Of corz the kids were excited (especially Sandra). Renz suddenly became interested when I said there's this belief that for every NEW church one visits, one can make a WISH at the church's entrance before coming in. And since these are all new churches for us to visit, they can make 7 wishes! :)
The bus picked us up at Alabang, in front of Metropolis Star Mall at around 5:45 am. At the outset, I knew everything was well organized thanx to Toastmaster Dinah Rose Pizarro. We were among those who last boarded but were afforded seats that were close together. Thanx Dinah!
1st Stop - Marian Orchard
This meditation holds life-sized statues of the stations of the cross amidst a beautiful garden setting. Balete, Batangas
This first stop is one of two Garden Churches we visited (the second one was the last and seventh stop). Here's the centerpiece of the garden, a tower with the Jesus the Redeemer statue at the top.
Candle drippings inside the chapel. The owner, Larry Katigbak, even gave a short inspirational talk regarding the origins and history of Marian Orchard.
Overlooking the Taal lake in the background.
Another one of Marian Orchard's prolific gardens.
2nd Stop - Lipa Cathedral of San Sebastian
Located in Lipa City, the parish church was constructed by the Augustinians in 1605 and was completed in the late 19th century. This is one of the bigger churches we visited. The other one is the Basilica of Taal.
As is the common practice of Catholic churches, during Holy Week prior to Easter, Jesus and Mary statues are covered with cloth. Here's a corner of the San Sebastion Church with the crucifix covered. That's DH and Karen looking.
3rd Stop - Carmelite Convent of Lipa
This convent of the contemplative order of our Lady of Mt Carmel was the site of a mysterious "Shrine of Petals" to a visionary.
This is at the side of the church. Parking below and behind us is quite spacious.
This is inside our ride. Renz is usually one of the first to get back to the bus. That's him covering his face.
4th Stop - San Jose Church
Located in San Jose, Batangas, the church was built by the Augustinians in 1788. Here's us before entering the church with me wearing Sandra's FOSA "McDonald's Cap" that she did not want to use.
An interesting incident here. As we were leaving the church passing by the garden, Renz announced he'll go ahead to the bus and quickly disappeared. As there was a playground and park between the church and the parking lot, it's quite a long walk towards the bus.
Imagine our surprise when upon reaching the bus, there was no Renz! Karen quickly disembarked, went back and started looking with me trailing her. At the stairs, Karen saw a very worried Renz waiting by the church gate. Here, Karen fetches a relieved Renz.
Renz meekly smiles going down the stairs while Karen snickers. :)
Apparently, Renz didn't go back like he said, but wandered off somewhere first. When he came back to see us, we were already gone!
Lunch at Café Casa Rap in San Jose
It's around 11 am when we reached our stopover for lunch and this is Cafe Casa Rap (yeah, clever play of words) by the roadside. That's the Casa Rap Cafe road sign which prompted someone to say Batangueno style, "Ala-eh, Kasarap!" The cafe's entrance is on the right. A few meters behind the cafe's road sign is our bus.
As there was a longish wait, there was plenty of time to look around and take pictures. Here's DH admiring the hanging flowers from the Mysore Clock Vine. This is right inside the giant greenhouse where the food was served. Here's Wikipedia's definition:
Thunbergia mysorensis, or Mysore Clock Vine, is a woody-stemmed, evergreen climbing flowering plant, native to India. The name, mysorensis is derived from the city of Mysore in the south of India. Is also sometimes called "Brick & Butter Vine" & "Dolls' Shoes".
The vine often reaches 20 feet (6 metres) and has narrow leaves. The flowers are shaped like pendants and are brownish red with a yellow center, and bloom from Spring to Autumn.
The plant is a popular tropical garden item because of its attractiveness to hummingbirds.
Yummy lunch was a buffet of Chicken Adobo, Steamed Garlic Tilapia and Sinigang na Baboy. Drinks was Sago (but didn't see any sago bits there) :) Sarap ba, Che?
Poor Renz must've been super hungry coz he had the misfortune of lodging a piece of fish bone in his throat. It took quite a while for DH and Renz to come back after trying to clear it. Luckily Dina Rose had some boiled bananas and shared a piece with Renz. It helped a bit and Renz was able to resume eating.
Another shot of the Clock Vine's hanging flowers that simply awed everyone. They actually looked like hanging plastic decors!
5th Stop - Basilica of St. Martin de Tours
The imposing structure with its high belfry was named after the patron saint of Taal town. The locals also call it Basilica of Taal. It must have been the hearty healthy lunch that made me fall asleep coming here.
Renz was a bit fussy and still whining regarding his throat. He didn't want to leave the bus. And you could see the sun really beating on us with everyone wearing hats. The restrooms were very clean. Corz we had to pay Php3.00 to use them, but still, that's cheap for the maintenance and cleanliness.
6th Stop - Sanctuario Of Our Lady Of Caysasay
Here the image of the Blessed Virgin of Mary is said to miraculously disappear from any other site where it is brought and return on its own to the sanctuary.
We learned later that there was a miraculous well near the church but we somehow missed it.
7th Stop - Caleruega
The religious Dominican order has built this as a home for pilgrimage just a few kilometers down from the Tagaytay proper, on the way to Nasugbu.
Here's the main entrance of Caleruega. Since this is near Tagaytay, the breeze was a little cooler.
There were plenty of flowering plants with beautiful landscaping everywhere! Here, Che's holding Renz's chin, making sure he's facing the camera. Thanx Che!
The church in Caleruega. From the outside, it looks like a fortress.
Colorful stained glass are works of art that adorn the altar.
Pine trees behind us were refreshing to the eyes.
This is at the back of the church. There were plenty of plants, including ferns.
And gigantic Euphorbias, shown here in big pots. There were so many of them.
At around 4pm, we were headed for home. Traffic, as expected was heavy especially approaching Tagaytay. I supposed that's the way it is with Black Saturday when most vacationers are starting to get back.
Overall, a relaxing and super enjoyable roadtrip for all of us!