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.

Sorsogon Road Trip: Bulusan

From Barcelona, jeepneys bound for Gubat and Bulusan pass by just in front of St. Joseph Church, one of the oldest churches in Bicol Region. Our little group wrapped it up and readied ourselves for the next leg of our day trip – Bulusan.

Bulusan is home to one of the most active volcanoes in the Philippines – Mt Bulusan and this is our next destination for this day. We arrived at Bulusan town proper and while it is still early, we looked for a place where we can get our brunch. After a hearty meal, we took a tricycle that will take us to Bulusan National Park.

I’ve been here many years ago, I was around 10 years old back then and I was able to go around the lake with my friends without us knowing where it was leading us. We registered and soon started our trek. We felt really proud that Teloy is comfortable with the surrounding vegetation and never complained about the long walk. There were several rest area around the lake but most of them were already in ruins. Me and Baba couldn’t help but compare tourism efforts in other places we have visited.

Still, Bulusan Lake is enchanting and charming than ever. I remembered seeing shrimp swimming near the rocks and there are still plenty of them even today. The place was very peaceful and all you can hear are the sounds of the wind and the birds. We passed by one or two men quietly fishing as if they too hesitate in breaking the calm. You see green everywhere you look, there’s lush green forests that surrounds an emerald green waters. It looked so deep, you’d feel kinda creepy sometimes when you try to imagine what creatures might be lurking underneath!

We arrived back at the entrance and rested for a while. I appreciate the new additions that the management are trying to introduce though the park’s upkeep still lacks a bit. There are kayaks and other water vehicle you can try out to explore the lake. They also offer climb packages for those interest to scale the mysterious Bulusan Volcano.

The trek was tiring, but we still have one more destination for this day trip and it’s going to be a wonderful, soothing and relaxing end to this roughly planned trip.

Star City: Cityscape for the Kids and Kids at Heart

When travelling to Manila with a kid tagging along, you are expected to adjust your itinerary so that they too will have a good time. Baba and I decided to check out interesting venues for Teloyskie’s age and settled for Museo Pambata and Star City.

So right after exploring the museum, the three of us headed to Star City, a decent theme park seated beside the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Most people say decent because it’s not as high-tech or as grand as the more popular Enchanted Kingdom in Laguna, but that’s alright, it is accessible and it can easily make one bored kid bubble with excitement.

A couple of weeks before our trip to Manila, I already scored Metrodeal coupons for Star City and got a Ride All You Can plus discounts on Lazer Blaster and WInter Funland for P 280 each. 

Some of the attractions we’ve tried included –
The Time Tunnel, Peter Pan, Pirate Adventure, Gabi ng Lagim and the Land of Giants.

After scaring ourselves witless at Gabi ng Lagim, we decided to pass of the Dungeon. Teloyskie spent lots of time at the Little Tykes and Ball Pool playground and then drove the kiddie bumper car a gazillion times!

The three of us also tried out some of the Family Rides including the Magic Forest, Red Baron, Giant Star Wheel, Telecombat and the Dragon Express. We missed out many other rides such as the Blizzard, Jumping Star and Tornado because they are under maintenance repair during that time.

Ninang Roslee and Ninang Jane arrived sometime in the evening and joined us so Baba and I were able to try out other extreme rides where Teloy is not yet allowed. But because ze Baba is also weary of these rides we only got to try out two – the Jungle Splash and the Star Flyer. 

Our little “boss” for the day passed out on our way back to the hotel after all the excitement and hyperactivity at this theme park. Been working in Manila for almost 7 years but it was only this time that I was able to visit this. It was a first for all us then which made the trip a little more extraordinary and memorable for us three.

Cheers to the New Year! What’s Up 2014?

Year 2013 had been a challenging year for a newly-hand-ons career mom me. After almost seven years of living the fast-life in the Metro, I was met with a more laid-back way of life here in Albay. I lived on my own for the first three months pining away my desires for exploration and focused more on my career adjustment.

The year provided plenty of first experiences for the three of us. Baba and I scaled Southeast Asia’s highest despite the ongoing Sabah siege. The following months opened doors for bonding and closer relationship with my son as I officially became a hands-on career mom. July was full of torrential surprises as Baba decided to come home and completed our family. We basically lived a simple, pretty stationary yet sweet life as started home-making. But of course, occasional sojourns and escapades sated our thirst for wandering. Still we are adjusting through changes and challenges that is associated with coming together and starting off as a dysfunctional, misadventuring family. Whatever the coming year holds for us, we’d be ready, we’ll be welcoming 2014 with open arms, high hopes and excitement for more wander-ful experiences.