Bunny's 32nd Birthday, Pilgrimage and Roadtrip

Every year on May 1st, I celebrate my birthday together with my father. But for a change this year, I spent my birthday with my other half, Aya. So we planned on going on a road trip to the east of Metro Manila, up the mountains of Sierra Madre and back.

So why Sierra Madre and not going to other locations where other couples frequent like, Boracay, Puerto Galera and the like? Well with the limited time available and May 2 being a work day (as both of us are teachers, and students will surely be looking for us), we decided that a short trip outside the city would be for the best. So like any other driving trips we had, we left early so we could experience the cold mountain breeze before the noon heat comes.

Starting from Tandang Sora, Quezon City we took the Katipunan - Don Mariano Marcos Hway route. Going straight Don Mariano will bring your to the Marikina-Infanta road. From here, you will notice while driving that the scenery changes from the view of the city skyline to barrios, then later you'll get to see an abundance of trees waving at you while you drive past the hills.

The scenery changes as we pass-by Boso-Boso and Mang Vic's Bulalohan

Our destination was to get to a place I used to frequent a few years ago while cycling with Team Ageless Warriors, the place is called Sierra Madre Hotel, which is located near the borders of Sampaloc and Tanay, Rizal.

The place is famous for its wonderful view of the Sierra Madre mountains and the rest of the Rizal Province.

We spent our lunch by the balcony facing the Sierra Madre mountain range.
 Since its summer, the heat is scorching, good thing they have an abundance
of trees that serve as shade from getting sunburn.

We arrived at the said location at noon, and decided to spend our lunch there. If you're expecting something expensive and sophisticated, this place is not for you. But if you're up for adventure, this place is definitely on your list, as the venue offer facilities for team building events. If you're looking for something of an adventure to eat, they offer delicacies different from usual urban menu.

One of the famous "pulutan" dishes Sierra Madre has to offer:
'Tapang Usa"
(Deer Jerky)
While enjoying the view, we had a simple meal for lunch, except for one dish that is not for everyone, Tapang Usa, also known as Deer Jerky. It is best paired with pepper and vinegar and hot steamy rice.

We tried taking a photo of us with the beautiful view, but it was to bright to see...
against the light problems.
Here is how the view looks like near our location.
(credits to: www.turistatrails.com)

After our lunch at the Sierra Madre Hotel we went back on the road to go to our next destination. From the hotel is a short 15-20 minute drive (1 hour drive from Manila) to a place found along the Marilaque Highway or better known as the Marikina-Infanta road, just a kilometer away from the Sampaloc-Tanay intersection at the foot of the mountain.

The place we went to is a favorite location for pilgrimages and for those seeking a haven for contemplation, the REGINA ROSARII INSTITUTE FOR CONTEMPLATION in ASIA, or better known to Filipinos and locals as, REGINA RICA. Security is rather strict inside the compound, as there are numerous checkpoints before getting in properly.

For those who do not know, Regina Rica is the home of the 71-foot image of Our Lady, Regina Rosarii, located on top of a hill. There was an option to take a jeepney to get on top of the hill, but we opted to walk despite the heat. Upon reaching the top we were able to admire the massive image of Regina Rosarii and my wife and I kept on wondering if it was made out of bronze or brass, but nevertheless it was intricately made as the artist(s) made realistic details on the image.

We spent some time underneath the image, praying, thanking and contemplating for the gifts that we have received: Love, Happiness and Understanding one another and towards others.

After visting the image, we walked down the hill via the paved road leading us down to the center of the compound, in which a church was located. Upon entering inside, we noticed how amazing the interior was, the architectural design of a high ceiling nullified the heat from the outside. Aside from all things related to art, the feel of being inside the church was refreshing, as if all the heaviness inside us have been washed away/ We said our prayers here before preparing to get back on the road.

So we got back on the road, and drove back to Manila. Taking the Sampaloc-Tanay Road and then the route taking as to Cainta.

We originally planned to end the day with a late afternoon tea at the Crimson Hotel... but opted to have it on another day, as this trip has drained us physically and yet internally we felt refreshed.


For those wanting to visit Regina Rica, you can visit the place by looking at the map below.

Or you can check there website for more details: http://reginarosarii.org/home/


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