this Holy Week
By Camille Bacsa
Holy Week is one of the few surefire long weekends we get in the year during summer, so it’s crucial to plan ahead lest we find ourselves feeling regretfully woeful when 9 pm on Easter Sunday comes around. While it is a Catholic tradition to spend the weekend in quiet prayer with our families, Visita Iglesia need not be a replay of last year’s destinations. So while you fight off your ungodly temptations to head to the beach and leisurely stretch on the shore instead (because nanay will certainly disapprove), we’ve compiled for you 8 religious road trips with a view you can bring the familia to for a spiritually enriching journey, set against the wonders of nature or Philippine history.
Marian Orchard, Balete, Batangas
Take a (2-3 hour road) trip to Europe and feast your eyes on Marian Orchard’s (hyperlink to site: http://marian-orchard.ph) white-and-blue Roman architecture, beautifully interspersed with colorful flowers, willowy green trees, and a stunning replica of Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Christ the redeemer statue. Set against the windy weather and view of Taal Lake, the 5 hectare hillside property is lined with sculptures of saints, a chapel with skilfully painted interiors, garden-paved Stations of the Cross, and the Virgin Mary Grotto. You can also extend your pilgrimage at the nearby Hermitage of our Mother, a solemn retreat/prayer house with a viewing deck poised to give a picturesque view of Batangas.
Regina RICA, Tanay, Rizal
The Regina Rosary Institute for Contemplation in Asia, or Regina RICA (hyperlink to site: http://reginarica.org/rica/) for short, is a serene site for prayer hidden away at the foot of the Sierra Madre Mountains. The 300+ steps leading to the 71-foot Virgin Mary statue pays homage to Mama Mary as the Queen of the Holy Rosary. Even the laziest among us will be inspired to take the long walk as the sight is rich in greenery, with small waterfalls and a tranquil creek meandering the 13.5 hectare site. Make sure to dress appropriately, as the Dominican Sisters who manage Regina RICA abide by a strict dress code.
Banal na Bunduk Dalan Ning Krus, Mt. Arayat, Magalang, Pampanga
If you’d like to apply a little more physical endurance during your meditative prayer, head over to Banal na Bundok Dalan Ning Krus (Holy Mountain Way of the Cross) for a little contemplation with altitude. The pilgrimage site is unique as it is adorned with life-sized Stations of the Cross that begin at the base of Mt. Arayat, moving progressively upwards until you go beyond the 14th station to the summit.
Kamay ni Hesus, Lucban, Quezon
Kamay ni Hesus Healing Church (hyperlink to site: http://kamaynihesus.ph/facilities/) is a 5-hectare shrine in the heart of Lucban, Quezon that boasts of the world’s 3rd tallest 50-foot Ascending Christ statue atop a hill. The Way of the Cross is worth every bit of your 300+ steps uphill walk (or limp, but hey that’s the point of pilgrimage) as it is a sight to behold overlooking the Via Dolorosa Grotto, Healing Church, Noah’s Ark, Sea of Galilie, and Holy Family Park.