Thursday, 6 July 2017

Love Locks at Redemptorist "Baclaran" Church

MANILA, Philippines
Love locks have found a new home at a grotto outside Baclaran Church, the newest “love escape” for people to display and declare their undying love, with God as their witness.

The fence around a grotto outside Baclaran Church in Parañaque City is now heavy
with “symbols’’ of relationships seeking heaven’s blessing.

Filipinos have caught up with the trend of affixing padlocks to bridges, park fences and other landmarks as symbols of their unbreakable vows. However, the country’s first love lock location, which is beside a church, is proving to be quite different from the other sites found around the world.

“Some call them love locks, others call them faith locks. But the main thing is that they celebrate different types of relationships,” said Fr. Ino Cueto, the rector of the church also known as the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Parañaque City.

Madonna and Child

Grotto Wishing Fountain 

Grotto Wishing Bridge

The first time I heard about love locks in France and Korea, but the “mini-shrine” that has formed in Baclaran is “not just for lovers.”  After seeing these locks I think I need to write something about it when I affixed my own love family lock with a Prayer for a united, happy, loving and healthy family, for a celebration of our love, 26th year Wedding anniversary this coming December 18, 2017. 

The keys along with coins from those making a wish are tossed into the pond surrounding the grotto. Aside from padlocks, the fence outside the church has also been strewn with rosaries, scapulars, and even rings.

Father Cueto said he doesn’t openly endorse the practice, though he recalled mentioning it once during a service on Valentine’s Day. “At first, we (in the church administration) tried to decide if we will remove them or not. But we eventually thought that they were there for a reason, so we just allowed them.” With the trend not expected to wane anytime soon, Cueto is already thinking of the time when all sides of the grotto are already bristling with padlocks. “We don’t want to simply regard them as unimportant. But I suppose the most practical thing to do is just remove them and we will pray for all the vows and relationships they represent.”

Curious passersby often direct their questions to Jun Cuayzon, the grotto’s caretaker. “I hold the key to this place and I also tell people what this is all about. And sometimes, I also have to guard it from those who might take the coins tossed here,” he said.

Cuayson has taken upon himself to fish out the keys from the pond and hang them on one side of the grotto, near a shrub, because “you’ll never know if people want them back. But so far, nobody has returned to get their keys or remove the locks. And besides, most of the locks are now rusty. Good luck to them if they think they can still tell their keys apart from the others,” he said with a grin.

My not so old Prayer Book
26 September 2012

Redemptorist "Baclaran" Church Grotto 
Click the link to watch YouTube Video