued success of Fr. Suarez and his congregation.
Edwin L. Yap
Makati City, Philippines