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“Quite a number of small ‘miracles’ took place…the trees grew fast with evergreen leaves…and birds and wild fowl came back…trees planted on the rocks grew verdant and healthy…the paint on the metal frames and silhouettes of the Stations of the Cross never changed or faded. They remained the same original as 10 years ago,” said businessman Norberto Quisumbing Jr.
The ‘small miracles’ took place in an erstwhile barren 200-hectare hilly range that sprawls through four barangays on all sides in Compostela town north of Cebu City. He acquired the land after some of his employees, who could “barely etch a living” on these rocky slopes, sold parcels to him. This was 2001.
“All the few trees left were bare of leaves and no birds around anymore,” said Quisumbing.
One day, while on a bird-hunting trek into the hills, he found a small but nevertheless prominent concavity at the navel of one of the cliffs. A closer look revealed a limestone formation of the Virgin carrying the Child. His companions, perennial locals in the area, said not a few devout villagers would go up there and offer prayers.
“Our lady in the cave never left my mind, and one day, the idea of converting the entire area into a sort of religious place or pilgrimage, like the Lourdes of France with Stations of the Cross and other images of Jesus and the saints, dawned on me and we started breaking ground in 2003,” said Quisumbing.
To provide livelihood to the local folks, the development saw to it that the roads would be built by hand. Today, a road network meandering through the hills intersect through the four barangays: Buluang, Tubigon, Canamucan and Magay.
“The first to be put up were the 15 Stations of the Cross, followed by the Nativity, Sto. Nino, Mother of Guadalupe, Pedro Calungsod and Lorenzo Ruiz. Then we thought of putting up the Heroe’s Hill—so the visitors can remember the great Filipino heroes and heroines of old and contemporary times. We felt that many of out Pinoys do not even know much about our forefathers who fought and died for the country,” said Quisumbing.
The Q-Park, as it would be called, opened during the Lenten season of 2005, ushering forth 30,000 pilgrims on its first year. In 2008, there would 160,000 pilgrims. No small thanks to a number of occasions when Filipino stigmatist visionary Emma de Guzman visited the park, and who confided to Quisumbing on her first mass in the Q-Park chapel, then merely a tent structure, that the Virgin beckoned her and expressed Her desire to see Her statue on the hill that stood behind the chapel’s altar. The hill stood some 1,000 ft. above sea level, perhaps one of the tallest in the terrain.
“We took that as a challenge, at the same time, we built a chapel facing her. It took us less than six months, almost a miracle. All the workers were inspired and motivated in getting them completed before December 11, 2006. Mary was named Mother of Love, Peace and Joy by Emma on the second Mountain of Salvation and is standing 44 feet,” said Quisumbing.
Engr. Rudy Enriquez, who would supervise the installation of the Mary image, would see for himself the inspiration that fell on his workers. To this day, he keeps a photograph his son took that showed what he thinks is an unexplainable light and cloud formation that hovered over the image one magical dusk in the course of the construction.
The visionary De Guzman would be a yearly visitor to Q-Park, on many occasions experiencing the Lord’s stigmata. Pilgrims who gathered around her would witness the “phenomenon of the gold dust”—a shower of golden particles on de Guzman.
Coincidentally, Engr. Enriquez would only be rid of the yearly task of repainting the Mary image’s blue cloak when they shifted to gold.
Replica of the House of Mary in Ephesus, Turkey
Quismbing, in a trip with his family to Turkey, would see the House of Mary in a village in Ephesus, Turkey, during a tour. The house, it was said, was where St. John brought Mother Mary to spend the last years of her life.
“Hundreds of tourists were there, but it must have been planted in my mind years after when the idea flashed in my mind to put its replica at the Q-Park—in between the chapel and the steps going up to Mama Mary—with exactly the same dimensions of the interiors and exteriors as possible,” said Quisumbing.
Today, the replica of the House of Mary stands to be another sacred spot on Q-Park’s terrain. No small thanks to Norkis special projects manager Gen. Manuel Mercado who saw through its eight-month construction.
“What impressed me was his statement that he would like to help build the House of Mary as his legacy and gift to God and Mama Mary, Jesus Christ and angels and saints, as well as to the people of Cebu. To see it to believe it,” Quisumbing said.
The Q-Park will turn the House of Mary to the Catholic Church as a religious shrine for its care upon completion next month. Quisumbing hopes to invite the church leaders to witness its inauguration and the first mass to be held there.
“I can be wrong, but I suppose it is one of its kind in the Philippines,” said Quisumbing.
One of those who saw the beginnings of Q-Park would see a more recent photograph of the park online and was surprised at the transformation.
Says Quisumbing, “The Q-Park will always be here…even beyond our years and so many generations into the future. The 200-hectare will remain intact. No commercial or industrial establishment will be opened in Q-Park, except perhaps in another mountain where we are thinking of putting a columbarium and a crematorium,” said Quisumbing.
“Such visits, sensitive to Nature and open to the inspirations of Our Lord and our Blessed Mother, are among the things that truly make the park more than just a park—more than just any park,” wrote Villanueva.
On the whole, the Q-Park is Quisumbing’s dedication to whatever it is that goes beyond the everyday. Beyond business is the human spirit. Beyond nature, God.