January 9, 2012; Monday morning:
It was the end of another boring work week. I and some friends had a last minute decision to go to Tanay, Rizal. We’ve been overly curious about the so called Regina Riica, it is known to be a huge statue of Mother Mary on top of a hill in Tanay.
We went there by Jeepney from the Terminal in Shaw Blvd. Mandaluyong. It was an unforgettable trip. I had no idea where I am going and I never thought the trip would take more than an hour to get there and I didn’t even expect that it will take us almost 10 hrs going and getting back to the City from there.
We were sort of lost at first; we got off the jeepney too early so we end up staying 30 more minutes at a Convenience store in the town of Teresa (Laguna or Rizal? God knows where!), asking for directions. Not many are familiar of the huge Mother Mary statue that’s why it took that long for us to finally know where we’re supposed to go.
We were not supposed to get off in Teresa but at the Tanay Market near Jollibee at the town proper. From there we had another 30 minute tricycle ride going up the zigzagged road to Sitio Aguho were the compound of Dominican Sisters are located. There’s a stunning view of Laguna de Bay and the mountain of Sierra Madre during the ride. It was a very steep drive, so I can understand why the tryke driver had to charge us 300 pesos for 4 persons, plus it was cold.
The entrance at the Dominican Sisters of Regina Rosarii is free. We were welcomed by a somehow creepy tall gate but with a friendly security guard. From the gate we had to walk like 500 meters down to reach the “Start” of the Way of the Cross. I know, it was too early for that since it’s January, however we decided to do the hard way of getting up the hill to the 30 ft Statue of Regina Rosarii Shrine. It was tiring because I remember it was too hot for January in Rizal, and the Way of the Cross is in the middle of the forest, gardens and hills, 13.5 hectare of land in total, which includes a Restaurant, mini zoo and the small Nipa huts for the Dominican Sisters and pilgrims alike. It also has 3 waterfalls and 10,000 trees, most of them are adopted trees with ribbons of the name of their owners.
At the top of the hill, after finishing the Way of the Cross, we were greeted by a friendly English speaking Dominican Sister who conducted a brief seminar. Introducing us to its history and what we can expect and what to expect from us. After that, we went inside the Statue/Shrine of Regina Rosarii, which is actually an adoration chapel.
We arrived there around 10 in the morning and the place was quiet and peaceful. It was only 4 of us and a couple who was there, excluding the nuns. When we went put the chapel a few group of families arrived with their expensive cars, which actually disrupt the quietness of the place. And unlike us they were too rowdy to even start the seminar and just went around the place.
After our little time in the Shrine, the reality of going down and ending the day peaceful day came. We thought we had to go back down the same arduous way we went up, but no. We were told we cannot take the same way we took going up, bad juju maybe? And we also cannot take the Rosary Path going down, which is shorter than the Way of the Cross (I swear I should’ve took the Rosary Path in the beginning instead if I only knew!), because it can only be taken going up the Shrine. So many things we don’t know about the place obviously. To our relief, we were directed to take the short trail at the forest around the Rosary Path. Another 500 meter walk going up to the gate and we’re out there.
It was a pretty eventful trip. We were tired on our way back to the city but still it was an unforgettable one. Not because it’s fun, really FUN is not the right word to describe what we felt up there, but rather PEACE.
Website: Regina Rosarii
The San Isidro Pahiyas Festival is one of the most celelbrated festivals known in the Philippines. Dubbed as the “the world’s most colourful festival”. It is held every 15th of May, in the town of Lucban in Quezon Province. It is said to be a way of Thanksgiving for good harvest by the old settlers of Tayabas by the foot of Mt. Banahaw, circa 1500.
The festival will start with procession of Saint Isidore after the High Mass in the Church of Saint Louis Bishop of Toulouse and will go around the trail of the Pahiyas Route. The judging of the Timpalak ng Pahiyas will also take place during the procession wherein locals decorated their houses with “Kiping”; a leaf shaped wafer-like made of pulverized rice and dyed in different colors, and harvest products, which is what “Payas” or “Pahiyas” literally means. There’s also the much anticipated Grand Pahiyas Festival Parade that takes place in the afternoon, wherein you can feast your eyes with the colourful floats, beautiful Mutya ng Lucban, Parikitan (Parade of Gowns), noodle carts, Higantes, carabaos and horses. At night, there’s always a program being held at the plaza near the Church which are sponsored by major companies in the country, which also showcase local artists.
And while in Lucban, you can’t miss their well-known Longganisa and Pancit Hab Hab which can easily be bought at the town proper. You can buy the popular Abcede’s Longganisa for 140php a dozen. Pancit Hab Hab is sold almost every corner for as low as 10 pesos, but the most popular Pancit Hab Hab can be bought in Buddy’s, which is always jam-packed during the festival.
How to get there:
We took the Bus going to Lucena Grand Terminal. Jac Liner Inc. has terminals going to Lucena in Cubao and Buendia near LRT Sen Gil Puyat station. I preferably like Jac Linerbecause of its new comfortable buses with WiFi on board. From Buendia Terminal, the fare going to Lucena is 210php.
Jeepneys going to Lucban are also parked at the Lucena Grand Terminal, so you don’t have to walk too far for a ride. And they will drop you off in Lucban at the street where you can start your walk to the town proper. Fare: 30 php. Jeepneys can’t go in at the town proper during festival because of too many fiesta goers and private vehicles parked along the streets. Fiesta goers have to walk to the town proper.
It’s an arduous walk under the sweltering Sun of summer that we had to rest sometime in the afternoon at a friend’s place; it was probably 35°C at that time, and we went back around 4pm to watch the parade. But still it was an eventful and enjoying way to spend a day out of the office, and away from the city. I can see how foreigners are fascinated with our fiestas that you can see lots of them whenever there is one. It was my first time to actually stop and enjoy Quezon, Lucban that is, and I surely want to go back and check out other towns in the Province.
This is my 3rdbiyahe of the year. First was in the town of Tanay, Rizal in January, which was an early Pilgrimage. Second was a family vacation in Laiya, San Juan Batangas in March. And my third this year, 15th of May, I officially dine and walked the streets of Lucban.