Reflections: The Kind-Hearted Souls that Paved Our Way to St Padre Pio Shrine, Batangas

Traveling during the Holy Week is a skill that every Filipino could master. I’ve promised to stay away from tourist destination during this season but we were set to do a Visita Iglesia at St. Padre Pio Shrine in Sto Tomas, Batangas.

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We were staying in Sto Tomas for four days and the shrine is in the area thus I read blogs and Google-d the best possible way for commuters to go. One directed us to go to Waltermart Tanauan and take a tricycle from there which I we thought was the best option for us. I woke up on Maundy Thursday with a migraine and an upset stomach, prolly due to indigestion and being on constant travel for the last 5 days. My son and sister-in-law hesitated about our trip planned for the day but I insisted we go.

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We took a jeepney bound for Lipa and alighted at Waltermart Tanauan, which thankfully was still open that day. I took a light breakfast still fearful of my upset stomach, bought a couple of medicines and waited a while to feel better.

Then we approached angel number 1 to ask about the right direction to St Padre Pio Shrine, he told us, “Go back to Sto Tomas and take the San Pablo bound jeepney there. Just tell the driver to stop at the shrine. The tricycles here might rip you off especially because of the season. They will ask you for P250 or more.”

So we went back to Sto Tomas, Ate Karen suggested we alight at the crossing to San Pablo and wait for a jeepney there. A vehicle traffic is building en route to San Pablo and all the jeepneys passing us are full.

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A guy in BFP uniform from the group of “Lakbay Alalay” approached us and ask where we are headed, he was actually our angel number 2.  We told him where we are going and he patiently explained to us that all the traffic is caused by the influx of people visiting the shrine. He discouraged us from walking and said that he will find a tricycle or any ride for us instead. He also offered us seats in the shade while he try to flag down buses, jeeps and tricycle for us.

Finally a tricycle agreed to take us to St Padre Pio Shrine for cheaper fare, and he became our angel number 3. Manong driver maneuvered his tricycle to a less crowded route. When we are nearing the shrine, he advised us gently to avoid getting into empty tricycles that are calling for passengers back to Waltermart. According to him, these people may charge us P300 or more. He told to just walk the way out to the highway, or if we really want to ride a tricycle, ride one with other passengers already to lessen the cost.

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As we sit and pray at St Padre Pio Shrine, I couldn’t help but feel that we must have encountered those angels because He wanted us to travel safely and securely to His place. He made everything possible just when everything seemed hopeless. He made a way for us to be near Him, and He wanted us to come to Him and reflect on His great Love for us. All those people we’ve encountered are His reflection.

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With my heart bursting with gratefulness for His love and sacrifice, we started to leave St. Padre Pio Shrine and walk to the highway only to be surprised with angel number 4. A tricycle with a lone lady passenger stopped in front of us and simple said, “Tanauan, P20 lang ang isa.”

We were all quiet on our way home. Just when you thought there is No greater love than His, He gives you even more.

Bag of Beans: A Hard-to-Miss Place in Tagaytay

I haven’t posted anything for a while. There’s been a lot of goings-on and everyday seems to be  hectic one. Not to mention the major weather disturbance that wreaked havoc to our place.

Last month, I was sent to Silang, Cavite for a month-long training. I left my boys to their own devices while I planned short escapes from the monotony of every training /schooling day. So one fine afternoon, when we finished our modules earlier than usual, we hurriedly took of in my classmate’s car and headed for Tagaytay.

It was only 30 minutes away from the Philippine National Police Academy where we are currently based. The cool afternoon breeze was a welcome respite from the polluted Metro Manila air and as well as the constantly fiery atmosphere in Bicol. I wanted something soothing and hearing a lot of good things about Bag of Beans, I asked my mates if its okay with them to visit the place.

Bag of Beans in Tagaytay is indeed an eye candy. It is located along Aguinaldo Highway and it is considered a hard-to-miss place. If you are visiting on a weekend, you can expect a long queue despite their spacious location. There is also a constant traffic build-up when you are about to pass by this place so you will hardly miss this place.

Bag of Beans has quiet and cozy nooks for those who want  a bit of privacy. The place is decorated with colorful lanterns and gives that charming vintage feel. They have tables under those huge umbrellas, indoor coffee tables depending on what or where you want to while the time away. The drinks are competitively priced but the food kinda scared me off a little. But I made the right choices ordered two items that are more than enough for the three of us.

I ordered a cup of coffee for me and some pika-pika for my mates which served as our meryenda-cena. I started to feel my shoulders slacken and the pressure seem to leave me slowly. I really love having good coffee and being with real nice company. Not to mention spending a quiet time in a really nice place like Bag of Beans.

Sorsogon Road Trip: Barcelona, Sorsogon

While the school year is still ongoing and the travel fund is slim, we with our little tot are limited to weekend exploration and day trip adventures. Good thing Bicol Region has a lot of nook and corners that we have yet to explore.

Sorsogon City is only an hour away from Daraga, Albay so it sounds like a day trip is convenient enough for us. Oh we were wrong! The province of Sorsogon is indeed blessed with natural wonders and beautiful sights to behold, but of course, you have to go off the beaten track to discover them. So from the city, we headed to Barcelona, a municipality that is one hour away from the city. 
The municipality of Barcelona is located in the eastern shores of Sorsogon and is surrounded by the municipalities of Gubat, Bulusan and Casiguran. Being fond of old churches, we specifically chose this route to see one of the oldest churches in Bicol, the St. Joseph the Worker Parish which now called the Barcelona Church. It was constructed using coral stones, egg whites and “tuba.” It is an imposing structure with the original facade and the belfry though several restoration efforts in the church interiors were apparent.

Barcelona Church faces the sea and a small park where ruins of the late Presidencia Building and which were once used by the Spanish. Being close to the sea, it was destroyed during the Japanese occupation. This day, what appears to be a busy port during those days still exists but now it has become a silent onlooker to busy fisherfolks and youngsters passing time at the park.

After taking pictures and resting under the trees in Barcelona Church’s yard, our little group decided to pushed on to our next destination and continue with our exploration in – Bulusan. 

Biak na Bato National Park: Eco-Adventure Day Trip North of Manila

It was a hectic week of preparations and conferencing before Undas of 2011 and I found myself unaware of what to do for the upcoming break. I really need a break but traveling to Bicol is not an option since I also have tickets booked for Teloyskie’s birthday in the next couple of weeks. My office mate then invited me to stay with her family in Bulacan and we made plans of exploring places near her town.

Joy’s family was close-knit and gave me a warm welcome. We planned an excursion to Brgy Biak na Bato where the a significant piece of Philippine history transpired. Packed with picnic food and essentials, we took two tricycles to take every one there.

Biak na Bato National Park declared a national park by Late President Quezon because of it’s association to the historical Biak na Bato Republic the very first republic in the Philippines. This park is consist of a series of cave network and rivers which makes it one of today’s favorite eco-adventure day trips from Metro Manila.

The park is nestled in a mountain gorged by the river Balaong thus it’s name. One of the most explored caves in this park is the Aguinaldo Cave, which served as the headquarters of then President Emilio Aguinaldo and the Katipuneros. Unfortunately, the water level was high during our visit so we were not able to explore it.

The park offers easy and pleasant trails passing on cave entrances, waterfalls, hanging bridges and small rivers. Some caves are also open for explorations and filled with amazing rock formation.

At some point, we were shushed by Joy’s mom from being too noisy while trekking and making comments about the pungent smell of bat droppings since it was just a few days before All Souls Day and that I am a “dayo.”

Biak na Bato National Park might have been an impenetrable forests that served as a refuge for the Katipuneros during the Spanish regime, but today it is very much accessible from the town of San Miguel Bulacan.