There’s a chapel in Cebu we could consider one of the province’s interesting secrets because not many know about it, especially among non-Cebuanos.
This private chapel makes a good destination this Lent. But since it’s private property, one must make inquiries or appointments before going there. (See contact details at the end of story.)
We learned about it on one of our visits to Cebu. Our Cebuano friends told us about this private chapel with relics of saints, perhaps one of the biggest, if not the biggest, collections of relics in the country. We knew we had to make time to see it, even if it’s a good drive away from Cebu City.
The Capilla Santa Ana in Sitio Santa Ana in barangay Ibo, Toledo City, is no small chapel. It is an imposing structure in a quiet idyllic town, reminiscent of old chapels in Europe.
After all, it was the European travels that gave the owner-couple the idea to build this chapel.
Lillian Yared is a Toledo native who married a Canadian, Michael Overs.
The Overs built a fortune in Toronto, in the fast-food business.
Apparently, while she uprooted herself from Toledo, Lillian never abandoned her roots.
The Overs chose to give back to Lillian’s native town and put up a foundation to benefit the town’s marginalized communities in the areas of health, education and livelihood. This was barely a decade ago.
Michael has died since then.
Lillian would revisit her birthplace, and a few years ago, decided to build a chapel that would house the relics and artifacts she and her husband had accumulated from their European travels.
The airconditioned chapel is beautiful, as photos in this section show.
While we never got to meet Overs or interview people in charge of the chapel, we were able to take pictures. However, taking photos wasn’t allowed in the room that housed the relics.
The chapel has good religious icons, beautiful stained glass windows and elegant woodwork.
It has a very solemn air.
Outside is a garden—a labyrinth, a maze of manicured lawns one can walk through in prayer and meditation. The Overs were inspired by the labyrinths they had seen in Europe.
Adjoining the chapel is a daycare/community center for the children in the neighborhood.
This Lent, it will be good to take this off-the-beaten track.
Capilla Santa Ana is at 920 Diosdado Macapagal Highway, Toledo City, Cebu. Call Jenny Collantes-Gaite at (032) 4678101.