The second leg of our Saturday day tour takes us to Caleruega Church.
Located just a street away from the Mountain of Salvation, it took less than ten minutes by car arrive at the entrance.
A sign at the fork in Batulao makes it convenient to know where to turn. Besides that, since there are no other structures, it is easy to spot the place.
This is actually the second time I visited Caleruega Church. The first time I was here was back in the summer. At that time, we took a detour from our trip to Canyon Cove.
In my first visit, the road was quite bad as the pot holes were numerous and deep. We had to slow down to a snail’s pace just to prevent the car from being damaged.
Also, there were so many people that time that cars were lined meters from the entrance.
This time around, the potholes were filled with gravel. And though a few holes were still there, they weren’t deep enough to damage teeth.
Also, the number of people this time around wasn’t as much, allowing us to conveniently park the car inside the property.
Entrance was still PhP30 per person and a brochure containing useful information was provided at the gate.
Favorite for Weddings and Retreats
The faćade of the Transfiguration Chapel is different from the other chapels in the country. It turns out that it is a reproduction of the original chapel in Caleruega, Spain.
The design, both in and out, makes one feel like they are in a different country and is a big favorite for weddings. In fact, this small place is in such high demand that couples need to reserve at least a year in advance to get a slot.
And to drive that point home further, one couple was talking about flower arrangements with their wedding planners as I was clicking away with my camera.
Other than weddings, schools normally send their students here for annual retreats. During these times, busloads of people come in for the weekend or week long set of retreats.
Non-students can also join the scheduled retreats for a minimal fee. And those staying overnight have a choice of rooms dotted all over the property.
Just like the Transfiguration Chapel, the rooms and other small buildings are made of brick on the outside and can be rented for events.
This makes for really, really nice pictures. Beginners, such as myself, can take some passable ones; but an experienced photographer, with even just a good eye, can take great pictures.
Some favorites include the main stair case, the Transfiguration Chapel, the various statues, the water fountain, and the hanging bridge. In addition to this, there are a lot of different flowers scattered all over the area, just waiting to be photographed.
Since the trees are not crowded on the property, the view of the surrounding mountains is much better than that of Mountain of Salvation. And where mountain pictures can only be taken from part of the path in Mountain of Salvation, the sky's the limit here.
For those would like to commune with nature, a camp site is available a bit down the mountain. I understand that you’ll need to bring your own test and supplies for this.
And if you thought that few people choose this option, think again. As we approached Caleruega Church, campers in the tens were making their way to the church for a weekend of communing with nature.
A lot of People
Though I wouldn’t say that the place is crowded, it was never devoid of people either. Whether it was people staying for a retreat or tourists visiting, there was always be someone walking around with a pleasant smile on their face.
This made it a bit difficult to take landscape-only pictures. If you are interested in taking people-free pictures, you may want to come back during the weekdays.
In addition to this, I found it a bit difficult to find a suitable spot me to contemplate in, especially after the solace in the Mountain of Salvation. So if you are looking to be alone with your thoughts, again, you may want to revisit the place during weekdays.
After taking all our pictures, it was time for us to have lunch. So we reluctantly piled into the car and headed on back to Tagaytay.
We passed the stall, or suki, where we regularly get our vegetables but no one was manning the booth.
Well, we didn’t bother stopping at the other stalls as they didn’t have any Lettuce for sale; probably because they weren’t able to harvest any due to the continuous rains. So we just continued onwards.
Before leaving Manila, we decided on having lunch at Leslie’s Tagaytay when we came back from our visits. Coming from Batulao, it was on the right side of the road, making it more convenient to get to.
Parking was full but we found a spot at the back of the open lot. After getting down, we were the seventh on the waiting list. It took another twenty minutes before being called in.
Lunch was composed of Bulalo, Grilled Lumot, and Laing.
The Bulalo was slightly salty for my taste, but was just right for everyone else. The great thing about the Bulalo here is that the soup refills are unlimited and free. This comes in handy on a nice cool day where people can go for third and fourth servings.
The Lumot was the biggest looking squid I have ever seen on a plate. And though it was huge, it was tender.
The only thing about the area is that service is a bit slow. So if you are hungry or expect snappy service, this may not be the place for you. But if you are patient and willing to wait a bit, you will be rewarded with a filling meal.
After paying for lunch, it was time to head on back down to Metro Manila.
But before leaving Tagaytay, we needed to get a few things as pasalubong for friends and family. And for that, we stopped over at Rowena’s.
It is conveniently located on the right side of the road, so the traffic that was beginning to build up didn’t make it too difficult to get to. Parking was plentiful since it was still early in the day.
Incidentally, some people prefer dropping by on their way up to Tagaytay to avoid the late afternoon rush. If you decide to do this, make sure to keep those heat-sensitive food protected when leaving it in the car. An ice chest should be enough to keep it from getting fried.
The stuff on our list included Boat Tarts, Uraro, Barquillos, Cassava Cake, Buko Pie, and Chocolate. There were a lot of other stuff, like fish chips, Sampaloc, and even full lunches for those not in a rush.
Several people behind the counter were on hand assist customers, and you can pay in cash or even through credit cards.
By the time we were done with our shopping, traffic began to really build up.
So after hurriedly packing everything in the trunk, we headed on down to Metro Manila.
But before getting on the South Luzon Expressway, or SLEX, we made one last stop for more pasalubong.
Edna’s in closer to the toll way entrance of Santa Rosa. And coming from Tagaytay, it was on the left side of the road.
Parking was available for three cars in front of the store and it is normally free throughout the day.
I was surprised to see several items that are not in Rowena’s.
In my case, I miss the Kropeck Shrimp Crackers. Since I can’t find them in Metro Manila groceries lately, I got a couple of packs when I saw a whole box of them here!
There are also some items that are a bit cheaper here but you need to make sure they are still fresh and crunchy.
The small pack of Barquillos was cheaper here so I also got myself another one. I also got a medium sized bottle of Atchara. I would have gotten something bigger, but I prefer to get a trial size first.
The owner, together with the staff, was very, very nice. Unfortunately, their being nice didn’t help my wallet as I would end up adding items to our basket because of their suggestions.
We finally reached home just in time for dinner. And instead of cooking a meal, decided to reheat the Bulalo we took home with us.
A little bit of water was added and it was allowed to boil for a few more minutes. The result was absolute perfection.
Not only did the saltiness go away with the added water, the taste of the soup was enhanced with the extra boiling.
Well, thanks to the continuous rains, I have been cooped in Metro Manila for these past few weeks.
However in just one day, we were able to drop by the Mountain of Salvation for some quiet time. We then headed over to Caleruega Church for some pictures. Then for lunch, we ate at Bulalo, Laing, and Grilled Lumot at Leslie’s. And for shopping we ended up at Rowena’s and Edna’s.
And thanks to this day, my wanderlust has been temporarily satisfied.
For those of you aching to get out, even for a day, you may want to retrace the steps we took. Just make sure your camera’s batteries are fully charged or you may miss those memorable shots.
Till our next trip!
|Caleruega Church Contact Details
|Address||Barangay Kaylaway, Batulao, Nasugbo, Batangas, Philippines|
|Contact Numbers||+63 (921) 2709890, +63 (921) 8304226, and +63 (43) 7060348|
We would like to thank Rosario Juat for helping us out with our itinerary.
We would like to thank Anything Under the Sun for contributing pictures and videos for this article.