Jeffer's Odyssey

Iloilo: Garin Farm aka “Stairway to Heaven”

Weeks before our scheduled trip to Iloilo City, we were looking for the places to visit while there, and many searches resulted to “Stairway to Heaven” mentions. Curiosity got the best of us, so on one free morning, we decided to include it in our day tour itinerary. The Stairway to Heaven is actually found at the Garin Farm, just outside of Iloilo City.

From the Iloilo City proper, it took about an hour and a half on a hired van to get to the town of San Joaquin, where Garin Farm is located.

It turns out that the Stairway to Heaven is just one of the several attractions in the Garin Farm. As the name implies, it is – first and foremost – a farm, an operational one. It just happens to be open to the public – for a fee, of course.

Entrance to the Farm is Php150 (~USD3) per person. Operating hours are from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM. We were able to get there 15 minutes before the gates opened.

As you can tell from the sign in the first pic, Garin Farms has three aspects to check out. Agriculture, Leisure and Pilgrimage.

Agriculture

The moment you enter past the gate, the smell of a farm will assail your nostrils. That means…. a mixture of cut grass, dug soil, and animal manure. And there’s also the sound you’d typically hear in a farm, of flocks of chicken in their coops, for instance.

You’d also get to walk on this green vegetable tunnel, with those Millionaire’s Vines draping down like curtains.

There are several structures that serve as chicken coops, and large cages for peking ducks and various other types of fowls. There’s even a section for vermiculture, where they decompose food waste using worms. Which means this farm definitely lives up to its name.

The Vegetable Tunnel actually leads up to somewhere, and on the halfway point, there is an area dedicated to the Bahay Kubo, which is the traditional Filipino home.

The interesting thing is that the Bahay Kubo also lives up to the song, meaning it has this vast yard, where the sequence of the plants/crops in the Bajay-Kubo song is followed in how they are planted. So, if you’re up to it, you can start checking out the singkamas (turnip) then walk around the back of the house, coming round to the entrance where the linga (sesame) is planted. It also happens to be the last plant mentioned in the song, fyi.

Leisure

Now let’s talk about leisure. Aside from the obvious, which is communing with nature, there are also various activities you can try here. If you’re more on the adventurous side, here are some of the activities on offer.

Zipline – Sitting (Php250) or Superman (Php350)
Horseback-riding (2 rounds) – Php60
Goat Cart Ride (2 rounds) – Php30
Scooter (5 mins) – Php30
ATV (5 mins) – Php100

They also offer some boating activities:

Kayak (1pax/2pax) for 30mins – Php40 / Php90
Pedal Boat (2pax) – Php90
Waterbike (1pax) – Php40

Personally, I think this place is also good for brisk walking and hiking, since there are uphill areas that are perfect for shaking those limbs. For older visitors, they have golf carts for hire.

We didn’t try any of their other activities, because we only had that morning free and our main objective was the stairway to heaven.

Oh, by the way, their brochure said they also have a swimming pool, somewhere. Which is probably a given since there are also air-conditioned cottages available for renting if you want to stay longer than a day.

Pilgrimage

It was soooooooo warm that day, we were all sweating like pigs, haha! But we were already there, so…

The moment you cross the threshold, you’d see installations presenting key parts of the Holy Bible. Starting, of course, with the Creation, then key parts such as Noah’s Ark, the Ten Commandments…

The view looks so pretty from below, doesn’t it? We could not wait to get to the top and see that giant cross up close.

I can see why this is an ideal place to visit for those on a pilgrimage.

Key scenes from the life of Jesus Christ is depicted in various stops as you go up the stairs. Normally, it’d be exhausting to make the climb, but the scenes were paced so well that you can rest in between, all while checking out the highly-detailed installations.

The Nativity Scene.

Baptism by John the Baptist.

Check out the photos instead.

The Last Supper.
The Scourging at the Pillar.
The Crucifixion.

The Resurrection.
The Ascension.

At the top of the stairs, you’d get to pass through the Divine Mercy Dark Meditation Tunnel. Which is basically a…. well, a dark tunnel.

But there is a long room that looked like a chapel inside, with a stained glass window.

And what happens when you step out on the other side of the Dark Tunnel?

You’ll find yourself having a glimpse of the “eternal” in the Heavenly Scenario.

After walking through the dark tunnel, all that white was blinding. LITERALLY. It was all sooooo white!

The statue on the side of that gate is labeled as St. Peter, by the way.

Oh what we wouldn’t give just to have this place to ourselves! Like, seriously, it would be perfect if there were no one else around, haha! But that’s not possible, since this place is so popular there’s bound to be a crowd.

I think we were quite lucky there wasn’t much of a crowd when we were there.

It felt like we were transported to a whole different place. Like… WHERE ARE WE?!

But it was sooo peaceful and, in a way, very humbling.

It definitely felt like you were high above the clouds, in the heavens. No other way to describe it.

I know Iloilo has a wide array of old churches and buildings that are worth checking out when you’re in the area, but I suggest you insert this in your itinerary, if only to make that walk up the stairs and witness such a welcoming sight at the top.

To get to the Garin Farm Pilgrimage Resort, you can go to the Super Terminal in Iloilo City and take any of the jeepneys bound for San Joaquin. But if you are in a large group, like we were, hiring a van would be a better option especially if there are other places you’d like to visit afterwards. One of the safest bets is to inquire with the front desk of your accommodations if they can hook you up with a van for hire.

For more information on Garin Farm, check out their Facebook page.

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