Pilgrimage to Tagaytay
As a Christian nation, the Philippines regard Holy Week as an important part of the calendar. On a Black Saturday, my friends and I embarked on a short pilgrimage to the city of Tagaytay. Because of its cool weather and relaxed setting, Tagaytay has become a location of choice of many retreat houses and religious orders.
Getting out of Manila was easy because the capital seems to be deserted at this time of the year. But as we neared Tagaytay, traffic started to build up. We had to brave a few hours along the national highway before we arrived to our first stop, the Calaruega Church in Nasugbu, Batangas.
It is a favorite venue of couples exchanging “I do’s”. The scenic mountains and the artistic Transfiguration Chapel provide a great background for wedding moments, especially with its stained glass background that can make you transfixed on the artwork. Calaruega, run by the Dominican Order, was named after the birthplace of its patron, St. Dominic De Guzman, in Spain.
But aside from the imposing chapel structure, the church compound is also an interesting venue for a solemn Way of the Cross reflection. Their slogan of “Close to Nature, Closer to God” seem to drive home a point because being surrounded by beautiful trees, with the sun shining up above, bring a breath of God’s abundance on earth. More interestingly, the Stations of the Cross that are carved on wood depict characters reminiscent of Filipino tribesmen.
Chapel On The Hill
The Chapel On The Hill of the Salesian order is close to Calaruega Church. It is known for its labyrinth designed floor wherein pilgrims can walk through the stone path and meditate until they reach the center of the circle. An instruction to guide first-time pilgrims is found at the entrance of the chapel.
Similar to Calaruega Church, Chapel On The Hill brings its devotees closer to nature. Its circular structure surrounded by glass doors provides a 360-degree view of the hills and mountains surrounding it.
The Adoration Convent of the Pink Sisters in Tagaytay has been drawing devotees especially those who have prayer petitions. The nuns, grabbed in pink religious garments, thus the name, do not have interaction with the outside world as they devote their life to prayer. An iron gate separates them from the pilgrims who visit the place.
Silence is essential in this place. At the side of the chapel, pilgrims write their prayer petitions on paper and place them in a box for the nuns to pray over.
Near the Pink Sisters convent is another religious site, called the Munting Bukal (lit. little spring) of the Missionaries of Charity. Like its neighboring convent, silence reigns in this compound. There is a small chapel where one can reflect and meditate. Pine trees and cottages are abundant in this area and it provides a refuge for city dwellers seeking to be one with God through silence and nature.
We could have visited more but with the traffic during this time of the year, we ended up going to four religious sites. It’s good to see families and groups also go on a pilgrimage. The experience brings a refreshing experience to the body and the soul. Traveling with the purpose of spiritual nourishment is also an enriching journey.