Solo travelling has been a dream for me. The problem was, I never found the courage, time, and money. As I live with my principle to never ever stop learning, I looked for ways to make this dream happen.
For a start, I decided to go somewhere near my hometown. I have always wanted to know my way around the famous City of Tagaytay; it might be located within my province, but I have never actually toured its entirety. The city is by the way one of the most famous tourist attractions in the Philippines; its proximity to Manila (55 km South), the cool climate, and the sceneries, capping its popularity.
So on one fateful Monday morning, I braved the roads with only my backpack stuffed with essentials in tow.
0700H – I left my home in Imus, Cavite, took a Public Utility Jeepney (PUJ) to reach Aguinaldo Highway and hopped on a Public Utility Bus (PUB) bound for Tagaytay City. My total one-way fare was Php64.
1. PINK SISTERS CHAPEL
Going there: I got off from the PUB approximately 1 kilometer before Tagaytay Rotonda (roundabout). There was a Pink Sisters signage on the other side of the road pointing to Holy Spirit Drive. After crossing the highway, I walked the ascending drive until I reached the end, which is the famous adoration chapel. Time Check: 0826H
More appropriately the Adoration Chapel of the Holy Spirit Adoration Sistes, ‘Pink Sisters’ is located at the Holy Spirit Drive, Barangay Maitim 2nd East 4120, Tagaytay City. It is one of the most visited catholic adoration chapels here because of the place’s absolute tranquility and the seemingly indefatigable prayerful nuns in pink habits. Inside the chapel, there is a special area separating the nuns from the lay people. This area is where the nuns are seen knelt in prayer almost the entire day.
I have been to this place maybe twice prior to this trip, but the serenity of the chapel and it’s surrounding vicinity has never changed. The same towering pine trees were in perfect shape; adding even more mystery to the place. Everything there was well maintained.
Unfortunately, I did not catch the Eucharistic Mass as it was scheduled too early, at 0630H. Nevertheless, I whispered my prayers and left my petition of getting a 7.0 in my upcoming IELTS examination through a sheet of paper located at the side of the chapel. After writing my petition, I placed it in the dropbox. It is believed that it is those petitions that the pink sisters read and pray for.
I wanted to check out their gift shop but it was closed that time. Since there is no entrance fee in Pink Sisters, one way of helping the congregation is through purchasing their homemade goods and other products.
2. TIERRA DE MARIA
Going there: From Pink Sisters Chapel, I walked back to the highway and headed towards Tagaytay Rotonda. After walking for about five minutes, I reached a yellow building called Touchpoint Spa; across it is the transport terminal. I then crossed the highway and boarded a PUJ to People’s Park. It was a long trip, but a large tarpaulin with the image of Virgin Mary was posted at the road’s right side, fronting the Development Academy of the Philippines, it is impossible to miss it. My fare was Php11, time check: 1005H
Tierra de Maria, Haven of Meditation and Enrichment is located near Tagaytay-Calamba Road, 4120 Tagaytay. It is home of the 50-foot image of the Virgin Mary, the wooden figure of the crucified Christ, the Our Lady of Manaog, and other holy images. It is a place of prayer, healing, and soul-searching.
I specifically visited the place to see the Our Lady of Manaog. Its more famous figure in Pangasinan is believed to be miraculous. I am not particularly a believer of miracles, I am in fact a skeptic. I went to see her to ask for help again as what I did during my board exam four years ago. I held her hand and let her touch the pencils I will be using for my IELTS exam: very irrational I know, but at least I wouldn’t have any what if’s, I could proudly say I did EVERYTHING.
I stayed for a while as I heard familiar Marian songs that were being played in the background. I missed my days as a chorister when I heard the songs ‘Aba Ginoong Maria’ and ‘Ave Maria’. Some seconds though, a group of schoolchildren came inside the chapel for their field trip. They broke the silence while their parents and yayas took their photos infront of the images. I knew at once that it was my cue to leave.
3. PICNIC GROVE
Going there: Situated next to Tierra de Maria is the Picnic Grove, I paid an entrance fee of Php50; time check: 1026H
The famous Picnic Grove is a large complex of trees, hills, cottages, and several recreational activities in Barangay Sungay, East-End, Tagaytay. It features the panoramic view of the Taal Lake over a public viewing deck. There are a lot of fun activities there such as zipline, horse backriding, cable car, among others.
By the time I reached Picnic Grove, the sun was set so high, I had to change into more comfortable clothes. I was beginning to wonder if I am still in Tagaytay because I couldn’t feel the cool breeze! Still, I marveled on Taal Lake’s beauty and then took the eco-trail which is a series of steps, bridges, and walkways. At that hour of the day and add the fact that I am not very athletic to begin with, it took me so long to finish the trail. Nevertheless, it was a good experience and great view by the way.
4. MAHOGANY MARKET
Going there: I crossed the road on Picnic Grove’s entrance and boarded a PUJ back to Olivarez Plaza, then transferred to another PUJ to NBI / Mahogany Market. My fare was Php 20 in total for both trips, time check: 1230H.
This particular marketplace is home of the long rows of affordable restaurants serving delicious Bulalo: a beef shank viand in clear broth. This steaming hot dish is perfect for Tagaytay’s weather.
I almost aborted this destination as I was so tired and drenched in my own sweat: I wanted to eat somewhere cool and have an order of ice cream. I did not know what came to me because I still went there. And good thing I did! I ate at Len’s Kitchen, and I had a great time. The servers were accommodating, the air was not too humid, and the Bulalo was really good! The beef is tender and tasty. Len’s Kitchen offers unlimited soup and free Senorita bananas for dessert. My bill was Php190 for a single order of Bulalo, a cup of rice, and a bottle of soda.
5. SONYA’S GARDEN
Going there: From Mahogany Market, I boarded a PUB bound for Nasugbu and got off at Buck Estate, fare was Php25. From Buck Estate, I rode a tricycle to Sonya’s Garden, fare was Php30. Time Check: 1330H
Barangay Buck Estate in Alfonso, Cavite prides itself with a paradise for nature lovers and non alike. Sonya’s garden is an events’ place, proposal venue, store, spa, vegetarian restaurant, and lodging house nestled in greenery and blooms. Everywhere in the garden is a photo opportunity waiting to happen.
I went to their bakeshop called Panaderia as I have read how good the cheese hopia there was. As I was about to buy, I jokingly asked the man in the counter if he could give me a “free taste”, and guess what, he did! The cheese hopia was Php150 per pack, and it was indeed delicious.