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Rizal | Regina RICA: A Place of Prayer, Pilgrimage and Peace

Regina RICA, Tanay, Rizal

Regina Rosarii Institute for Contemplation  in Asia, or simply Regina RICA, is a shrine and pilgrimage site situated in a 13.5 hectare of land at the foothills of Sierra Madre in Tanay, Rizal. Founded in 2005, Regina RICA is under the auspices of the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of Regina Rosarii. Dominican Sisters of Regina Rosarii's mission is to teach people about contemplative prayer and contemplative way of life.

Our Lady and the sun's rays

Last February, we visited Regina RICA for our weekend road trip. There was a moderate traffic around Marikina/Marcos highway due to some road repair/construction but all in all, it was a hassle-free travel. We arrived at Regina RICA around 3PM, paid the parking fee (50 Php) and registered ourselves at the reception area. Afterwards, we then started walking up the sacred trail, a 300+ steps trail made of bricks, some of which with footprints of those who gave their love offering. The trail is pretty easy to walk through (ascent is gradual) and is lined up with flowers and citrus trees, making the climb a walk in the park.

Dominican Sisters driving around golf carts, could also be used to transport pilgrims who can't walk

At the top of the hill is the 71-meter high statue of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary with its mantle extended at the back and serves as the roof of the area where pilgrims have to wait, listen and participate in the contemplative prayer led by one of the Dominican sisters. After the prayer, pilgrims will then be allowed to line up and climb the statue to pay respect.

inside Our Lady's mantle, pilgrims waiting in line to climb and pay respect to the statue of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary

After the climb, we made a small donation and in return we were given a souvenir card with a small cloth attached to it. The cloth is said to have touched the lips of Our Lady of Regina Rosarii and in it was printed this prayer:

...Heal my body, heal my mind, heal my spirit, heal my pocket...

Regina Rosarii, Virgin most powerful, intercede for us,
Mama Mary, Mother most merciful intercede for us to Jesus your son.
After our visit to Our Lady,  we then roam around and took some photos of the place. We also had our snack from their cafeteria, before we bid our goodbye to Our Lady of Regina Rosarii. Here are the photos I took while roaming around Regina RICA:

rainbows and rolling hills
view from the top of Regina RICA hill
Labyrinth Prayer Walk where pilgrims slowly walk and meditate,
 though I saw some children who take it as a playground running around and laughing
pilgrims walking around the labyrinth path of prayer
Regina RICA men preparing the bricks for footprint-taking
If I remembered it right, I heard the donation is about 500 Php, per brick
though I read from a blog it's 1,000 Php so am not really sure how much  
A woman about to imprint her footprints in the brick
lighted candles, each color represents an aspect of your life you want to pray for
 of course, we prayed for everything - thanksgiving, peace, family, good health, etc.;
we bought a candle set actually, all 12 of them, and lighted them all
Regina RICA chapel
the Chapel's altar
Our Lady and the wishing well
view from the Chapel
notice the lady's skirt? it's what you'll have to borrow when you get there wearing shorts
NOTE: shorts, sandos (men, women and children), sleeveless blouses and blouses with spaghetti straps are NOT ALLOWED

How to get to Regina RICA

Private Vehicle:

* From QC Circle, take Kalayaan Road and head towards Marcos Highway via Aurora Boulevard
* Continue driving along Marcos Highway, past Cogeo and other towns/barangays of Rizal including Camp Capinpin
* At approximately KM66.5, turn right at Aguho Street (with Regina RICA signage at the corner).
* Regina Rica is around 200 meters away after you turned right in Aguho.

NOTE: If you have a smart phone, turn on your GPS and cellular network (you can turn off cellular network after searching) and launch Google Maps. Search for Regina RICA and follow the route provided by the app. Except for some ongoing road repair/construction where you have to do some detours, the route provided by Google Maps is pretty accurate, you won't get lost!

Public Transport - From Aurora Boulevard, Cubao:

* From Mercury-Cubao, take a Cogeo-bound jeepney and tell the driver to drop you off at Cogeo market
* From Cogeo market, take a jeepney bound for Sampaloc and get off at Sampaloc market
* From Sampaloc market, take a tricycle going to Regina RICA in Sitio Aguho

Public Transport - From Star Mall, Shaw Boulevard/Crossing:
* Take a van or jeepney bound for Tanay and tell the driver to drop you off at Sampaloc-bound Jeepney Terminal
* Take the Sampaloc-bound jeepney and get off at Sampaloc market
* From Sampaloc market, take a tricycle going to Regina RICA in Sitio Aguho

Visiting Hours/Mass Schedule

* Regina RICA is open from 8:00AM to 5:30PM everyday except Tuesdays
* Mass:
   Sunday - 11:00AM; 3:30PM
   Monday - Saturday (except Tuesday) - 11:00AM
   every 4th Saturday of the month - 6:00AM

~ oo00oo ~

Regina Rosarii Institute for Contemplation in Asia
Sampaloc, Tanay, Rizal
Note: more infos on their site (link above)
Date of Visit: February 8, 2016

Food Trips | 5 Healthy Grabs at Salad Stop!

tuna san salad - 350 Php

Looking for something healthy and filling at the same time? Check out SaladStop!

SaladStop! is an Asian food chain, with operations in Singapore, Manila, Jakarta and Tokyo, serving its customers with best tasting yet healthy and nutritious foods. Oh, by the way, this isn't a sponsored post peeps. I just love their salads and wraps. And I wish they have a branch here in QC, somewhere near North EDSA (SM or Trinoma) or Technohub. Hopefully soon, SaladStop!? ^_^

Anyway, I first noticed SaladStop! in my current work as one of my bosses there usually bought his lunch from SaladStop!. I got curious and check it out, too, one dinner time. My first try -- Tuna San salad (photo above), sans avocado at that time (they replaced it with grapes, btw). It costs 350 Php, 340 Php for the wrap version. Quite expensive for a salad (or wrap), right? But it's worth it peeps! Lettuce, grapes and cherry tomatoes are all crisp and fresh, even the seared tuna, to think it's a to-go meal. And it's really filling! SaladStop! menu (Pinoy version) says it provides 550 calories (for salad,  697 calories for wrap), more than enough for a one meal calorie requirements.

By the way, I didn't use the dressing (wasabi honey soy) that usually goes with this salad but instead requested for balsamic soy vinaigrette. And I liked it! I've ordered this tuna san salad several times already and I still haven't tried wasabi honey soy dressing so I can't say which is better, maybe next time. :)

tuna san wrap - 340 Php
 also tried the wrap version and it's okay but I like the salad version more,
probably because it (wrap) has less dressing which kinda make it bland

I also tried Oh Crab Lah! and oh la la, this one's so filling I can't finish it in one meal. Oh Crab Lah! has the usual romaine lettuce together with cherry tomatoes, grated eggs, crab sticks, vermicelli noodles, onions and croutons. It is served with Singapore chili crab dressing and contains 833 calories (wrap). No wonder I wasn't able to finish it in one sitting. I usually ordered the wrap version during dinner time, have it sliced into half, eat the first half for dinner and the other half for breakfast. Not too expensive for two (2) meals, right? Sulit! ^_^

oh crab lah wrap - 250 Php
very tasty and flavorful, oh crab lah! is love! ^_^

Niçoise salad composed of romaine lettuce, tuna flakes, egg, potatoes, French beans, cherry tomatoes and black olives, as usual in my fave dressing, balsamic soy vinaigrette. This one's another filling and tasty salad from SaladStop!, packed with 627 calories. Heavy! ;)

Niçoise Salad - 300 Php

Updated (8/28/2016):

Big Bird is the latest addition to the salads that I've tried from Salad Stop! It is a fruit-based (avocado, green apple and grapes) salad with romaine lettuce, crunchy celery and roast turkey tossed in a creamy ranch dressing. This one's very light compared with oh crab lah but it will still satisfy your tummy. It did mine. And considering it has avocado, it's automatically added in my fave's list. Big bird costs 350 Php for the salad, 340 Php for the wrap.

Big Bird Salad - 350 Php

For a sweet and still healthy treat, strawberry banana muesli is a good try. It consists of milk, honey, greek yogurt, rolled oats, granola, strawberry puree, chia seeds, banana, raisins and dried fruit (apricot and cranberries). I had it for a late breakfast one time and I instantly like it. The greek yogurt is not as as rich and creamy as the usual greek yogurt but it's just fine with me, I'm not into rich and heavy yogurt anyway.

Strawberry Banana Muesli - 150 Php

~oo00oo ~

Salad Stop! has a lot more of signature and classic salads to offer; they even have create-your-own-salad wherein you get to choose which ingredients to go with your salad. So what are you waiting for? Go get out, look for the Salad Stop! near you, and try their salad offers. I highly recommend Oh Crab Lah for your first try. It's flavorful, it's filling and it can satisfy two people already; both will feel full afterwards. A warning, though! This one's a bit spicy. :)

~ oo00oo ~

Palanca Street
(near corner Dela Rosa)
Makati City

Pangasinan | A Visit to Surip Pilgrimage Site

It's summer time once again; a time to hit the beach, a time to travel and enjoy a place with your family and/or friends. If you're thinking of going up north and is looking for a place not so touristy to spend a weekend, you may want to consider Surip Beach in Bani, Pangasinan. It's not your typical beach of white fine sand but rather a beach with coral beds and shallow openings they call "baby pools". The beach is good for snorkeling and diving, too. Want to know more about the place, you may click the link above for more of Surip Beach.

Surip beach

Another site that you may want to check out when you're in Bani is the Surip Pilgrimage Site. Surip Pilgrimage Site is located atop a hill with a magnificent view of West Philippine Sea and the Surip Beach below. On the mountain slope is a thousand-step path which features the Way of the Cross, a popular activity during Holy Week season on which an annual Archdiocesan Penitential Pilgrimage is celebrated every Holy Thursday of Lent.

Surip Pilgrimage Site, Bani, Pangasinan

The site used to be the resting place of the matriarch of the Navarro family, a political clan in the town of Bani. The family also owns one of the resort along the Surip shoreline, the Surip Mountain Beach Resort.

Anyway, after our short getaway at Surip beach, we made a side trip to the Pilgrimage site. And even though it's past the Lenten season then, we still followed the Way of the Cross going to the top (hilltop is reachable by car or any other type of vehicle, by the way). Here are some of the photos I took from our side trip to Surip Pilgrimage Site:

start of the hike...

empty tomb, Jesus has risen
The Cross at Surip Pilgrimage Site
from another angle...
Surip Beach and the West Philippine Sea
marker at the entrance of Surip Pilgrimage Site

~ oo00oo ~

For guide on how to get to Surip Pilgrimage Site, please check out my post on Surip beach (click the link). That's all for now folks, hope you all had a blessed Sunday. Hope you'll have a nice week ahead, too. 'Til next time... ^_^
~ oo00oo ~
Surip Coral Beach
Sitio Olanen, Dalacap Sur
Bani, Pangasinan
Date of Visit: May 13, 2015

Pangasinan | Bani: Surip Coral Beach and its "Baby Pools"

Surip, Bani, Pangasinan

My mom is a Pangasinense and I was born in Bani but except for a few visits to my relatives, I've never explored this town until May last year. Bani, a coastal town in the province of Pangasinan, is usually overshadowed by its famous neighboring towns, Alaminos and Bolinao. It is a second class municipality known for its sweet watermelon produce and as such, is called “Pakwan (Watermelon) Capital of the Philippines”. Last summer, I got the chance to visit some of Bani's tourist spots Surip coral beach and Surip pilgrimage site. Located in Sitio Olanen in  Barangay Dacap Sur, Surip beach is around 30-45 minutes travel by tricycle from Bani's town proper.

C2: crystal clear! ;)

A rocky coastline on the western side of town facing the South China Sea, Surip beach is covered with coral beds, some of which have shallow openings they call "baby pools". During low tides, these baby pools trap teeny weeny colorful fishes and other marine life. It also serves as the swimming pool of the kids and kids-at-heart who visit this shoreline.

flat coral beds and "baby pools" here and there
kids and kids-at-heart enjoying the "baby pool" in Surip

Surip, being a rocky coastline, is ideal for snorkeling and diving. It sure is a good site for recreational fishing, too, given the many fingerlings and marine species I saw in some of the shallow pools. I actually saw some fisherman throwing their lines not too far from the shore which proves that this area abounds with marine life.

teeny weeny colorful fishes... can you see them? ^_^
flat coral beds

How to get to Surip?

From EDSA-Pasay or EDSA-Cubao, take Bolinao-bound buses (Five-Star - Pasay, Victory Liner, Dagupan Bus - Cubao) and tell the driver to drop you off in Bani. From Bani town proper, take a tricycle going to Surip, (tricycles are parked near the town's plaza). Bus fare is around 400 Php (for aircon buses), tricycle fare is 250 Php, one way for 4-5 persons. Travel time is around 7-8 hours (Manila-Bani), around 30-45 minutes from town proper to Surip.

the coral beach of Surip

Where to Stay?

We never stayed overnight nor avail a cottage in Surip but I saw at least two resorts very near the beach where we went Surip Mountain Beach Resort (recommended by my uncle probably because the owner, then Mayor of Bani, Mayor Gabriel Navarro is his former boss) and Hide A-way Sea and Beach Resort. Take note that I never stayed in any of these two resorts so I've no idea of their services and/or the facilities they offer. It's best that you contact Bani's Tourism Office at (075) 5532010 to get correct and updated information.

~  oo00oo ~

We had fun in the few hours of our stay in Surip. My nephews enjoyed the beach. They get the chance to ride a pump boat, too. Although now that it's past, I realized I was a bit reckless back then. I have with me two kiddos (a 6-y/o and a 4-y/o) and we rode the pump boat with no life vest. I'm just thankful that nothing happened to us considering the sea was a bit rough. Tsk! I'll never do that again.

Anyway, Surip is a recommended destination for those who are into quiet and secluded beaches, for those who just want to escape for a while their busy life. If you are the type, go check out Surip. You'll enjoy it.

Up-next: A Tour to Surip's pilgrimage site. 'Til then...

Blessed Sunday everyone. Kung Hei Fat Choi!
~ oo00oo ~
Surip Coral Beach
Sitio Olanen, Dalacap Sur
Bani, Pangasinan
Date of Visit: May 13, 2015

CamFlicks | Shuttering while Cruising: Scenery, Sunset, Belenismo sa Tarlac

Shuttering while cruising, the thing I love the most whenever on a road trip. Anything that catches my attention, anything lovely to look at -- traffic-free expressway, nature and scenery along the way, beautiful displays on the street, almost anything actually -- I took photos of. 

Last weekend, we've been to another road trip up north. Our destination -- Monasterio de Tarlac. It had been another happy weekend of endless shuttering along the way. So for this week's post, it'll be all photos I took on the road, while plying the route to and from Monasterio de Tarlac.
cruising along traffic-free SCTEX on a clear sunny day, isn't it lovely? ^_^
I wish EDSA will be like this one day (wish upon a star :P)
concrete/cemented road (Lubigan Road) on a countryside, so this is where our taxes go :P
another photo taken while cruising along Lubigan Road
beautiful and relaxing scenery, right? ^_^
when you see a beautiful sunset while driving along a seemingly deserted place, would you stop and take a photo of it?
I did! :P
who wouldn't stop and capture this sunset? Certainly, not me... ^_^
I climbed the bridge's railing to get these sunset photos, am I crazy for doing it?
Passers-by thought so, I guess, 'cause they blew their horn while passing by  ^_^

sunset @ Lubigan bridge in San Jose, Tarlac
when soldiers get creative...
Belenismo sa Tarlac: The AFP Belen
Note: this belen is definitely more beautiful in person, pardon me and my camera phone for this injustice.

Belenismo sa Tarlac is an annual tradition/competition in Tarlac City (the Belen Capital of the Philippines) that promotes the art of making a Belen (nativity scene). Belens are usually made of indigenous/recycled materials showcasing the creativity of the Tarlaqueños. Belenismo sa Tarlac 2015 opened last November 5 while awarding will be held on December 5. Belens, however, would remain on display until early January next year. So what are you waiting for? Go on a road trip and see those beautiful belens!

~ oo00oo ~

“Drive slow and enjoy the scenery -- drive fast and join the scenery.” ~ Doug Horton
23 days before christmas: Maligayang pasko sa lahat! :)