Caleruega

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Caleruega is probably known as the most popular wedding chapel around Tagaytay. It is much photographed, and the image of the chapel of Transfiguration is most likely etched on the visitor’s, or prospective visitor’s minds.

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But what exactly is Caleruega? Caleruaga is a town in Spain, the birthplace of St. Dominic de Guzman, father of the Order of Preachers. The Filipino Dominicans wanted to honot the legacy of their founder by naming this retreat destination in his honor.

Many people think of Caleruaga as a Tagaytay destination. It may very well be, because it is but two kilometers or so away, near Hillcrest (formerly called Evercrest), in the town of Nasugbu, Batangas. Its topography and climate will indeed make the visitor think he is still in Tagaytay.

THE CENACULUM

The Cenaculum is the very first structure that one will see upon arrival at Caleruega. This is also the gateway to the Chapel of Transfiguration, and to the retreat center accommodations. I would advise visitors though to save the visit to the Chapel of Transfiguration for last. Toilet facilities are available inside the cenaculum.

The Cenaculum

The Cenaculum

It is advised that visitors park their cars around the fountain in front of the cenaculum from where they can start the short walk to the koi pond, the hanging bridge, and the tent chapel.  For tired legs, park benches are available on a shaded area near the parking slots. (UPDATE: Friends and a reader have reported that Caleruega does NOT anymore allow parking inside).

Park here so you can make a quick exit when you are done with your visit.

Benches near the parking slots

Benches near the rotunda/open space in front of the Cenaculum

WALKING AROUND CALERUEGA

Walk to the road on the right if you are facing the cenaculum. It is a beautiful walk, with interesting hand carvings representing the Stations of the Cross on what they call the Manaoag Drive. You will arrive at the beautiful koi pond surrounded by ferns and walkways, leading to the camping area and amphitheater.

Manaoag Drive Via Crusis

Manaoag Drive Via Crusis

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CROSS THE HANGING BRIDGE AND WALK UP TO THE TENT CHAPEL

The hanging bridge is lovely. The walk uphill to the tent chapel is easy, and I counted 100 steps. There are benches around for those who may get tired easily.

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walk up the hill from the bridge to the tent chapel

walk up the hill from the bridge to the tent chapel

the tent chapel of Transfiguration (not to be mistaken for the main chapel accessed from the cenaculum, which one should save for last)

the tent chapel of Transfiguration (not to be mistaken for the main chapel accessed from the cenaculum, which one should save for last)

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THE GARDEN CAFE
Walk back from the tent chapel via the same route taken going there. Relax and have a drink, or buy mementos at the Garden Cafe. Or visit  the lettuce greenhouse, and the plant nursery where you can buy seedlings.

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REMEMBER THAT IT IS A RETREAT CENTER

The pamphlet handed out to visitors define Caleruaga as a sanctuary amidst the beauty of nature where pilgrims are open to prayer, to creative transformation, and to Gospel values. While there are camping grounds, visitors must not, and can not use the grounds like they were camping near the beach. The whole complex is a No Smoking zone. Silence near the retreat centers is observed.

Silence Here please

Silence Here please

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gazekubo

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accommodations and facilities for retreatants

accommodations and facilities for retreatants

WHAT YOU CAME FOR: THE CHAPEL OF TRANSFIGURATION
From the cenaculum, take the door on the right and find the signages leading to the chapel. You will pass thru the retreatants accommodations (section just above). In front of the chapel is another famous icon: the sculpture named “Thy Will be Done”. Say a prayer or two inside the chapel. Or attend mass is one is scheduled.

The Chapel of Transfiguration.

The Chapel of Transfiguration.

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right in front of the chapel : Thy Will Be Done

right in front of the chapel : Thy Will Be Done

CONTACT DETAILS:

For your inquiries, please email caleruega_philippines@yahoo.com or call +639218304226 during daily office hours 8:00am-5:00pm, Manila time.

MASS SCHEDULE

Regular Sunday Mass is at 11:00 AM at the Transfiguration Chapel of

HOW TO GET TO CALERUAGA.

Visitors pay an entrance fee of P30 per head. Their phone numbers are +63 921 270 9890 and +63 921 830 4226.  To get there, I have searched online for a map and here is what I deem to be the best, just note that Evercrest has been renamed Hillcrest :

There is now a sign from the main highway on the right side, at the corner of Evercrest, that says CALERUEGA. Follow the road from there.

DRIVING DIRECTIONS.

Go to Tagaytay:

From Makati via SLEX (South Super Highway) take the Eton exit. Follow the TO TAGAYTAY signs and turn right after the Tagaytay Public Market towards the Tagaytay rotunda. Upon reaching the rotunda. Take the road going to Batangas and follow this map..

Alternatively, from Manila take the Coastal Road and take the Aguinaldo Hi-Way passing thru Imus, Dasmarinas, and Silang and on to Tagaytay. Follow map.

From Tagaytay: take the road to Batangas until you reach the next town of Alfonso (where Tagaytay Royale and  Sonya’s Garden are). Immediately after Alfonso is the town of Nasugbu. Go past the “Welcome to Batangas” sign. Drive on until you get to Hillcrest (formerly Evercrest).

Take that road on the left. You will see the entrance to KC Hillcrest Hotel on your right. Drive past Hillcrest, past the Don Bosco Chapel on a Hill, until you get to a crossroads. Take the right turn (there is also a Caleruega sign) and drive until the end of the road (before you reach the end of the road which is Caleruega, you will see hillside accommodations on  your left). The road stops at the entrance to Caleruega.

COMMUTING TO CALERUEGA.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT: Take any bus that passes thru Tagaytay. These are buses destined for  Nasugbu, Balayan, Lian, Tuy or Calatagan. Get off at Hillcrest (drivers/conductors might still know it by its former name Evercrest, be aware) in Batulao, Nasugbu, Batangas (the conductor can drop you there).Tricycle service is available at Hillcrest entrance. Or hike 2 kilometers to Calerueaga..

you will drive past these hillside accommodations

you will drive past these hillside accommodations

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Kaybiang Tunnel to Hamilo Coast

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This tunnel was only recently opened and has made travel from Cavite to Batangas more interesting. It used to be that those who wanted to go to the now-famous Hamilo coast and Pico de Loro would drive to Nasugbu and go past Punta Fuego. Not anymore.

Start your journey from SLEX and exit in Carmona and drive onwards to Trece Martires via Governor’s Drive. Drive on to Naic and to Maragondon. From Maragondon (where you may want to check out Lolo Claro’s Restaurant and the Bonifacio Trial House, covered in a separate post here), take the road to Caylabne, bypassing Puerto Azul. Follow the signs that say To Batangas/ To Nasugbu, and you will then find your way face to face with Kaybiang Tunnel.Image

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When you exit the tunnel, you will be pleasantly surprised that the view is so beautiful. I didn’t expect such a sight. I just wanted to see the new tunnel but I was rewarded with a view of the Hamilo Coast – – – lots of photo opportunities.

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Take this drive one of these days. And these landscape and seascape will be sufficient reward.

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NASUGBU : Sugbuan Festival

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The town of Nasugbu launched a first-ever Sugbuan Festival to stimulate tourism to the town as well as to promote better interaction with the many barangays and communities. I was one of the 40 bloggers/photographers invited to cover the three-day event. The Kakanin Festival, a segment of the Sugbuan Festival is covered in a separate blog I wrote earlier.

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Nasugbu is a first class municipality and the largest town in Western Batangas. I have been to this town famous for its beach resorts many times before – –  as this town covers both Terrazas de Punta Fuego and the Peninsula de Punta Fuego  which I often go to. It is also from a private wharf on this town where I once boarded a boat that took me to an island resort owned by the Levistes.

Nasugbu is defined by the rolling hills, mountain and sea. Quite naturally, its main industries are agriculture and aquaculture. Hectares and hectares of sugarcane fields plus some farms planted with rice and vegetables and fish from the oceans make Nasugbu self-sufficient and wealthy. Good reason to celebrate and create a festival highlighting the towns wealth thru its crops.

The main event of the festival is the whole-day parade that features floats and street dancing, with students from the various schools in this town all dressed up in creatively designed costumes and chating to their hearts’ content. The floats featured the muses from each barangay, escorted by the dashing barangay chiefs.

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The Floats were ingenious in their design in spite of the limited budget, this being Year 1 and no major sponsors were tapped. With the concept, and the innate creativity of the people of Nasugbu, this can be another Kadayawan or Panagbenga in the making.

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"live" fish on the net

“live” fish on the net

Huge skirt makes this beauty look like a giant

Huge skirt makes this beauty look like a giant

low budget but high on impact

low budget but high on impact

STREET DANCING. The street dancers ranged from 6 year old grade schoolers to senior high school students. There were bands with pretty majorettes, props to highlight the stories in their dance, and attention-getting devices like lighting a fire on a pot.

Majorettes

This street dance sequence used nets and prawns to highlight one of the town's industries

This street dance sequence used nets and prawns to highlight one of the town’s industries

Bountiful Harvest

Let Us set this on fire

MISS NASUGBU: The crowning of the town’s most beautiful girl was scheduled in the evening and it seemed the whole population of the town – – all the way to barangays in the town’s fringes as well as the mountain barangays seem to have descended and rooted for their own muses. The girls performed the night before for the thrilled crowd, showing off their talents and special skills.

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I must commend the good mayor for such an initiative. This is a major undertaking. From what I saw on the first SUGBUAN, this festival will grow to be a much anticipated yearly event. And will draw visitors from faraway places. And fill in the town’s many hotels and resorts. Great idea, Mayora

Gift for the good mayor

Kakanin Festival at SUGBUAN in Nasugbu

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We were invited to the first ever SUGBUAN Festival in Nasugbu, Batangas last Friday, November 30. It is a 3-day event that includes a KAKANIN FESTIVAL.

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The Kakanin Festival started with teams from all the barangays of Nasugbu descending upon the town’s plaza with their calderos, talyasis, kudkurans, stoves, and all cooking paraphernalia. Plus of course the ingredients of the finest delicacy the intend to prepare for the competition.

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Even the men were involved, pouring condensada on the kakanin

Even the men were involved, pouring condensada on the kakanin

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This old man was cooking "bibingka" with fire on top and below

This old man was cooking “bibingka” with fire on top and below

I though this was pancit (noodles) but was told this was also rice cake

I though this was pancit (noodles) but was told this was also rice cake

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In the end, all of the kakanin turned out to be “merienda” fare. Rice cakes of different shapes, sizes, colors, and different ingredients and ways of cooking. All of the participating barangays made sure their kakanins did not only taste good, but were presented well to make them look clean and appetizing. To make sure that the taste “test” was un-influenced by the taste of the kakanin from the other stalls, they all prepared bottled water to wash down the rice cakes, as well as special tea formulations to clean up the taste buds before trying the next delicacy. I learned about the avocado tea : 20 fresh avocado leaves and 10 fresh pandan leaves boiled in a kettle. I will definitely try this at home.

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I was asking them if "siete" was for chismis, and they all laughed

I was asking them if “siete” was for chismis, and they all laughed

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Each barangay had a stall and the stalls were all around that section of the town plaza.

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Everyone had a chance to sample the fare, but most especially the judges whom they had to please.

a colleage from We Are FUNtastic Philippines, a group of travel photographers, sampling one of the kakanins

a colleague from We Are FUNtastic Philippines, a group of travel photographers, sampling one of the kakanins

two of the judges, and I say it is not hard to please anyone with the yummy rice cakes

two of the judges, and I say it is not hard to please anyone with the yummy rice cakes

The project was initiated by the good lady mayor of the town. I am told that the SUGBUAN was conceived only two months ago, and the level of participation indicates that the SUGBUAN next year will be an even bigger success. This is guaranteed because the good mayor was hands on, and was there as the event was going on.

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I will cover the other SUGBUAN activities in another post. The kakanin overwhelmed me (and so filled me up) it deserves a special post on my blog.

Fellow travel photographers and bloggers came in full force

Fellow travel photographers and bloggers came in full force

I shall return when they mount Kakanin Festival in 2014.

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Punta Fuego

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Punta Fuego in Balaytigue, Nasugbu, Batangas is the Forbes Park of Philippine beaches, an unofficial title used to be attached to its older neighbor Tali Beach.It is a residential community and is open only to members of Club Punta Fuego , residents, and their guests. The neighborhood is so snooty the houses can not even be rented out to mere mortals wanting to spend a day in this exclusive resort.

the infinity pool at the Main Clubhouse

Its long name is Peninsula de Punta Fuego (point of fire). The property sits on 88 hectares, with a six kilometer coastline, and 12 secluded coves.

The weekend beach homes inside Punta Fuego are not one’s idea of a tropical getaway. They are not bamboo homes with thatched roofs around swaying coconut trees. Rather, they are huge homes, some may actually be called mansions. Imagine Wuthering Heights.

the beach near the Lower Clubhouse. Homes can be seen up the hill.

The Club has a marina, restaurants, an 18-hole golf course, and a mini-golf.

There are restaurant choices and several types of casitas and suites at Punta Fuego.

refresh, or dine at San Diego, Main Clubhouse

Stay overnight in one of the casitas, or pamper yourself in a sunset suite or a seaview loft.

there are 33 casitas at Peninsula de Punta Fuego

Casitas can be rented on weekdays for P3,400 per day (off peak rate)  among members, and P6,500 for their guests. Weekend rates are P5,900 and P8,800, respectively.

For a full appreciation of the beauty of Punta Fuego, visit their website. Rooms and suites can be viewed, as well as beauty shots of the property. Website : http://www.clubpuntafuego.com.ph/cpfi/

Punta Fuego may be reached at phone numbers (043) 7810385 and (632) 5844405.