BACOLOD

Meditating in Tagaytay

COOL weather, beautiful landscape, proximity to the capital, and fresh food make Tagaytay City as one of the favorite weekend destinations by those in Metro Manila.

Even tourists and travelers in Manila often take time to go on a side trip to Tagaytay for some coffee or brief relaxation. The beautiful view overlooking Taal lake and Taal volcano seems to attract people like a magnet.

Its breathtaking landscape has a calming effect on those who view it. But more and more find their way to Tagaytay during the Lenten season. It is also a popular retreat destination and pilgrimage site of Catholic devotees during the Holy Week.

A number of them head to the Pink Sisters or the Sister-Servants of the Holy Spirit of Perpetual Adoration. While people flock to this church, the Convent of Divine Mercy, the nuns in the cloister live in silence. Devotees come here to write down their petitions and the Pink Sisters pray for them. Apart from the church itself, the courtyard also features some religious images.

Just along the Tagaytay-Nasugbu Highway, near the rotunda, is the Lourdes Church. It’s near the restaurants and the other commercial establishments in Tagaytay. We have attended mass here because it’s accessible. Another church where we have heard mass is the Our Lady of Perpetual Help or the Ina ng Laging Saklolo.

But the churches that we have frequented, especially during the Holy Week, are those that are located just outside Tagaytay. It’s in Barangay Batulao in Batangas. These are the Chapel on the Hill or the Don Bosco Chapel and the Calaruega Church, which is a favorite wedding church.

Chapel on the Hill provides a great view of the surrounding mountains. It has a garden where people can pray in the open. But inside the chapel, its flooring has the so-called labyrinth, where one follows a circular path while praying and meditating.

Calaruega Church of the Dominican Order is a retreat place as well.

Although most people come here for the weddings, it also has the Stations of the Cross, designed with tribal people instead of the usual images. A camping area, with a koi pond and wooden walkway. There’s even a hanging bridge and a tent chapel.

If you’re coming from Sta. Rosa going to Tagaytay, another church that is within a distance from Tagaytay is the San Antonio de Padua Church in Silang, Cavite. Its altar has an octagon-shaped dome with images of Jesus and the saints floating in the clouds.

There are more churches within Tagaytay and nearby towns that you can visit within a day. It’s a good way to be away from the hustle and bustle of the city setting and be in a place which is conducive to pray and reflect. The Tagaytay environment seems to have something that draws people to cleanse their lungs and their souls.

While others prefer to make a day trip in Tagaytay City and return to the National Capital Region in the afternoon or evening, my friends and I often stay a night or two in this city, enjoying the fresh cold breeze and the quiet nights.

Our favorite place to stay in Tagaytay, which is almost like our second home, is Casa Mara, owned by a good friend. He has rooms and cottages that are rented out to visitors. The best part is that his property faces a pineapple field. It’s a great place to meditate on your own.

All photos are by this author. Claire Marie Algarme blogs at http://firsttimetravels.com. Follow her as @firsttimetravel on Twitter and Instagram and like her Facebook page First-time Travels blog.


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