I just came from a 3-day retreat held at the Mirador Jesuit Villa, Baguio City. I will not share my realizations from the said retreat, I find that to be too personal to be written in such a public forum. I would just like to share what it was like there.
It was actually my second time in Mirador, and I missed every bit of it! Mirador is located at the very top of Mirador hill, where the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto is located. If one can remember the gates at the very top of the stairs of the grotto, that is Mirador :). I love the fact that it is just there, very much in the thick of things, but detached at the same time. Despite being in the vicinity of one of Baguio’s most visited spots, it is still secluded and kept private.
Mirador is a villa house for Jesuits and retreat house, but also at one time or another in its long history, also served as an observatory, scholasticate for Chinese Jesuits and a Japanese dwelling during the war. At present, Jesuits come to Mirador for their own annual retreats, but lay people are also welcome for their own contemplation. It is primarily made out of very old wood, the age and history of the place apparent in the creaking of the boards. It has a nice, peaceful charm, but some might be too overwhelmed by it all.
Tiny rock garden in the foreground
There are rooms, nooks and private spaces for prayer and contemplation in and outside the building. On the Resurrection Wing (Wing A), there is a meditation room, just outside it is the Sun Room, which had a sun roof. There are also couches near the front desk. You would think that because of the location, it would be noisy and busy, but it is not. I think it also helps that everyone is in a silent retreat, so that helps the retreatants. Further to the west is the dining hall, which offers a fantastic panorama of the Sierra Madre mountains, and even to the distance, the Lingayen Gulf. Just beside the dining hall is the Main Chapel, and the last room to the west is the Vigil Room. If I had to choose my favourite spot in the whole villa, it would be the Vigil Room. Apart from the cross, native depiction of the Passion in the walls, shallow bas reliefs in the ceiling, and a tiny grotto in the corner, it also managed to incorporate local flavour by using local materials such as the throw pillows covered with Ifugao woven cloth. Apart from that, the panorama of the mountains, especially at sunset, is just breathtaking.
Outside the villa, you have the vast garden and mountainside at your disposal. Mirador also has one of the few labyrinths in the country, which when stretched out, is 125 meters (I counted my steps when I walked the labyrinth, it was 377 normal steps, one way). There is also a tiny pond filled with carp just beside the labyrinth. There are also kubos (houses of light materials) scattered in the compound, as well as rocks and stumps one can use as chairs and tables. Very precious too are the sculptures in the mountain, a huge white sculpture showing Jesus and his Sacred Heart, and the Jesus Christ on the cross reaching out to man just beside the Resurrection Wing stand out. The sunrise is just divine under this metal sculpture, it’s a pity I only had my mobile phone to take pictures with.
Not to be forgotten is the food served in Mirador! As retreatants, we were treated to three full meals featuring fresh vegetables and other meats, and two snacks per day! Not to mention the unlimited brewed coffee, and my favourite, the MJV tea. Oh just thinking about it now that I am back in the city makes me want to go back.
Not counting the grace-filled sharings I had with my retreat director, the solemn celebrations, and my private moments with the Lord, I had more than a great time in MJV. As Fr. H.V. dela Costa, SJ stated in his notes on Mirador, indeed it still serves its purpose as a Prospect Point, especially to people who trek to the mountains to seek contemplation and grace.
“And if this House could speak, perhaps this is what it would say to you: Look out of my windows and try to extend your vision beyond the Gulf of Lingayen to all of Asia, try to make and see clearly what God’s plan for all these peoples is, and for all those, who – like yourself – seek nothing else but to be of service to man.” – Fr. H.V. dela Costa
(On our way home, we passed by the Baguio Cathedral and Good Shepherd Convent to buy the obligatory peanut brittle :D. Good Shepherd Convent is located at Gibraltar Road, Baguio City. To get there, follow the signs pointing to Mines View Park. Good Shepherd Convent is on the second corner to the right from Mines View Park [the road goes one way only])