Layover: Tagaytay

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The rolling sun baked hills of Tagaytay
Spontaneous out-of-town trips to the city’s weekend and second summer capital are always fun. There is a sense of adventure and just simply driving around national and provincial highways while talking to people you love make the trip more meaningful and worthwhile. So yesterday, after a week of stress and preparation for an event in school, Tricia and I decided to just take a random trip down south. Originally we were suppose to just spend an afternoon at Nuvali but we ended going up to Tagaytay. Now I’m pretty sure a lot of people have written about the best places to eat and stay in Tagaytay, but being the very happy go-lucky people that we are, we just drove around and picked three destinations: a taste of Tagaytay’s famous bulalo and two chapels that have had some significance in my life, the first being Chapel on the Hill and the second Caleruega Church.

Bulalo

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Lunch out
It’s been said that when you go to Tagaytay you cannot leave without having eaten Bulalo. Bulalo is essentially your simple boiled beef soup made out of beef shanks and the bone marrow of the hapless cow that had been slaughtered earlier on. Though plain looking, the magic of the dish lies in the bone marrow, a delicious and succulent treat if you are willing to go an extra mile just to get it. The rewards are gastronomic but those with elevated blood levels and a heart condition may want to stay way from the marrow and just sample the shanks and the soup itself. In Tagaytay, there are a lot of bulalo places, there have been lists compiled and many restaurants proclaiming that they are the best, but for the sake of our hunger, Tricia and I decided to just eat in Bulalo Point. Bulalo Point is your basic bulalohan: chairs, tables, a very plain comfort room and a good view of Taal Lake. Their food sizes are generous, for two people sharing one pot of the stew it was more than enough to sate our hunger and move on with our weekend trip.

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Bulalo: beef shanks, bone marrow, cabbage and a whole lot of Filipino lovin’

Chapel on the Hill

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Literally on a hill

Apart from bulalo, Tagaytay is well known for its chapels and retreat spots. The environment makes it a conducive spot for both reflection and meditation, during my days as a young lad in a catholic school a year wouldn’t go by without having had a retreat in Tagatay. Our first stop after our lunch was Chapel on the Hill. There isn’t much that I know about Chapel on the Hill except it’s handled by the order of Don Bosco. It’s a quaint chapel nestled on a hill (hence the name) and the first of two sites of go-to wedding places in Tagaytay.

Being my first visit since my sister’s wedding back in 2006, the chapel hasn’t changed that much. At the time of my visit, the Typhoon Milenyo had just struck Luzon and I never got to appreciate the beauty of the chapel because of the fog. But on this beautiful day, we were lucky enough to enjoy an unhindered view of the green fields, the rolling hills and the glistening lake of Taal.


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The chapel itself

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The chapel’s altar

Caleruega Church

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Caleruega Church

Leaving behind Chapel on the Hill, we Thomasians moved on to a place near and dear to our hearts. Traveling a short distance we made our way to Caleruega Church where we rekindled memories of our final retreat before joining the real world. Though it’s been quite some time since we last visited, Caleruega still looks as grand and just as beautiful. Caleruega with its sprawling gardens and its lush trees make it the perfect place for weddings and silent meditation. The first time I visited the church was during my brother’s wedding, I was immediately awed by its architecture and its color. The second time was during my retreat back in 2011, at night the garden transforms itself into a wonderland of orange light and muted colors, yesterday a garden signalling the start of spring/summer with flowers abloom.

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Summer in Andalusia?
Compared to Chapel on the Hill, Caleruega is large and because of its gardens attracts a lot of people. Approaching the Chapel of Transfiguration we met a lot of photographers along the way, happily capturing flowers and statues under the glaring sun. Inside the chapel, which is suppose to be quiet, you could hear the sounds of the loud chatter of the photography group that was there, likewise the sound of their shutters was quite off-putting since it was endless. In a lot of ways, the church’s picturesque quality makes it a haven for photographers but a nuisance for those wanting to spend a little time in silent reflection with their faith. I hope that in the near future, the administration would place a gentle reminder to keep both shutter and voices at a minimum.

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The altar

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The gardens

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The main entrance to Caleruega
Chapel on the Hill is located at Don Bosco Compound, Batulao, Batangas City. Please click here for more information. 
Caleruega Church is located at Batulao, Batangas City just after Chapel on the Hill. You may email them at caleruega_philippines@yahoo.com, contact them at +63 921 270-9890 or +63 921 830-4226.
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