Picnic and Relaxation in Caleruega

Me praying on a pew laid out in the middle.

As I mentioned in my post about Java Jazz Coffee Shop and Lodging House, we went to Tagaytay specifically for Caleruega. This was our first time to travel together as a group, and coincidentally, this year marks the tenth year that we have been friends with Chichi and Faye. Everything just seem to came together for us that June, and we all needed that getaway for some peace, quiet, and meditation.

I have read up a lot about Caleruega and found out there’s a hidden chapel that not everyone knows about way out on a “hill”. In my previous visits to the place, I only went as far as the part overlooking Tagaytay, so I decided to persuade the rest to go up the hill in search for this hidden chapel.

How we got there:
This was a commute galore kind of trip. From Java Jazz, we rode a tricycle back to the Tagaytay circle. The fee should only P50. If they say it’s more than that, try to haggle or tell them you know it’s only P50. When we got to the circle, we rode a jeep bound for Batangas, and specifically asked the jeepney driver to drop us off where we can ride a tricycle to Caleruega.

When we got off the jeep, we rode the tricycle. Don’t forget to get the name and number of your tricycle driver as you need to contact him again when you want to get back to the highway to ride a jeep again back to the city.

Ate Mako and Chichi on the way up to the Church.

Once we arrived in Caleruega, we paid the entrance fee at P30/person. You will get a brochure about Caleruega, and their room rates (with food) if you want to go on a personal retreat. It also contains  details on how to go about if you want to get married there.

While there is food being sold inside and outside Caleruega, we decided to just buy packed lunch from Java Jazz before going to Church. They were kind enough to pack it in carton containers with plastic utensils. That being said, don’t buy anything with sauce to avoid spillage if you know they won’t give you plastic containers.

Before going up the Church steps, which is kind of steep and be prepared to do some walking (or hiking), we took a few moments to enjoy the scenery. Caleruega is one of those places where almost everywhere you look, it’s beautiful, with brick steps, green plants and trees, and clean surrounds.

After we all prayed for a while, we went down the brick path again in search for that hidden chapel. I honestly have no idea how to get there and where we were going. But the important thing is we enjoyed every minute of it. We walked down a concrete road on the side of the Church, and we were greeted by wood carvings of Jesus’ death and resurrection. It must be pretty popular during Holy Week! There were also wooden swings where you can sit or eat. Past that, we came upon the beautiful pond, and there were also plastic tables on the ground.

Picnickers on the search for…salvation?

We kept walking and found a hanging bridge! It wasn’t very high up, but we got pretty dizzy anyway since we kept walking back and forth because of a dog at the other end that wouldn’t budge. We almost went away in fear until a group arrived and told us the dog doesn’t bite.

So cross the bridge we did and we came upon…land and grass and a hill. We didn’t know where we were, but since there was nowhere to go but up the hill or back through the bridge, we just decided to soldier on. Thank God ate Mariko and I bought Sandugo sandals and wore them! We had no problems climbing the slightly muddy slope, although halfway there I was panting and out of breath already.

So, okay, we still haven’t found the hidden chapel, and we were all so hungry as it was lunch time. We continued on until…

My panoramic shot of the hidden chapel, but I don’t know its name.

We finally reached the secret chapel! It definitely felt like salvation since we finally had a clean spot for our picnic, rest from the lunch time heat, and meditate for the next few hours. It was quiet since there were only two other people at the time we arrived.

It actually reminded me of stone henge, since there were just stone walls, with three mosaic panels. Only a huge tent served as the roof, and there were no chairs in sight. While we were there, various groups arrived and took lots of jumpshots around the place.

Panoramic shot of the mosaic walls inside the chapel. It was beautiful. That’s Faye in the photo.

For the next four hours, we had lunch, ate chips, listened to music, and talked quietly. Since it was one of those days when I barely slept at night, I fell asleep under the gentle sunlight on the hard floor. Well, for me it was gentle. At the end of the day, Faye got a little sunburned and looked like she went to the beach! Me, I felt so refreshed. Maybe it was because I slept right by God’s feet?

By four in the afternoon, we decided to call it a day. I think we all found what we were searching for that day. Faye said it was the most relaxing day she’s ever had for quite some time; I got to rest without anything bugging my mind or feeling sad; ate Mariko got her quiet time after finishing her final thesis draft; and Chichi was able to get some time to sit still, read, and talk to her friends.

Since we were too focused going up, we didn’t particularly look around on our way up the hill. But on our way down, we definitely took notice of this beautiful view. I know it’s not to everyone’s taste, but it was the perfect serene view and ending we needed.

Manong tricycle driver arrived 5pm on the dot. We asked the jeepney driver to drop us off Carlos Pizza for dinner. Songs about love and heartbreak were blasting from his speakers and Faye and I had a heck of a time singing to each other the songs we thought were appropriate for us at that time. Ate Mariko and Chichi just looked on, laughing. We actually seemed to be high because we kept singing out loud and laughing. We quickly sobered up when other people started boarding the jeep.

After dinner, and a visit to the Cliffhouse for dessert, we went back to Java Jazz. They close at 10pm, and we wanted to be able to get a cup of their famous tsokolate-eh!, which was perfect since it was cold and slightly raining.

By the time we got there, I thought we were all pretty darn tired to get a cup, but we all ordered one and brought out our chips and cards.

Oh my gosh. After one sip of the famous tsokolate-eh!, we were all angling for a second cup. Too bad they were already closing. And that was also good because we already went on a sugar rush. Oh my, we couldn’t stop giggling and playing cards. In fact, we played until almost 2am. We had so much fun with Madam’s pretend fortune-telling (that would be me) about our supposed future love lives, and playing several rounds of tong-its, cargaboro, pusoy, and pusoy dos. I’m proud to say Chichi finished the night knowing how to play pusoy and pusoy dos. Want another round, Chi? :p

How we got home:
After having lunch at Army Navy (same way: tricycle to the circle, then a quickstop at Bag of Beans for Faye’s pasalubong shopping then jeepney to Army Navy), we trooped over to the Cliffhouse again for crepe courtesy of Faye ’cause she’s awesome like that. After that, Chichi and Faye rode a bus right outside the Cliffhouse, bound for Manila. Ate Mako and I had to go back to the terminal where the shuttle/vans were parked for the ride back to Alabang.

All in all, it was a great weekend for us, no matter how tired we were. I think the fact that we struggled through the commute to get to the places actually added to our whole bonding experience. Caleruega was just what each one of us needed. 🙂

Group shot in Caleruega.

Till my next discovery,

2 Replies to “Picnic and Relaxation in Caleruega”

  1. Hi Haeja!
    Thanks for sharing such a wonderful posts. I appreciate you and one time more Thanks.

  2. Aw, thank you!

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